If we had to narrow it down to just one decade of makeup trends to wear over and over again, the nineties will always win out. So, from bright blue eyeshadow to brown lipstick and glass-like lip gloss, we've rounded up 32 makeup looks inspired by the '90s.
Never did we think we'd write the words "timeless" and "90s" in the same sentence, but if these constantly reemerging '90s beauty trends are anything to go by, the world just can't get enough of the decade that brought us frosted eyeshadow and bold lip liner. In fact, every year it feels like a retro look from the years that brought us Friends (and more specifically the Rachel Green haircut - one of Jennifer Aniston's best looks) makes a comeback.
So, if you're seeking to recapture the grungy magic of the 1990s - or perhaps a look to pair alongside your favourite '90s fashion trends - we've selected 32 of the most iconic and wearable looks from the era...
32 of the most iconic makeup looks inspired by the '90s
The '90s was the decade that ushered in The Spice Girls and NSYNC, flared jeans, double-denim and of course a plethora of bold but also natural makeup looks that have both defined the period and endured.
You can spot the influence in all the years since and so, if you're looking for a way to revitalise your beauty regime, it doesn't hurt to take inspiration the nineties and we've found the perfect makeup moments to do just that.
1. Smokey eyeshadow
Smoky eyeshadow is at truly timeless look that we can thank the '90s for making mainstream. As shown on Gwyneth Paltrow, it's flattering and adds a touch of sultriness to your look. Amongst all the makeup offerings in the lineup, the smoky eye is by far the easiest to work into your everyday repertoire as you can go as heavy or as subtle as you like.
Recreate the look...
Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette The Rock Chick
RRP: £45 |This palette features all the shades you need to create the perfect '90s smoky eye, including a dark grey and two lighter shimmers. There's also a light silver shadow to apply at the inner corner of your eye - for when you want an added touch of glamour.
Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend Brush Set
RRP: £8.99 | No eyeshadow look is complete without the proper equipment and to achieve the ultimate smoky effect, you'll need a fluffy brush and a more angled brush, to sweep the colour under your eye. This Real Technique kit comes with three brushes, one of which is angled and also features a lash brush.
Clinique High Impact Mascara
RRP: £24 | To complete your smoky look, your lashes will require a healthy coating of black mascara. This Clinique mascara is buildable and will elongate your lashes, for the perfect feathered look. We'd also recommend using an eyelash curler before applying your mascara, like this Tweezerman curler from Amazon.
2. Bare skin and a bold lip
Bare-skin and a red lip is a timeless pairing that was especially popular in the nineties, as actress Winona Ryder proves. This combination is simple but sophisticated and is the perfect way to elevate your everyday look, especially when taking your makeup from day to night.
3. Frosted eyeshadow
Frosted eyeshadow is a quintessentially '90s trend and is perfect for a glamorous nighttime or event look. As model Kate Moss demonstrates, you can opt for either a cool-toned blue or a silver to capture that frosted effect. For a very decade-accurate feel, be sure to blend your eyeshadow up to your brow bone, for that diffused and smoky look and pair it with a glossy lip.
4. Blue eyeshadow
Ah, blue eyeshadow. Love it or hate it but it's undeniably '90s and is a look we've seen make numerous comebacks, especially during the 2000s. Regardless of your makeup preferences, there's always room for a pop of blue eyeshadow, whether you pair it with more natural, glowy skin or with an equally standout lip.
5. Matte orange-toned red lipstick
There's a reason why most of our makeup bags feature at least one of the best red lipsticks. It's a true signature that can always be relied upon for providing a chic and mature effect - and is one of those bold lipstick looks that never goes out of style.
6. Brown lip liner
Brown lip liner with a hint of gloss was another popular look throughout the decade, worn by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and JLo. This trend of outlining your lips with a darker liner before overlaying with a gloss or nude lipstick is still a staple look for many.
7. Bare skin and skinny brows
Compared to the statement looks of the '80s, the nineties saw a shift to more natural makeup, with celebs like Courtney Cox often wearing just a burgundy or nude lipstick, while keeping their skin more or less bare.
8. Burgundy lipstick
Much like how dark red nails never go out of style, burgundy lipstick is another timeless look that was especially popular in the '90s. Here we can see Jennifer Lopez pairing a satin-like dark red lip with a grey smoky eye - which is definitely a very wearable combination today.
9. Smudgy underliner
Black eyeliner was a key player in the '90s, especially more effortless, smudgy eyeliner. This eye moment, as Princess Diana models, is perfect for a stylish evening look and can be as bold or as understated as you prefer.
10. Brown lipstick and blush
There was a real softness and 'lived-in' feel to '90s makeup. As we can see from this Jennifer Aniston look, warm-toned, matte lipsticks and powder blushers were the go-to, which when paired together, create a subtle and cohesive look.
11. Bold lip liner with nude lipstick
Nude lipstick with a slightly dark liner was also a staple in the '90s as shown by Pamela Anderson, who paired the matte lip with skinny brows and black eyeliner. It really doesn't get more '90s than that makeup trio!
12. Glossy Red lipstick
As we know, red lipstick was an essential back then and so was adding a swipe of lip gloss. If you're already a lover of lipstick and are looking to elevate it or just add a pop of youthfulness, a clear or sparkly gloss is definitely the way to go.
