The Y2K Beauty Capsule: Every Iconic Product You Loved and the 2021 Versions

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Is it just me, or is the resurgence of Y2K everything kinda the best thing that could happen post-pandemic? Sure, 2000s-era trends were beginning their epic comeback prior to the worldwide lockdown, but those early aughts beauty and fashion nods have only gained momentum in the interim, reaching a fever-pitch just in time for the world’s slow but sure re-opening. And really, what could be better? Y2K-centric trends brim with color, fun, and a whimsical retro edginess that, after an incredibly stressful year, feels like a brothy slurp of chicken soup for the soul. 

On the fashion side, we have nostalgia-inducing fodder like colorful sunglasses, flatform flip-flops, glitzy tube tops, baguette bags, and baby tees to revel in, and the latest beauty launches are serving up just as many yummy throwbacks: sugary-sweet fragrances, glimmering skin glosses, personalized bedazzled hair clips… Basically anything and everything you’d need to fit right in with the casts of Bring It On, Crossroads, or your favorite Mary-Kate and Ashley movie.

Inspired, I’ve taken it upon myself to create the ultimate Y2K beauty capsule. Not only will it serve as a spirit-warming trip down memory lane, but it just might give your beauty M.O. a nostalgic jolt of zing just in time for summer. Below, you’ll find 12 of the most essential Y2K beauty products you most definitely owned (or wanted!) in the early 2000s, alongside the newer, 2021 versions that make the throwback feel a little more sophisticated and on-trend. Keep scrolling! You’re in for a treat.

If you loved glitzy cosmetic compacts like this…

Shout-out to one of our amazing social media editors, Jeisen-Simone Tucker, who not only recalled—but found—this iconic flip phone-shaped lip gloss compact. (And yes, each gloss is scented like strawberry ICYWW.) Tiny, brick-shaped lip glosses packed into plastic versions of our favorite early 2000s gadgets were definitely a trend, although not something we’d be particularly keen to whip out in 2021. That being said, we do love a good lip palette, and the below options from brands like Rouje and Pixi are the chic-but-not-cheap upgrades.

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If you loved sweet-as-cotton-candy fragrances like this…

Let's hear it for all of the peeps who listened to “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent whilst smelling like one. From Britney’s Spears Fantasy to other cult-loved options like Aquolina’s Pink Sugar, (which I once read was Vanessa Hudgens fave scent back in the days of High School Musical), it was pretty much the goal to smell—as Janice Ian put it ever so eloquently—like a “baby prostitute.” There’s no denying, however, that warm, sweet, rich-smelling perfumes have been making a bona fide comeback, but with a fresher, cooler spin. Our favorite options from names like Ellis Brooklyn and Dedcool are more seasoned in the balance and sophistication departments, and a lot less syrupy.

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If you loved scented, sparkling body powders like this…

Does anyone else remember these puffs!? Back in my day there were more flavor choices (I had marshmallow as did Regina George in Mean Girls) and the puffs themselves were leopard print, but the allure of a scented, edible, fairy dust-like powder that would make us look like a member of the Cullen clan (not that we knew about them yet), was of utmost priority. We still love a mega-watt glow—especially in the summer, but now the trend is more wearable via high-quality body glosses (like this bronze-boosting formula from Tan-Luxe) or Olio E Osso’s brand new sparkle-studded body oil.

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If you loved body mists from Victoria's Secret or Bath & Body Works…

Even though it feels synonymous with my drama-filled high school years, I would still wear Victoria's Secret’s forever-famous spray Love Spell in a heartbeat. That said, sometimes it does feel weird to jump back into a former life, so if you’re yearning to bring back the Y2K vibes of a splashy body mist sans the specific early 2000s memories you’d rather forget, try these new forays from Sol de Janeiro (this latest debut is quite literally the best thing I’ve ever smelled) or Gourmand.

