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Everything old is new again — especially when it comes to beauty.
If recent red carpets are any indication, when we’re looking ahead to 2023 beauty trends, we should be keeping an eye on the past. Much of the best makeup, hair and nail inspiration we’ve been seeing in recent months is reminiscent of the beauty looks that lined the carpet and the catwalk in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
“Fashion and beauty trends have always been cyclical. The past few years reflected a lot of trends from the ‘70s and ‘80s, so it’s no surprise to see that the ‘90s and 2000s are having their moment in time once again,” says Sandra Saenz, a celebrity makeup artist and KVD Beauty Global Veritas Artistry Ambassador.
From dazzling metallic shadows to sophisticated French nail looks, several throwback beauty trends that were in vogue 20 to 30 years ago have quickly become some of the most popular looks of the moment. And thanks to the beauty pros responsible for the best iterations of these looks, there’s no shortage of modern, wearable ways to pull the trends off.
Some are classics, like the perennially chic red manicure, while others are more unexpected (you’re not alone if you thought blue eyeshadow would stay firmly planted in 2002). Ahead, we asked the experts to break down the best nostalgic beauty trends that are back in style — and exactly how to wear them for 2023 and beyond.
“The Sachel” Cut
We can’t say we were entirely surprised to learn that “The Rachel” was making a comeback. Jennifer Aniston’s iconic Friends hairstyle is one of the most recognizable cuts in history — even if Aniston herself was not a fan of the look.
Luckily for the actress, the style has received a modern update that crosses it with another classic throwback haircut: the shag. Dubbed “The Sachel” by celebrity hair stylist Syd Hayes, the trending style combines the volume and choppy layers of the shag cut with the length and face-framing pieces that defined The Rachel. The result is a head-turning, low-maintenance cut that counts Kaia Gerber and Jung Ho-yeon as fans.
“These shaggy, heavily layered styles are a departure from beachy waves and straight styles that have been dominant in recent past,” explains IGK Hair co-founder Aaron Grenia of The Sachel’s appeal. “They are statement-worthy hairstyles that also offer wearable versatility. You aren’t stuck with one way to wear them.”
To get the look, ask your stylist for angled layers that frame your face and hit between your cheekbones and jawline, recommends Garren, a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of R+Co. And while the cut can work for everyone, IN COMMON Beauty founders Nikki Lee and Riawna Capri note that the amount of styling required will differ depending on your hair length and texture.
They are statement-worthy hairstyles that also offer wearable versatility. You aren’t stuck with one way to wear them
“Just like ‘The Rachel’ created a lot of regret for women with curly hair, it’s a haircut that needs to be styled if your texture isn’t smooth and sleek naturally,” they explain. “We highly recommend having this conversation with your hairstylist and perhaps meeting halfway to see what part of this cut suits you best.”
We have Euphoria to thank for partly inspiring the resurgence of metallic makeup looks. But long before Sydney Sweeney and Alexa Demie were sporting glittering looks on the hit HBO show, stars like Jennifer Lopez, Brandy and Britney Spears were using metallics to frost their eyelids, lips and cheekbones in dazzling icy shades.
“I personally am a big fan of metallics and never stopped using them,” says celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin of the sparking, celestial looks that celebs like Maddie Ziegler, Gigi Hadid and Jodie Turner-Smith have been spotted wearing. “It’s fun to see a bit of reverence and a fun take on what makeup was in the early 2000s, less perfect and playful. I always think that’s really great.”
The trend pays homage to the red carpets of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and is a departure from the no-makeup makeup looks that were in favor for the past few years. And while the 2022 versions of the look aren’t all that different than their early aughts counterparts, the products used to pull them off are. Thanks to beauty innovators like Danessa Myricks and Donni Davy — the makeup artist behind Euphoria’s trend-reviving looks — there’s a whole fleet of modern metallic products that deliver high color payoff with intense staying power.
For a sweeping, cool-toned eye look like Lopez or Ziegler’s, we like the Danessa Myricks Beauty Infinite Chrome Flakes Multichrome Gel or the Half Magic Chromaddiction Shimmer Eye Paint + Liner. Pair with ultra-dewy, highlighted skin and a neutral lip to further accentuate the icy glam.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that skinny brows are having a major moment. While thick, full brows dominated for the past decade, the thin, high-arched look previously favored by stars like Tyra Banks and Megan Fox are unavoidable, with it girls like Bella Hadid, Rihanna and Nicola Peltz all joining in on the trend.
“I have always loved the thin brow, and love that they’re making a comeback,” says Saenz.
