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31 Unforgettable ’90s Makeup Trends We Still Love Today

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

Blue eyeshadow, matte skin, brown lipstick, and grunge black eyeliner. In a time before contouring became routine and Christina became forever known as Xtina, we had a decade so influential that its makeup trends went down in beauty history. These ’90s makeup trends were rocked by the decade’s biggest supermodels and pop stars, and went straight from TRL into our hearts. And guess what? We’re still seeing them everywhere from TikTok to the runways today.

“I am currently loving some of the makeup trends for 2023 that are also re-emerging from last year, like bold red lips with fresh dewy skin, nude eyes, as well as soft smoky eyes with nude lips. For me, they are all timeless looks that will never go out of trend,” says Sasha Ghodstinat, global makeup artist and brand trainer for CODE8.

And with that, we’re bringing you back to the golden era of lip liner and lip gloss with 31 makeup looks that dominated the ’90s, and tips to create them from makeup pro makeup artists. So turn on your lava lamp, kick back in your inflatable chair, and keep scrolling for the ultimate beauty throwback.

About the Experts:

Sasha Ghodstinat is a professional makeup artist and global makeup artist and brand trainer for CODE8.
Esther Foster is a Los Angeles–based makeup artist with a passion for creating glowy skin finishes and a portfolio spanning fashion, celebs, and magazines.

1. Sheer Metallic Lids

Florence Pugh, jewelry detail, attends the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

The ’90s were known for metallic everything—from puffer jackets to pants and yes, makeup. We still love our metallic eyeshadows today, in every shade under the sun. And while bold metallic eyeshadow is always on our list, the sheer washes of gold eyeshadow, silvers, and purples that we’re seeing have us falling in love all over again.

Want to try it? “To achieve a sheer metallic finish on the eye, you can wet a flat eyeshadow brush with water, and gently press on the eyelid until you have created your desired look,” says Ghodstinat. Try GIRLACTIK Metallic Eye Sparkle Shadow in Glam for an easy beginner step into the trend.

2. Vinyl Lips

Actress Angelina Jolie arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California
Photo by Jason Merritt/TERM / Staff / Getty Images

We love the glossy, glassy, latex-like lips of the ’90s. And we couldn't be more excited that this edgy-glam trend has made a comeback. There are plenty of vinyl lip products on the market, but if you want to get creative, layering a lip pencil, lipstick, and ultra-shiny topper is the way to go. Looking to get glam in a pinch? Ghodstinat suggests CODE8 Glazé Lip Lacquer in Gala. We also like KVD BEAUTY XO Vinyl Lip Cream Lip Gloss for its color and shine.

3. Barely-There Blush

A model is seen backstage ahead of the Fendi show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on September 20, 2018 in Milan, Italy
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Staff / Getty Images

A natural-looking flush never goes out of style. And the just-pinched effect we love is easier than ever to create thanks to this reverse application tip. Ghodstinat says, “If you want to try [blush] underneath your foundation, apply on top of the apple of the cheeks, blending upwards. You can apply more than you normally would, then blend your base on top for a natural soft finish. Ghodstinat suggests CODE8 5secs Express Lip and Cheek Color, which comes in three different shades.

4. Purple-Plum Lips

Priyanka Chopra attends the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

From JLo to TLC, deep, plummy-purple lips took the ’90s by storm. One swipe of this bold lip color gave you instant edgy, cool vibes. Keep the rest of your makeup simple—or, if you really want to channel the ’90s, make it matte, and let your bold lips take the spotlight. Tip: To prevent feathering and flaking, always use a lip scrub to get your lips nice and smooth before applying your lipstick. LARITZY COSMETICS Lipstix in Plum has a built-in lipliner for even more staying power.

5. Chunky Glitter Eyeshadow

Actress Margot Robbie attends the Peter Rabbit Australian Premiere on March 17, 2018 in Sydney, Australia
Photo by James D. Morgan / Stringer / Getty Images

Nothing’s more ’90s than over-the-top glitter—on hair, on lips, and on eyes. Opt for gleaming gold, shiny silver, or a mix of colors for a super fun effect. Chunky glitter eyeshadow is the perfect way to glam up your look. For even more glitter inspo, check out our Top 20 Glitter Eyeshadow Looks to Try.

