Nineties makeup is glam. Nineties makeup is a vibe. Nineties makeup is IT. If you’re looking for some beauty inspiration, it’s best to look back at the greats. The Naomi Campbell. The Aliyah. The Janet Jackson. From runways to music videos, these women used beauty to transform the pop culture area. “In the ’90s, women used makeup to look powerful and robust—larger than life,” explains celebrity makeup artist and Armani Beauty global artist Nick Barose. “For that reason, it was all about sculpting your face and accentuating all your features: brows, eyes, cheekbones, lips.”
Barose, who has worked with the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Tracee Ellis Ross and worked under the industry icon Kevyn Aucoin, took retro inspiration to create a new and improved “1990 but make it 2020” look. “Instead of the thick cream or two-way foundation used in the ’90s, I used a foundation that gives fresh, flawless coverage,” he says. “This simple change to the foundation allows you to go super dramatic with the color—but not look costume-y or outdated.”
Ahead Barose, with the help of his two supermodel friends, created six ’90s looks that you’re going to want to recreate ASAP.
Inspired by Naomi Campbell at the Azzedine Alaia show. The makeup enhances her warm skin with a golden monochromatic feel. Nude lips and dark brown lip liner is a classic ’90s beauty combo.
NB’s tip: “Dark lip liner and light nude lipstick look flattering when you blur the lip liner so it’s softer. I love this Armani nude tone because it’s light but not pasty and has a flesh tone to it, so you won’t look washed out. Since the lips are pale, make the eyeliner thicker and darker. In the ’90s they would bleach the brows too. To create a similar effect, brush clear brow gel over brows, then add gold eyeshadow.”
In contrast to the super glamorous and feminine supermodel looks, the ’90s were filled with androgynous, tomboy vibes. No one was cooler than the Veronica Webb. She wore her brows square and really thick, which looked super cool paired with ’90s suits.
NB tip: This brow shape is thick and straight with no arches. It’s a tougher look which feels very on trend today. To create this, brush brows up and set them with a brow pomade. Then, take brow gel and paint in the boxy shape before sketching in the small feathery ‘hair’ strokes to make it look more natural. Since the brows are so dark and strong, complement them with more feminine touches like a shimmery brown eyeliner and a hint of pretty, peachy color on the cheeks and lips.
Nineties music videos were inarguably the BEST! Artists like TLC, Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim, and Aaliyah set the trends everyone wanted to copy. This look’s inspiration was Aaliyah’s green lids and lips in the Are You That Somebody music video.
NB tip: “It’s fun to pull off weird color lips and the key is to just go for it! I did a version of these 90’s lips on Lupita Nyong’o and Willow Smith. It’s timeless with an edge for sure. Do a light sculpt to the face and focus on the eyes and lips. I actually used eye liner and eye color to create this look—don’t be stifled by prescribed uses for makeup. Have fun and use a green (or purple, or blue) liner and shadow on your lips.”
To create dark, metallic-green lips, Barose lined and filled in model Nenna’s lips with dark green eyeliner (Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in 6) then added metallic green liquid eyeshadow, the Armani Eye Tint in Scarab, on the center of her lips, with a bit of the green on center of the eyelids to tie it all together.
No one rocked red lips and strong eyes like Sade. Just because you’re wearing red lipstick, doesn’t mean you have to play down your eyes.
NB tip: “To do a lip and an eye, you can smoke it up with brown, plum, or pewter instead of black. In the ’90s, people would wear red lipstick with dark brown lip pencil, but to update it, I prefer using matching red lip pencil instead of brown, so it’s bright and defined but not harsh with dark lines around the mouth.”
One of my favorite ’90s trends is the comic book Femme Fatale, like we saw at Thierry Mugler. I especially love the contrast between strong black liner and matte white eyeshadow and pale lips. The contrast makes it look so dramatic and strong.
NB tip: Use a matte white on the brow bones and lids and set with a translucent powder before moving on to any other areas.
Gluing rhinestones or metal beads to the face was one of my ’90s favorites. We saw it on Janet Jackson and Gwen Stefani, which went on to inspire runway shows of the time like Jean Paul Gaultier. Sometimes, all you need to add more fun to your smoky eyes is a few beads glued using eyelash glue. You can do a few, or a lot!
Makeup Artist: Nick Barose
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