22 Seriously Nostalgic ’90s Hairstyles – Then and Now

It's time to jump back on board with these '90s hairstyles!

It’s official, ’90s hairstyles have come full circle! With a host of A-listers opting for throwback styles – scrunchie anyone? We have seen modern versions of Baby Spice’s pigtails, the iconic Rachel cut and even crimped hair has made a comeback.

So, whether you want to relive your youth or see how your fave ’90s hairstyles have been modernised by the likes of Gigi Hadid and Blake Lively, simply keep scrolling…

The Rachel Then

90s hairstyles: Jennifer Aniston with shoulder length highlighted red brown hair in the iconic rachel haircut
We are s-o-o-o not over this hairstyle. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Of course we had to kick-start our popular hairstyles in the 1990s with the iconic Rachel cut. Friends fans will already be familiar with this voluminous shoulder length look worn by Jennifer Aniston in the hit TV show. Check out those chunky highlights too!

The Rachel Now

90s hairstyles: mage of Kristin Cavallari on the red carpet with wavy blonde shoulder length hair, evening dress and drop earrings - 1990s hairstyles
The Rachel 2.0. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Former The Hills star Kristin Cavallari went for the ’90s look for a red carpet appearance, instantly giving the style a modern update with tousled loose waves.

Mariah Carey’s Dreamlover Curls Then

90s hairstyles: Mariah Carey with naturally curly brown hair with side bangs wearing a pink dress
We are still obsessed with this ’90s style. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The only way to be a heartbreaker (get it?) in the ’90s was to wear Mariah Carey style curls. Her highlighted brown curls and side fringe was her signature style before the noughties hit and she, just like us, became obsessed with loose waves like Blake Lively…

Mariah Carey’s Dreamlover Curls Now

90s hairstyles: Blake Lively with Mariah Carey 90s style curls on her highlighted blonde hair
Curl envy. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

… who is literally hair goals! No matter which hairstyle she does, Blake looks ah-maz-ing, and these mermaid-esque beachy waves are giving us serious Mariah Carey vibes.

Editor’s tip: Want to work this undone and tousled ‘do like Blake? Then all you need is a quick spritz of a texturising spray, like the TONI&GUY Sea Salt Texturising Spray. It will help to enhance natural movement, define layers and prevent your hair from falling flat. Talk about a multi-tasker!

Janet Jackson’s Poetic Justice Braids Then

90s hairstyles: Janet Jackson box braids from Poetic Justice movie wearing a black beret and hoop earrings
The box braid OG. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Making her acting debut in the now iconic movie Poetic Justice, Janet Jackson’s thick box braids and hat combination became a style staple.

The ’90s love for box braids didn’t stop there, as Stacey Dash’s character Dionne from Clueless (obvs) championed the look in impeccable style too.

Janet Jackson’s Poetic Justice Braids Now

'90s hairstyles: Gabrielle Union protective braided hairstyle wearing one shoulder dress
Gabrielle Union gives the traditional protective hairstyle a modern-day makeover. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

With so many women opting to protect their natural tresses in an array of braided styles we had no shortage of contemporary alternatives to choose from, but it’s Gabrielle Union‘s look we simply adore.

Ditching the traditional braids for silky twists, Gabrielle Union completely transformed this look, all the while giving a nod to the ’90s era.

Baby Spice Pigtails Then

90s hairstyles: Emma Bunton long straight blonde hair in pigtails eating a lollipop
Pigtails will certainly spice up your life. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Girl bands ruled in the ’90s, so naturally we had to turn to our fave pop group Spice Girls for hair inspiration.

Emma Bunton’s (AKA Baby Spice) pigtails were the go-to look for our primary school years and it seems not much has changed as stars like Vanessa Hudgens are often spotted with a revamped style.

Baby Spice Pigtails Now

90s hairstyles: Vanessa Hudgens space buns hairstyle with loose tendrils along the hairline
Wannabe a ’90s lover like Vanessa? Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Space buns are the modern update to the pigtail look and are one of the trendiest 1990s hairstyles right now.