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If you loved bedazzled hair tools and accessories…

It’s the little things, right? I still fondly remember—and honestly miss—my matching comb and hairbrush from the early aughts. Both were plastic, purple, and ridiculously sparkly. And really, the same could be said for the majority of my hair accessories during that time period. Between my collection of scrunchies, claw clips, and butterfly clips, my M.O. was anything but subtle, therefore I’ve been basking in this new wave of aforementioned hair staples revisited. Think crystal-studded, name-emblazoned claw clips with a touch of pretty tortoise, or celestial moon-shaped clips you can sprinkle throughout your strands in lieu of actual butterflies.

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If you loved hair-lightening products like this…

It’s only been a few years since we’ve learned about the dangers of peroxide-laden hair mists, and there’s definitely some regret where our old Sun In habit is concerned. (Of course, these days, the formulas are formulated sans bleach.) The good news? More and more brands are helping us in the DIY highlight department by debuting safe, strand-loving elixirs (typically infused with strategic ingredients like lemon and chamomile) that work the same kind of magic. Oribe and IGK are behind our current roster of packable pool standbys.

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If you loved styling gel like this…

Styling gel, and anything with the Got2B label, in particular, was intrinsically woven into our 2000s hair DNA. The brand is still beloved and used amongst top stylists, but if you’re looking for some hold that’s a little, well, less stiff, you can count on some of our other current favorites from Kérastase and Lush.

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If you loved wet, lash-lengthening mascaras like this…

Fun fact: Maybelline’s iconic green-and-pink tube of mascara, Great Lash, has been rocking people’s worlds since its birth back in 1971. And somehow, it’s managed to maintain record momentum through the ’80s, ’90s, 2000s, and beyond. (Stats say one tube sells around the globe every 2.5 seconds.) So, yes, it’s a beloved mascara that will likely be cherished until the day it’s discontinued (if that ever happens), but there have been quite a few launches since that might—don’t hate me—be even better. Especially if you’re someone who likes a little curl and volume. The internet can’t stop buzzing about Maybelline’s latest release, Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara, and my personal favorite is a funny little rod contraption from Surratt Beauty. Trust!

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If you loved anything that claimed to magically make zits disappear like this…

Hey, I still own a tube of Clearasil, and frankly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t! But that type of product usually does a better job of drying your skin out (sorry) than actually sucking out the infection and minimizing redness or the potential for scarring. To address both of the aforementioned goals, you’ll want to grab a handy colloidal patch (for the de-gunking), and a lightening and brightening serum (for the scarring). And if maskne is your current bane of existence, 111Skin’s newest biocellulose masks target just that, specifically!

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One of the biggest throwback beauty movements we’ve had in the last year and a half or so is the return to press-on nails. Since the majority of us went without salon visits due to COVID, we were left to our devices when it came to creating a professional-level mani at home, and thanks to favorite brands like Chillhouse and Static, the results are just as believable as the real thing. Sure, we still have a soft spot in our heart for the squared of French tips we’d glue on for Prom in high school, but we’re super into all of the eclectic options we have in terms of shape, length, color, and design these days.

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If you loved Hard Candy makeup, especially glittery eyeliners like this…

Whipping out a glittery silver eyeliner pencil from Hard Candy in junior high was basically the equivalent of arriving at the lunch table with a brand new pack of Gelly Roll pens and a Lisa Frank coloring book in elementary school. The coolest. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a retro enough picture of the old packaging, but if you know you know, and really any cosmetic item from the line was the cool thing to have in the early 2000s. Now, we’re gravitating towards other hybrid products like this new twinkling eye-shadow–and-liner product from French makeup artist Violette_FR, or E.l.f. Cosmetic’s stunning (and more affordable) liquid liner that packs just as much sizzle.

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If you loved juicy lip gloss tubes like this…

You didn’t actually think we’d forget one of the most beloved Y2K beauty products of all time, did you? Juicy Tubes, Lancôme’s cult-loved lip gloss, was basically the currency of cool back in the day, and we still plan to smack our lips with the stuff until the end of time. There is no such thing as too much lip gloss, though (“the limit does not exist,” as Cady Heron would say), so we highly recommend imbibing in two of our other recent favorites from ColourPop and PYT Beauty.

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