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32 hair trends from the '90s we all remember - from long crimped locks to micro fringes

 Hair trends from the '90s collage showing Carmen Electra, Geri Halliwell and Pamela Anderson.
Hair trends from the '90s collage showing Carmen Electra, Geri Halliwell and Pamela Anderson.

These (rather embarrassing) hair trends from the '90s may not have all stood the test of time, but they were the height of fashion back then. Every A-Lister going had a crimping tool ready for red carpet events, while hair accessories like the scrunchie and butterfly clips reigned supreme. 

It's the era that gave us Friends, Clueless and cult rom-coms like Pretty Woman and Sleepless in Seattle, as well as the Spice Girls, platform heels, kitsch accessories and some very outlandish hair and beauty looks. Trends have a habit of coming back around, with the past years seeing some key '90s fashion trends back in vogue (grunge, bucket hats and spaghetti straps to name just a few). And these '90s hair trends are no different. Jennifer Aniston herself debuted a new 'Rachel' cut of Friends fame on the 2024 Golden Globes red carpet, while the pixie cut (in the style of a '90s Winona Ryder) has had an enduring appeal. Even the scrunchie has regained its place as one of our go-to hair accessories in the present day.

As a caveat, we'll say that while these hair trends from the '90s may not float everyone's boat, they defined the era with some iconic hair moments - we're looking at you, Ginger Spice...

32 hair trends from the '90s

From feathered layers and poodle perms to chunky highlights and elaborate updos (plus a lot of crimping) these are our favourite looks for '90s nostalgia from the decade of experimental hair.

The statement headband

Madonna wearing a statement hairstyle as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Madonna wearing a statement hairstyle as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Madonna's been through more style reinventions than we can count, but in the '90s the legendary star kept her blonde locks shorter, styled in this case with a chunky chain headband. The 2024 Fashion Week crowd in London and Paris firmly put headbands back on the scene, from chunky, embellished and textured pieces to minimal bands. But the jury's out on the chain effect right now...

Our pick of the best hairbands to wear in 2024...

white beaded hairband from accessorize
white beaded hairband from accessorize

Beaded hairband from Accessorize at M&S

RRP: £25.00 | While we wouldn't copy Madge's 90s hairband, that's not to say we don't still rate the trend. This delicate beaded number from M&S would look particularly great on dark hair and is a cute wedding accessory if you're not keen on fascinators.

Silk hairband from Liberty
Silk hairband from Liberty

Silk knotted hairband from Liberty

RRP: £75 | Silky, sophisticated and positively grown-up, we love this knotted hairband from Liberty. Style it with tousled waves (or even use it to disguise your oily roots, we won't tell!)

Hairband from Oliver Bonas
Hairband from Oliver Bonas

Abstract hairband from Oliver Bonas

RRP: £19.50 | This abstract number from Oliver Bonas will add a pop of colour to any look. The aquamarine colours will especially complement redheads and blondes but we think it would work for most colours (and ages!)

The barely-there wispy fringe

Pamela Anderson with a barely-there fringe as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Pamela Anderson with a barely-there fringe as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

While stylists nowadays often favour a blunt and heavy fringe or French-girl side-sweep, in the '90s the wispy fringe was the cut of choice for Baywatch icon Pamela Anderson. Pammy's signature look was recreated for the 2022 mini-series Pam and Tommy, with Lily James made up to look like the legendary actress. And it's safe to say we became obsessed with Pammy's girl-next-door-to-grunge style journey all over again. While the bleached-blonde and wispy fringe combo might not suit everybody, Pam certainly knew how to style it out.

Chunky highlights

Geri Halliwell with chunky highlights for a embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Geri Halliwell with chunky highlights for a embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Ginger Spice wouldn't be the same without her fiery red 'do. Geri's mane is a mis-mash of blonde and red chunky highlights - also affectionately known as 'streaks' - and we suspect that requesting this look in the present day would leave most colourists agast. However, Geri manages to pull it off in a way most couldn't - and we can't imagine the '90s icon with any other look.

The sky-high up-do

Alicia Silverstone with an updo for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Alicia Silverstone with an updo for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Putting the likes of Meghan Markle and her low-matainance ballerina bun to shame is Alicia Silverstone with a towering updo that screams '90s prom. Staying true to the style of the times, the Clueless actress wore a strong side parting at the front, with the rest of her blonde locks swept up into a mass of sections secured with curby grips. Truly iconic.

The solid quiff

Gwen Stefani wearing a quiff for an article on embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Gwen Stefani wearing a quiff for an article on embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

The 'quiff' - also known as the 'pouf' - is a '90s treasure, with the likes of Gwen Stefani rocking a particularly bold iteration of the popular hairstyle. The look usually involved a fair bit of backcombing and even more hairspray and was a favourite among pop stars and actors alike.

