7 Mirra Approved 90s Beauty Trends
The 90s was an era of iconic and oft referenced fashion, beauty, and pop culture. In fact, the most impressionable moments of the 90s often arose out of an intersection of all three. Think Clueless, Britney Spears, and Destiny’s Child. From the bold to the timeless, these are some of our favorite 90s beauty trends, and a few that can stay well behind the wizard’s curtain.
- The makeup and hair trends of the 90s were staples of their time, but also repurposed a lot of inspiration from previous decades.
- Celebrities and regular makeup users today are bringing new life to plenty of 90s trends like thin eyebrows, frosted eyeshadow, and blowouts.
- Many of the classic looks from the 90s are incredibly easy to replicate and can mix up your everyday looks.
1. Thin eyebrows
The plucked eyebrow trend of the 90s was actually a rebirth of the 20s flapper brows. We can definitely see the inspiration from starlets like Josephine Baker and Edith Piaf who wore thin, arched lines above each eye.
In a rejection of the pre-war Gibson Girl era, 20th-century women worked with both color and shape. The invention and popularization of film prompted women across the country to mimic the Hollywood allure of women on screen. Along with inspiration, makeup products themselves were receiving a revival that made them far easier to apply.
Now people are experimenting with thin eyebrows again. Whether it’s plucked or threaded, eyebrows have more *expressions*.
In the 90s, full brows were considered messy and too bushy. Cameron Diaz or Halle Berry opted for thin brows, leaving a clean workspace for other 90s beauty trends we’ll mention later like frosted eyeshadow.
Post 90s, brows went through a full metamorphosis. First it was precisely shaped 2000s arches, then 2016 Instagram brows using the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow kit, which soon transitioned into less painted, more full and bushy brows. Although the natural look is still dominant, people experimenting with makeup and shape have come back around to thin brows.
We know that fashion and beauty trends are cyclical, but this particular rebirth may have been prompted in part by TikTok. Following the “Pam & Tommy” miniseries, where we saw Lily James transformed into a 90s Baywatch icon, Pamela Anderson’s quintessential makeup look trended across TikTok in the form of a filter. This look arrived in several variations, not all reminiscent of Pam, but all sculpting your brows into something much daintier.
Inspired by their potential, plenty of people began plucking their brows in real life too. I love the experimentation, especially since plucking requires a lot less product than painting on or filling in brows. You might find thinner brows fit your face shape or aesthetic tastes more. Or, hey, do as Doja Cat and just shave them off entirely to paint on something new each day.
Following the same trend philosophy, now the bleached brows filter on TikTok has got people like Dove Cameron bleaching their brows. I wonder what eyebrow look is next.
2. Frosted eyeshadow and the subgenre: blue eyeshadow
It’s Brandy in her sparkling Cinderella dress. It’s Lil’ Kim in metallic green. It’s platinum blonde Christina Aguilera with shiny eyelids. Frosted eyeshadow was a 90s beauty trend that extended well into the cult classic teen movies of the 2000s.
Before Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox confessed their queenly teenage drama, everyone wore monochromatic frosty and metallic eyeshadow in movies, in music videos, and on red carpets.
Although I remember watching Brandy’s performance as Cinderella when I was very little, my first introduction to this look was probably from anywhere but the 90s.
A nod to mod looks of the 60s and 70s, you can find pretty similar frosty looks on ABBA and Cher. I remember seeing each of the Cheetah Girls rock a matching eyeshadow and jumpsuit ensemble in the 2000s (my actual childhood years).
Characterized by bright eyes and minimal color elsewhere, this eyeshadow technique became a staple of 90s and 2000s beauty. That simplicity not only made it a mutable look for any red carpet outfit but also easily adaptable for the everyday. Whatever color or shade you want, the options are endless.
Thus, the most famous of the frosty looks arrives: blue eyeshadow. From bright to baby pastels, blue eyeshadow had its moment in the 90s. Though traded out for the nudes and browns of the 2010s, bright eyeshadow and liner has had a full comeback in these recent months. Jules, Maddy, Kat, and Cassie’s characters on Euphoria all utilized blue eyeshadow at some point.
One reason I think this trend appeals to this generation too is its simplicity. We are all fans of multi-use products. I have nothing against 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner (if it works for you, that’s good with me), but all-in-one lip, cheek, and eye products are the superior multipurpose tools.
