Nostalgic Beauty Brands Are Like Comfort Foods

Published in: Just For Fun

My parents have lived in the same house since the ’70s, and it’s weird how my memories of it all sort of blur together. In my mind’s eye that house is like a temporal vortex caught between worlds. One, the modern era of Blu-ray players, wifi and universal remote controls; the other, a land of tan bathroom counter tops and Oil of Olay.


Olay… It’s funny how some memories stick with you forever. As far back as I can remember, my mom has liked Olay, and I can’t remember ever not seeing a jar of the Beauty Fluid somewhere in the house.

Sometimes, when I’m out browsing beauty aisles, my eyes will settle for a moment on something from Olay, and I’ll feel a little closer to home.

Nostalgic brands are like comfort foods

There’s a neat article in the April issue of Global Cosmetic Industry (GCI) magazine about nostalgic brands (Aspirational Consumers Turn Nostalgic, by Miriam Quart, GCI, April 2011) and how some brands that were once considered “the bee’s knees,” but have since fallen out of the limelight, are now staging comebacks. For many of us, beauty, fashion and personal care products from Olay, St. Ives, Infusium23, Pert, Levi’s and others still conjure up memories of “the good ole days,” and consumers tend to think of their old standbys as tried-and-true gems.

It’s a sign of the times

“Marketers used to be able to bank on ‘aspirational’ consumers indulging in affordable luxuries…” Quart says in the article, “but there has been a dramatic shift in consumer behavior during the recent economic downturn.” Some feel a little less optimistic about things, more unsure, and they’re turning to those old familiar, comfortable brands they’ve long known and loved.

Sometimes it just takes a reminder

Smart companies are capitalizing on the goodwill they earned over decades by reminding people that they’re still around, and instead of focusing on completely new lines, they’re attempting to leverage their legacies by repromoting classic products, sometimes “with a firty twist,” the focus of St. Ives’ new campaign.

Many of us grew up with St. Ives at home, but over the years, after similar offerings from Aveeno, Bath & Body Works, Healing Garden and Dove, St. Ives seemed to drift away. Today, the company is hoping to reconnect with younger consumers interested in natural ingredients and value.

I’m all for seeing classic products stage comebacks. I figure if I liked something once, maybe I’ll like it again. πŸ™‚

How about you? What are some nostalgic brands (beauty or otherwise) you’ve found yourself returning to lately?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Lisa S. says:

    As far as I’m concerned St Ives never really left. I have had various incarnations of their products for as long as I can remember.
    Lisa S. recently posted … Life gets in your eyyyyyes! sung to the tune Smoke gets in your eyes

  2. Rads says:

    Olay for me πŸ™‚ I had heard so much about this Oil of Olay from my mom, but we didn’t have Olay in India some time back…so the first time I spotted an Olay product (cleansing cloth when I went to Canada), I somehow felt absolutely sure it will be great …and I do like it a lot πŸ™‚
    Rads recently posted … Thann Sea Foam Cool and Refreshing Aromatherapy Salt Scrub Review

  3. Tammy says:

    I’ve been St. Ives body lotion user for ages. The Restoring 24 hr moisture is my fave. I also have a thing for Ponds Cold Cream. I don’t use it anymore, but my mom still does. It makes me think nice things about her whenever I see it.

  4. Kelly says:

    For me it’s gotta be Wet n Wild. They were “the” makeup to buy when I was a barely a teen not only because the colors but they were so cheap! Now they are coming back and their stuff has improved SO much, I’m really happy about it. πŸ™‚
    Kelly recently posted … VV Friday Poll- The Flower Edition

  5. Monica says:

    Noxema and Ponds. I keep both even with all my other products.

  6. Kim says:

    Nivea (in the blue bottle) reminds me of home. I’ll have to ask my mom if she still uses it. πŸ™‚

    I think the biggest heritage brand refresh has to be Old Spice. To go from the white glass bottle with the ship graphic in every dad’s bathroom to the awesome I’m a Man on a Horse commercials has been really fun to watch.

  7. Rachel says:

    Noxema! First cleanser I used as a teen, and now I find it’s the perfect match for my clarisonic!

  8. lexi says:

    St Ives lotion – I reconnected with it at a gym I signed up for temporarily. They had deodorants (spray) and lotion out for communal use. I haven’t used St. Ives in ages and I remembered why I liked it so I bought a bottle of my own. I wish it moisturized as much as my Curel but that’s okay – loving the milk/honey scent.

