Sweet Returns: Hard Candy, from David Letterman to WalMart

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Liza Herz
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Hard Candy Sky nail polish

Talkshow host David Letterman was inadvertently responsible for a big beauty trend. He asked actress Alicia Silverstone (doing the media rounds for her movie Clueless) about her pale blue fingernails in 1995. She answered, "Sky, by Hard Candy" and sent beauty geeks everywhere into a swoon.

hard candy sky changes the game

Canadians living in the beauty-product hinterland begged Los Angeles-bound friends (thank you, Natasha) to score us a bottle of Hard Candy Sky. Those were pre-Sephora, pre-Internet shopping days. If you wanted a hard-to-find cosmetic, you had to hunt and gather it yourself. Fifteen years later, I still have my Hard Candy Sky, with the coordinating blue diamond ring intact.

In the neutral-loving '90s, nail polish meant pale pink for fingers, red for toes. But Hard Candy Sky, a chalked-out pale blue -- the colour of an empty swimming pool -- was a gateway. And the Cosmetic Industrial Complex happily fed that addiction, creating ever more unusual hues. The dried blood shades began courtesy of Chanel's Rouge Noir (called Vamp in the US). Iridescent sparklers like Roach and Oil Slick made Urban Decay, and who can forget our obsession with OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark?

Now of course mauve-ish grey is the colour spotted on all the cool girls (think Essie Merino Cool or Sally Hansen Commander in Chic) and Ladies Who Lunch snapped up Chanel Paradoxal this season. (I think the fact that it comes in a Chanel bottle adds to the allure.)

Until recently, Hard Candy was just a fond '90s memory. Even a brief stab at resurgence ended in 2008 when the brand was shuttered.

Hard Candy Sky story_Hard Candy stuff

But now Hard Candy is exclusively at WalMart with nothing costing more than $10 so you can grab every shiny thing you covet, guilt-free. Fortune Gloss shiny lip gloss ($5.98) has a Magic Eight Ball embedded in the cap to answer your love questions, and glitter-flecked Eye Candy Cream Shadow ($4.98) comes with its own matching teeny eye pencil.

But the Just Nails polishes ($4.98), still with the plastic ring, are the real stars. Sweet P pale green is loaded with sparkle, and Frenzy is an electric blue that will not interest the ladies who lunch at all.

And that iconic, chalky-blue Hard Candy Sky? WalMart brass has promised it'll be back for Spring 2011. Just in time for pool season.

Anyone else have Hard Candy archivist tendencies?

Images in second photo courtesy Hard Candy.