The ’90s Hair Flip Is Back & Here’s How to DIY The Retro Look

The ’90s Hair Flip Is Back & Here’s How to DIY The Retro Look
Photo: AP Images. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

From TikTok to Instagram trends, it’s all about the retro vibes these days. Sorry millennials—the ’90s and 2000s are included. To make sure your hair joins in on the throwback action, there’s one look that should be on your radar—the retro flip hairstyle trend. Our favorite celebs including Rihanna and Kylie Jenner have been rocking the look and doing it really well.

This hairstyle originated in the 1960s and was later popularized in the ’90s, hairstylist Cash Lawless reminds us. It’s officially back with a vengeance. The best thing about this flip hairstyle is that there are so many ways to rock it. Whether you’re throwing in some hair clips or adding bangs, there’s a twist to this look to suit you.

We caught up with Lawless, as well as hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, to get the scoop on this re-emerging style and exactly how to make it work on your own hair at home. In addition, stylist and salon owner Ursula Stephen gave us the scalp-care tips we need to ensure the health of our hair. Keep reading to find out.

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Book That Haircut

Before you can nail the style, you have to have the right cut. This isn’t really a DIY situation. After all, you don’t want to get scissor-happy on your hair or extensions and end up ruining the look before you have a chance to rock it. Lawless stresses having the proper cut before attempting this style. “[This] is going to be your foundation for whether or not you pull this off well,” he says. “A one-length haircut, with significant density on the ends and with the length meeting just at the collarbone, will get you a beautiful, full, long-lasting flip that hits right at the shoulder. You can go a little longer, but I recommend you flip the hair once the length gets past the collar bone.”

Wash and Prep the Hair

Whether you’re opting to try this style on your natural hair or with hair extensions, it’s essential to care for your strands first. The last thing you want to do is damage your hair in the process. The shampoo, conditioner and leave-in products best for you depend on your hair’s needs, but both Lawless and Fitzsimons recommend starting with a heat protectant. We like Mielle Organics Mongongo Oil Thermal & Heat Protectant Spray ($13.99 at Amazon ).

Stephen emphasizes caring for your scalp while sporting on-trend styles. If you have textured hair and are opting for wigs or extensions, this is especially important. She recommends using a nourishing shampoo and conditioner line such as Dove Dermacare Scalp ($4.99 at Amazon ).

Add Volume With the Right Products

Fitzsimons is no stranger to the voluminous hair flip and has even done the style on Kylie Jenner. If you’re concerned with volume while blow-drying, especially if you’re not using hair extensions, he recommends NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Volume Blowout Jelly ($13 at Ulta) to pump up the volume in your strands and achieve non-sticky hold. For heat protection and memory (lasting, touchable hold), Lawless loves Seven Haircare Heat Defense ($19 at Amazon ) to prepare your hair for the big flip.

Choose Your Hot Tools

Since you’re working with heat again, you should apply additional heat-protectant to your hair. Fitzsimons likes Tigi Copyright Custom Create Heat Protection Spray ($14 at Amazon ) which conditions and softens hair. The actual hot tools you use depend mostly on what you feel comfortable with. While Lawless prefers using a curling iron for better heat control (300 degrees or less!), on the flip side, Fitzsimons prefers a flatiron with rounded plates. 

Section Hair and Start the Flip

There are so many modern twists to the flip; the possibilities are endless. If you’re like Fitzsimons and love a classic look with a touch of a ’90s feel, you can keep it parted down the middle and add some ’90s-inspired accessories. To switch it up a bit, Lawless is a fan of the trending half-up half-down style.

Once your hair is dry, cur pieces outward, rotating the flat iron or curling iron toward you. Remember to lightly comb through your hair before curling to avoid tangles throughout the process. Also, be sure to refrain from tightly clamping your hair with your tool to prevent denting the hair. You don’t want crimp lines going through the ends.

Make It Last

If hairspray makes you think of crunchy, stiff hair, we have some great news. Both hairstylists recommended some of their favorite soft hold products to help make the style last without the crunchy feel. Lawless recommends Kenra Professional Volume Spray 25 ($18.50 at Ulta), which resists wind and humidity all day. Fitzsimons, on the other hand, loves Redken Fashion Work 12 Medium Hold Hairspray ($21 at Ulta), which contains vitamins A and E.

Treat Your Scalp

If you choose to achieve this style using wigs, Stephen reminds us to care for our hair underneath. You want to keep your hair and scalp moisturized at all times. If you’re concerned with product build-up between washes, she recommends using a lightweight natural oil such as jojoba. This particular oil mimics the natural oil (or sebum) that comes from our scalps. All hair types can use jojoba oil, but the amount varies based on texture and density. For example, curly to kinky hair textures will probably require more than straight or wavy hair types.

Whichever way you flip, this retro style is totally worth giving a go this season and beyond.

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