While the style is undoubtedly trending, it’s also divisive — and something of a commitment. “I’m not a huge skinny brow fan,” says Goodwin. “Brows are so important visually for me and they are a way to send a message. They are the most transformative feature on the face.”
However, if you want to give the style a try, both Saenz and Goodwin recommend starting with a trial run first. “If you don’t want to actually pluck your eyebrows thinner, I recommend just filling them in with the KVD Beauty Super Pomade Vegan Eyeliner, Shadow + Brow Pigment in a lighter shade, creating a shape that is more narrow than your natural brow,” explains Saenz.
The French Manicure
The French mani was a red-carpet staple in the early 2000s, beloved by celebs like Christina Milian, Jessica Simpson and Victoria Beckham. While variations of the French manicure have had their moments in the spotlight since, it’s been a while since the classic nude base and white tips style had a true resurgence of its own.
“’90s and early 2000s trends are back in a big way. The French manicure was a huge trend in this era so it makes sense that it’s being requested again now,” says essie Global Lead Educator Rita Remark. The revitalized trend counts stars like Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez as fans.
“The Bixie” Haircut
Yet another hybrid style that’s straight out of the ‘90s, The Bixie marries the bob and the pixie for a short, textured look that’s full of movement. The result is a cut that features the blunt length of a bob while keeping the top pieces short and fluid like a pixie. Think: Meg Ryan and Winona Ryder’s short styles circa 1995.
Not only is the style extremely manageable, but it’s also universally flattering. “We’re at a point where all of the trending ‘90s cuts are androgynous,” says Garren. “For example, Timothée Chalamet’s current style is something that would also look great on women.”
Plus, it’s a stylish way to go short without fully committing to a true pixie, though Grenia says it’s a sign of bolder cuts to come: “I predict this will eventually steer us back to the popularity of the big chop, but only time will tell!”
All-Over ‘90s Brown
While many experts were predicting the return of full, vibrant shades for post-pandemic makeup trends, another color family has been experiencing a serious surge as of late: neutrals. Specifically, brown hues reminiscent of the looks worn by ‘90s stars like Drew Barrymore and Victoria Beckham.
From Zoey Deutch’s matte eyes to Megan Fox’s multidimensional lip look, there are several ways to deploy the trend, but one of our favorite takes is a subtle monochromatic brown look à la Linda Evangelista in 1996 or Zoë Kravitz at the 2021 Met Gala.
The hero of this glam is a soft brown smokey eye, which according to Saenz, is best applied without caution. “Currently, glam smokey eyes with strategic placement has been the ongoing trend, but with the rise of ‘90s nostalgic makeup, people aren’t taking application as seriously. Specifically, we’re seeing a bit of a messier, more rebellious placement that’s less focused on symmetry, and more about getting ready on the go,” she explains.
With the rise of ‘90s nostalgic makeup, people aren’t taking application as seriously.
To achieve this, Saenz recommends lining your eyes with the KVD Beauty Tattoo Pencil Liner in Axinite Brown. “I smudge it out with the tip of my finger so it’s not so crisp and perfect,” she says. Opt for bronzer on the cheeks instead of blush to keep things monochromatic, and finish off with a brown lipstick, liner or gloss.
Flushed, Rosy Cheeks
While blush has always been a staple, it’s experienced a serious spike in popularity over the past few years (we can partially thank TikTok and its never-ending cycle of new blush trends). “Blush is definitely making a big comeback [recently] following the past few years of the mask mandate, which made people focus more on their eyes than their complexion,” explains Saenz.
From the sunburn effect to the lifted look, several different blush methods have gained traction as of late, but one in particular has seemingly caught the attention of Hollywood makeup artists: a bright, rosy application on the center of the cheeks.
While some of the other trending blush looks are carefully swept on to look as natural as possible, this classic method is all about a liberal application applied directly on the apples of the cheeks. The result is a playful, youthful effect that was beloved by celebs in the early aughts, with everyone from Scarlett Johansson to Gabrielle Union sporting full pink cheeks.
“Back in the 2000s, people weren’t as strategic with blush placement as they are now, but with the revival of nostalgic, Y2K trends, people don’t need to be as precious with placement anymore,” says Saenz.
To achieve the look, reach for a highly pigmented cream, liquid or gel blush like the KVD Beauty ModCon Liquid-Gel Blush or the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush. For a concentrated application like Union or Jenner’s, follow the age-old rule: smile, and apply directly to the apples of your cheeks.
“Red has always been my favorite nail color. It’s dramatic, timeless and, best of all, versatile,” says Remark.