Crimping

Carmen Electra with crimped hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Carmen Electra with crimped hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Some might say embarrassing, others say on-trend. After all, while crimping has to be one of the hair trends of the '90s that celebs look back on with mild horror, it's also a style that's been spotted on the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kate Hudson. It looks like the crimping Rennaissance has already begun...

Baby Spice pigtails

Emma Bunton with pigtails for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Emma Bunton with pigtails for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

We can't imagine that it's a look that seriously has a place in 2024 outside of Baby Spice-inspired fancy dress, but it's a look that certainly worked within the Spice Girls line-up!

Plaits

Mariah Carey with plaits as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Mariah Carey with plaits as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

A different take on pigtails, low plaits were also a favourite among '90s stars, with Mariah Carey rocking the look in a more casual promo appearance. In the era of Mariah's sensational bouncy blow dry, as seen in the music video for Honey, it's an off-duty look that's probably best left in the archives.

The curl-and-crimp hybrid

Portia de Rossi with crimped hair as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Portia de Rossi with crimped hair as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

While it might not have dated too well, crimping was all the rage back in the '90s. Like Portia de Rossi's case, the crimping style could be a little inconsistent, with her blonde locks a mass of crimped sections and waves, meaning the overall look is a tad confused...Still, we rated it then and we're sure it will come back into vogue at some point.

'The Rachel' haircut

Jennifer Aniston with 'The Rachel' haircut for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Jennifer Aniston with 'The Rachel' haircut for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

While 'The Rachel' haircut was the style of the '90s, Jennifer Aniston (who soon made the transition in Friends to the glossy long locks we associate with her today) wasn't a fan of the look at all. She told Allure magazine in 2011 that it was "the ugliest haircut" she had "ever seen". Despite this, Jen seems to have come around to the style, appearing on the Golden Globes red carpet with a new haircut that is very similar to the '90s classic.

The pixie crop

Mel C with a blonde crop for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Mel C with a blonde crop for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Don't get us wrong, a pixie crop is up there with one of the most chic haircuts of all time. However, Mel C's version was such a far departure from her long glossy dark locks we can imagine it's a style she may not look back on too fondly...

The chaotic up-do

Reese Witherspoon with twisted up for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Reese Witherspoon with twisted up for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Reese Witherspoon would love gorgeous with any hairstyle, but we're not too convinced this chaotic 'do has a place in the 2020s. Sporting the signature side part, Reese's dark blonde hair is piled on top of her head in a slightly random fashion. The vampy makeup, consisting of deep berry lips and lined eyes, however, is totally on point.

Gwen Stefani's black streaks

Gwen Stefani with black streaks for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Gwen Stefani with black streaks for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Gwen Stefani is an absolute style icon, but there are some looks that only the singer could pull off - including these black streaks, teamed with a bleach blonde bob hairstyle. The singer has experimented with coloured pieces, often wearing clip-in hair extensions so as not to commit fully to the looks, throughout her career, so it's no surprise she's had some out-there looks. We're just not quite sure we could try this one at home...

The super-short fringe

Selma Blair with a short fringe for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Selma Blair with a short fringe for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Hands up who cut their own fringe at some point or another in a bid to get that chic French girl style and it didn't quite go to plan? Celebrities like Selma Blair and Drew Barrymore rocked the looks on the celebrity front. Selma's short fringe and sleek bob combo is working here - despite the look not being for everybody.

Poker-straight hair

Christina Aguilera with poker straight hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Christina Aguilera with poker straight hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Before we had straightening irons, there were actual irons that some of us took to our delicate hair in one of the biggest beauty crimes of the '90s. Now, we're sure Christina Aguilera got her hair this straight with much safer measures, but we're personally more partial to the softer and healthier hair looks that started trending in the '00s.

Corkscrew curls

Alicia Silverstone with corkscrew curls for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Alicia Silverstone with corkscrew curls for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

At the other end of the spectrum are corkscrew curls - and we're just dying to run a hairbrush through Alicia Silverstone's ringlets! Looser, beachy waves gained more popularity in the '00s as a relaxed take on curls in straight hair, though the style had been around for decades before.

The backwards cap

Pamela Anderson wearing a backwards cap for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Pamela Anderson wearing a backwards cap for embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Hats were all the rage in the '90s - the bucket hat, flat caps and, of course, the backwards cap. Pamela Anderson was a loyal backwards cap wearer - easily pulling off the style. But we're not quite sure it deserves a place in our current capsule wardrobes...

OTT tendrils

Gwyneth Paltrow wears OTT tendril hairstyle for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Gwyneth Paltrow wears OTT tendril hairstyle for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

One of the biggest updo hair trends of the '90s was tendrils - and it was often the case of more is more when it came to styling. Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example of this look in action, with a high bun finished with two large strands at the front, tucked behind her ears. This look, though potentially divisive, has made a comeback lately with the likes of Dua Lipa wearing her chunky highlights (another '90s throwback) down in strands with a centre parting, just like Gwyneth's.

