Growing up, there were certain products your families reached for to cure stomach aches, to get your skin to cooperate, and to clean up your home. And whether you have adopted them, find them overrated, or forgotten them altogether, they form a special part of our childhoods. That’s why we’re taking a trip down memory lane and looking at the products our parents swore by and their sometimes unconventional uses.
Editor’s Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list. Let us know in the comments what else your families turn to without fail.
Vick's Vapor Rub
This is perhaps the most ubiquitous item on the list. Vick’s Vapor Rub – or vivaporú as we prefer to call it – is the Latino cure-all. The mentholated topical ointment is a cough suppressant, but Latino families use it for that and more. If you have a headache, slather a generous amount on your forehead. Rub it on your feet, which you then need to cover with socks, to feel relief when you have a cold. You shouldn’t heat it up, though your family likely did this anyway.
We love the product so much that many Latino creators have now created merch inspired by the little blue bottle.
For many of our mamis, Concha Nacar was the beauty product to evening your skin tone. The skin care line considers the Latino community its consumers. As it website reads, “For more than four generations, Perlop Cosmetics Inc. has produced skin care products that address the unique complexion challenges and lifestyle demands of the Latino community.”
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has multiple uses. On top of deodorizing our fridges and cleaning our homes, Arm & Hammer cures innumerable ailments, freshens breath, exfoliates your skin, and more. Though this, much like vaporub, isn’t a product that is beloved by just Latinos, we know our families stan.
If you’re like many Latinos, you’ll never be able to forget the part lavender, part chemically smell of Fabuloso. The product, most commonly used on floors, is an all-purpose cleaner, and some of our families definitely made use of it.
Jabón de Cuaba
Particularly among Caribbean families, jabón de cuaba – soap made from the resin of a pine tree – is used in many ways. As our assistant music editor Joel Moya notes, “Jabón de Cuaba is good for washing clothes, culitos, and maybe dishes.” (It’s also been used as a feminine hygiene product, which doctors have warned against.)
But there are those who are all about this product’s ability to improve your skin and to cleanse, and at least the brand Candado received a big co-sign from Celia Cruz.
Bay Rum, a type of aftershave/lotion, has many uses in our households. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, have a cold, or have tightness in your chest, just grab Bay Rum.
Aguas de violeta
The smell of violets defined many of our childhoods. If so, aguas de violetas – aka the Latino baby’s cologne – will likely always have a special place in your heart. A splash of this purple hued fragrance goes a long way and smells like your past. But there are also many adults who are known to dab on the perfume before heading out the door.
Jabón Zote, undoubtedly the company with the cleverest name on this list, is a line of Mexican laundry soaps. The product is particularly useful for making your own detergents, but our families found multiple uses for it, including as a beauty product. To this day, people are believers of Jabón Zote and trust the soap to clean a variety of items, including their Beauty Blenders.
First and foremost, leche magnesia is the thing to consume if you have stomach issues. But it’s also an effective deodorant, aftershave, and beauty product. Our loved ones have applied leche magnesia to their faces to eliminate oiliness and to help makeup go on smoother.