The decade that gave birth to the Spice Girls, Beanie Babies, "Friends," and the World Wide Web, the '90s was jam-packed with fads that rocked the world. An iconic time in history, where pop culture and boy bands boomed, the final decade of the twentieth century holds a special place in the hearts of those who lived to see such beauty.For the Gen Z fashionistas who only have photos to look back on for reference, we can see why a lot of '90s styles are being resurrected. Who wouldn't want to recreate some of those quintessential looks, even if they are over 30 years late to the party?
Although there are some things we'll never get back, like Blockbuster Video and phonebooks, the styles of the '90s are resurfacing, and that's especially true when it comes to the iconic hairstyles of the time. All it takes is a single scroll through social media to see celebs and influencers rocking the revived looks from the past (via E! News). Feeling nostalgic? So are we. Since '90s hairstyles are definitely making a comeback in 2023, here are 25 iconic hairstyles from the decade you need to recreate.
Any hairstyle topped off with butterfly clips
It didn't matter if you were a high-profile celebrity like Britney Spears herself or a regular-degular '90s teen — butterfly clips were all the rage and seen on nearly every gorgeous head. TikTok creator @linndolly_ recreated Britney Spears' famous butterfly clip hairstyle in a video using colorful clips, and the results are adorable and oh-so-'90s. "I had the same hairstyle in the '90s," a TikTok user commented. Honestly, who didn't? Pro tip: tie the small sections of hair with clear elastics before securing the butterfly clip, as Linn does in the video, for extra hold.
Crimped and fluffy
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
If your '90s hair tool collection didn't include a crimper, did you really live through the '90s? A classic style that bled from the '80s, according to Beauty Launch Pad, crimped hair was (and still is) a major fashion statement, and was often seen on pop princesses Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. If you don't have a crimper, simply braid your hair and let it sit overnight while you sleep to achieve heatless crimped locks. Secure some crimped strands with elastics on the top of your head to achieve half-up pigtails for the ultimate' 90s-inspired 'do.
Bantu knots to protect those natural locks
Brought to us by the Zulu tribes in Southern West Africa almost a century ago, Bantu knots are a healthy, protective hairstyle that the '90s couldn't get enough of (via The Blonde Salad). Although the hairstyle was used on various hair textures in the '90s, even seen today on non-Black celebrities like Khloé Kardashian and Adele, Bantu knots are "a symbol of pro-Blackness and self-love," according to Byrdie. Even though this style was trendy in the '90s, it's remained a fan favorite for years and should be created by natural-haired beauties.
Faux wispy bangs and a messy top knot
If you have real wispy bangs, you're in luck because the '90s were all about those claw-like wispy bangs. But even if you don't, the faux bang also reigned supreme, often created by clipping and pinning the long hair to create fake bangs. TikTok creator @jessicaoakes shared an excellent way to recreate the faux bang in her TikTok video, where she produced a small bun on the top of her head with her long fringe, leaving the ends out to create the bang. She pulls the rest of the hair up to hide that small bun, giving a messy top knot faux bang combo.
The twisted spiky updo
Rapper and singer Doja Cat made an ode to the '90s with her twisted spiky half-updo at the 2022 Grammys, which prompted tons of beauty and hair influencers to recreate variations of the look. YouTuber Benulus shared a video where she created an updo inspired by Doja Cat's look, which resulted in a spiky, twisted space bun look with skinny and trendy antenna bangs. "It's always so heartwarming to be nostalgic about my childhood, and this hairstyle is definitely it," she says in the video. This fun and funky hairstyle screams '90s, especially when topped with fun hair accessories and clips.
Mega tiny braids (with the colorful clips, of course)
Whether the entire head was full of them, or they were scattered randomly throughout, tiny braids were a trendy part of many hairstyles in the '90s. They added a pop of playfulness to nearly every look, whether the style was all down or up. Add some little braids into your next hairstyle to include dimension and vivacity to the look. You could leave it there or add colorful and fun-shaped clips like Zoe Hughes, known as @zoehughes_mua on Instagram, as seen in her Instagram post depicting her curly hairstyle adorned with mini braids.
Pamela Anderson-inspired messy and wispy updo
Model and actress Pamela Anderson is the queen of the '90s. Known for her gorgeous blonde locks and big updos, Anderson was no stranger to voluminous hairstyles. So much so that hairstylists, influencers, and social media personalities decades later are inspired by her hair. One of which is TikTok creator @lillianbabaian, who shared a video captioned "the '90s made me do it," where she says, "I've been seeing this Pam Anderson-inspired '90s look everywhere, so naturally had to recreate it." The result? A chic and timeless Anderson-worthy updo with a brunette twist.
