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'90s makeup is back! Get nostalgic with these 6 looks

Trends like blue eye shadow, brown lipstick and glitter are back in 2020.
TODAY Illustration/ Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Think '90s makeup is so yesterday? As if!

The nostalgic look of dark lip colors, blue eye shadow, sculpted cheeks and even the memorable grunge trend sported by celebs and angst-filled teenagers alike making a comeback in 2020.

“For the most part, '90s flawless skin and deep lip colors look good on everybody, regardless of your skin tone,” celebrity makeup artist Amy Zdunowski-Roeder told TMRW. “The colors can be worn more subtly in the daytime and pumped up quickly for a super cool nighttime look.”

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Zdunowski-Roeder, who counts Kristin Wiig and Kate Mara among her clients, added that she’s thrilled the look is making a resurgence in a time of uncertainty. “Overall, in my perspective, this type of makeup makes you feel inspired, daring and individualistic as well as beautiful,” she said. “It can help us feel strong, positive and confident again.”

Want to rock the look? Dust off your Caboodle and check out these six '90s looks and how you can re-create them today.

Brown lipstick

Brown lipstick then vs. now: Halle Berry in 1999/Emma Watson in 2019WireImage, Getty Images

“My absolute favorite look of the '90's is lip color,” Zdunowski-Roeder said. “Brown lipstick looks effortless, like you're not trying too hard while giving the air of cool and chic.” To get the right look and color, she suggests using a brown matte lipstick without too much red or orange in the mix. Take a lip liner that’s a shade or two darker and line the lips lightly to fill in any holes.

Blue eye shadow

Blue eye shadow then vs. now: Reese Witherspoon in 1998/Janelle Monae in 2019WireImage, Getty Images

Another of Zdunowski-Roeder’s favorite '90s looks was blue eye shadow, though she said it had a bad rap because the colors available at the time were mostly frosty and awkward. “But now there are so many brands with amazingly beautiful, jewel-toned hues that, when applied, can certainly elevate a modern look.”

Instead of applying eye shadow from the lash line to the brow bone, like we did in the '90s, she advises apply shadow more precisely to the eyelids themselves to create an intentional and unforgettable look.

Grunge eyes

Grunge eyes then vs. now: Winona Ryder in 1990/Sophie Turner in 2019Getty Images, WireImage

The '90s grunge look consisted of a pale and matte look for the skin with not too many colors on the face, accompanied with a smudgy, deeply lined eye.

“To re-create this look, start with the eyes,” Zdunowski-Roeder said. Apply black eyeliner starting in the inner corner of your eye and follow your lash line to the outer corner. Then apply it to the top and bottom water lines in a gritty way to really enhance the effect of the liner, she explained. “Use a Q-tip lightly to clear off any runoff, and then apply mascara to the top and bottom lashes and your eyes.”

Sculpted cheekbones

Sculpted cheekbones then vs. now: Kate Moss in 1998/Gigi Hadid in 2018 Getty Images

Supermodels were huge trendsetters in the '90s, and their sculpted cheekbones are definitely back in vogue, according to celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith of Exclusive Artists. To re-create the look now, Smith says color is important. “When it comes to sculpting cheeks and the '90s, the colors weren’t overly orange or warm,” he said, adding that you should look for a taupe tone for lighter skin and a more plum-based color for dark skin.

Blending is important as the thin line of color should shadow the bone, not harshly trace it. Smith said it’s all about emphasizing the natural femininity of the face and not looking like too much makeup.


Glitter makeup then vs. now: Christina Ricci in 1998/Rita Ora in 2018 Getty Images

The '90s also saw lots of sparkle thanks to the glitter trend, whether or on the face or body. Makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, who's worked with celebrities like Kaley Cuoco, Rashida Jones and Jessica Alba, remembers the glitter products back then being pretty bold, but said today, the trend has evolved into a chicer, more subtle version.

To add some sparkle to your look today, she suggests using a glitter eyeliner on top of your regular eyeliner. Greenberg just reminds everyone that when using glitter on your face or body, it should be skin-safe — not the kind you find at your arts and crafts store.

Lip liner

Lip liner then vs. now: Drew Barrymore in 1998/Khloe Kardashian in 2019Getty Images

Greenberg said when it comes to '90s lips, you either went very minimal or bold. Lip liner was used to achieve those luscious, tinted lips and these days, big lips are very in.

“In most of the looks in the '90s, they didn’t blend between the liner and lipstick,” she said. “Make it more modern by blending the liner in with the lipstick so that it’s more fluid and has an ombre effect.” To get the look, apply lip liner and take a lip brush or eye shadow brush to blend out the bottom part of the liner. Then add lip color.