6. The Brick Lip

Close-up of a model rocking silver dangling earrings, yellow and black stripes nail art, and a brick lip makeup look

If there was a single lip color to represent the ’90s, it would hands down be brick lipstick. It was donned by celebs like Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder and looked just as chic on a red carpet as it did in the grunge music scene. A few notches away from a classic red and not as dramatic as brown lipstick, this shade was (and still is) incredibly flattering.

To get this look, Los Angeles celebrity makeup artist Esther Foster used a combo of burgundy and deep taupe lip pencils to fill in lips. Just top with a clear balm (we love CLEARLY BALANCED DAYS It's The (Lip) Balm Peppermint) and put on your favorite oversized flannel.

7. Frosty Blue Eyeshadow

Close-up of a smiling model rocking silvery blue eyeshadow and silver dangling earrings

Everyone in the ’90s had the blues—from matte pastels to metallic blue-gray. It may have been shunned for a few decades (thanks to the bright cobalts of the ’80s), but it’s no doubt been making an inevitable return the last couple of years.

This time around, we’re seeing minimal pops of bright blue shades. “There were so many trends in the ’90s that I’m happy to see being revamped,” Foster tells us, demonstrating an easy way to create a ’90s-made-modern eye look. To get this 2023-approved version, reach for a deep-gray kohl pencil to line the eyes with a slight wing, then use a shimmery mid blue to smudge it out and extend the wing. Finish with a few coats of BENEFIT COSMETICS BADgal BANG! Volumizing Mascara.

8. All-Over Shimmer

Close-up of a younger Britney Spears rocking a shimmery lavender eyeshadow makeup look
Photo by Brenda Chase/Stringer / Getty Images

Lavender lids with pearly white shadow blended up to the brow bones, sky-high arches, and shimmery lip gloss? Iconic! Britney Spears—aka the “Princess of Pop” herself—ushered us from the ’90s and into the Y2K era with head-to-toe shimmer. Try MEECH N MIA Loose Eyeshadow Pigment in White—it totally would have been Brit-Brit approved.

9. Matte Skin

Close-up of a smiling Tyra Banks rocking a matte neutral makeup look
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

Before we all pined for perfectly dewy skin, a matte finish was all the rage. Tyra Banks shows off her soft-focus skin with a romantic flush on the apples of the cheeks and just the right amount of eye makeup—a little liner and softly defined lashes.

10. Pencil-Thin Brows

Close-up of a younger Pamela Anderson wearing a black cap backwards and rocking pencil thin eyebrows
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

In a style that actually dates back to the ’20s flapper era, ’90s eyebrows were waxed, plucked, and, in some cases, thinly drawn back on—as seen here on Pamela Anderson. And like it or not, the look is back. The ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Brow Pen can help create hair-like strokes no matter what size you go for.

11. Pastel Eyeshadow

Younger Drew Barrymore looking boho in a glittery dark blue headband and red scarf, coral red nails, and shimmery green eyeshadow
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

Drew Barrymore in a shimmery peridot shadow is the epitome of the late ’90s looks. In contrast to the decade’s bebeloved neutrals, Easter egg–colored eyeshadow in shades like lavender, sky blue, and mint green began popping up towards the end of the decade and into the early ’00s. Usually paired with luminous skin and a glossy lip, these playful colors are *still* considered cool. Wanna go green like Drew? Try these 20 Green Eyeshadows to Add to Your Beauty Stash.

12. Overlined Lips

Younger Naomi Campbell rocking brown overlined lips, shimmery eyeshadow, and a silver choker
Photo by Kevin Winter/Staff / Getty Images

Everyone these days probably knows that slightly overlining lips creates the illusion of volume, thanks to the Kardashian crew. But instead of using a color that matches your natural lip shade or lipstick, ’90s celebs like supermodel Naomi Campbell used contrasting dark brown pencil liners to trace around the lip line with a slick of clear or nude gloss on top. CALLYSSEE Smooth Gel Lip Liner in Spiced is the perfect deep-brown shade.

