Though sometimes questionable, most '90s hairstyles hold a near and still very dear place in our hearts. Yes, every decade has its fair share of monumental hair moments—'60s beehives, flapper-esque bobs, and well-coiffed finger waves are just a few to come to mind—but we'd be remiss to forget the many '90s hairstyles made iconic throughout the decade.
From plush, sparkly, and all-around-whimsical hair accessories to braids, twists, and even some spikes, the '90s provided plenty of inspirational fodder we can apply to our strands today. Plus, it's safe to say each of our editors dabbled in at least a few of these styles at one point or another (some worked out better than others), and we know we weren't alone.
With the help of three hair experts—Phillip Downing, celebrity stylist and TIGI US Creative & Education Director; Rita Lowery, celebrity stylist and owner of Rita Lowery Hair; and Mane Addicts' celebrity stylist Sienree Du—we rounded up 20 modern versions of iconic '90s hairstyles.
Keep scrolling to check out the best '90s hairstyles that still rock to this day.
The Face-Framing Messy Bun
The only thing better than a messy bun in the '90s? A messy bun with long, detached tendrils. Hailey Bieber demonstrates and somehow manages to make the style cool, while never looking like she's trying too hard:
- "Prep is massively important, and putting clean hair up away from the face without products is always going to be difficult," says Downing.
- "I recommend spraying the hair with Queen For A Day Thickening Spray ($20) to give an even and consistent texture."
- "Then, place the ‘messy bun’ proportionately to the bone structure, the higher on the head, the more this will elongate face shapes."
- "The trick is to not be too precise, if pieces fall out, use that to your advantage, this will add to the ‘messy’ approach."
Twists are a protective style that never goes out of fashion. This shorter, bob-length look flecked with blonde highlights has a total '90s vibe.
Our favorite Spice Girl may have changed every other day, but we remained faithful to Baby Spice's iconic high-pigtail-and-bangs combination. Here, Charli D'Amelio delivers a modern take with baby braids and purple streaks. To get the look:
- "Make sure the pigtails align diagonally with the arch of the eyebrows to give the face a lifted effect," says Du.
- "I would recommend using clear small hair ties for a flat ponytail look, I love flat pigtails. Nothing sticking up too high," adds Lowery.
- "Once the pigtails are tied, you can play with texture, whether wearing it sleek and straight or putting a bend in it," says Du. "Try braiding the pigtails or random pieces for fun."
Jennifer Aniston has since said she wasn't a fan of The Rachel, the '90s hairstyle made famous by her iconic character in Friends, but today, she rocks a modern, grown-out version.
- "We're seeing this look updated with a more 'shaggy' feeling," says Downing.
- "The layers are shorter, working with a fringe to open up the facial area are all great ways to bring this look into [the modern day]."
- "Also, if there is natural movement in the hair, this is great to encourage to give this iconic look a more beachy feel."
Yara Shahidi brings the quintessential '90s prom hairstyle into the 21st century by allowing her natural curls out to play. Follow these tips for a similar look:
- "Make sure you gather the hair high up on the apex of the head, this will give you the most height and volume," says Du.
- "With this particular look, I like to tie the pony up first, backcomb the base for maximum volume, and then touch up the curls with an iron last, so the curls are more defined."
- "Adding a few twisted pieces going back makes it edgy and youthful," adds Lowery.
The Outward Flip
The only thing better than watching their movies, reading their books, and wearing their clothes? Channeling Mary-Kate and Ashley's signature '90s flip, as Keke Palmer does here. To modernize a vintage-inspired 'do: "Keep it undone and lived in," says Du. "Also adding modern accessories can help make things less dated." (See Palmer's studded hair clip).
Overlong swooped bangs are so yesterday... and today. Go the clip-in bangs route like Kendall Jenner with this clever hairpiece. An up 'do like a ponytail or bun will help the fake hair blend in more naturally.
An epic halo of butterfly clips is the ultimate '90s hair accessory. They look modern paired with gorgeous, full afro style. "Butterfly clips are such a cute accent to a casual look. Use it to hold back fringe, on the base of pigtails, or decorate an accent braid," says Du.
Headwraps are far from exclusive to the '90s, but we can't forget how women like Erykah Badu brought them to the red carpet. This modern take pairs a gold headwrap with locs.
We're obsessed with these piled-high braids, similar to the locs pictured above but a little smaller. They can be paired with a headwrap or worn alone.
Crimped hair was a must in the '90s and, if recent red carpet and runway styles are any indications, we might be starting to see this come back. "Crimping can look a bit silly but if done right, it can look chic and editorial," says Du.
- "Be strategic on where to crimp, like keeping the roots sleek and only crimping the ends can look super cool, or a slick crimped ponytail can be such a vibe, too."
- "For a modem look, work in bigger crimps versus tiny," says Lowery. "This will create more of a beach wave look."
- "Also you can try putting the hair up and having only the ponytail crimped to add extra volume," like Ariana Grande above.
Just as we bedazzled the back pockets of our jeans, hair bandanas, headbands, and our CD players, naturally, we loved bedazzling our strands, as well. Iron-waved crimps heighten the '90s feel of this Aimee Song hairstyle even further.
Teeny tiny braids like the ones that make up Amandla Stenberg's cool side-parted bob are totally '90s, but the fun colors help bring the look into modern day.
A '90s hair roundup would never be complete without some great feathered bangs—a hairstyle practically synonymous with the decade. A layered cut and chic beige blonde color prevent this style from appearing dated.
The Spiked Pixie
The spiked pixie cut, first popularized by Halle Barry, is still going strong. We love Ruby Rose's version.
- "This look is particularly bold and confident, I don’t look at Halle’s iconic look and think it looks dated. I personally still think it looks great," says Downing.
- "I would say the individual's total look and confidence needs to be there to carry this look off."
- Downing recommends using Bed Head Matte Separation Wax ($13) to sculpt your pixie.
The Messy Bun
"I think we’re seeing a big resurgence into 90’s hair trends, particularly from a ‘grunge’ aspect," says Downing. Shay Mitchell's artfully messy topknot is a great example.
- "That ’sporty’ finish in the hair works well on most lengths and textures. It’s not quite wet-look, but it’s not matte either— somewhere in between."
- "Bed Head Headrush Superfine Shine Spray ($18) on dry hair helps to achieve this high gloss sporty look within the hair."
If you're anything like us, dark hair with light, chunky highlights might be a trend you were glad to leave behind in the '90s. But this look is back, with a softer, more rooted vibe like the one pictured above. "You can try chunky highlights thrown in throughout the hair, which looks gorgeous and natural," suggests Lowery.
A sleek half-up, half-down high ponytail is one of Lowery's go-tos for a '90s style that doesn't look dated. "To modernize a vintage look I love to add an updated twist like pairing the hairstyle with modern earrings, or downplaying the severity of the hairstyle," she says.
The Angela Chase middle part is back and better than ever. Du loves a "polished middle part lob, like Posh Spice. It’s forever chic and classy but still edgy."
- "For short hair, I would recommend staying away from too much volume, this can quite often date a look," says Downing.
- "As above, the finishing is also key, bringing in a sporty wet look to the hair can also bring the look into today."
- Finish off with a polishing serum like IGK Crybaby Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum ($28) to add shine and cut down on frizz.
Last but certainly not least: double buns, also known as space buns. This version has loads of texture thanks to the wearer's natural curls, plus two face-framing twists.
- "Space buns will naturally have more texture and in some cases, more volume than straight hair," says Downing.
- "So, on straight hair, some backcombing and teasing will help support the shape and structure."