50 Grunge Hair Looks That Are More than Just Whatever

Ain't no party like a '90s grunge hair party!

It looks like we’re never getting over grunge hair (send help.). But you can’t really blame us though: For a lot of people, the ’90s trend is a safe haven to run to whenever reality-glam fatigue strikes; for even more people, particularly for those who came of age in the era, maybe it’s just good ol’ nostalgia. Maybe because it’s the easiest “look” whenever we’re in a rush, or perhaps we’re still not over our Seattle garage band phase, because #pnwlife. Or, hey, cough, not naming names, but maybe a girl just doesn’t want to wash her hair for three days straight, and this finally makes it legit for her to do so!

Whatever it is, we’ll always have a special place on the mantel for the ’90s grunge hair trend, and looks like we’re not alone in this. If the runways and streets are any indications, this love affair ain’t going nowhere—just see the massive level of inspiration we were able to cull below! Try not to get teary-eyed:

AIR-DRIED

Ah, the golden days of bedhead. Rumpled, tousled hair came to the fore during the 1990s, an offshoot of the era’s pervading minimalistic, less-is-more aesthetic. Lightly layered haircuts allowed us to give our blowdryers a much-needed break (if they hadn’t conked out from overuse the decade before, that is), resulting in styles that were as innocent as they were natural. And what was cooler than looking like you literally couldn’t care less?

staticky lob grunge hairstyles
That oh-so-<em>cazh</em> middle part is key. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. Staticky Lob

Literally the definition of rolled-out-of-bed hair, complete with blanket creases and halo frizz—and It girl center part!—for good measure.

beachy kinks grunge hair
Keep your bangs blunt to maintain a fuller look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

2. Beachy Kinks

Another big grunge-era trend: homemade salt spray, which was a Pinteresty blend of simple kitchen table salt and tap water. Spritzed onto locks, and ta-da, instant beachy texture.

haphazard bends grunge hair
Simple, but never basic.

3. Haphazard Bends

Longer lengths showcase a matte, beachy wave the best.

lob with beanie grunge hair
Conceals a greasy scalp while keeping your ends loose and swingy. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

4. Lob with Beanie

Greasy Hair 101: Always keep a beanie on hand, in case someone needs to make a bodega run.

matte layers grunge hair
The more nonchalant the side part, the better. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

5. Matte Layers

A dull finish was a prized look back in the day, giving rise to the popularity of paste and wax in addition to salt spray. Texturizing sprays, like Bed Head by TIGI Sugar Shock, easily recreate this grungy tousle, no problem.

tousled bob grunge hair
Wash and go! Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

6. Tousled Bob

Urge in this texture on straight to wavy hair by running some texturizing wax into a damp bob.

diffused part grunge hair
Follow the natural fall of your hairline. Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

7. Diffused Part

Before the over-styled Early Aughts, everyone was a bit chill with their hair partings, resulting in fuller, more natural looks.

messy waves grunge hair
Roll out of bed in style. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

8. Messy Waves

Another member of the (Late) Breakfast Club included messy, finger-combed waves.

natural waves grunge hair
A whisper-thin choker pulls it all together. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

9. Natural Waves

We don’t know what we love more: the clean, single-process brown, or the air-dried crumples.

natural waves part 2 grunge hair
A sweet side part is a subtle style update. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

10. Natural Waves, Pt. 2

The ’90s was definitely peak ash brown years. Love how the shade gives this otherwise basic look a sweeter, more homespun appeal.

crunchy platinum grunge hair
A lob length showcases expertly chunky ends. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

11. Crunchy Platinum

Bleached blondes have a natural stiffness to it which air-drying maximized, giving this look more edge.

center-parted lob grunge hair
Use a fishtail comb for a more precise parting. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

12. Center-Parted Lob

Or what we all really looked like before going to town with a flat iron (kinda love it though!).

rich-girl hair grunge hair
Hangover-chic! Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

13. Rich-Girl Hair

Named for the texture party girls get the morning after a bender, but totes egalitarian in its easy-to-wear appeal.

WET or GELLED

Taking things to a higher plane was the wet/stringy look, which may or may not be completely artificial, depending on your commitment level. Those who chose to the manufactured route took to high-shine gels (try TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Control Gel for a glossy yet non-crunchy finish) to get that telltale wet look. If you were of the more, shall we say, chill persuasion, you simply let Mother Nature—and your natural oils—take their course. Grunge hair at its most OG!

raked pony grunge hair
Use your fingers to gather hair into a pony for a rougher feel. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

13. Raked Pony

Ditch the fine-toothed comb and simply use your fingers to pull back your ponytail after gelling for a raked look.

gelled low knot grunge hair
We love this definitive ’90s look, from the middle-parted severe bun to the double hoops. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

