Grunge Makeup Is Back — Here Are 8 Looks to Get You Inspired

Beauty trends tend to be cyclical. Everything has its moment, and what’s on-trend eventually falls out of style until enough time passes — then it’s back. Now, the latest trend to re-emerge from the vault is the grunge aesthetic. 

Yes, the kohl-rimmed eyes, brick-colored lipstick, and matte complexions that were popular in the ’90s have returned, and they’re all over runways, Instagram, and red carpet events. 

Celebrity makeup artist and founder of KIMIKODani Kimiko Vincent, says this grunge aesthetic is all about “a bold, gritty, and imperfect makeup look that eschews popular culture with defiance.” 

For her, the key characteristics of the look are messy, smoked-out eyeliner, “Like you’ve been partying all night,” she says, and a deep lipstick in a dark burgundy tone. “This is not a precisely-applied lip complete with liner; it looks more like it was reapplied at 2 am in the dark bathroom of a bar.” 

For celebrity makeup artist and Haus Labs global artistry director, Sarah Tanno, grunge makeup is less about the individual elements and more about the collective energy it radiates. “Grunge makeup has a ‘lived in’ vibe — it allows for more freedom in the sense that there are no rules to follow and gives off an ‘IDGAF’ attitude.” 

Ahead, eight grunge-inspired makeup looks to inspire your inner angst.

Smudged-Out Smoky Eye 

During the most recent New York Fashion Week, models at the Nicole Miller show wore eyeliner looks that were as bold as they were imperfect. They also wore matte foundation and matte lip colors. It was the perfect makeup look to complement the brand’s grunge-inspired clothing collection.

Glam Eyeshadow 

Models in the Alice + Olivia’s FW22 NYFW show wore glam black eyeshadow which was complemented by velvety-matte foundation makeup and a simple neutral-pink lip. “2022 is all about drawing attention to the eyes with a bold eye makeup, and grunge fits right into that with a strong, dark eye,” says Tanno.

Brick Red Lips 

Shay Mitchell’s take on grunge makeup involves some of the most classic elements — that is, smoky eyeshadow and a brick red lipstick. When it comes to the latter, Tanno’s favorite product to use is the Haus Labs Le Monster Matte Lip Crayon. Try the shade ‘Wine Mouth,’ a warm mahogany brown that screams glam grunge.

Bleached Eyebrows 

The grunge makeup trend is also Versace-approved. At the most recent Milan Fashion Week show, Gigi Hadid walked the runway wearing a bold swipe of charcoal eyeshadow with a nude matte lip. The look was kicked up a notch with bleached brows.

Dark Red Lips 

With smoked-out eyes and a dark lip, this look is classic grunge. “A lot of people try to update grunge makeup by making it more precise with a tidy smoky eye and a well-lined lip, but to me, this loses the rebellious essence of the look,” Vincent says. “For an updated version that still maintains the essence of grunge makeup, choose a blendable eyeliner in black or deep brown and smudge it slightly with fingers or a brush. You can even add a little gloss over the lids for an undone eye. Finish with a black volumizing mascara — and don’t worry about perfect application because the look is meant to be a bit messy.” Accentuate the look with a dark wine-colored lip color, a fresh no-makeup makeup complexion, and defined brows.

Graphic Eyeliner 

Julia Fox took the grunge makeup trend and put an editorial spin on it, opting for a thick winged liner look that was rounded and upturned at her temples. True to theme, she kept her complexion and lips matte, choosing a powdery berry color for the latter.

Kohl-Rimmed Eyes 

Sydney Sweeney chose a grunge-inspired look for a recent karaoke night. Look closely, and you’ll see smokey, kohl-rimmed eyes and a velvet matte complexion. To achieve this look for yourself, all you need is a good eyeliner pencil. Tanno recommends the Haus Labs Eye-Dentify Gel Kohl Eyeliner, and recommends applying it all along the eyelids before blending it out with a brush. “This liner has a nice slip and blendability, making it perfect to create this look and it lasts all day,” she says.

Neutral-Toned Lips 

Kourtney Kardashian has been channeling a punk-grunge look for a while now, and this is a glamorous version of that aesthetic. Notice her smokey eyeshadow, defined brows, and matte complexion. Her fluttery lashes and glossy neutral-brown lip are what elevate the look and give it a modern feel. 

For a similar brown-neutral lip color, makeup artist Christine Cherbonnier recommends the MAC Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Cork. “It’s a must-have for that neutral brown lip or a base to create a red or brown undertone for  many skin tones,” she says. “Every ’90s fan or makeup artist needs this color in their kit. It’s classic and timeless.

