This Nostalgic Beauty Trend Is Making A Comeback (& It’s So Wearable)

·6-min read

If you're a beauty enthusiast with a TikTok account, you'll know that the '90s are trending big time. Sleek bobs, thin eyebrows (yes, really) and matte skin are just a handful of beauty looks that are back with a bang but nothing is getting more hits than the '90s lip.

From ultra light nude to dark and brooding chestnut, natural lip colours inspired by the celebrities of the decade (think Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham) are everywhere. It all started with one product: Clinique's Black Honey lipstick. The semi-glossy, nude shade was propelled to viral status after Lord of The Rings fans discovered that Liv Tyler wore it during filming from 1999 to 2000. It has since sold out online as beauty lovers stock up on the shade. On TikTok, the hashtag #cliniqueblackhoney has 19.6 million views and counting.

The obsession has cemented our love for '90s-inspired nude lips, convincing brands to get on board the trend — and we had to try it. Ahead, R29 staffers and contributors put five '90s-esque shades to the test. Spoiler: you'll want them all.

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<strong>Tester:</strong> Jacqueline<br><strong>The trend:</strong> Rusty red lips (inspired by Gwen Stefani and Courtney Cox)<br><br>"As a self-identified <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/modern-emo-makeup-looks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:emo" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">emo</a>, I'm not one to shy away from dark and brooding lip colours like this one. Though '90s lipstick trends span a wealth of shades, from ultra light nude (like Vanese below) to chestnut brown (similar to Simran later on), in my mind the decade is characterised by russety, mauve hues. Influenced by Gwen Stefani, I teamed this burnt red shade with matte skin, a tiny bit of bronzer to contour my cheekbones and lashings of mascara. I also lined my lips with <a href="https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/vieve-modern-lip-definer.html?variant_id=30359" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:VIEVE Modern Lip Definer in Tailored, £15" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">VIEVE Modern Lip Definer in Tailored, £15</a>. I adore it. It's such a throwback colour combination but it works just as well in 2021. The texture of both the lipstick and lip liner is creamy and the finish is semi-matte, so it moisturises lips. They also pass the face mask test."<br><br><strong>diego dalla palma</strong> Rookwood Red Lip Kit, $, available at <a href="https://www.lookfantastic.com/diego-dalla-palma-rookwood-red-lip-kit/13157999.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:LookFantastic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">LookFantastic</a><br><br><strong>VIEVE</strong> Modern Lip Definer in Tailored, $, available at <a href="https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/vieve-modern-lip-definer.html?variant_id=30359" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cult Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cult Beauty</a>
Tester: Jacqueline
The trend: Rusty red lips (inspired by Gwen Stefani and Courtney Cox)

"As a self-identified emo, I'm not one to shy away from dark and brooding lip colours like this one. Though '90s lipstick trends span a wealth of shades, from ultra light nude (like Vanese below) to chestnut brown (similar to Simran later on), in my mind the decade is characterised by russety, mauve hues. Influenced by Gwen Stefani, I teamed this burnt red shade with matte skin, a tiny bit of bronzer to contour my cheekbones and lashings of mascara. I also lined my lips with VIEVE Modern Lip Definer in Tailored, £15. I adore it. It's such a throwback colour combination but it works just as well in 2021. The texture of both the lipstick and lip liner is creamy and the finish is semi-matte, so it moisturises lips. They also pass the face mask test."