13. Red Lips

Younger Gwen Stefani rocking pencil thin eyebrows, shimmery pink eyeshadow, and dark red lips
Photo by Chris Weeks/Stringer / Getty Images

No ’90s list would be complete without Gwen Stefani’s iconic look. Like a ska-inspired Marilyn Monroe, bleached blonde is paired with an always-classic red lip—both of which remain in her style lexicon to this day. ILLAMASQUA Antimatter Lipstick in Solar is the perfect classic red for every day to fancy nights out.

14. Smoky Eye & Nude Lip

Younger Christina Aguilera rocking smoky eyes and nude lips
Photo by Chris Weeks/Stringer / Getty Images

Christina Aguilera’s smoldering, smoky lids and creamy nude gloss are still what a girl wants. This paired look created a blueprint for beauty experimentation, where accessories and small tweaks (like crimped strands) could be made to create a makeup look that’s totally unique to you.

15. Frosted Eyeshadow

Younger Jennifer Lopez rocking frosted eyeshadow and nude lips
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

Frosted eyeshadow with a dusting of glitter is *so* ’90s. As seen here on JLo, a wash of frosty blue pigment and inner corner sparkle were in regular rotation at the MTV VMAs—especially if you were accepting your Moonman.

16. The Posh Aesthetic

Younger Victoria Beckham rocking smoky eyes and nude lips
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

She may not have invented the nude lip, but it’s hard not to think of it without Victoria Beckham coming to mind. Posh Spice (who also wore the dark liner/nude gloss trend on the reg) was rarely seen on the red carpets without her smoky eye, nude lip, bronzed skin, and little Gucci dress.

17. Barely-There Beauty

Close-up of Jennifer Aniston rocking a no-makeup makeup look
Photo by Chris Weeks/Stringer / Getty Images

Grunge types had kohl liner and pop lovers had frosted makeup, but the other big makeup trend was actually the lack of one. Minimalism and no-makeup makeup (as Jennifer Aniston shows off above) came into prominence in the ’90s, along with existential dread. Popularized by supermodels such as Kate Moss, it was all about letting your natural skin tone shine and giving off an ultra cool “I don’t care” vibe. ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Luminous Foundation will get you that dewy, natural Jen Aniston glow—if you choose to wear anything at all.

18. Purple Eyeshadow

Younger Angela Basset rocking purple eyeshadow and bright red lips
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

Want an easy ’90s throwback? Follow Angela Basset’s lead and pair a light lavender eyeshadow shade close to the lash line and blend a darker hue into the crease. To make it extra ’90s, pair it with a bright red lip. But if you prefer a more modern take, Foster suggests choosing between a bold lip or eye look. “Now, there is a bit more balance to the excess of eyeshadow, where the lip might be more natural. If you go for a bold lip, keep the face minimal and fresh,” she says.

19. Face Gems

Younger Cher rocking burgundy hair, burgundy eyeshadow with gemstones, and nude lips
Photo by Nick Elgar/Staff / Getty Images

HBO Max’s hit show Euphoria clearly took notes on popular ’90s makeup trends, because face gems were everywhere. Clip-on gems made an appearance in the hair, while pops of sparkle were applied to the decolletage and, of course, focused around the eyes to complement or replace eyeshadow. Turn back time like Cher and apply self-adhesive gems (or with a dab of lash glue) along the lower lash line and up onto the brow bone.

20. Black Liner

Younger Gwyneth Paltrow rocking smoky eyes and dark nude lips
Photo by Diane Freed/Stringer / Getty Images

Of all beauty products, a dramatic black eyeliner was guaranteed to be in everyone’s kit. Gwyneth Paltrow shows off the ’90s makeup trend of tightlining and smudging around the eye with a heavy kohl liner. Just don’t forget your hair straightener and black leather choker.

21. All the Lip Gloss

Younger Beyoncé rocking soft smoky eyes and glossy lips
Photo by Chris Weeks/Staff / Getty Images

If you didn’t have five different lip glosses in your bag, were you even living in the ’90s? Before Beyoncé went solo, girl groups like Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, and TLC set the juicy ’90s lip trend into stone. Sparkly lip glosses, scented rollerballs, super pigmented (and super sticky)—any way you wore it was in.

