Love 1990s hair and makeup? 10 Beauty Panel tips for trying the ’90s beauty trend

1990s beauty trend makeup
1990s beauty trend makeup

In case you missed the memo, the 1990s are back in a big way. Minimalist and grunge designs have dominated the catwalk for spring (and fall!) and unsurprisingly this trend has crossed over into beauty as well. 1990s beauty is tricky in that it can easily go from relaxed to messy. So how do you try the 1990s beauty trend without looking like Courtney Love’s darker days?

We posed the question to our Beauty Panel this week and they came back with some surprising and innovative tips for the ’90s trend. From statement lips to smoky eyes, our Beauty Panel bloggers had lots of interesting makeup ideas to share.

Challenge 5: 1990s beauty is on trend for spring. How are you incorporating the ’90s look with your hair and makeup? See the answers now! »

To avoid going overboard, most of our beauty bloggers focused either on accentuating their lips or eyes. Emily Chan of THISWASFOREVER opted to go with the former, trying a dark, sultry lip colour that was inspired by Victoria Beckham during her Spice Girls days. Andrea Victory-LaCasse from Shop Pretty adopted the pale skin and bright lips combination as seen on the Dries Van Noten Spring 2013 runway. She achieved the look by mixing two lipstick shades for the perfect hue. The soft, stained lip look was another highlight, as seen on the Bunnie Hole’s Gerry Xun. She applied red lipstick with her fingers for an effect that is perfectly in tune with 1990s grunge chic.

Other bloggers turned their attention to the eyes for a laidback, sexy ’90s look. Alicia Gilby of Funny Face Beauty went with a smoky eye with heavy black liner that she paired with a matte face and light beige lipstick. Gaby Fauchon, the author of Gaby’s Beauty Blog, also did a smoky eye. She used her fingers to apply light brown eye shadow to the lid as well as adding a darker shadow on her upper and lower lash line.

Have a beauty question you want to see the panel answer? Send it our way at [email protected]. Read on for the answers to this week’s challenge and for more goodness, get to know all contributors on our Beauty Panel hub page.


1990s beauty trend makeup - Emily

Emily Chan

One of the first makeup items that I kindly “borrowed” from my mother was a lipliner. I blamed this on the heavy lipliner trend while I was growing up in the late ’90s. I can never forget seeing Victoria Beckham from the Spice Girls sporting bare lips with a dark lipliner and thinking to myself, “I would give anything to look like Posh.” To me, she embodied everything that was the 1990s: sultry, dark, and with a touch of playfulness. The makeup in the ’90s emphasized lips with very minimal attention to the eyes and to the cheeks. Thus, I opted for a simple smoky eye (using only two colours from Urban Decay’s Naked Palette: “Hustle” and “Creep”) and a bronzer just for contouring. Now that I’m a bit older than my 10-year-old 1990s self, I often prefer to use a lip brush and a lipstick instead of using a lipliner. A tip for working with dark lip colours: you can warm up your dark lips by adding a red shade underneath.

Products used: Urban Decay Naked Palette, Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation in “150 Nude,” Maybelline Rocket Volum’ Express Mascara, Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss Lipstick in “01,” Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss Lipstick in “15,” N.Y.C Bronzer in “Sunny,” Red Cherry 100% human hair lashes in “#46,” Silk Green Line Li pGL-12 brush

1990s beauty trend makeup - Alicia

Alicia Gilby
London | Funny Face Beauty

Looking back at pictures of myself in the 1990s, it’s a wonder how I became involved with beauty blogging and makeup artistry. My look for the ’90s was simple…I wore absolutely no makeup! So, when it came to getting inspiration for this season’s 1990s beauty trend, I had to turn to the internet. My favourite look by far was ’90s grunge: a messy, smoky eye with heavy black liner, a matte neutral face, and a matte, nude lip with lots of brown liner. Wanting to take inspiration from the grunge trend, but not stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of people living in 2013, I put my own spin on the look.

While still smoky and somewhat messy, I kept the majority of my black eyeshadow on my eyelid, and only used a small swipe of black khol eyeliner on my lower waterline. Wanting to stick with a matte face, but still add a bit of colour and depth to my cheeks, I used two neutral, matte blushes and absolutely no highlighter or shimmer. For lips, I used a very light, matte beige lipstick as well as a creamy pink-brown lip liner to slightly exaggerate my natural lip line, making sure to blend the two colours together, therefore making the overall look a little less harsh.