INSTYLE

Must-See ’90s Supermodel Beauty Looks

We turn to the ’90s for most things nowadays; from hair trends to styling tips and tricks, we simply can’t get enough what is now a golden era of fashion and beauty. But what about those that were there at the time, creating the trends? While some of our favourite supermodels were hard pushed to get out of bed for less than $10,000 each day – Linda and Christy, we’re looking at you – others knew how to party in style. Those were the glory days. 

Here, British Vogue takes a look at some of the best ’90s supermodel beauty looks – from Claudia Schiffer’s full-glam hair and make-up to the mussed-up, more bohemian looks of Amber Valletta and Kate Moss – for your viewing pleasure.

Naomi Campbell, 1998

Elle MacPherson, 1991

Claudia Schiffer, 1995

Amber Valletta, 1995

Helena Christensen, 1994

Tyra Banks, 1995

Linda Evangelista, 1990s

Eva Herzigova, 1995

Beverly Peele, 1990s

Christy Turlington, 1990

Christie Brinkley, 1990s

Kate Moss, 1994

Kristen McMenamy, 1990s

Shalom Harlow, 1990s

Carla Bruni, 1990s

VOGUE

These ’90s Beauty Trends Are Well And Truly Back

Whether it’s Victoria Beckham, Aaliyah, Princess Diana or Britney Spears, our favourite ’90s icons continue to inform the way we look. Thirty years on from the era that gave us the Supers, Friends and the Spice Girls – oh, what a decade it was – the beauty trends these women spearheaded are back, adopted by today’s hottest starlets, and therefore by us. Here, are the top ten.

  1. Lip liner

Dark – often brown – lip liner was the thing back in the ’90s, with everyone from Naomi Campbell to Pamela Anderson sporting the look. Set against otherwise bare lips, adoptees of the trend often wore a slick of gloss over the top for a multidimensional effect. More recently, Kim Kardashian, Megan Thee Stallion and Lizzo have all tried the look.

2. Frosted eyeshadow

For old-school inspiration for the current frosted eyeshadow trend, see Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez, both of whom wore glimmering pastel hues up to their eyebrows way back in the ’90s. Now, it’s all over TikTok, and according to retailers, sales of frosted blue eyeshadow have surged.

3. A cropped ’90s bob

The bob has been all the rage over the past year, with many snipping off years of hard-won hair growth in order to embrace the trend. While there are myriad iterations, the ’90s bob takes its cues from Cameron Diaz in her There’s Something About Mary days – think jaw-skimming, boyish and low-maintenance.

4. Antennae hair

One person leading the charge when it comes to ’90s trends is Bella Hadid, who has almost single-handedly brought back the “antennae” or two pieces of face-framing hair. A big trend in the ’90s, Hadid wears hers with a slicked-back up do – the more gel, the better.

5. Skinny brows

Making its (in some cases, unwanted) return to Gen-Z faces everywhere, the skinny brow is having a renaissance. While those born in – or before – the ’90s have spent the decades since growing back their over-plucked tadpoles, the younger generations are channelling early Drew Barrymore, Gwen Stefani and Tyra Banks.

6. Blue eyeliner

From Princess Diana to Britney and Reese Witherspoon – plus, of course, schoolgirls the nation over – vivid blue eyeliner was practically a requirement in the ’90s. Now we’re wearing deeper hues, such as navy: Nicola Coughlan served up stellar cobalt shadow at the BAFTA TV Awards, and Iris Law went for a metallic winged look at the Fashion East X Browns party during London Fashion Week.

7. French manicure

The French manicure has been on a rollercoaster since its glory days in the ’90s, when it was the nail look to have, before its popularity faded. After overcoming its once passé reputation, it’s the mani of the moment again. The most flattering way to look is with a thin (rather than chunky) tip. Whether you wear it minimally or play with colours and nail art, it’s truly the trend to try now.

8. Obvious hair colour

Hair colour doesn’t have to look ultra-natural, you know. Obvious and overt hair colour has become de rigueur, with colour blocking a big trend favoured by Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid. Meanwhile, Billie Eilish’s acid green roots (R.I.P.) inspired a generation of fans to experiment with their own colour.

9. Lip gloss

Remember Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes? Everyone had one of those high-shine, scented formulas to top up plump, glossy pouts. They were discontinued, but made a return in 2020 to the delight of the millennials who loved them the first time round. Consider them the easy way to inject some luminosity into your look.

10. Poker-straight hair

Hair straighteners were deployed almost daily back in the day, given that poker-straight stands were very much in vogue. Now straighter-than-straight hair is back again – just see Lila Moss in British Vogue’s June issue – and you get extra ’90s points for throwing it up in a claw clip.

VOGUE