diego dalla palma Rookwood Red Lip Kit, $, available at LookFantastic

VIEVE Modern Lip Definer in Tailored, $, available at Cult Beauty
<strong>Tester:</strong> Simran<br><strong>The trend:</strong> Dark lip liner + light nude lipstick (inspired by Naomi Campbell and Angelina Jolie)<strong><br></strong><br>"I'm not usually a massive fan of nudey, browny lips, especially with the classic '90s darker lip liner. But these lippies made it look quite easy. I used VIEVE Makeup's shade Bark in the liner and the shade Ninetease in the lipstick, then used my fingers to blend them together. The formula itself was really blendable and creamy and my lips didn't feel dry at all. The only thing I would say is be careful with your shade choice, especially as you don't want it to be a throwback to the old concealer lip days (which this trend could definitely look like). I’m not sure I’d wear this day to day but it's definitely an ode to the likes of J.Lo and Victoria Beckham."<br><br><strong>VIEVE</strong> Modern Lip Definer, $, available at <a href="https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/vieve-modern-lip-definer.html?variant_id=30358" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cult Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cult Beauty</a><br><br><strong>VIEVE</strong> Modern Matte Lipstick, $, available at <a href="https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/vieve-modern-matte-lipstick.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cult Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cult Beauty</a>
Tester: Simran
The trend: Dark lip liner + light nude lipstick (inspired by Naomi Campbell and Angelina Jolie)

"I'm not usually a massive fan of nudey, browny lips, especially with the classic '90s darker lip liner. But these lippies made it look quite easy. I used VIEVE Makeup's shade Bark in the liner and the shade Ninetease in the lipstick, then used my fingers to blend them together. The formula itself was really blendable and creamy and my lips didn't feel dry at all. The only thing I would say is be careful with your shade choice, especially as you don't want it to be a throwback to the old concealer lip days (which this trend could definitely look like). I’m not sure I’d wear this day to day but it's definitely an ode to the likes of J.Lo and Victoria Beckham."

VIEVE Modern Lip Definer, $, available at Cult Beauty

VIEVE Modern Matte Lipstick, $, available at Cult Beauty
<strong>Tester:</strong> Vanese<br><strong>The trend:</strong> Light nude lips (inspired by Cindy Crawford and Aaliyah)<br><br>"Each year, my excitement for A/W makeup looks hits new levels and this year is certainly no exception, from sparkly eyes to berry, dark and nude lips. It's a trend that is inclusive of all skin tones and never goes out of style so I'm glad it's bigger than ever this year thanks to the likes of TikTok. I'm trying out Glossier's Generation G Lipstick in Leo: a neutral cocoa brown that really complements my complexion (and one of the first products that pops up when you search for '90s lipstick). It applies super creamy and dries down quite matte on the lips but it still feels super hydrating. This is perfect if, like me, you tend to get quite dry lips in the colder months. It easily gives me a 'my lips but better' feel and it's a shade that can take any look from day to night with a touch of mascara and eyeliner, or a statement eye. I opted for the latter. The best thing about this lipstick is that it adapts to everyone's natural lip colour. It appears a little different on each person but always looks great."<br><br><strong>Glossier</strong> Generation G In Leo, $, available at <a href="https://www.glossier.com/products/generation-g" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Glossier" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Glossier</a>
Tester: Vanese
The trend: Light nude lips (inspired by Cindy Crawford and Aaliyah)

"Each year, my excitement for A/W makeup looks hits new levels and this year is certainly no exception, from sparkly eyes to berry, dark and nude lips. It's a trend that is inclusive of all skin tones and never goes out of style so I'm glad it's bigger than ever this year thanks to the likes of TikTok. I'm trying out Glossier's Generation G Lipstick in Leo: a neutral cocoa brown that really complements my complexion (and one of the first products that pops up when you search for '90s lipstick). It applies super creamy and dries down quite matte on the lips but it still feels super hydrating. This is perfect if, like me, you tend to get quite dry lips in the colder months. It easily gives me a 'my lips but better' feel and it's a shade that can take any look from day to night with a touch of mascara and eyeliner, or a statement eye. I opted for the latter. The best thing about this lipstick is that it adapts to everyone's natural lip colour. It appears a little different on each person but always looks great."