While this isn’t a look I would wear every day, I definitely see myself incorporating the 90’s grunge look into my makeup routine for a special night out.

Products used: Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation in “2.0,” Physicians Formula Youthful Wear Concealer in “Light,” Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder Foundation in “113,” Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in “Exposed,” Illamasqua Powder Blusher in “Katie,” Dior Twinset Eyeshadow Duo Stick in “Grey Sigh,” Dior Mono Eyeshadow in “Khol,” M.A.C Eyeshadow in “Soft Brown,” M.A.C Eye Khol Eyeliner in “Smoulder,” L’Oréal Voluminous Power 24H Black Smoke Mascara, Milani Color Statement Lip Liner in “Spice,” Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Matte Lipstick in “113”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Gerry

Gerry Xun
Vancouver | The Bunnie Hole

The ’90s was a strange time in my childhood, I was old enough to notice my surroundings but too young to understand them. Looking back it was a time of both rebellion and sophistication and interestingly, both had overlapping elements. Pale skin, deep lips and a hazy eye look is my 1990s beauty recreation.

Prep the skin with a light foundation, full coverage isn’t necessary and can make the overall look too heavy. A tinge of neutral pink cream blush is optional but a touch of colour really wakes up pale skin. Alternatively a warm rose or even brick shade will enhance medium to dark skin beautifully. An earthy brown cream shadow is blended all over the eyelid and below as well to create a hazy wash of colour followed by a smudge of black eyeliner between the lashes, just following the shape of the eye but not extending past the outer corners. Brows are kept light in tone but defined in shape in order to frame the eye area but not overshadow the lip colour and to prevent the look from going into retro territory. Finish the look by applying thin layers of a bruised red lipstick with fingers, creating a deep stained effect with soft edges, building intensity as desired. False lashes are optional. The finished effect should be both soft yet saturated with the lips as the main focus but not loosing definition in other parts of the face.

Products used: Maybelline Fit-Me Foundation in “#110,” Ben Nye Media Pro Cream Contour in “Blushing Bride,” M.A.C Paintpot in “Groundwork,” Maybelline Master Drama Eyeliner Pencil in “Midnight Master,” Dior Diorshow Brow Styler in “Universal Brown,” Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in “#180 Jet Set Red” mixed with NYX Round Lipstick in “#555 Bruised”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Elaine

Elaine Atkins
Toronto | Toronto Beauty Reviews

The makeup of the 1990s was very monochromatic using palettes of pinks and browns. Eyes and lips were of the same intensity—dark, smoky eyes and matte lips in nude/brown hues or an all over natural minimal look using similar shades of pink. Hair was textured and very flippy with obvious highlights.

Here’s my version of a modernized 1990s beauty look.

For the eyes I stuck with a monochromatic palette of browns and coppers. I lined my eyes with a copper liner and created a smoky eye with varying shades of browns that I had on hand. The lighter colour was applied all over my lid and the darker colour I concentrated at the outer corner and lash line blending into my crease. I added a highlighter colour at my brow bone to make sure the look wasn’t too muddy. To balance the eyes I filled in my brows and used a gel to make sure they stayed in place. I then finished off with mascara.

Keeping with the monochromatic look I used a bronzer in the hollows of my cheeks and to lightly contour my face at my jaw line and forehead and temples.

I then lined and filled in my lips with a nude lip liner. At this point my lips were quite matte so to modernize the look I added a pinky/nude lipgloss to give my lips some dimension but the focus of the look is still on the eyes.

Products used: Pixi Eye Glow Cube in “Lucent Lid Light,” Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in “CopperGlow,” Pixi Natural Brow Duo in “Medium Brown,” Benefit They’re Real Mascara, Annabelle Biggy Bronzer in “Haute Gold,” Avon Glimmersticks Lip liner in “Simply Spice,” Lancôme Juicy Tubes in “Hallucination”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Sandra

Sandra D. Sobon
Toronto | Moms Makeup Stash

When I think back to the 1990s, I can’t help but get a bit nostalgic. The beginning of the decade marked my high school years where I remember a very signature look that was very “girl next door.” However, the ’90s were also all about extremes…. so we saw barely-there makeup, dark lips and even grunge makeup. To modernize the 1990s beauty trend, I chose to incorporate products I already had in my collection to create a paler skin tone, bolder brows and rich lips. I didn’t use any bronzer, eye shadow or eye liner for this look and focused solely on my brows, lips and skin.

