They Say That Scent Is the Strongest Link to Memory ...
Let's rewind VHS-style to when you wore a scrunchie on your wrist, sang along to Ace of Base, misted your hair with Sun-In (hoping to recreate Cindy's epic Pepsi commercial highlights), and made a major statement with your go-to fragrance. Whether you craved the androgyny and minimalism of CK One or doused yourself in sweet-enough-to-eat body splashes from Bath & Body Works or Victoria's Secret, we bet our mini Prada backpacks that the bottles listed here sat on your vanity some 20 years back—next to your L.A. Looks hair gel and Hard Candy nail polish.
Bath & Body Works Original Scents
Aside from smelling delicious enough to eat (oh hello, Country Apple and Cucumber Melon), these scents were layer-able—meaning you could use the shower gel, the lotion, and the body splash—to ensure that a trail of fruity (or freesia, or cotton) fabulousness followed wherever you went. Miss the days when you stashed these in your car, locker, and purse? Bath & Body Works is relaunching its eight original scents for a limited time starting at the end of May.
Image: Bath & Body Works
The Gap Scents
If you didn't debate aloud with your friends about which of the five Gap fragrances (Dream, Heaven, Grass, Om, and Earth) matched your personality, you've definitely thought about it. These bottles lined the checkout area of your favorite khaki shop, making it impossible not to sample and eventually scoop up the scent you most identified with. Personally, we fancied ourselves as Dream-ers.
Tommy Hilfiger reigned in the '90s—and this crisp lemon-tea fragrance was about as quintessential to the decade as wearing TH logos on your oversize jeans or baby tee. If you were a teen at this time, it was probably your first scent—but it's so iconic that it's still sold to Tommy Girls of all ages at department stores and online.
Two decades before emojis, smiley faces were a major trend. They were screened onto baby tees, embroidered onto overalls, and worn as mini backpacks (we may or may not have had two—lime green and classic yellow). We're not sure if the smiley crazy had anything to do with the mega success of this uplifting, citrusy scent, but a whiff of it sure makes us want to smile—and listen to Spice World.
Davidoff Cool Water
Everything about this—from the bottle, to the name, to the blend of woody notes mixed with ocean air—felt impossibly cool. A bit more grown-up and sexier than many of the fragrances we've rounded up here, and a favorite among '90s club-goers. (Paired with flatforms, tube tops, and body glitter, of course!)
Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers
Sunflowers were the unofficial blooms of the '90s. Who didn't have dresses, hats, and accessories adorned in the trendy flowers? This summer scent—with notes of melon, peach, jasmine, and moss—was a huge hit among teens.
Yes! Yes! Yes! YES! The only thing more memorable than those cheeky shampoo and conditioner commercials was how amazing your shower smelled after you lathered up with these great-smelling suds. Sure, these aren't technically perfumes, but these mood-altering hair essentials soothed and quenched our distressed and overly flat-ironed strands with fragrant perfection. It wouldn't be fair to round up the decade's most memorable scents without throwing them a shout-out.
Image: Herbal Essences
Fronted by '90s queen Kate Moss in a spaghetti strap tank and roomy jeans (her Calvins, of course), this gender-bending fragrance, designed for "a man or a woman," revolutionized the way we thought of scent and was the first megapopular unisex cologne. If the grunge-chic era could be bottled up, this is what it would smell like.
Image: CK One
Victoria's Secret Fantasies Love Spell
Like the Bath & Body Works splashes, the Victoria's Secret Fantasies collection could be applied liberally, and had matching shower gels and moisturizers for layering. But with names like Heavenly, Amber Romance, and Love Spell—paired with the fact that you can purchase it alongside a push-up bra and surrounded by images of Adriana Lima—it offered a whole new, super sexy personality. Fun fact: A bottle of Victoria's Secret Fantasies Love Spell mist is (still!) sold every four seconds.
Image: Victoria's Secret