90s Makeup Ideas (And How to Wear Them Now!)

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Last Updated on December 1, 2022

The 90s were pure creative magic. I know I’m not exactly objective since the mere mention of iconic trends of the era gets me nostalgic, but hear me out… There is a reason that 90s trends continue to endure and are never really far from the spotlight. 

“It” girls and influencers alike are continuously reinventing, or taking credit, for the genius of 90s beauty tricks. Am I right? And every time they do, they become an instant hit! The latest case in point might be Hailey Bieber using bronze lip liner, with a generous amount of glossy lip balm. I can tell you this much, it certainly won’t be the last. That is the mysterious magic of the decade!

I know this because long before Hailey inundated Tiktok with her lip liner + gloss video tutorial, Naomi Campbell was rocking the same stylish makeup on the 1990s runway and generating the same kind of ripples among girls everywhere. We poured over our magazines to copy the big six supermodel’s looks

Of course, this is not only limited to the runway. Other celebrities and TV stars have recently become sources of nostalgia goodness thanks to new TV series like Pam & Tommy, which inspired us to copy some amazing Pamela Anderson makeup and hairdos. Trust me on this, it won’t be long until the next 90s inspiration pops up…

This brings us to this 90s makeup ideas list. This is the perfect (and to the point) source to stay ahead of the curve and have all the best makeup tips and tricks at your fingertips. We have done the research and dug up all the iconic Bobbi Brown, Pat McGrath, and Pati Dubroff’s bag of tricks, just for you (after all, they were the ones that did Angelina Jolie’s and so many others’ makeup back in the day). 

Read on to find out how you can copy the styles and wear them now!

Eyeshadow Palette

An elongated dark eye was the most popular style for eyeshadow all through the 90s. Regarding colors, the earlier part of the decade is undoubtedly recognized in the makeup world as the reign of cool tones, most notably pale icy blues and soft pastels. 

Then, there was a moment for smoky, smudgy, earthy shadows with golden and warm tones that made the skin look shiny and bronzed. These hues also went really well with brown lips. Both are equally recognized as 90s hits. 

A little secret, a good primer is key to making the colors from your eyeshadows really pop and last for a long time. Here are my favorite recommended products:

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez – Weightless Eyeshadow Primer- Always An Optimist Collection

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer

The cool Ice Queen palette

Pale gray and icy blue are tricky shades to pull off. The key to wearing them now without looking badly retro is to keep the rest of the face looking fresh and cool, without other clashing hues. By clashing hues I mean to keep it cold-toned, not necessarily in the same hue which can look boring or flat.

Also, it is key to soften the edges and blur your eyeshadow into other shades to add depth. Think fuchsia, purple, or a deeper blue, even a teal might do the trick. Blue eyeshadow is also perfect to create deep, dramatic looks that are dark but have a soft, metallic sheen. It is one of my favorite hues for winter, while turquoise gives me more of a summer feel but this is totally a personal preference. 

Recommended products:

Sephora Colorful Eyeshadow – Color Lunar Eclipse (midnight blue)

Urban Decay Eyeshadow – Color Charged (deep blue shimmer)

The eathly Golden Goddess palette

90s brown hues and taupes have managed to remain popular from then till now. The way to use them back in the day was to go for heavily smoky eyes that shimmered right in the middle of the upper eyelid. 

To bring this makeup up to speed and update it a little, go for shimmering highlighters that will add to the overall glowing effect. Keep it a bit lighter and only do the smoky eye on the outer side, to avoid that heavy look that is so retro, but in a bad way.  I also love adding a little glitter liner to the inner eye.

Recommended products:

HUDA BEAUTY – Empowered Eyeshadow Palette

Tarte – Tartelette™ Juicy Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette

Westman Atelier – Eye Pods Eyeshadows

Natasha Denona – Bronze Eyeshadow Palette

Charlotte Tilbury  – Luxury Eyeshadow Palette – The Golden Goddess 

Naked or not-so-naked Skin

The powdered fuller face of the 90s can look very dated compared to the sculpted, high-cheekbones type of makeup trending right now. Instead of applying a lot of blush to your cheekbones in circular motions as we did back way when, apply a little blush to the highest point of your cheekbones and blend outward. 

This happens to go very well with the cooler palette we mentioned before. Whereas the golden one is best paired with an overall bronzed look with a shimmering highlighter and a sculpted warm look. 

Read: 90s Accessories (How Many Do You Remember?)

Recommended Products:

Laura Mercier – Tinted Moisturizer Blush – Peachy Pink

HUDA BEAUTY – Cheeky Tint Cream Blush Stick – Bubblegum Pink

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – Toast’d Swirl Bronze Shimmer Powder

Doing the 90s brow

Dramatic brows, be them squared off at one point like during the early 90s, or famously skinny like at the end of the decade, were a signature feature of the era’s makeup. Fair warning, this one might be hard to pull just like you remember it without it looking dated. So here are our best tips. 

Skinny Brows

I’m not going to recommend the skinny brow to anyone, girl, simply don’t go there! Overplucking your brows is a guaranteed move to end up browless (and despite this looking good on Daemon from House of the Dragon this is not a look you want to experiment with!). Also, skinny brows are the opposite of what is trending right now. My advice, skip it. 

Squared-off brows

Squared-off brows on the other hand are totally doable with the kind of bushy robust brows that are very much in vogue. Thick and with personality, that is just the kind of brow I want to see! 

You just need some gel to brush them up and outwards with a spoolie. This will help them maintain volume and shape. Then, use a thin brow pencil to fill them in (keep your strokes hairlike and don’t go outside of the imagined outline) and add even more volume. 

You can also add a tinted brow gel, which works sort of like a mascara for brows and adds definition and even a deeper color. 

Recommended products:

Charlotte Tilbury – Legendary Brows Tinted Eyebrow Gel

Anastasia Beverly Hills – Strong Hold Clear Brow Gel

Shiseido – Kajal Ink Artist Shadow, Liner, Brow

Lips and Lipliners for the Ages

Let’s be real, lips in the 90s were all about the lip liner. That’s where all the game was. Deep browns and taupes were the most favored, regardless of the lipstick color. Other typical 90s colors were red and plum (which happens to be very in right now!)

Some girls preferred a pink mauve blended into brown, others went for the lipliner+gloss look, and others went with full plumped-up lips with darker lipliner, a lighter shade lipstick, and clear gloss on top. 

How to do the lipliner now: easy peasy, you just need your finger! Apply the lipliner lightly and blend it in with your finger (or a cue tip if you don’t want to get color on your digits). Top it with a super glossy balm or a cute shimmery satin finish gloss. 

Recommended Products:

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez – Kind Words Lip Liner – Warm Brown Nude

HUDA BEAUTY – Lip Contour 2.0 Automatic Matte Lip Pencil – Sandy Beige

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez – Mini Kind Words Matte Lip Duo

NARS – Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil – Pink Brown

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – Gloss Bomb Ice