While the classic red mani never went out of style, it hasn’t necessarily been the go-to choice for celebs in recent years, with stars opting to go bigger with over-the-top nail art on the red carpet. However, the elegant shade has been steadily making a comeback, with Kerry Washington, Lily Collins and Vanessa Hudgens all sporting red nails.
Our favorite take on the trend? Jennifer Lopez’s luxurious deep maroon mani, courtesy of celebrity nail artist Tom Bachik. Lopez’s short, “squoval” red nail look evokes the manicures beloved by supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer in the ‘90s. “It feels so understated and effortlessly chic,” says Remark. She recommends a few coats of Essie’s Bordeaux — the same wine shade Bachik used on Lopez — to get the look at home.
Claw-Clipped French Twists
It’s no coincidence that the French twist is emerging as one of the go-to hairstyles of the moment at the same time that the claw clip is experiencing a glorious revival. The simple-but-chic updo and the catch-it-all hair accessory were both staples of the ‘90s and early 2000s, and their combined resurgence likely has something to do with the two years we spent at home searching for easy beauty solutions. Of all the quarantine trends, however, we’re glad this is one that made it to the outside.
“Claw clips have really improved!” says Garren. “There are so many new styles and shapes that make them modernized and easier to work with. You can do a [Brigitte] Bardot, Kate Moss look with a smaller, kitten clip, or use larger clips for a variety of looks. They allow for neat, polished looks and also perfectly undone, effortless styles.”
Stars including Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner have adopted the style as one of their favorite model-off-duty looks, but it also works on the red carpet, too (see: Hailee Steinfeld). The key is to sweep the bulk of your hair back to twist and secure with a clip while leaving a few sleek face-framing pieces out. We’re fans of Emi Jay’s 4-inch Big Effing Clip, which is big enough to fit all of your strands without inducing a headache.
Take a look at any early aughts red carpet and you’re bound to find at least one bright blue eyeshadow look. The color was a favorite of celebs like Christina Aguilera, Paris Hilton and Beyoncé, and has recently been spotted on stars like Lupita Nyong’o, Kendall Jenner and Dua Lipa.
“I think people are gravitating toward color because life has been pretty bleak,” says Goodwin. “Blue eyeshadow is a party on your face.”
Blue eyeshadow is a party on your face
If you’re ready to give the trend a try, Goodwin recommends starting out small and using blue shadow as eyeliner before you graduate to a full-lid look. She recommended first using a creamy eyeshadow like Chantecaille’s Mermaid Eyeshadow as a base before layering on the blue color with a precision brush. “A little pop of color will bring a sense of whimsy and fun to your look; it doesn’t have to be all over the full lid,” she explains.
Glossy Lined Lips
After matte lips reigned supreme for the better part of a decade, the glossy, defined lip looks that dominated the late ‘90s and early 2000s have officially returned.
While Hailey Bieber’s liner and gloss tutorial went viral earlier this year, Saenz says the look — which was a staple for stars like Halle Berry, Mariah Carey and Iman, among others — originated with Black and Latina women.
“High-contrast lip liner is definitely trending at the moment, but it’s been a popular style for a while, especially amongst the Latina and Black communities,” says Saenz. “In my opinion, the rise of this trend is a celebration of cultures and a celebration of a lip look that has been considered beautiful for years.”
The current style, as seen on Megan Thee Stallion, is also supremely easy to pull off, since it requires just two products. First, line with a brown or nude pencil (we like the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Foxy Brown or Love Trap) before following up with a long-wearing gloss, oil or balm (Dior’s Lip Glow Oil or Bieber’s Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment will do the trick).
‘90s Supermodel Nails
Yet another trend inspired by the fashion it girls of the ‘90s, the supermodel nail look evokes the polished, nearly-nude mani that stars like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were often spotted wearing.
Bachik dubbed the soft pink, minimalist nails he gave Nicola Peltz for her wedding day the “‘90s Supermodel American Mani,” and the moniker took. While it resembles a French manicure, the look involves more subdued hues for a softer effect. The white tip is applied first, followed by a few coats of a sheer or glossy pink polish. The result is a subtle, elegant mani that almost looks natural — essentially, your nails but better.
“I love that clean, minimalist nails are trending. Sometimes we need a detox from color and design and want something simple and relaxed, but still polished! This look accomplishes just that,” says Remark. She recommends reaching for a pale shade like Essie’s Hi Maintenance or Sugar Daddy and applying on longer oval nails. “The effect is clean, but not too understated.”
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