22. All-Over Bronze

Younger Sarah Jessica Parker rocking a bronzed makeup look
Photo by George De Sota/Staff / Getty Images

At some point in the ’90s, the popular washed-out skin tone was replaced with sun-kissed skin, faux glows, and endless summer. (Hello, self-tanner!) Highlighter and bronzer began popping up in makeup aisles as people began to crave softly defined features and the healthy athletic look. Try one of these 17 Best Bronzers for a Sunkissed Glow.

23. Monochromatic Makeup

Tatyana Ali rocking a dark monochromatic mauve makeup look, silver hoop earrings, silver choker, and pig tails hairstyle
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

Another one of the landmark ’90s makeup looks? Monochromatic makeup. Mahogany, purple, and burgundy shades were used on lips, lids, and even hair to create an all-over aesthetic. Here, Tatyana Ali wore a monochromatic mauve with a studded choker and bedazzled pigtails, which was majorly on trend.

24. The Cut Crease

Younger Madonna rocking a cut crease eye makeup look and dark red lips
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer / Getty Images

A contrasting cut crease was considered the ultimate glam ’90s makeup look—and Madonna took it into the stratosphere with her brick-red lip and heaps of mascara. Recreate this trend by pairing up white and soft brown shades, creating a sharp contrast along the crease, or make it modern by using liner to create a “floating crease.”

25. Bright Blush

Younger Reese Witherspoon rocking minimal makeup with bright blush
Photo by David McNew/Staff / Getty Images

Get Reese Witherspoon’s just-ran-a-lap flush with minimal makeup and a healthy pop of blush focused on the center of the cheeks toward your hairline. Don’t be afraid to pick a shocking shade like hot pink or bright coral! You’re emulating the ’90s, after all. One of these Top 12 Cream Blushes is sure to give you that dewy, rosy flush that feels so 2023.

26. Contrasting Brows

Deborah Harry with her contrasting brows makeup look
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

Not only were brows skinnier than ever, but their color also greatly contrasted with hair in the ’90s. Take Debbie Harry’s dark brown eyebrows and bright blonde hair. If you’re thinking the look doesn’t feel that dated, that’s because it’s come back with a vengeance in the last decade.

27. Brown Lips

Younger Halle Berry rocking a brown lips makeup look
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

In the ’90s, women of color made brown lips cool and all other celebrities followed suit. There were all different shades of brown. From a nude lip to a deep, dark lip, all varieties of brown lips were deemed extremely chic. To try the look today, you can go matte with GERARD COSMETICS Hydra Matte Liquid Lipstick or glossy like beauty icon Halle Berry, above.

28. Beauty Marks

Cindy Crawford looking glam on the red carpet
Photo by Samir Hussein / Stringer / Getty Images

The rumor is, supermodel Cindy Crawford wanted to get her mole removed but her mom encouraged her to keep it. The dark beauty mark became part of her signature look, and women in the ’90s went crazy copying it. All you need is a dark brown liner and the model-ready look is complete.

29. Blush-Free Skin

Younger Tiffani Amber Thiessen rocking a blush-free makeup look on the red carpet
Photo by Brenda Chase / Stringer / Getty Images

Once the bright blush of the ’80s felt dated, celebrities in the early 1990s skipped blush and bronzer for one-tone skin with zero dimension. It’s hard to imagine today with the way we contour and sculpt our faces. But check out how adorable Saved by the Bell’s Tiffani Thiessen looked, above, with blush-free skin.

30. Spider Lashes

Younger Naomi Campbell rocking the red carpet in a spider lashes eye makeup look
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

Women in the ’90s, such as Naomi Campbell above, lived for heavy, ultra-long lashes—even with clumps! It’s easiest to achieve with faux lashes, such as ALL-BELLE False Lashes. Add shimmery blue eyeshadow for an even more ’90s supermodel look.

31. Navy Smoky Eye

Younger Brandy rocking a navy smoky eye makeup look
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

Not only did folks in the ’90s love a smoky eye, but they experimented with colors instead of black. Brandy took home an American Music Award in 1996 while rocking a blue-toned smoky eye that’s just as dramatic as black.

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About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated April 7, 2023 12:00 AM