There’s a lot of buzz around the return of 90s hairstyles – bold, voluminous, experimental, and all things fun. The celebrities of this era knew how to make their hair chic and interesting; by mixing up different styles and indulging in accessories and color. From Cindy Crawford’s big hair to Princess Diana’s feathered bob – we loved them all. Chunky highlights, mohawks, high and severe ponytails, straight hair with bangs, and razor-sharp cuts are just a few of the most unforgettable 90s hairstyles.
Some of these trends (thankfully) remain a distant memory, but a number of 90s hairstyles are taking the fashion and beauty industry by storm this year. Celebrity hairstylists, such as Chris Appleton, have given their renowned clients the 90s-inspired makeover many times in the recent past. So, let’s take a look at some celebrity-approved hairstyles that have successfully time travelled from the 90s fashion circuit to 2021.
1. The Pixie
Unquestionably, one of the most popular 90s hairstyles that we’re seeing return is the pixie cut. Winona Ryder was perhaps one of the first celebs to popularize this chic hairstyle in the late 90s and it screamed sleek and sexy. The actor played with the look often, transforming the subtle layers into a choppy one by adding plenty of edges. Then, of course, there was Demi Moore’s sizzling hot pixie in Ghost.
To replicate the look in 2021, set your eyes on Teyana Taylor, Cara Delevingne or Katy Perry for inspiration.
2. The ‘Rachel’
The iconic Rachel Green hairstyle from Friends, created by stylist Chris McMillan and debuted in 1995, was a phenomenon that lasted for years and is trending again today. This is largely triggered by the long-awaited reunion which set the world off on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. In fact, research shows that requests for the ‘Rachel’ jumped 179% after the reunion teaser aired!
According to McMillian, back in the 90s the hairstyle was so popular that women from all over flew to his Los Angeles salon to get the Rachel hairdo from the man himself. While the ‘Rachel’ is not an easy hairstyle to pull off, with its voluminous, face-framing layers and honey highlights, its charm remains.
3. The Classy Flip
A cute hair trend from the 90s is the high volume, flipped-ends look. Originating in the 60s, made edgy in the 90s and amended again in 2021, today’s modern variant is sleeker than the classic style with a chunkier baseline.
What’s great about this style is that it can easily be casual or formal, so works well for any occasion. Perhaps this is why countless celebs have been working the look, from Cardi B and Rihanna to Zendaya and Kim Kardashian.
Tip *put half the hair up in a ponytail like Kim K for a twist on the look.*
4. The Bob
Victoria Beckham is just one of the 90s stars known for her array of different styles of bobs. Then there’s also Cameron Diaz’s iconic bob from There’s Something About Mary. Well, the bob is back in 2021 with new variations ready for you to explore.
The not-so precise, relaxed bob is a popular choice with the idea being to keep the look manageable every day since high maintenance is out. And contrary to popular belief, bobs are not just for straight hair as Laura Harrier proves with her stylish curly bob.
5. Bold Box Braids
Bobbed, bright-colored, waist-length, blonde, or in an updo, there’s so much versatility (and protection) in box braids, making it a must-try style this year.
Janet Jackson is hands down the queen of celebrity box braids of the 90s. And the hair do has regained popularity today, but with a slight twist to knotless box braids. These skip the knots at the root of the scalp, resulting in plaits that are easy on the edges and feel almost weightless. For style inspiration, take a look at rapper Coi Leray.
Another 2021 box braid trend is to let the natural hair play peekaboo from under the braids. Leave the ends loose and show off the curls for a lovely Bohemian touch - Jhené Aiko showed us how on the Grammy’s red carpet this year.
Read more: Have a look at the top five beauty and wellness trends that are shaping the industry this year.
We may not associate pigtails with an iconic look, but pigtails were a huge deal back in the 90s. Remember Britney Spears Hit me baby one more time?
Now before you run in the opposite direction, pigtails in 2021 have grown up to deliver a sleek, sophisticated look in 2021. Plus, they can be saviors on a bad hair day! They’re not as severe as a high ponytail and even add volume to the crown without teasing. Move them high or low, add accessories or change the parting to get the final look you love.
Soft, face-framing tendrils are so romantic and feminine. On a day when you’re not in the mood to fuss over your hair, this is the style to embrace. Why? Because it’s a low-maintenance way to still look great.
Tendrils suit all face shapes and pretty much every hairstyle – buns, ponytails, braids. Keep them straight, wispy or textured, chunky or thin, and they’d still look effortless. Dua Lipa, Kendall Jenner, and Bella Hadid often step out in styles with tendrils.
We’ve come a long way from the mall bangs trend of the 90s – think Candace Cameron in House Full and Kelly Kapowski in Saved by the Bell. But even though the elevated fringes are no longer popular, a range of bang styles are now trending in 2021.
From curtain bangs and blunt block fringes to the softer, choppy cuts and even French girl fringe, aka Priyanka Chopra, bangs are back. The key to a successful bang style? Don’t make it look like you’re trying too hard.
In the late 90s, Christina Aguilera embraced a crimpled look at the LA Billboard Awards, sparking thousands of females to kiss their poker-straight hair goodbye and make friends with the crimping iron.
Fast forward to today and celebs and their stylists are trying out a whole array of crimped hairstyles– updos, bangs, knotted braids, white hair, mermaid hair, and so much more – there’s lots of room for creativity with this trend. Crimped hair is even returning to the red carpet with celebs like Kylie Jenner, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and Anna Kendrick trying their own variant of the style.
10. Space Buns & Bantu Knots
Two hugely popular festival hair trends of the 90s are space buns and Bantu knots. Both are fun, playful summer hairstyles that pair well with accessories and statement jewelry. They're also really versatile and can be worn in different ways such as big, small, with the hair half-up, straight hair or with braids – you can make them unique to you.
We’ve seen the former on stars like Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, and Kourtney Kardashian. While bantu buns, originating from the Zulu tribes in South Africa have been worn by Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna, and Cardi B.
Don’t Forget to Accessorize!
The 90s fashion and beauty trends were explosive – it was never meant to be low-key. And what’s more? It was all about hair accessories. Whether you sported natural hair, poker straight, or messy updos, what elevated a look was the hair accessories. And, unsurprisingly, some of the must-have 90s accessories are trending again this year. But, according to New York City celebrity hairstylist, Nate Rosenkranz, the hair accessories of 2021 are oversized with more color and adornment.
So, if you want to give your hairstyle a glow up, try some of these accessories:
Scrunchies – A high ponytail in a snazzy scrunchy is back and now!
Butterfly clips – Every girl’s must-have accessory.
Daisy clips – Hello Drew Barrymore’s 90s bob with that flower power twist.
Colored clips – Brightening up mundane hair since the 90s. Cute too.
Claw clips – Grab the hair into a claw clip and you’re ready to take on the world.
Headbands – The variety is unbelievable. And so much fun!
Hats and bandanas – Your answer to a bad hair day.
Stay in the Know
Trends come and go. Every few years a new style, fashion, or beauty trend is either discovered, invented or reintroduced so stay up to date with the best ways to guide your guests on styling their hair.
If you’re ready for your guests after the pandemic, we’ve lined up some easy ways for you to simplify your business operations in 2021.