Start off with a clean, moisturized face. I used the ProEven Brightening Cleansing Foam to gently cleanse my skin and applied the LiftActiv Serum 10 as my moisturizer (both by Vichy). Since I prefer my skin to be a bit more dewy, I decided to forgo using a matte foundation (a huge trend in the ’90s) and used a BB cream instead. Another option to get the ’90s minimalism look is to use a tinted moisturizer that matches your skin tone. To keep my skin “pale-looking” (another ’90s trend), I did not apply a bronzer and only brushed a few strokes of a neutral blush over my cheekbones. I used a brow gel to define and thicken my eyebrows and mascara to give my lashes rich colour and volume. I did not apply any eye shadow or liner to keep the focus on my brows and lashes, but you could easily incorporate a neutral shadow like “matte brown” into this look if you prefer. Deep, rich lip colours like mauve, plum, wine or brown were very popular in the ’90s, so for my lips, I chose to line and fill them in using a lipliner in a dark wine colour.

Products used: Vichy ProEven Brightening Cleansing Foam, Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10, Revlon Photoready BB Cream in “020 Light/Medium,” Benefit Boxed Powder/Blush in “Dandelion,” Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow in “#25,” L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Mascara, M.A.C Lip Liner in “Vino”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Rema

Rema Benallal
Toronto | The Burgundy Book

To me 1990s beauty is all about Sarah Michelle Gellar à la Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Cindy Crawford (who still, by the way, looks exactly the same). When I think of these women I think of the way they used natural shades to emphasize what they already have. For this look, I started my base with my newest obsession: Revlon’s Nearly Naked foundation. I love the old school powdery finish it leaves on my face even though it’s a liquid, yet it still has that modern day touch of a brightening effect for a healthy glow.

For the sculpting (and boy do I need it) part of this routine I used M.A.C blush in “Harmony.” It adds the perfect earthy tones to your face whilst still infusing a undertone of warmth. I didn’t want to ruin this brown shade by adding a pink blush and so I just added a gorgeous orange-toned blush by Nars called “Libertine.”

I’m not one to usually wear eye makeup, but for this look I really loved the Lancôme Colour Design Quad in “Showstopper Style.” The palette has a nice choice of brown and beige shades to fit this 1990s beauty theme. I lined my upper lash line with Givenchy’s Kohl Pencil which is super creamy and easy to blend out if you need to. I shamelessly emphasized my beauty mark with the same pencil. Just a few taps will make it look natural enough but still stand out. Emphasizing a beauty mark wherever it is on your face can have so much impact—in a gorgeous way of course. For my brows, I used Benefit’s BrowZings brow kit in “Medium”—I wanted them to be defined and fuller but bushy so I brushed them around quite a bit.

On the lip I used a nude-caramel shade by Stila called “Olivia.” This lipstick/balm hybrid feels so luxurious and silky and infuses your lips with a peppermint sensation—it’s also paying some serious punch in the pigment department. A subtle but really pretty shade works beautifully when you’re focusing on emphasizing the eyes. To finish the look I dusted on some of Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder in “Dim Light.” It’s my favourite powder of the moment as it mattifys but illuminates the skin with minimal amounts of product.

Products used: Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation in “150 Nude,” Lancôme Hypnose Mascara, Lancôme Colour Design Quad in “Showstopper Style,” Givenchy Magic Kajal Liner in “#1,” Nars Blush in “Liberte,” M.A.C Blush in “Harmony,” Stila Lipstick Balm in “Olivia,” Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in “Dim Light”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Andrea

Andrea Victory-LaCasse
Toronto | Shop Pretty

I love the pale skin, bright lips and ‘bed head’ hair from the Dries Van Noten Spring 2013 runway, inspired by ’90s stars Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. It’s a cool look I’ll try for a relaxed day out this spring.
Forgoing the bright lips seen on models, I opted for a softer shade which I obtained by mixing my daily fuchsia lipstick, Ilia’s “Neon Angel,” with a sheer coral, “Shell Shock” by Ilia. For dewy, satiny skin, I lightly applied Studio 78 Paris Bi-phased Foundation with a sponge.

To try the laid-back ‘grunge’ hair, I followed the technique used backstage at Dries Van Noten by hairdresser Paul Hanlon and used a salt spray to rough up my locks. I washed and dried my hair as normal, then removed as much water as possible with a towel, and let air-dry. When nearly dry, I spritzed in John Masters Organics Sea Mist and gave my hair a blast with a hair-drier on low. Spritzing a little more of the salt spray on my roots, I shook up my ‘do, and voila! Not quite as rock-and-roll as actually rolling out of bed and rocking whatever, but this way, you’ll achieve more consistent results, and halfway through the day won’t find your perfect bed-head fallen into a greasy, stringy mess.