Take inspiration from the monochromatic looks of the 90s. Keep it rosy and natural, or opt for something between mod and modern with a metallic eyeshadow.
The grunge aesthetic overall has seen a resurgence as of late. Dr. Martens, a staple of the 90s grunge scene, show up on everyone whether it's a short laofer style or the classic boot.
The grunge look, once again, bled into the 2000s, inspiring the emo and diffusing somewhat into e-girl/e-boy looks as well. Revitalized in today’s beauty scene, the grunge aesthetic originally grew out of the grunge music scene in the 90s. Clothing and makeup extended the angst, frustration, and nihilism present in music themes.
The frustrated teenager with smudged liner is no stranger to our culture. Taking on a slightly new face each era, it’s a constant reminder of youth and early adult struggles, something every generation copes with and pushes against.
The look, whether you’re making a statement or not, usually includes dark liner, neutral base makeup, and accessories.
4. Spiky hair
Ok, so this one has two parts. First, I want to express my love for the 90s-style spiky buns and slicked hair. Spice Girls and Pheobe Buffay unite, this hair trend is often paired with colorful butterfly clips and hair ties, overall adding a pop to otherwise clean hairstyles. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s fun, funky, and fresh.
@stxph.h This transitionnn thooo so fun ib: @ashlan_13 #fypシ #transitionchallenge #makeuptransformation ♬ Sway (Sped Up Version) - Michael Bublé
On the other hand, we have, and I’m really sorry to say this, but we have NSYNC in one of my least favorite 90s beauty trends. The frosted tips *plus* spiky gelled hairstyles was just… not it.
I’m all for experimentation, and fun with bleach is an aspect of the 90s I’m so happy to see back around (we’ll get to that in a second). But I just can’t make my peace with a hairstyle that reminds me of those neon silicone spiky ball earrings from Claire’s everyone else had in elementary school (Bless you, Mom, for never letting me get those).
So I’m happy to see us break out the gel and claw clips, but maybe leave the Lance Bass and Joey Fatone spikes firmly back in the 90s.
5. Fun with bleach
Have I mentioned that I love unique hair? After the bright colors and teased looks of the 80s, 90s hair toned down a bit, working more with accents. Memorable examples include Ginger Spice’s bleached bangs or Cindy Crawford’s chunky blonde highlights.
Today, people experiment with bleach and hair color to revamp these 90s beauty trends. Chunky highlights, bleached bangs, and underside layers in every color, we are not afraid of color contrast.
This trend also combines with another popular 90s hairstyle. Chunky box braids took center stage during the 90s. Less intensive than microbraids of the same era, braiding bleached strands and color into big box braids updates the classic hairstyle, bringing a 90s favorite back around with a modern take.
With chunky highlights and bleach back in the game, it feels like we’ve made a full circle from the frosted tips of the 90s, through 2000s highlights, 2010s ombre hair, and finally back to unique highlights and high contrast hair.
6. Brick lips and lipgloss
I don’t think anyone is surprised that lipgloss made the list. While it never really went out of style, lipgloss looks have certainly evolved over the decades. Gold and nude high shine glosses gave way to bubblegum pink which turned into today’s rosy lip stains.
But brick lips are back. This trend, originally showcased by Black pop stars and rappers of the 90s, experienced a full nostalgia rebirth on social media. Whether it’s a brown lipstick, a dark liner with a nude gloss in the center, or a combination of all those, these retro lip looks highlight the cyclical nature of trends and the endless creativity of makeup users.
This is far and away the most universally loved 90s beauty trend making its way back around. 90s supermodels specifically rocked this big, loose hairstyle on and off the runway. It was a step back from the 80s hair and scrunchies, but still prioritized volume.
Now you can achieve the quintessential Cher Horowitz blowout with heatless rollers, a blow dryer, or many of the new tools on the market designed as a response to the desire for this exact hairstyle. Endless TikTok videos and YouTube tutorials detail techniques for blowouts, otherwise known as “that fluffy 90s hair.”
@agatherenou #duet with @lexie.pelz ♬ Sunday Kind of Love - Etta James
Whether it’s curtain bangs, high shine lip gloss, or, yes even spiky frosted tips, 90s beauty trends have come back in full force. Take inspiration from style icons and add your own spin, or go fully retro. But, as always, have fun with your makeup and hair.
Written by Christiana Sinacola
- Photo via Getty Images