Glossier Generation G In Leo, $, available at Glossier
<strong>Tester:</strong> Esther<br><strong>The trend:</strong> Glossy nude lips (inspired by Posh Spice and Jennifer Aniston)<br><br>"When asked to try out a brown lipstick, I was a little hesitant. I've never nailed the right colour, either choosing shades with too much grey in them (great for a corpse bride look on Halloween) or with a yellow and orange undertone (too warm for my complexion). Saying this, I'm not usually one for darker lipstick. With lips on the thinner side, I've got it into my head to stick to lighter, glossier options (I know, I know – it's something I'm working on). But when someone offers you the chance to try Charlotte Tilbury’s New Super Nude collection, you jump. Out of the five shades, I opted for Supermodel. It's a beautiful coffee-rose with a red base that suits cooler complexions like mine. Putting it on, I didn't feel washed out or like I was doing a Halloween look. The formula is super creamy and soft, applies easily to the lips but stays put for hours. There's no bleeding into the fine lines around my mouth and no patchiness. Even after a bowl of creamy pasta and a glass of wine, it didn't budge! By the end of the night and without reapplying, I did notice a little product settling in the dry areas around the corners of my mouth but I'm sure lip balm would sort that out. I think I may have found my new go-to autumn lipstick."<br><br><strong>Charlotte Tilbury</strong> The Super Nudes in Supermodel, $, available at <a href="https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/charlotte-tilbury-the-super-nudes.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cult Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cult Beauty</a>
Tester: Esther
The trend: Glossy nude lips (inspired by Posh Spice and Jennifer Aniston)

"When asked to try out a brown lipstick, I was a little hesitant. I've never nailed the right colour, either choosing shades with too much grey in them (great for a corpse bride look on Halloween) or with a yellow and orange undertone (too warm for my complexion). Saying this, I'm not usually one for darker lipstick. With lips on the thinner side, I've got it into my head to stick to lighter, glossier options (I know, I know – it's something I'm working on). But when someone offers you the chance to try Charlotte Tilbury’s New Super Nude collection, you jump. Out of the five shades, I opted for Supermodel. It's a beautiful coffee-rose with a red base that suits cooler complexions like mine. Putting it on, I didn't feel washed out or like I was doing a Halloween look. The formula is super creamy and soft, applies easily to the lips but stays put for hours. There's no bleeding into the fine lines around my mouth and no patchiness. Even after a bowl of creamy pasta and a glass of wine, it didn't budge! By the end of the night and without reapplying, I did notice a little product settling in the dry areas around the corners of my mouth but I'm sure lip balm would sort that out. I think I may have found my new go-to autumn lipstick."

Charlotte Tilbury The Super Nudes in Supermodel, $, available at Cult Beauty
<strong>Tester:</strong> Keeks<br><strong>The trend:</strong> Plummy nude lips (inspired by Drew Barrymore and Janet Jackson)<br><br>"The '90s is my vibe. There aren't many beauty trends from the era that I don't already incorporate into my makeup routine (apart from maybe pencil thin brows). Brown and plummy nude lipsticks are a staple in my beauty bag. I think the right shades can make your lips look fuller and give an effortlessly put-together look. For this, I added a new one to my kit: Dior Rouge Graphist Intense Colour Lipstick Pencil in Vibrant Plum. Despite the name and how purply it appears online, against my skin tone it's the perfect shade for a hint of colour with a '90s nude undertone. A note on the formula: it’s so creamy to apply and the shape of the bullet meant precision was easy. I think I've found a new '90s lip to add to the roster."<br><br><strong>Dior</strong> Rouge Graphist Intense Colour Lipstick Pencil, $, available at <a href="https://www.dior.com/en_gb/products/beauty-Y0101000-rouge-graphist-lipstick-pencil-intense-colour-precision-and-long-wear" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dior" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dior</a>
Tester: Keeks
The trend: Plummy nude lips (inspired by Drew Barrymore and Janet Jackson)

"The '90s is my vibe. There aren't many beauty trends from the era that I don't already incorporate into my makeup routine (apart from maybe pencil thin brows). Brown and plummy nude lipsticks are a staple in my beauty bag. I think the right shades can make your lips look fuller and give an effortlessly put-together look. For this, I added a new one to my kit: Dior Rouge Graphist Intense Colour Lipstick Pencil in Vibrant Plum. Despite the name and how purply it appears online, against my skin tone it's the perfect shade for a hint of colour with a '90s nude undertone. A note on the formula: it’s so creamy to apply and the shape of the bullet meant precision was easy. I think I've found a new '90s lip to add to the roster."

Dior Rouge Graphist Intense Colour Lipstick Pencil, $, available at Dior

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