Products used:
Studio 78 Paris Bi-phased Water Foundation in “01,” Ilia Lipstick in “Neon Angel,” Ilia Lip Conditioner in “Shell Shock,” John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender

1990s beauty trend makeup - Gaby

Gaby Fauchon
Montreal | Gaby’s Beauty Blog

1990s makeup is probably my favorite makeup era since I love how it is reminiscent of grunge— relaxed, laid back, effortless… and sexy! Of course, there is no need to follow Courtney Love’s path to embrace this trend. Here are a few simple steps I follow to infuse some grunge into my everyday makeup.

Grunge is absolutely not about perfection (far from it, actually) so my eye makeup is always quick and easy. Using my middle finger, I create a messy smokey eye by smudging a light brown matte eyeshadow all around my eye area and I add a touch of a darker shadow along my upper and lower lashline. Two eyeshadows that are perfect for this are The Balm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette in “Matt Gallagher” and “Matt Ramirez.” I finish off with my a quick swipe of Dior Diorshow Extase Mascara and then I move on to the brows, which I like to really emphasize with Wet n Wild Coloricon Brow & Eye Liner in “Taupe” for that grunge vibe.

To complete the look, I want my lips to be bold but still look natural, so using my middle finger again, I will mix Illamasqua Lipstick in “Magnetism” and Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in “Coral” on my lips by patting them on one after the other for a matte and imperfect result.

Products used: The Balm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette in “Matt Gallagher” and “Matt Ramirez,” The Balm Time Balm Concealer in “Light,” Dior Diorshow Extase Mascara, Wet n Wild Coloricon Brow & Eyeliner in “Taupe,” CARGO Water Resistant Bronzer in “Medium,” Illamasqua Lipstick in “Magnetism,” Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in “Coral”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Tess

Tess Lopez
Toronto | Makeup By Tess

When I think of 1990s makeup, I think of Brenda Walsh from the original 90210, Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell, and Daisy (Neve Campbell) from Catwalk— all beautiful women! (Did I just reveal my age?) This week’s inspiration is a bit of Brenda and Daisy mixed together: sexy and sultry with a blend of grunge.

What makes this look? Soft smoky brown eyes and deep red wine lips.
Part of the 1990s beauty trend this season is a focus on the lower lash line. So grab your favourite neutral eye shadow palette—one of my favourites is the Wet ‘n Wild Comfort Zone palette. It’s very pigmented and super affordable!

After you apply eye shadow on your lids:
1. Take a dark brown eye shadow with an eye liner brush and apply it to your lower lash line. Concentrate the colour closest to your lash line and then blend down diffusing the colour.
2. Take a lighter brown eye shadow and apply it slightly under your lower lash line. This will help achieve the gradient smoky affect, going from dark to light.
3. To keep this ’90s look modern, add a lighter colour on the inner corner of your eye to brighten up the look.
4. Apply your favourite mascara to the top and bottom lashes.

If you want to go a step further with the 1990s beauty trend, add a wine-coloured lipstick. This was definitely a staple in Brenda Walsh’s purse!

Products used: Nars Firming Foundation in “Syracuse,” CoverFX Matte Powder, M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish in “Dark,” Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow Pencil in “22E,” Wet ‘n Wild Comfort Zone Palette, Annabelle Kohl Eyeliner in “72 Brown,” Annabelle Expandable Mascara, Elizabeth Arden Shadow “Fawn 02,” M.A.C Lipstick in “Destined”

1990s beauty trend makeup - Jenn

Jennifer Francis
Durham | Spiced Beauty

One of the 1990s beauty trends that I’m rocking right now would be thick eyebrows. For years, I thought it was “the thinner the better.” I still remember when my makeup teacher told me that my brows were way too thin. I was devastated! She put me on a three week tweezers ban. It seemed like hell at first but the result after was amazing! Four years later, my brows have gotten a little fuller and I’ll never go back to having stick-thin brows.

Products used: Make Up For Ever Pro Finish in “178,” Essence Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner in “Black,” Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Washable Mascara in “Black,” It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil, YSL Rouge Volupté Silky Sensual Radiant Lipstick in “Color 12 Forbidden Burgundy”

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