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.
- 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.