Everyone remembers the first beauty product they bought for themselves. Maybe it was the foundation your older sister wore, or an eyeshadow palette your best friend recommended. For me, it was the lip gloss Paris Hilton swears by.
It was 2003 and I was a freshman in high school. Although I never missed an episode of the first season of The Simple Life, I didn’t own a Juicy Couture terry cloth track suit, wear hair extensions, or hit up the tanning salon once during her reign as a reality TV star. Basically, even though I always tuned in each week to see how many times the girls would say “that’s hot” in a single episode, I wasn’t really a Paris fan.
What I did (and still) have in common with Hilton is our apprehensiveness to bold, bright lipsticks. Aside from the Old Hollywood-inspired red carpet moment where she’s worn a red lip, Hilton has been loyal to her signature shimmery nude lip gloss. Swap a slick gloss for a mauvey-pink lipstick and aside from a few exceptions, I’m the same, too.
And the exact shade that Hilton’s been a fan of for over a decade strong? MAC Lipglass in Prrr. It’s a soft pinky-peach shade with a hint of icy shimmer that no early aught’s teen could resist—including myself. I remember reading a quote from Hilton about how much she loved the lip gloss when studying the pages of Teen People, one of the many magazines I coerced my mom into picking up for me on grocery store runs.
I had been wearing makeup since I was in 7th grade. My mom purchased drugstore foundation to conceal my puberty-induced blemishes, and a glittery purple eyeshadow that I wore every day, which I still regret and shudder about to this day. But, even though my mom supported my interest in makeup, she drew the line at buying any products for me that were more than $10.
At this time, MAC was not only a popular beauty brand on the pages of all of the teen magazines I was reading, but also amongst my friends at school, too. Since it’s priced at the sweet spot between drugstore and prestige brands, it wasn’t uber-affordable for teens like myself who didn’t have part-time jobs, and thus, its products were considered luxury.
When I had Christmas gift money from my relatives that year, I decided I was finally going to “splurge” and get my first MAC product. The brand’s color range and regular limited-edition collections made choosing what to get tough to say the least, but then I remembered Hilton’s neutral lip gloss.
I asked my mom to drive me to the one mall we had in the Canadian city I grew up in, and take me to the MAC counter in Hudson’s Bay. But, the memory of the time I first wore Prrr is what’s the most vivid. The dense formula meant I only needed a single swipe with its doe foot applicator to fully coat my lips. It was delightfully reflective, and so thick that when I opened my mouth to talk, the strings of gloss dangling between my upper and lower lips looked like the equivalent of when you use a glue stick to attach two pieces of paper together and pull them apart before the glue dried.
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It didn’t matter that bits of the bagels I would normally get from the school’s cafeteria for lunch would stick in the gloss, I was proud to pull it out of my pocket and reapply it, even though MAC’s glosses have major staying power and touch ups weren’t really necessary.
Eventually, I grew tired of the gloss and moved onto MAC’s Pro Longwear Fluidline gel eyeliner ($17; nordstrom.com) to perfect the subtle cat-flick, a look that I still wear on most days. Even though I ditched my MAC Lipglass, it had a permanent place in my bathroom’s makeup drawer, just like all of my issues of Teen People were stored under my bed until we moved out of my childhood home when I was 18.