    Also, enjoying Wet n’Wilds re-vamp!

    I would love to find classic Charlie and Jovan perfume bottles. I’m sure it would be rancid in scent but I am a sucker for 70’s Nostalgia!
    lexi recently posted … Testing out a new MAC Lipstick Formula

  9. Nina says:

    ive always loved St Ives body washes – the one in our shower now is called Triple Fusion and has got coconut milk in it – big hit w/ the Hubs.

    of course – how can i forget st ives’ apricot scrub! πŸ™‚

  10. Coral says:

    I say Noxema. I remember using the pads to clean my face, but not being completely sold. Even then I knew I was a product jumper. But I started using them again, just because I know they’ve been around for a while and I’m a sucker for pretty packaging.

  11. Courtney says:

    I love Finesse shampoo and conditioner. The only place I can find it is Walgreens and occassionally at Wal-mart. It makes my hair so shiny and bouncy! I haven’t been using it recently though since I switched to sulfate free shampoo (makes my highlights last sooooo much longer), but I still love Finesse!

  12. Nicky Bromow says:

    for me, Dove is a classic brand and I keep returning to it. Olay also, for a good complete moisturizer. Recently, after trying Marcelle’s whole anti-acne solutions, I went back to my teen’s favourite products, Clean & Clear. It does an amazing job and makes my skin feel as clean as possible, feels great!

  13. Joy says:

    I was thrilled to see the return of 10-0-6, which was an iconic brand of my 60s teenhood.

  14. Vijaya says:

    When I was two and a half, I heard these commercials for “Oil of Olay”. Being little, I misheard the products name. I thought it was “oil-a-boil-ay”. My grandma found that 1) adorable and 2) hilarious.
    Vijaya recently posted … Inglot Polish 138

  15. Mandy says:

    Don’t forget about Pond’s Cold Cream! πŸ™‚

  16. Kristi says:

    I just purchased a fragrance that reminded me of when times were a little better or easier. It’s Jovan White Musk. I put it on and it felt like a big hug, and I need a lot of those lately. Also if you’re listening St. Ives: bring back your peppermint hair treatment!!!! That stuff was da bomb for my curly unruly hair. And it smelled so good!

  17. Jessi says:

    I agree with you Karen about the oil of Olay. The smell of it is pure nostalgia for me because my mom always used their products.
    Jessi recently posted … MACs Fashion Flower Collection- Ever Hip lipstick

  18. Michelle C. says:

    I find it interesting that so many women find Olay to be such a great brand, since I cannot use any of their products. They make my face burn like my skin is on fire! Makes me cherry red, too.

    • Courtney says:

      I agree Michelle, Olay burns my skin so bad! I do like their skincare brush though (Clairsonic knockoff), I just can’t use it with Olay products.

  19. Kate Williamson says:

    For me, it’s Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo and Coast soap. When I was little, I used to love the way Herbal Essence made my hair smell. I also loved the emerald green color of the shampoo and the drawing of the hippie lady/Earth goddess on the bottle. Too bad it turns my hair into a haystack. Coast soap reminds me of my grandmother. She used to keep bars of it in her drawers to make her clothes smell nice. it’s so drying though that it makes Irish Spring seem moisturizing!

    • mn says:

      I miss the original green Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo from the 70s. Is it being sold somewhere? I thought it had been discontinued as I found an on-line petition to bring it back.

  20. Chris25 says:

    My mom used to buy Caress soaps. When I was a kid, I thought of them as a “grown-up” soap. πŸ™‚ I also remember Ivory soap, Revlon Flex shampoo (Cindy Crawford ads!) and Coty Airspun powder.

  21. marmar says:

    my #1 classic of all time: coty’s airspun powder. it’s such a shame they nixed the vintage cardboard packaging for plastic.. but alas, the product is still the same. i’ve been using since i was a teenager and still use it now.

    also, rose balm is a classic for just about everything.

  22. jess says:

    I love st. Ives apricot scrub, irish spring soap and herbal essences shampoo. I do think these economic times affect our willingness to try new things. People do want the quality name brand product that has been around for years. U know it works well n can trust it. People want familiar practical n reliable products they have used before. We all know it sucks to take a risk which disappoints n u go buy the old favorite anyways. People wanna know what there getting. Plus I love the vintage packaging we see everywhere

  23. xoxotoe says:

    gee your hair smells terrific!!!
    babe fragrance!
    kissing potion!!!

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