A clandestine smear of lipstick, a secret dousing of perfume, an important-feeling first trip to the beauty counter: These are the quintessential Girl Meets Makeup moments every woman keeps tucked away in her mind's eye.
Below, our editors look back (fondly) not on the products they first experimented with, but the people who taught them … and caught them red-handed. To all our moms, aunts, grandmothers, and yes, dads: Thanks for the memories.
Claire Fontanetta, beauty assistant
"As a kid, I was obsessed with my hair. One year, I insisted on cutting my own bangs (with supervision, of course)! They were super uneven, but I remember feeling so accomplished. From then on, I cut my own bangs."
Hallie Gould, social editor
"My father would play Lou Reed's "Makeup" on loop during my formative years. I was always so in love with the lyrics. The song essentially details a divine admiration of a woman's beauty routine, the kind I pictured in every daydream love affair I'd ever had. Since then, makeup has felt so special, so full of magic."
Elana Zajdman, associate accessories editor
"I think I was first interested in beauty—especially fragrance—around the age of 9 or 10. This is when my grandmother introduced me to her signature scent, the very potent Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. Not only did she buy the largest-size bottle religiously for years, but she would buy a large quantity of beauty products each time she went to the department store and would leave with bags and bags of samples to try and gifts with purchases she would give me every time I saw her from about 10 years old to this day!"
Lauren Valenti, associate web editor
"When I was 10 years old, I snuck into my parents' bedroom and raided my mom's vanity for the first time. I picked up an eyeliner pencil and applied it to my lower lids as I'd watch my mom do it for years. When I looked in the mirror, I felt transformed. All of the sudden, my dad walked in. "Are you wearing makeup?" he asked, clearly distressed at the sight of his daughter, a tomboy through and through, dabbling in makeup. I was so embarrassed, I lied and said "Um, noooo!" There was an awkward pause, and that was it. I never forgot it."
Jennifer Goldstein, executive beauty and health editor
"I used to love watching my mom get ready for a night out with my dad. She would pat a huge powder puff scented with Opium perfume all over before she got dressed. I don't know when the scented body powders lost popularity, but I think that's one of the most glamorous ways to apply fragrance—and it seemed to last. Even when she got home late at night and came in to give me a kiss I could still smell the exotic notes of jasmine and amber on her skin. To this day, I don't feel ready for an evening out without perfume, and I think my mom instilled that in me."
Michelle Guerrere, fashion features associate
"I still remember how my great-aunt kept her collection of perfume bottles on a fancy tray. When I was about 5, she put the tray on her kitchen table right in front of me so I could smell every fragrance. I then hobbled around her apartment in her high heels with elastic bands keeping my feet in the shoes (my favorite childhood game!), probably smelling of a thousand scents at once. Not much has changed since, although my heels fit and I stick to just one fragrance at a time."
Joy Hernon, assistant beauty editor
One of my first beauty memories was attempting to run away to Hollywood and only packing makeup. I barely made it down the driveway before I turned around.
Brittany Kozerski, market editor
My earliest beauty memory was getting ready for dance recitals. My mom would let me play with her makeup, and I loved putting on a red lip and loads of blush. She'd also put big Shirley Temple curls in my hair. A bit dramatic of a look, but from there, I fell in love with beauty.