Popular hairstyles in the 1990s were as varied (and often as questionable) as the fashion fads. Accessories were abundant and layers were key.
Here’s our list of the best 90s hairstyles…
1. Crimped Locks
Crimping irons reigned supreme. Jennifer Love Hewitt rocked the crimped strands often, as did Melissa Joan Hart. Later, Lizzie McGuire would carry on the trend in the 00s. Add butterfly clips and you’re a 90s treasure.
2. Hair Mascara Strands
Ginger Spice and Gwen Stefani rocked bold, colored hair in the 90s. To copy, we would slick L’Oreal colored hair mascara along carefully chosen chunks, often framing the face. Remember that gritty, crunchy feel?
3. Glitter Gel Party Hair
The 90s were covered in glitter suspended in gel. Chunky gel glitter was slicked down face-framing strands or along down high ponytails.
4. ‘The Rachel’
Jennifer Aniston’s haircut in ‘Friends’ was inexplicably famous in the mid 90s. ‘The Rachel’ featured caramel tones with honey highlights, lifted roots, face-framing layers, and shoulder-skimming strands.
5. Excessive Butterfly Clips
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Britney, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch fell for the butterfly clip trend synonymous with the 90s. Think plastic, glittery claw-style clips placed all over the head. Some even had wings that fluttered on springs (I had those, and boy, I was proud).
6. Daisies Tucked Behind the Ears
Drew Barrymore’s style was celebrated in the 90s, and was characterized by short blond hair dotted with fresh daisies, and matte brown-red lips. Girls got the Drew look by picking daisies and tucking them behind their ears.
7. Topsy-Tail twisted ponytails
Kate Middleton and Hailey Beiber have revived the 90s hairstyle staple known as the ‘Topsy Tail’. The ‘Topsy Tail’ was a hair tool that created a ponytail with twisted sides curling inward. It looked ultra fancy but was simple as pie.
8. Half Ponytail with Scrunchy
Kimmy Gibler on ‘Full House’ was a lover of the half ponytail secured with a bright-colored scrunchy. The half pony sat high on the head and was often teased and hair sprayed for extra frizz.
9. Fabric Headbands
Dionne (Stacy Dash) and Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in the 90s classic film ‘Clueless’ wore thick fabric headbands pushing back straight hair and braids. Very preppy indeed.
10. Zig-Zag Headbands
Zig-zag headbands made from plastic, that slicked the hair back tightly, often ending in spiky pixie ends or messy ponytails.
11. Bouncy Supermodel Waves
In 1992, Cyndi Crawford starred in the Pepsi commercial for the Super Bowl. Her hair was lifted high at the roots, ultra bouncy, and with caramel highlights. This was the 90s supermodel look: glossy, bouncy, abundant.
12. Chunky Highlights
Ginger Spice was the queen of the chunky highlight in the 90s. Her bright, dye-job red hair was shot with stark yellow-blond streaks. The girls in British pop band Atomic Kitten also favored the butterscotch highlight trend.
13. Pixie Cuts
The pixie cut has a rich history well before the 90s, but it was made popular in the decade by Winona Ryder, Demi Moore, Halle Berry, and Linda Evangelista. Cut close to the head, slightly jagged around the face, and accentuating elfin features.
14. Messy Bun with Chopsticks
Ah, the 90s messy bun. The messier the bun, the cooler the girl. Phoebe Buffay (and later, Hilary Duff in Lizzie McGuire) rocked Hollywood versions (i.e. glossier and expertly done) of the messy bun. Extra points for a messy bun plus gelled-down front strands.
15. Soft Layers Around the Face
Going to the hairdresser in the 90s inevitably included the phrase “soft layers around the face”. ‘The Rachel’ was the extreme version, but supermodel Christy Turlington had a softer approach.
16. Barrel-Rolled Bangs and Fringes
As a kid in the 90s, so many of us had a fringe that we would blow-dry into shape with a big barrel brush. Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth both had ultra-round, bitsy fringes in ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ early seasons. Rain was the ultimate enemy.
17. Floppy Middle Parts (the guys)
Heartthrob guys in the 90s often had floppy hair that fell softly over the forehead and basically into the eyes. Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ had the floppy hairstyle, while Shawn (Rider Strong) from ‘Boy meets World’ had ultimate “curtain hair”.
18. Long, Swept-Back Lengths and Soft Layers
In the 90s, pretty hair was often characterized by long, soft, glossy hair cascading down the back. It was parted in the middle or slightly at the side, and fell into perfect alignment when swished back with a hand. Cher in ‘Clueless’ was the princess of this look.
19. Tight, Bouncy Curls
Julia Roberts’ hair in ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ summed up the 90s trend of big, bouncy, abundant curls. Perfect for swishing a hand through for that unkempt-yet-chic look.
20. Short, Chunky Cuts
Meg Ryan’s hair in ‘You’ve Got Mail’ was ultra popular. Not quite a pixie, not quite a bob. Floppy layers by the face, honey highlights, and slightly flared at the ends.
21. High Pigtails
Baby Spice and Britney Spears (complete with fluffy hair ties) were known for their youthful pigtails sitting high on their heads and swinging innocently. Add extra points for a barrel-rolled fringe!
22. Space Buns
Scary Spice, Britney Spears, and Gwen Stefani rocked little round buns dotted over their heads (or just two). They were often “messy” style, or more structured with colored ribbons incorporated.
23. Twisty Up-Do (Prom Style)
Alicia Silverstone and Jennifer Love Hewitt rocked the “fancy” hairstyle characterized by twisted strands gathered at the top of the head. The perfect prom do.
24. Crunchy, Gel-Coated Curls (guys)
In the 90s, Justin Timberlake rocked frosted curls coated with gel so they were crunchy to the touch (we assume!). Gelled or wax was scooped into 90s teen boy’s hair with abandon.
25. Diamante Hair Jewels
Danielle Fishel (Topanga on ‘Boy Meets World’) had classic 90s hair (flowing, quaffed at the hairline, often with a barrel fringe). At the 1999 Kids Choice Awards she wore iconic 90s hair accessories: diamante hair jewels in the roots…and plenty of them.