The ’90s Beauty Trends We’d Love To Revisit and Revamp

Sable Yong
The ’90s Beauty Trends We’d Love To Revisit and Revamp
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It’s no secret that ’90s nostalgia has been brewing for a minute now. Those of us who lived through it look back at that halcyon time with mixed feelings; there are a handful of beauty trends we are stoked to see coming back, and a few that could definitely use a makeover. After all, what’s the point of repeating history if you don’t learn from it? Take a click through memory lane with these ’90s beauty trends revisited and revamped.

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Vampy everything, all the time. Whoever said you can't do a strong eye, lip and nail all at once probably wasn't living. The '90s exemplified this best on the runway and at any nightclub, (goth or otherwise). The trick? Always keep your lip lines very precise (lip liner is essential) and to keep the smoke-levels around your eyes well-blended but never straying. Use a layer of matte powder to set the whole thing and you're ready for a night out looking like a glam vampire.

Messy hair. '90s were all about grunge (amongst other things) and as a time capsule of all things unruly, riotous, and grrrl-powered, we love the purposefully deconstructed messy hair look. It doesn't have the overt sex appeal or voluminous messy hair, but lanky layers of tousled hair spoke to all tribes of grunge, goth, and punks. The look was rebellious even in execution, often involving just...not washing your hair for a bit too long. If you're not that patient or can't stand the grease, you can get the same look by twisting wet hair with a strong hold mousse or gel.

Long bangs. The overgrown pixie cut, the graduated bob—call this style what you will, it often involved lots of longer pieces in the front that would fall into your eyes and frame your face. We love the freeing, floaty movement of a short cut like this and the textured ends that fall apart in just the right disheveled way. The best part about this cut is the way it naturally lends to volume in your hair.

Matte smoky eyes. This was THE default eye makeup look if you were on television in the '90s. It was softly smoldering—perhaps a bit too made up for the daytime, but again, heavier makeup looks in general were in vogue in the '90s. Done in a range of dark earthy shades like brown, navy, eggplant, and black, this was daytime glamour at its most "casual." The key was that matte = subtle. We love this look to this day—wear it with nude matte lips for a totally '90s, yet not too overdone, look.


Frosted eyeshadow. White frosted eyeshadow—any frosted eyeshadow for that matter—was huge if you were going to high school in the '90s. Or if you were going to the club in the '90s, or just going outside in general in the '90s. Frosted eye makeup was a thing. We're not knocking it, we'd just want to dial back the wattage a bit for our current times. Since dewy skin and highlighter is the beauty look of the moment, you can always add a sheer wash of frosted white eyeshadow and it'll look much more naturally glowy than its cakey progenitor back in the day.


Faux-dreadlocks. Twisted out fake dreads seemed to be part of some strange surfer-hippie-cyber-punk sect. While we'd probably save this look for a rave, it's way to getting textured beach waves—actual beach hair preferred. You can soften this look by not twisting quite all the way to the roots, and using a strong hold gel or mousse.

Lip stains. The skin look for the '90s seemed to be a translucently glowing complexion with sheer stains of colors on your lips and eyes, often done in monochromatic tones. While the idea may have been to exude a fairy-like look, lip stains often came off as anything but; let's face it, they were probably your precursor to full-on bold red lips.

Staight, center-parted hair. Straight hair, middle part, like your hair was licked down on either side—that was a totally typical '90s way to go. It's simple, minimalist, and generally flattering (the choker is optional). Nowadays the look is much more modern with a bit more volume, face-framing layers and some curl in the ends.

Brown lipstick. We sure are glad to see brown lipstick again. The color is just a bold as a red or plum lip, but decidedly more "back off" without going full on goth black. Paired with a matte complexion and soft brown eye shadow, it's SO '90s. To update the look, don't match your brown lipstick to your eye makeup. Trust us on that one.

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