14. Gelled Low Knot

Who doesn’t remember this ’90s trademark? A severely gelled base together with a “punytail” or baby knot (not to mention hoop earrings!) was almost iconic.

wet bob grunge hair
Leave a strip of hair free to soften your hairline. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

15. Wet Bob

A gelled base and loose, stringy ends imparts that popular surfer-slash-truant-slash-burnout look that’s (surprise!) earning top marks in high fashion today.

brush back grunge hair
Use a dime-sized amount of gel for this look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

16. Brush Back

A longer version of the gelled bob, this style opens up the forehead and is a pretty sexy evening option.

brush back on natural hair grunge hair
Preserve your wave by doing this on unrelaxed locks. Photo credit; Indigitalimages.com

17. Brush Back on Natural Hair

Those with African American or natural-textured hair can also get in on the wet look trend without relaxing their locks.

post-college grunge hair
Ready for the workforce… or at least that end-of-year rager. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

18. Post-College Bob

The hairstyle of choice of angsty fresh grads at the time, this full yet super-short crop gained even more street cred with a bit of grit.

stringy layers grunge hair
Lightly layered hair can still gain some dimension with the right products. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

19. Stringy Layers

Not to be outdone are these second (?…third?)-day layers, which artfully helm to your facial structure, giving you a more “natural” appeal.

stringy lob grunge hair
The length keeps it from looking scraggly. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

20. Stringy Lob

Lobs can rock a matte, no-greasy texture too, with the help of a texturizing cream, such as Bed Head by TIGI Manipulator.

BOB

If you never had a bob back then, were you really a ’90s baby though? Such was the widespread popularity of this low-maintenance unisex haircut, which was the decade’s valentine to the whole androgyny wave. Unlike its ends—which were satisfyingly blunt af—short grunge hair, particularly the soft bob, made quite the pointed statement: Traditional gender roles were on their way out the door, and one’s identity went far beyond a simple (often cute, tousled, cowlick-riddled) hairstyle.

bob with beanie grunge hair
Squeeze another good hair day out of that ‘do. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

21. Bob with Beanie

Universal savior of no-wash days, the beanie looks just as cool on a fringed bob as it does on longer lengths.

blunt bob grunge hair
Use a round brush to help curl lengths under. Photo credit: Dvora

21. Blunt Bob

The sheath of power! One of the era’s most definitive haircuts beloved by teenage and corporate women alike was a chin-length, fringeless bob cut with no layers.

under the ear grunge hair
Tuck the sides behind your ears for a relaxed look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

22. Under the Ear

Surprisingly low-maintenance given its short length, the lip-level bob epitomized the relaxed, casual aesthetic of the decade.

no part grunge hair
Keep things unrestricted with a diffused part. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

23. No Part

Floppy hair worked with bobs as well, where one’s parting would usually depend on which hand they used to tousle-dry.

tucked grunge hair
Innocent and kind of delicate, in a throwback way. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

24. Tucked

If confidence in your true face shape (without any smoke and mirrors via waves or layers) was a hallmark of success, then the hair-tucking ’90s kids had it all figured out.

soft wedge grunge hair
Another wash-and-wear look we loved back in the day. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

25. Soft Wedge

First-generation layered bobs featured subtle layering at the bottom, mostly just to encourage a flipped-under look. Simple times!

ALTERNATIVE COLOR

In a time when glamazon supermodels and shellacked makeup owned the mainstream outlets, a counterculture of grungy waifs and neo-gothic looks, featuring quirky, somewhat subversive touches, came about. These offered a reprieve from high-gloss magazine beauty standards—hence the term “alternative”—and gave “unpretty” options such as muddy browns, grays, blues, and greens an unofficial seal of approval.

blue wedge bob grunge hair
Simple with a kick.

26. Blue Wedge Bob

A basic bob gets edged up with a shot of a bright blue hair color.

blue and green grunge hair
A dyed bob gets more personality with the addition of a knot. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

27. Blue and Green

A faded combo of blue and green remains on point when paired with a trendy half-up top knot.

inky pigtails grunge hair
Charming and bewitching in equal measure.

28. Inky Pigtails

Grunge hair during the late ’90s also took on a witchy, new age vibe, thanks to pop culture references and teen movies. Navy and teal hair colors, together with neo-boho details such as chupalla hats, crisscross detailing and crystals, made its way into mainstream fashion.

dutch braids grunge hair
A shot of pink softens the look. Photo credit: Dvora

29. Dutch Braids

While the natural hair community had been embracing cornrows for years, it was during the underground club scene in the late ’80s and ’90s that inverted braids and punky styles hit a fever pitch with other hair types.

ashy gray grunge hair
Take a lob to the next level with unusual color. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

30. Ashy Gray

This rooty, smoky shade is quiet, but still cutting edge.

griolet grunge hair
A millennial fave!

