Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

My first beauty product was a Lip Smacker Sparkler lip gloss in Vanilla Frosting. The colors of the various lip balms in the Bonne Bell display hooked me like the little beauty-hungry fish I was, and I can’t remember a time afterwards that I didn’t beg my mom for a new one every time we passed by. It set off a lifelong obsession with Lip Smacker.

I have never forgotten my first beauty product, and my experience has fueled my continuing interest in the industry, and in what makes a good lip gloss so good. Here, responding to the question “What was your first beauty product?” are some friends talking about their first encounters at the (real and imagined) beauty counter. —Alyson

OGECHI EGONU: The first real beauty product I ever owned was one of Mary Kay’s lipsticks in a color called Black Rose. I think my mom got it from one of her friends who sold Mary Kay. She never really wore it and it kind of just languished in her makeup bag until I got my hands on it. When I put it on it made me feel like an adult. That lipstick was the lipstick that started my lipstick obsession. I still have a tiny nub of it in my makeup bag, strictly for sentimental reasons.

CHANEL PARKS: As long as I can remember, I was taking my sister’s beauty products and using them without permission. But one year, my sister accidentally bought the wrong shade of lip gloss and gifted it to me. They don’t sell it anymore—it was this creamy brown that smelled and tasted like hot chocolate. I thought I was so chic when I would apply it to my lips before school every morning, I even wore it on weekends when I would go to the movies with friends. Unlike the sparkly glosses everyone else had, I took the mature route with a dark brown—what 13-year-old does that? Me.

MRS. SANDERS (art teacher and school mom): My first beauty product is something I got for Christmas in my stocking. It was a Bonne Bell lip gloss—one of the fat ones. Then, my little step-brother ate it. When I came home, I opened up the top (I was so excited), and there were teeth marks in it. It smelled really good but tasted really bad.

DEVAN DIAZ: My first beauty item was Pink Swoon blush by MAC, an item I think is still available. My young trans girlhood and experimentation with my own presentation had to be done in secret, and I purchased this with lunch money I saved instead of eating. I bought it because I figured I could wear it around my mother and pretend I’d just been running or spent too much time in the sun. It was easy to hide, and it was the brightest and loudest shade of pink. Exactly what I needed.

CHRISTINA (yoga teacher and trainer): The first time I learned how to put on blush and eyeshadow properly was at a modeling placement agency. I remember going to the mall and my mom buying me the “good” stuff. I still follow the eyeshadow guidelines to this day. I sat in the chair, applying the eyeshadow just as she told us, bright lights all around. I can’t get enough of makeup now.

UGOCHI EGONU: The first beauty product I remember using was body glitter gel that I got for Christmas in elementary school. I don’t remember the brand, but Unicorn Snot makes a similar one. It came with a set of scented lotions and soaps although, honestly, I just cared about the glitter. I would cover my body in the blue sparkly gel and walk out of my room feeling like a fabulous disco ball. I may have ditched the body glitter, but that product really started my love for makeup that makes me stand out and shine! ♦