You know the saying: Everything old is new again. Never has that been more true than with some of the biggest fads of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, from frosted tones to fashion trends. You can thank models like Bella Hadid for the return of some of these style moments; she has a fondness for the Y2K era and has been seen in accordion headbands, microminis and pinstripe pants, among many other 2000s-esque looks. Her latest archaeological trend moment? Rhinestone body tattoos—and the look is catching on.
If you were a teen or a tween in the ‘00s (as this writer was), you probably have visceral memories of the rhinestone body art movement. You could buy the little packets of gems in a heart, flower or peace sign design at Claire’s and stick them right onto your skin for a Britney-worthy faux-tattoo, or pop a few crystals on your face for even more sparkle. Like many of the more blinged-out Y2K beauty trends, rhinestone body gems faded from popularity, but Bella, fashion designers like Sandy Liang and the ever-present Euphoria effect are bringing them right back into the future.
The Re-Emergence Begins
The stick-on gemstone craze got its start thanks to HBO’s instantly popular Euphoria, where makeup artist Donni Davy and her team applied a plethora of rhinestones and crystals to stars like Sydney Sweeney, Alexa Demie and Hunter Schafer. If you’re anything like me, you found yourself ordering stick-on gems to apply to the edges of your eyes a la Cassie, Maddy and Jules at the height of Euphoria popularity.
Hair gems, another mainstay of the Y2K era, also got their moment in the spotlight, thanks to a viral TikTok video from user Sophie Murray; her video currently has more than 1 million impressions and the styling tool she used continues to sell out again and again as eager bedazzlers get to work.
Clearly, beauty fans are ready to bring the sparkle back to their lives, and body art is the next frontier. Bella was one of the first to bring back the rhinestone body art, debuting her throwback temporary tattoo in June 2022 at a Kin Euphroics event.
She wore yet another butterfly tattoo—this time in gold—at her second Kin party of the summer.The supermodel wore a stick-on gemstone butterfly on her hip, peeking out via her ‘00s-approved mesh midriff top and low-rise pants. She accessorized the Y2K look with an equally appropriate lime green baguette bag, looking as though she could have stepped right out of 2003.
At New York Fashion Week in September, designer Sandy Liang sent models down the runway with delicate crystal tattoos on their hips, lower backs and collarbones, including a bow design and the letters “S” and “L” in sparkling rhinestones. The hint of sparkle gave Liang’s designs an extra pop and cheeky throwback vibe.
“With the resurgence of ‘90s and ‘00s low-rise jeans, baby tees and more, there's no doubt that individuals become inspired by the total look including hair and makeup when looking at references from the decades,” says editorial makeup artist Anne Skubis. “I also think that people are becoming more adventurous with their makeup due to influence from social media, entertainment and Fashion Week. What once was reserved for parties, raves, and nighttime is appearing in everyday looks.”
How to Rock It
Crystal body and face tattoos can be worn anywhere and everywhere; you can easily hide a rhinestone body tattoo under your clothes at work, or decorate your face with gems for a festival or night out. Or, take a note from TikTokers and use glimmering temporary butterfly tattoos to dress up your eye makeup.
If you’re feeling the urge to glimmer and glow a la Bella and the Sandy Liang models, Skubis recommends making the sparkle the centerpiece of your look to update the look. “When I first wore these trends in the ‘90s and ‘00s, it was the more the merrier,” she says. “I think now it's less about the roll-on body glitter plus gem tattoos plus rhinestone encrusted eyeliner, and more about adding one element to the look. Pick one of the above and pair it with fresh dewy skin, cream cheek color, mascara and a lip.”
You shouldn’t have to worry too much about safety when experimenting with crystal body jewels and stick-on gems, but Skubis advises being aware of any latex allergies when using lash glue.
Where to Get It
Claire’s and the like aren’t the sole source of rhinestone body stickers anymore. You can buy glittering holographic crystal butterfly body stickers like Bella’s from Dolls Kill or try the Carnival Crystal Body Stickers from Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty. Both Amazon and Etsy offer a plethora of stick-on body gem options, from dragonfly designs to starbursts. It’s truly so easy to get your sparkle on—the hard part is making sure you’re applying the crystals with a steady hand.