Hard Candy’s Comeback

Britt Aboutaleb
Managing Editor

They say that the music you listen to in high school is the music you love most for the rest of your life, something about it shaping your adolescence. Daniel J. Levitin, a professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University, told The New York Times, “Fourteen is a sort of magic age for the development of musical tastes.” Guess that’s why I just shelled out too much money to see Ashanti and Ja Rule on stage at Def Jam’s 30th Anniversary concert later this fall. Is the same true of makeup? Hard Candy’s banking on it. 

The brand shot to fame in 1995 when David Letterman asked Alicia Silverstone what shade of blue was on her nails. It was the height of Chanel’s Vamp ($27), the darker-than-blood red shade that was more The Craft than Clueless, but Silverstone was wearing Hard Candy’s Sky, a powdery shade of baby blue that the brand’s founder had whipped up to match her Charles David sandals. Back then, each bottle cost $12 a pop, a small fortune to a 7th grader like myself. But I was obsessed—a I hesitate to use about anything now, but used about everything at 12.  Eventually, someone gifted me a glittering pink bottle crowned with a chunky plastic ring in the shape of a heart; it was my most treasured possession.

Though the brand faded away around 2003, the same year iTunes launched, it made a comeback later in the aughts, with a lower priced line at Walmart. You can score a bottle for $4, but the colors are different, and there aren’t any rings to match. Today, however, NuWorld Beauty (which owns Hard Candy) president, Stu Dolleck tells The New York Times, “We’re working on a 20th-anniversary collection. We’ll be bringing back some of the top ’90s shades. I can guarantee you nostalgic women who would never go to Walmart otherwise will be there on opening day.”

Blue nail polish is the norm now, and an overwhelming number of indie brands offer eclectic colors. But Hard Candy was the first, and given the number of 30-something women sporting crop tops, Birkenstock’s and berry red lips this summer, Dolleck’s probably right. See you there.