With Vanessa’s two strands hanging loosely at the front, she channels stars like ’90s screen queens Alicia Silverstone and Julia Stiles who were often spotted with the distinctive style, which later became the staple look of the ’00s.

The Supermodel Blowout Then

90s hairstyles: Cindy Crawfod big '90s blowout on brown highlighted hair. Cindy is wearing a red camisole dress and red lipstick
Pass us the hair lacquer. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

We saw plenty of BIG hair in the ’80s so there is little surprise that the style continued to dominate through the ’90s. While big blowout styles were most notably seen on supermodels such as Claudia Schiffer and Helena Christensen, no one done it quite so big as Cindy Crawford.

The Supermodel Blowout Now

90s hairstyles: Gigi Hadid long blonde highlighted wavy blowout hair on red carpet event
Gigi is the Cindy Crawford for hair goals. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Still voluminous, still sexy, still stylish but without the bigger is better roots. Yes, Gigi Hadid is the modern-day equivalent of Cindy Crawford when it comes to supermodel hair ideals for many women.

Editor’s tip: If your tresses are not packing supermodel volume, fake it with the Love Beauty And Planet Volume & Bounty Dry Shampoo.

Blended with juicy Citrus and Camellia, this dry shampoo lets you show off lush, bountiful tresses even on non-wash days.

Aaliyah’s Deep Swoop Then

90s hairstyles: Aaliyah dark brown straight hair in deep side parting with swooping fringe
We’ve been back and forth with our love for this hairstyle. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Aaliyah had some pretty great hairstyles and this deep swoop side fringe has to be her most recognisable style. Keeping her locks poker straight with a glossy sheen, Aaliyah had everyone styling their tresses in a deep side parting and smoothing their hair along their face for a faux fringe finish.

Aaliyah’s Deep Swoop Now

90s hairstyles: image of January Jones with blonde wavy hair, with a hair clips and blue top
Sweep your hair to one side and add hair clips like January Jones for a ’90s throwback look. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

So how has the modern day Aaliyah look differed from the original? It’s out with the straight and sleek finish and in with the undone tousled waves. If, like January Jones you struggle to keep your swoop in place, simply secure your style with a hair clip.

Drew Barrymore’s Flipped Bob Then

90s hairstyles: Drew Barrymore blonde bob with distinctive flipped out ends with micro fringe. Drew is wearing a black dress
Move over Farrah, we have a new flipped hairstyle in town. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The humble bob became one of the must-have styles of the ’90s thanks to Drew Barrymore. Wearing her blonde bob with distinctive flipped out ends and micro fringe, Drew became the poster girl for those wanting a more offbeat hairstyle.

Drew Barrymore’s Flipped Bob Now

90s hairstyles: Haley Bennett blonde wavy bob with short side fringe on red carpet with high neck sheer dress
Loved the Drew? Then you’ll love this fresh new take on the ’90s style. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Haley Bennett shows us how to give the ’90s bob and micro bangs hairstyle a contemporary update that plays into our love of French girl hair.

The flipped ends are still there, they’ve just been given more of a softer wavy finish and the micro bangs are delicately separated and swept to the side, much like the in fashion French bob trend.

Moesha‘s Micro Braids Then

90s hairstyles: Brandy with medium length micro braids
Say hello to the queen of ’90s braids. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

While we’ve already seen Janet Jackson’s box braids, it’s time to showcase the other popular ’90s braided hairstyle in the form of micro braids as was popularised by the character Moesha (AKA Brandy) from the TV show of the same name.

Moesha‘s ultra fine micro braids would often be styled in pigtails, half-up, half-down styles and she was even partial to flipping out the ends too.

