The ‘90s were a glorious decade. The music? Incredible. The fashion? Even better. But in our opinion, ‘90s makeup is one of the very best features of the era. The makeup was bold, rebellious, and incredibly fun—think vivid colors, sparkly accents, and lots of lived-in eyeliner. So it’s really no surprise that some of the decade’s most iconic beauty trends are enjoying a resurgence. Whether you’re a fan of grunge makeup or prefer more laid-back looks, there’s a ‘90s makeup trend to suit your style. And here, we’re breaking down six of our very favorites for you to try out. Cue up your beloved ‘90s playlist, and keep reading to dive into ‘90s eye makeup ideas, lip looks, and more.
‘90s Grunge Makeup
The Trend: Grunge-Inspired Smokey Eyes
If there’s one overarching trend that defines the ‘90s, it’s grunge. Grunge took over the music industry, the fashion industry, and most definitely the beauty industry. The main characteristic of ‘90s grunge makeup was smudged-out, lived-in eye makeup—and because the goal was to look a little messy, this iconic look is super easy to achieve. In fact, it only really requires one product: eyeliner.
As for which eyeliner to use, we recommend our Epic Smoke Liner, as the two-in-one eyeliner stick includes eyeliner on one end and a miniature paddle brush for diffusing on the other. Pick your favorite hue (for a classic grunge makeup look, we suggest Black Smoke), and draw a thick line along both your upper and lower lash lines. Then, smoke it out with the paddle brush until you’ve achieved your desired effect.
The Trend: Matte Brown Lips
Brown lipstick was another massively popular grunge ‘90s makeup trend. And like many other ‘90s makeup trends, this look is both effortlessly cool and pretty simple to achieve—so long as you choose the right shade of brown lipstick (or gloss) for your skin.
Generally speaking, cool browns are ideal for cool-toned skin, while warmer hues are best for those with warm undertones. You’ll find your match in our Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick collection, which features 31 matte-finish hues, from soft taupes to deep, rich chocolatey browns. Use the precise applicator to apply your chosen color directly to your lips for up to 16 hours of bold, comfortable wear.
Pro Tip: For an extra eye-catching ‘90s makeup look, line your lips with a darker lip liner (like our Line Loud Vegan Longwear Lip Liner in the shade Rebel Kind) before applying your lipstick.
‘90s Eye Makeup Ideas
The Trend: Colorful Shadow and Liner
In the ‘90s, if you weren’t wearing grungy, smoked-out eyeshadow, there’s a good chance you were rocking pastel lids. Baby blue, in particular, was one ‘90s eyeshadow color that seemed to be everywhere. And now, 30 years later, we’re glad to say that blue eyeshadow is cool once again.
To channel the It Girls of the ‘90s, reach for our Ultimate Color Palette in Vintage Jean Baby. This pro-level palette contains 16 true-to-pan shades inspired by (what else?) vintage denim. Use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to sweep one of the lighter blue hues across your lids and complete your ‘90s eye makeup look with a couple of coats of black mascara.
If you want to experiment with blue eye makeup but prefer a more modern vibe, skip the shadow and instead line your upper and lower waterlines with blue eyeliner. Our pick: Epic Wear Waterproof Eyeliner Stick in the shade Chill Blue. It even has a hint of shimmer—another calling card of the decade.
‘90s Glam Makeup
The Trend: Soft Glam
Soft glam was the ‘90s antidote to grunge, characterized by fresh skin, groomed brows, and a timeless bold lip. This chic makeup trend was especially popular for dressier events (like red carpet appearances). Here’s how to recreate it:
First, after applying your base makeup, use the darker shade in your Wonder Stick Contour and Highlighter Stick to carve out your cheekbones. (If you need help, our article Contouring 101: How to Contour Like an Absolute Pro provides a step-by-step tutorial on contouring like an expert). Blend it out and add a bit of highlighter to the tops of your cheekbones for a subtle glow. Then, using The Brow Glue Instant Brow Styler, brush your brows into place. You can opt for thin brows or a bushier brow look, but you’ll want to keep it more natural to really lean into the soft glam look.
Finally, complete your look with lipstick. For a seriously glam effect, we suggest opting for a deeper, vampier hue, such as Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in the shade Strip N Tease. If you’d prefer a more natural look, try a medium-coverage lip gloss—Butter Gloss in the shade Praline is a great pick for your ‘90s-inspired glam.
‘90s Lip Looks
The Trend: Frosted Lips
Of all the makeup trends made popular in the ‘90s, the iconic frosted lip is probably one of the most recognizable. While head-turning, the pale, shimmer-packed lipsticks of the ‘90s were, admittedly, tough to pull off. That’s why today’s take on the trend involves using lip gloss (rather than shimmery lipstick) for shine sans unwanted sparkle. This simple swap makes the ‘90s lip look more wearable and more versatile—especially if you’re using a pigmented gloss, like our Butter Lip Gloss. Available in 30 shades, this fan-favorite lip gloss provides a sheer-to-medium wash of color with a non-sticky, high-shine finish. Apply your favorite shade to bare lips or layer it over lipstick and lip liner for an added dose of shine.
‘90s Glitter Accents
The Trend: Sparkle and Shimmer
Looking for a party-ready ‘90s makeup look? Try a sparkly smokey eye. Start by creating your smokey eye, then layer a shimmery or glittery eyeshadow over your shadow. Our Ultimate Glow Shots are the perfect glimmering eyeshadow for ‘90s makeup looks. They’re ideal for layering, and the liquid formula provides a high-impact shimmery finish that lasts up to 12 hours. Plus, the flake-free shadow comes in a range of shades, from pastels to jewel tones, so you can customize your gleaming look to your liking.
Got a '90s makeup look you love? Share your creation on social and tag us at @nyxcosmetics.