The (very) messy bob

Gwen Stefani wearing a messy bob for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Gwen Stefani wearing a messy bob for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Grunge was the trend of the '90s, but Gwen Stefani's messy bob is quite the committed approach. Often called the 'grunge shag' this look is all about lived-in hair that's very rock'n'roll. Gwen can pull it off but we're not sure we could do the same...

The dip-dyed fringe

Janet Jackson with a dip-dyed fringe as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Janet Jackson with a dip-dyed fringe as part of an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Another alt look comes from Janet Jackson with a fiery red fringe. The style is cut super short and swept to either side with bright red dip-dyed ends. It's a brave look, to say the least!

The scrunchie

Lisa Kudrow wearing a scrunchie for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Lisa Kudrow wearing a scrunchie for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

During the early Friends days, there was an influx of scrunchie-wearing, bringing an '80s edge to outfits. Scrunchies went out of style for a long time and were subject to much mockery (looking at you Sex & the City - "You have your leading lady running all over town wearing a scrunchie. A SCRUNCHIE!"), but due to a '90s fashion revival, they're firmly back on the map, with everyone from A-Listers to the fashion crowd wearing the once-shunned hair accessory.

The baseball hat

Halle Berry wearing a baseball cap for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Halle Berry wearing a baseball cap for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

It's a look that was favoured by Princess Diana herself - and the '90s baseball cap has been doing the rounds again over the past few years, spotted on celebs out and about when going for a more casual look. Halle Berry makes the list just as it's a travesty to see whichever stunning hairstyle she had at the time tucked away!

The crimped bob

Christina Aguliera wearing a crimped bob for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Christina Aguliera wearing a crimped bob for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

We've already declared that crimping was one of the most embarrassing hair trends from the '90s for many. Christina Aguilera was a leader when it came to crimping and this voluminous crimped bob is one of her most out-there looks.

The high bun

Jennifer Lopez is wearing a high bun for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Jennifer Lopez is wearing a high bun for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

High buns and ponytails were the order of the day when it came to up-dos. J-Lo's high bun signifies a common hairstyle choice for the red carpet and big events - but the voluminous wrap-around bun and slicked-back style feel a little dated in comparison to the more relaxed looks we see celebs wearing today.

The multi-style up 'do

Melissa Joan Heart with a messy bun for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Melissa Joan Heart with a messy bun for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

This look has it all! The chunky headband? Check. Tendrils? Check. The side-parting? Check. Melissa Joan Hart's updo is ticking the '90s-style boxes... but the result is a little chaotic. Still, we loved it at the time.

The super-high pony

Britney Spears wearing a high ponytail for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Britney Spears wearing a high ponytail for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Britney Spears was the original high ponytail girl in the '90s, but while this style is certainly practical for performing, the huge white hair tie and high-pony combo is a look we'd rather leave in the past.

The messy bed head

Pamela Anderson with bed head an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Pamela Anderson with bed head an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Queen Pammy was partial to a messy bedhead look. It's a typical hairstyle for the Baywatch actress - and her '90s updos were in the same vein. While we can't imagine Pam with a bouncy blowdry, recreating it might not be too wise...

Matching your hat to your dress

Paula Abdul in a polka dot hat for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Paula Abdul in a polka dot hat for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

There were a lot of polka dots going on for Paula Abdul with this '90s look for the red carpet, but we're not sure the matching hat is quite working for us in this case... As the decades have rolled on, the matchy-matchy look has gone out of style, with bold and sometimes clashing accessories more often the combination of choice.

Darker roots

Christina Aguilera with darker roots for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Christina Aguilera with darker roots for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Here's one final look from '90s icon Christina, who's seen wearing her blonde hair at her shoulders with darker roots - a common trend of the era. A modern take on the trend is the balayage effect, which has remained popular throughout the last decade.

The layered crop

Julia Roberts layered crop  for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Julia Roberts layered crop for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

This layered crop, a shorter version of 'The Rachel' was a popular style, but it's not as fabulous as Julia's usual cascading curls or elegant blow-dry. Though the actress undoubtedly looks beautiful with any style! Nowadays, a blunter cut for bobs and crops is usually favoured.

Two-tone hair

Sarah Michelle Gellar with two-tone hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up
Sarah Michelle Gellar with two-tone hair for an embarrassing hair trends from the '90s round-up

Sarah Michelle Gellar is rocking some out-there hair colours with this bold look. While this vibrant hairstyle is perhaps best assigned to the history books, we have seen a more subtle approach in recent hair trends with money pieces.

Mariah's corkscrew curls

Mariah Carey with a perm for a piece on embarrassing hair trends of the '90s
Mariah Carey with a perm for a piece on embarrassing hair trends of the '90s

Mariah Carey was often seen sporting a sleek blow-dry in her music videos, but the signature hairstyle in the earlier years of her career was enviable corkscrew curls. Many tried to replicate the look with the popular perm hairstyle of the '90s, but few can pull it off quite like Mariah!