Plastic snap clip barrettes securing a middle part
What do you get when you mix a middle part with plastic snap clip barrettes? A quintessential '90s hairstyle. Barrettes were tremendously popular in the '90s, mainly because they were "easily accessible, cheap, and colorful," according to Luxy Hair. And today, the snap clip barrettes have made a total comeback, especially neutral-colored and modern tones of black, brown, and white. Secure them above each ear for a sleek look, and layer multiple clips for a classic '90s 'do. The best part? Whether your hair is pin-straight or curly, the plastic clips are a perfect addition to any hair type, texture, and style.
Half-up hairdo with claw bangs
The half-up hairstyle was prominent in the '90s, especially with short and wispy bangs resembling claws, with bits of the forehead visible. While several variations of this look circled about during the decade all the way up to today, the airiness and wispiness of the half-up do is what makes it so '90s. This look can be seen in action on TikTok creator@nessaamazin'svideo, where she's reenacting the opening scene of the iconic 1996 movie "Scream" starring Drew Barrymore with remixed music sprinkled in. "The hair is everything," one TikTok user commented. It is so '90s! Big, voluminous, wispy, and bouncy — just the way we like it.
Voluminous and sultry '90s blowout
When it comes to big hair, the '80s walked so the '90s could run. Although big hair basically sums up the '80s, it reached refined and sophisticated levels once it reached the next decade, with the sexy and sleek blowout making waves throughout the '90s. There are many blowout hacks and tips to give yourself a bouncy blowout, but YouTuber Kayli Boyle shares a video on how you can recreate the look yourself like a pro with a blow dryer and a round brush. (Ya know, like they did it in the '90s.)
Messy and tussled space buns
Why have one messy bun when you can have two? It seems as though space buns took the crown for the hottest hairstyle in the '90s, especially when they were spiked for an edgy and fun look. And there is a reason the hairstyle continues to be a favorite today, as any length of hair can rock the super cute 'do. Plus, it's a lifesaving hairstyle for those days when your hair could use a good wash, as mentioned by Instagram user @organicallyanna in her post sharing the look.
Tiny braided bangs
Hailey Bieber has single-handedly brought back many '90s fashion trends. "My favorite fashion era is the '90s," Bieber told Bustle. "I'm a '90s baby. I love the supermodels of the '90s, the actors and actresses of the '90s — I even look at my parents in the '90s." And when it comes to hairstyles, she certainly slays. One of our favorites is her braided bangs, as seen in this Instagram post. When paired with a wispy shoulder-length bob, we get a look that's not only '90s but so supermodel chic.
Half-up pigtails that give baby spice vibes
When the Spice Girls rocked the airwaves on all radios in the '90s, many wannabes were quick to recreate the famous looks of the five pop stars, one of them being Emma Bunton, AKA Baby Spice, with her adorable high pigtails. You can go all the way and pull all your hair up in high pigtails, or take the modern spin as shown by hairstylist @claytonhawkins on his Instagram post depicting two half-up pigtails with the hair down and elegantly curled. Use thick hair ties like Hawkins in the photo for an elevated, voluminous look.
Sky-high pony with a scrunchie
Let's be honest, you could pair any hairstyle with a scrunchie and make it look '90s. But one of the decade's favorite looks was a scrunchie securing a mega-high ponytail. You could elegantly style your pony with your long fringe down, as depicted in @claireadamsonhair's Instagram post. Or, go the relaxed route and rock a loose, tussled pony with your bangs secured in the scrunchie. The options on what kind of ponytail you choose are endless, as long as you keep the main focus on that '90s scrunchie.
The sleek flip bob with side bang
Yes, the flip bob was a quintessential '60s style, but celebrities and fashionistas in the '90s certainly brought it back. And here we are again! It seems as though we can't get rid of the flip bob, and honestly, we don't want to. A perfect combination of retro and modern, the flip bob is a classic and gorgeous hairstyle that was popular then and is popular now. Take the look one step further with a slick side bang, as depicted in Meech Nicole's YouTube video. Secure the side bang above the ear with a trendy plastic clip for that extra oomph.
The painfully pretty hair comb headband
The hair comb headbands may need to come with a trigger warning because those things are not comfy to put on. However, the look they give is totally worth the cringe-inducing discomfort. Pain is beauty, and beauty is pain, right? The plastic comb headband pulls the hair back, providing a structured and clean look. #HairTok creator @anisasojka tries the headband in a video with the caption, "should we bring it back?" (Psst—it already is.) If the hair comb headband isn't for you, opt for a thick, padded headband to stay on the '90s hairstyle train. Honestly, any headband will do!