31. Griolet

Dull gray-violet in a matte, slightly porous finish (with that exaggerated side flip!) remains a popular look.

space buns grunge hair
Moody and on-trend, without going off the rails. Photo credit: @internetxdoll

32. Silver Space Buns

Hit two trends in one with this on-point shade of silvery gray and a pair of club-kid space buns.

gray ombre grunge hair
That transition is seamless! Photo credit: @noemicara

33. Gray Ombré

Who says ombré and balayage were reserved for blondes and brunettes?

matte lob grunge hair
A silver-white color always looks modern. Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

34. Matte Lob

Chunky strips give this otherwise simple white lob even more personality.

green crop grunge hair
Easy to manage, in a striking shade to boot.

35. Green Crop

That brush-up style was another favorite way to wear a short boy’s cut ’do.

mint highlights grunge hair
Obsessed with this unusual hue! Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

36. Mint Highlights

Modern mermaids never go for basic highlights; that we can assure you.

MICRO FRINGE

Perpetuating the against-the-grain aesthetic rebellion of ’90s grunge hair was the sudden rise of the baby bang. Part candy-raver, part Gen X ingénue, it was—and remains—the style detail of choice for the anti-heroine who had no time whatsoever to spare for your conventional, “flattering” beauty ideals. Movies of the decade presented countless versions of this famous cinematic trope, whether via the Manic Pixie Dream Girl-slash-quirky-BFF in 1990s romcoms, or the sultry femme fatale that led film noir leads to their demise.

baby bang with beanie grunge hair
Cute and quirky, just how we like it.

37. Baby Bang with Beanie

Between the blue, the bang and the beanie, there’s so much to unpack here. We’ll let that adorable overall look speak for itself.

blunt bob with fringe
Use a paddle brush to give a smooth blowout. Photo credit: Dvora

38. Blunt Bob with Fringe

As feature-flattering as a baby bang can get, and paired with a sleek, on-trend long bob to boot.

choppy grunge hair
Allow hair to air-dry for more tousled texture. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

39. Choppy

Angle those scissors sideways if you want to recreate this natural, wispy version.

micro micro grunge hair
A hair wax tames any flyaways and frizz. Photo credit: Dvora

40. Micro-Micro

Those super-short bangs on a choppy pixie cut, teamed with pencil-thin brows, are serving major throwback vibes.

fringed shag grunge hair
Platinum and baby bangs go together like tea and coffee. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

41. Fringed Shag

This runaway hairstyle hit gets infused with a bit of grungy flavor with a baby bang.

quirky pony grunge hair
A see-through fringe is all sorts of charming. Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

42. Quirky Pony

See-through schoolgirl bangs are also enjoying a strong renaissance this year.

model off duty bangs grunge hair
A sexy, modern wavy texture updates this look for today. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

43. Model-Off-Duty Bangs

This wavy, tousled version works perfectly with a curly bob.

UPDOS

Equally as popular as leaving hair gritty? Rolling it up in an unkempt wash-and-go bun. Topknots, space buns and twisted half-updos were relied on to keep our second-day locks from crudding up our foreheads, all the while making a stylish, somewhat anti-establishment statement. For some, it was also an extension from clubwear and sportswear to streetwear, a natural progression still relevant to this day as seen via the athleisure movement.

braids and buns grunge hair
As campy as it gets!

44. Braids and Buns

This in-your-face rendition has the camp of the era written all over it, from the space buns to fishtail pigtails to even a skinny accent braid.

easy half-up topknot grunge hair
That silvery shade is just the right touch. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

45. Easy Half-Up Topknot

A chic, more understated way to pay homage to the grunge hair era includes a high topknot and airy silver waves.

dip-dye grunge hair
Get more mileage out of that high-contrast hue.

46. Dip-Dye Buns

Make ombré (or grown-out) pink work even harder by wearing it in space buns, a style that gives it an instant two-tone feel.

spiky half-up buns grunge hair
Orientalia was also a huge trend in the 1990s. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

47. Spiky Half-Up Buns

Chinoiserie was another well-received ’90s fashion trend, and somehow a bunch of messy twisted buns provided the ideal foil to the high cheongsam necklines and elaborate embroidery.

figure eights grunge hair
Secure the seam with an expertly tucked pin. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

48. Figure Eights

For those with bangs too short for a full bun, the figure-eight twist became the next best thing. Just secure in the center with a bobby pin, and leave the rest of your lengths to free-fall.

braided topknot
Feeder braids help give texture to the base.

49. Braided Top Knot

A half-up top knot that had “feeder braids” at the base was another play on the Dutch/cornrow aesthetic.

rope twisted bantu knots grunge hair
The high-contrast extensions edge up this look. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

50. Rope Twisted Bantu Knots

A clubbier version of popular box braid hairstyles worn by African-American women, two-toned rope twists provided a graphic punctuation mark to streetwear.