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History has a habit of repeating itself, and if the sudden trend of brown lipstick and contrasting lip liner all over your Instagram feed is any indication, we’re staring down the barrel of the ’90s once more—and we couldn’t be happier. This was the decade that gave us larger-than-life hair, dramatic eye makeup and flawlessly matte skin; who doesn’t want to embrace that look?
And even though we love a good ’90s inspired editorial, nobody does glamour the way the original beauty icons of the 1990s did. From the original supermodels to our Girl Power heroes, here are our top ten ’90s beauty icons who are still inspiring our looks today.
In the ’90s, models were so much more than taller-than-average babes—they were the coolest girls we all wanted to be. Cindy Crawford was definitely one of the top supermodels of the ’90s: not only did she routinely slay the runway and lock down every major magazine cover, she also hosted MTV’s House Of Style and gave Pepsi some much-needed sex appeal. With her signature voluminous brunette locks, highlighted with subtle caramel streaks, she made us feel like the cool, approachable girl next door could secretly be a goddess.
When you think of rebellious beauty in the ’90s, Courtney Love undoubtedly comes to mind. Her signature messy blonde curls, smudgy black eyeliner and slightly smeared red lipstick were a testament to rock and roll beauty that was totally kick ass and genuine. After all, grunge girls like makeup too—and they had Courtney Love to admire for it.
The perennial flower child, Drew Barrymore has experimented with many beauty looks; yet perhaps most iconic was her cherubic curly blonde crop adorned with daisies and paired with her signature vampy burgundy lip. Part 1930s silent film star, part hippie babe, all ’90s glamour—Drew exuded a free-spirited lightness that we still adore.
Gwen Stefani has had MANY beauty looks: in the 90s she rocked pink and blue hair, before reverting to her signature platinum blonde as she is today. The bindis may be questionable today, but at the time they were daringly edgy; the red lips, of course, remain timeless. Though we may not pluck out all our brows and draw them on the way Gwen did back in the day, we really admire her for finding her specific aesthetic and experimenting with it, all while looking so eminently herself.
Kate Moss—obviously. She had the whole “natural beauty” thing in the bag, with her intensely emotive face and slender frame starring in some of the most iconic ads and editorials of the decade. There isn’t much of Kate Moss that hasn’t been photographed, but her raw unadulterated beauty was always the focus in any of them. Her innocent and otherworldly features gave us something less conventional to admire; her pink blush and cranberry lipstick game gave us something to emulate.
Liv Tyler‘s defining ’90s beauty moment may have been her role in the cult favorite film, Empire Records, or perhaps as one of the rebellious teenagers in her dad’s band, Aerosmith’s music video for ‘Crazy.’ Her ethereal beauty is timeless—literally, considering that nearly 20 years later she looks relatively the same. The long dark locks, pale skin, blue eyes and naturally pouty lips were her beauty calling card. Definitively an all-American babe, Liv Tyler was like our best friend who just happened to be the daughter of a famous rock star and supermodel.
Naomi Campbell was a force in the ’90s. Admired and feared in equal parts, her notorious temper translated to the most natural-born fierceness the runway has ever seen. As one of the top three in-demand models of the ’90s, she gave an entire generation of women of color someone to look up to in the fashion industry—a world that is still overwhelmingly white. Let’s not forget that she was the first black model on the cover of French Vogue, as well as the first black model on the US Vogue’s September issue, their largest issue of the year.
We ALL knew who our inner Spice Girl was—with five to choose from, it was like picking your patronus. With their outlandish outfits each geared to their band persona, the singing group gave us the most memorable beauty looks of the decade—who could forget Geri’s blonde streaks? Or for that matter, Mel B’s two hair-coned kitty ears, that Rihanna seems to be paying homage to these days.
Okay, Mia Wallace is technically Uma Thurman‘s character in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, but her look was so striking that this is a classic beauty reference to this day. A blunt black bob paired with soft matte brown eyeshadow, black liner, red lips and Chanel’s classic Rouge Noir nail polish creates a look that still works today.
Has Winona Ryder ever had an awkward growing-out hair phase? We think not, considering her ability to rock a pixie and then grow it out while looking adorably insouciant the whole time. Her often slightly furrowed straight brows and pursed lips gave the alternative girls a spokesmodel of our kind of beauty—understated and unique, but still bold.