Middle part bun with skinny antenna side pieces
We're combining a few trendy '90s hairstyle aspects into one look, with a middle part, spiky bun, and antenna side piece hairdo. Celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton flexes his hairstyling muscles in a TikTok video where he creates a five-minute "wet look '90s updo." He uses hair cream to slick the model's hair back into a tight bun before grabbing small bang pieces on each side of the middle part. He then takes a big claw clip to secure the bun in the back, producing those spikes we all know and love.
Big and curly side-swept hair
Big and curly side-swept hair takes the '90s blowout to a whole other level. This hairstyle focuses on the root and curl to create a wild amount of body to the hair. Behind The Chair posted a YouTube video showing how you can create the ultimate '90s "supermodel hair," recommending that you pin each strand of hair after blow drying it to set the curl in place. This not only gives a voluminous blowout, but structured curls as well. Then, spray a bit of hairspray on your wide-toothed comb before running it through your locks for a va-va-voom blowout.
Pom Pom pigtails and braids
When Britney Spears' hit song "Baby One More Time" came out in 1998, we wonder if she knew that a few decades later, people would still be rocking the pom pom hair accessories similar to the style she wore in the music video. Not only that, but the pigtails and braids that come along with them! Instagram user @laura.e.hinkel shared a photo wearing the iconic pom pom hair pretties, with yellow heart-shaped clips secured along her half-up braids. The style is fun and playful, just like the fashion of the '90s.
Add hair jewelry and gems for that extra sparkle
It wasn't enough to incorporate fun colors and accessories into the hair — you had to have sparkle, too! Hair gems and jewels were added into many looks in the '90s, from spiky buns to braids and everything in between. Today, we see hair companies like Insert Name Here selling hair gems and rhinestone hair chains so that people can channel their inner '90s princess, as seen in their Instagram post. Add the jewels into your braids or stick the gems randomly on the hair for that extra dash of glamour.
Fun and colorful oversized clips
The '90s weren't lacking in bright and vibrant colors, and the hair accessories of the time were no exception, especially when it came to fun-shaped clips. TikTok creator @breakfastatbetsys shared a video with the caption, "Obsessed with these hair barrettes," and so are we! Perfect for matching the hair with the outfit, as seen in Betsy's video where she layers large pink heart clips into her hair to match her pink shirt, this hairstyle is simple with a dash of playfulness. Feel free to try different shapes, especially flower-shaped clips, as those were mega-popular in the '90s as well.
Live your '90s cool-girl fantasy with a grungy bun
Pretty princesses step aside — it's the grungy girls' time to shine. The grunge aesthetic thrived in the '90s, when smudged eyeliner, dark lips, and flannel shirts were all the rage. When paired with a messy and edgy bun, you have a look that is totally Gwen Stefani. YouTuber Alice Lockhart shared a four-minute video on how she creates her super quick and easy grunge bun, complete with an alligator clip to secure her long fringe. This look is perfect for "when you wanna look cool but are also lazy," she writes in the tile of the video.
Rachel Green-inspired claw clip style
When "Friends" first aired in 1994, people around the world fell in love with Rachel Green. Sure, she was gorgeous and charming, but she also had fantastic hair. This prompted many people to get her haircut, even to this day, with #RachelGreenHaircut collecting 5.7 million views on TikTok. One hairstyle you must try is Rachel Green's claw clip look that TikToker @godess.ca recreated in a video. It's relaxed yet so chic and perfect for everyday wear.
Dust off your bandanas
Head to the back of your closet and grab those bandanas you threw back there years ago, because this iconic '90s headpiece has made a full comeback. According to Fashion Magazine, bandanas are the most "badass '90s accessory," with icons like 2Pac and Aaliyah trailblazing the trend. Today, you can find various versions, from pretty silk bandanas to traditional paisley prints. Secure it around your head like @franzidohn in her Instagram photo, leaving the entire hair down for an edgy look.
Mega-curly half-up mane
Curly-haired beauties embraced their natural manes in the '90s, which should inspire us today to do the same. According to Vogue, Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Drew Barrymore rocked their ringlets, which is the ultimate relaxed hairstyle. Pull half of it up for a trendy half-up pigtail look, leaving a few wispy bangs down to frame your face and forehead like @curly.hair.boo's Instagram photo. The hairstyles of the '90s were far from boring, so don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and channel your inner '90s cool girl.