13. Glassy lipgloss
Speaking of lip gloss, it was everywhere during this time, so if you're looking to incorporate a subtle nod to the era in your look, a glassy gloss is the way to go. If you loathe the stickiness that often comes hand in hand with this style of lip product though, opt for one of the best lip oils instead - as they will offer a similar sheen, whilst simultaneously hydrating your lips.
14. Smokey eyeshadow and a red lip
Name a more iconic duo than a red lip and smoky eye? We won't wait because you can't. This look may not have necessarily been born in the '90s but it might as well have been. If you're looking for a sophisticated, fail-safe makeup look, this is definitely it - especially if you opt for a blue-toned red like Cindy Crawford's.
15. Winged liner
When it comes to the best eyeliner looks, a wing is high up on the list thanks to it's versatility. You can either opt for a dramatic wing, like Naomi Campbell's or a thinner, more elongated line - ideal for everyday.
16. Nude lipstick
Matte skin with an equally subtle lip was another '90s go-to that can easily be adapted to your makeup regime. It's flawless, fresh and will perfectly compliment any wardrobe - no matter the occasion. However, be sure to invest in the best setting powders to replicate Linda Evangelista's diffused look.
17. Brown lip liner and gloss
As mentioned, brown lipstick was very popular throughout the '90s and beyond but a brown liner and gloss is perhaps the most iconic look of the decade. Here we can see the '90s icon herself, Naomi Campbell pairing a glossy lip with a bright blue eyeshadow.
18. Feathered lashes
While natural makeup was a staple look, the lashes were the exception with feathered and spider-like eyelashes taking centre stage. Here we can see Tyra Banks pictured with perfectly voluminous lashes, paired with a pop of white eyeliner on her waterline.
19. Diffused blush and bronzer
While blush on the apples of the cheeks was popular, the '90s were more focused on bronzer under the cheekbone. These days we have contour products for carving out our jawlines but there's definitely a case to be made for diffused bronzer and blush, especially when summer rolls around.
20. Underliner and gloss
Another classic pairing brought to us by singer, Mariah Carey - underliner and lip gloss. These two elements are perfect for those who prefer more minimal makeup but still want to add an oomph to their look.
21. Long lashes and a red lip
A glossy red lip on its own is a classic, but once paired with larger-than-life lashes and smoky blue-grey eyeshadow, you have yourself one iconic '90s makeup look - as Naomi Campbell proves.
22. Glittery lipgloss
While we know clear lip-gloss was a go-to, an iridescent or glittery lip gloss was also a frequent addition to the red carpet. If you're looking for an easy way to transform your everyday look for a party or festive-occasion, a glittery or pearlescent lippie is a good way to go.
23. Copper eyeshadow
This is a perfect example of how to adapt a '90s trend to your everyday look. Attending the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards in 2018, actress Keira Knightley paired a copper smoky eye with matte skin and a nude lip and it's just wonderfully nineties and so wearable.
24. Almost no makeup
We love this example of '90s no-makeup-makeup from Cameron Diaz, as she paired flawless skin with a shiny, nude lip and a hint of mascara. This is the epitome of a timeless look that's perfect for every day.
25. Bold eyeshadow and lipstick
The key to a bold eyeliner/eyeshadow look is often to balance it with an equally bold lip, to give your makeup cohesion. Here we can see Angela Bassett proving just how chic the combination can look.
26. Diffused eyeshadow
While blue, silver and grey were the go-to shades of the era, it was also the style to blend out your eyeshadows right up to the brow bone - which, if you're an eyeshadow novice, is a great method to start experimenting with. JLo paired her diffused eyeshadow with a natural base and hint of lipstick and we just adore the effect.
27. Mauve lipstick
Alongside red and burgundy lipsticks, cooler shades like Drew Barrymore's mauve lipstick were also very popular and are one of the easiest ways to add a hint of grungy '90s to your look.
28. Rosy cheeks
If you're a blush lover and want to borrow inspiration for the '90s, the preferred placement was the apples of the cheeks, as shown on Lucy Liu. A good trick is also to pair your blush with your lipstick, to tie the whole look together.
29. Matte skin and a glossy lip
Of all the glossy lip iterations, this is perhaps one of the easiest ways to pull off the reflective lippie. Again, if you're not a fan of sticky glosses, opt for a lip oil or lip balm to recreate this look.
30. Glittery Wet-look eyeshadow
Wet-look eyeshadow was huge on the '90s runways and much like with the frosted trend, it makes a comeback often. You can easily recreate this glamorous and 'lived-in' look with a liquid eyeshadow or by applying a wet-look primer.
31. Gleaming highlighter
If you asked us to pick one look from the '90s that still informs our makeup regime today, it would definitely be the glowy skin and highlighter. Though matte skin was a big trend, dewy, wet-like highlighter is also synonymous with the decade and is the perfect way to elevate your look, especially if you're a lover of more natural makeup. It's fresh, fun and easy to replicate - so win-win!
32. Silver eyeshadow and iridescent gloss
And finally, we have the ultimate '90s pairing, frosted eyeshadow and an equally frosty lip gloss. Jennifer Hudson brought this particular combo back in 2009 and we have no doubt it will remerge on the red carpet again before long!