Moesha‘s Micro Braids Now

90s hairstyles: Zoë Kravitz dark brown micro braids in low bun with large black bow hair accessory on red carpet wearing one shoulder dress and large earrings
If you like it put a HUGE bow on it. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Zoë Kravitz is our hair hero when it comes to any braided hairstyle. To give her micro braids a glitzy makeover for a red carpet appearance, Zoë added a large sequined hair bow and did you peep her cool undercut too?

Dionne‘s Bandana Accessory Then

90s hairstyles: Dionne from Clueless with long box braids with white bandana in picture from Clueless
Dionne, we thank you. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

For style or sports purposes, do like Dionne from Clueless and simply wrap a statement bandana around the top of your head – we’ll see you on the field.

Dionne‘s Bandana Accessory Now

90s hairstyles: Kylie Jenner long platinum blonde straight hair with a light coloured bandana wearing double denim
Kylie Jenner works the ’90s look. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Taking on the ’90s trend head to toe with her double denim outfit, Kylie Jenner adds a headwrap to her platinum blonde tresses.

Editor’s tip: Want Kylie’s enviable straight and sleek tresses? Then you’ll need the TONI&GUY Primer Smoothing Spray. Spray hair evenly before using any heated styling tools (and that included your hairdryer) for a beautiful frizz-free finish that appears smooth and sleek.

Mom Hair with Layers

karlie kloss wearing a black tshirt with hand print with blonde shoulder length layered mom hair
Keep things interesting by adding shorter layers around your jawline like Karlie Kloss. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Mom Hair is one of the most popular hairstyles in the 1990s, essentially it’s longer than a bob or a lob (AKA long bob), yet still not long enough to be considered ‘lengthy’ either. The style usually incorporated layers and originally became popular among mothers thanks to its quick styling potential!

Allowing you to maintain the look of long hair, without it weighing you down, the mom cut is a perfect compromise on length! We recommend taking note from how supermodel Karlie Kloss works the look, by incorporating some choppy, face-framing layers, for a totally on-trend ‘do.

Not only has the cut breathed tonnes of volume and texture into her mane, it has also allowed her to maintain the majority of its length – great if you require longer strands for styling! Looks like ’90s hairstyles are better the second time around!

Mom Hair With Natural Waves

tv presenter laura jackson wearing a pink and burgundy dress with dark wavy mom hair
Make like tv presenter Laura Jackson with a feminine shoulder-sweeping cut. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

For the time-poor among us (AKA everyone!), 1990s hairstyles – especially the ‘mom cut’ – are a lifesaver, as they actually work best on natural, wavy textures. So, rather than spending time styling your locks with a curling wand every day, limit heat damage and embrace this get-up-and-go look!

All-Over Colour Mom Hair

Reese Witherspoon out and about in Los Angeles with blonde hair and sunglasses carrying shopping bags - 1990s hairstyles
Make like Reese Witherspoon and keep your tresses one hue to save time! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If you want a totally laid back new look, Reese Witherspoon’s ‘mom hair’ is one of the best 1990s hairstyles recreations to turn to.

As one of Hollywood’s top actresses, plus a mother of three, we’re going to bet that this gal doesn’t want to spend all day in the salon. Instead, she’s opted for an all-over blonde hue, which makes maintenance and upkeep a lot speedier.

And like other 1990s hairstyles, she’s rocking choppy layers, which give her an ‘I just woke up like this‘ vibe.

Wavy Ombre Mom Hair

front view of Jessica Alba with shoulder length wavy hair with a subtle ombre: Credit: Rex by Shutterstock
Jessica Alba gives 1990s hairstyles a new lease of life! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Just when we thought Jessica Alba couldn’t be any more perfect, she pops up with this totally stunning ‘do, inspired by hairstyles of the 1990s, illuminating her ‘mom cut’ with ombre tones and beautiful beachy waves.

To get this look, create a centre parting, then simply braid your hair when it’s still damp. Once dry, run your fingers through your tresses and you’re good to go, lady!


Psst! All Things Hair are going to be at Goodwood Revival at Betty’s Salon, so don’t forget to come say hello!


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