In a world where people are claiming EOS lip balms cause grody rashes, it seems a fine moment to revisit the lip balms of years gone by. We didn’t really call it “lip balm” in elementary school in the 1980s—we were less concerned with the moisturizing effects of the stuff and really more concerned with the taste. The ’80s were a lip product extravaganza, an artificially flavored wax fest bookended by cherry ChapStick and Revlon Silver City Pink. In between were the rainbow packages and fruity smears and status-symbol roller balls that were every young girl’s calling card.
Bonne Bell Lip Smacker
What ever made us think that mint and cherry were exciting flavors? The moment my older sister got her Strawberry Lip Smacker, I became obsessed. Bonne Bell had our number: Not only did Lip Smackers come in the most outrageous fruit flavors (who didn’t try to eat them at one point or another?) but they did one better by creating candy—and soda—flavors too. Dr. Pepper. Orange Crush. Even Good & Plenty, an acquired taste if ever there was one (and one you can be sure I not only acquired but hoarded and lorded and exulted over). I’d give a paycheck’s worth of Nars lipsticks to get our mitts on a Tootsie Roll Lip Smacker right now.
The Lip Smacker Necklace
The only thing better than a Lip Smacker was a giant Lip Smacker on a cord that you could wear around your neck like the effing badass you were. Yeah, that’s right, haters, I’m so serious about awesome lip care I’ve got my Bubble Gum Lip Smacker around my neck. I am wearing it as an accessory so it is always right where I need it for multiple reapplications during soccer practice and Brownies and maybe I even wear it at night to dress up my Lanz flannel nightgown.
The Body Shop Lip Balm
The Body Shop really started the “little tub that you stick your grubby finger in” trend for scented lip balms. Apricot was a respectable alternative if you couldn’t get Kiwi Fruit. No matter the flavor, nothing made you feel more like a grown-up than slathering some of this greasy green nectar and having it come out clear and glossy on your lips.
The packaging for Maybelline’s Kissing Koolers (extra-kool with those double Ks) was like those cherry-cream Lifesaver lollipops that were so delicious you would keep one for about six months, taking careful licks and then rewrapping it all sticky and disgusting in its plastic wrapper. Kissing Koolers had so much going for them: the beautiful packaging (that little pop-up top), the flavors (watermelon!) and best of all, the name. You were wearing a product with “kissing” in the name, which meant you were a person who could very well be kissing someone at any moment, never mind the fact that you were 9.
Village Lip Lickers
Once you discovered Watermelon Lip Lickers, you were ruined for most other balms. It was so sticky and wonderful, a pink tray of goopy gloss that turned almost liquid when it was left on the backseat of the car in the summer sun. Remember the feeling of sliding open that tin with your thumb, the noxious smell causing people to look your way to see who could possibly smell that strongly of fake fruit?
Naturistics Glossy Lip Balm
Before Bath & Body Works made photos of the actual fruit flavor on packaging mundane, Naturistics stole our hearts with images of limes and—was that mango?—on their lip balm packaging. The name “Naturistics” was extremely technical-sounding, which was an added bonus. Who cared if “Naturistic” was sneaky marketing word they usedbecause the product was natural-istic but maybe not totally natural?
Carmex users were not to be messed with. No fruit flavors for them—even Blistex was child’s play for a Carmex user. Carmex looked and smelled like it came from a 19th-century apothecary shop. It’s the sort of product people tried when they were 13 and are still using today. Although I haven’t the foggiest idea why they thought this was a superior product to an Orange Crush Lip Smacker.
Another product for the kissers among us! Cherry Smash? Don’t mind if I do stand in front of the mirror and roll the little ball over my lips applying coat after kissable coat!
Some will say Candy Kisses are from the ’90s, so not technically an ’80s product, but they are a balm treasure nonetheless. Those little tins were a revelation, and mint chocolate was a flavor you never dreamed you’d get to experience outside a Baskin-Robbins.
Oh I know what you’re thinking: It was called Zinka Nosecoat—it wasn’t a lip balm but rather a neon-colored sunscreen you put on your nose or painted on your cheeks! Well, the cool kids were wearing it as a protective lip balm that not only kept out the rays but permitted you to look grotesquely radioactive by the pool, a fluorescent-yellow grin that was equal parts hot lifeguard and weirdo fifth-grader, a balance I’m still trying to strike in my adult life.
This article originally appeared in different form on Scary Mommy.
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