There’s an enduring allure to the ’90s supermodel hair and makeup. Decades later, the supers’ glam still makes its way onto mood boards and TikTok feeds as inspiration. Naomi with her statement lip. Cindy with her voluminous blowout. Linda with her sleek chin-length bob. Christy with her fresh, flawless skin. But what gives these looks timeless appeal? Here, we’re breaking down the essential tenants of the supermodel beauty look—from bombshell hair to matte finish makeup.
’90s Supermodel Makeup
“’90s glam was an interesting time for makeup, having just exited the era of “more is more” in the ’80s featuring heavy blush and bold neon colors, ’90s makeup evolved into fresh, lightweight skin, with more subtle but impactful lined lips, frosted colors, and a wearable playfulness that makeup prior to this time didn’t have,” celebrity makeup artist Taylour Chanel says of the era. The look was sophisticated and impactful, yet neutral, as makeup artist Sean Harris puts it. Fresh-faced simplicity, warmed up by a bronze sculpt, was contrasted with vibrant colors and dazzling shimmers. Kevyn Aucoin, Mathu Andersen, Sam Fine, Pat McGrath, Bobbi Brown, and François Nars were the artists leading the trends here—creating memorable looks that graced countless runways, campaigns, and super’s faces.
According to pro makeup artist Ash K. Holm, “overall, the look was all about a balance between bold and natural, emphasizing certain features while maintaining an air of effortless elegance” that, in many ways, still holds true in 2023. To modernize it for the 21st century, she recommends leaning first into browns and smokey tones (hello latte makeup!) then infusing a touch of drama. “There’s an indescribable quality to this look that consistently evokes a sense of allure, capturing the true enchantment of this makeup era.”
The pros say sculpted cheeks are most important. “A defined bone structure characterizes this era,” says Valeria Ferreira, adding that flawless skin plus a few freckles can make it more current. Pro tip: “Use a soft fluffy brush and warm bronzer to sculpt the cheeks and warm the forehead,” Harris instructs.
Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer
The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick
“[The] classic ’90s supermodel eye utilizes cool-toned browns and lighter neutral tones to enhance the eye shape,” Chanel says. To create this, Harris recommends using a rich brown or smokey grey shadow along the lash line. Many of the pros recommend Makeup by Mario’s often sold-out Master Mattes palette because, according to makeup artist Emily Gray, “[it] features brown shades for all skin tones and you can make the best ’90s glam smoky eye.”
Makeup By Mario
Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette
Luxury Eyeshadow Palette
Caviar Stick Eye Shadow
“Frosted glitter in blue, periwinkle, pink, steel, or copper shades” are a must, according to Chanel. The pigments can be placed on the lips or eyes via formulas by MAC, Danessa Myricks, Isamaya, and Surratt Beauty.
Luckykiss Diamond Lip Glow Lipstick
“Fresh (never heavy), velvety skin with a diffused natural sculpt” is how Chanel describes the ’90s supermodel complexion. This barely-there finish can be achieved by Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk foundation or YSL Beauty All-Hours. The latter is a top pick of Gray’s because it “has a hint of radiance, so that the skin doesn’t look too dull.” Then, veil dark circles and spot conceal before diving into contour and blush.
Luminous Silk Foundation
Yves Saint Laurent
All Hours Luminous Matte Foundation
Yummy Skin Blurring Balm Powder
Radiant Creamy Concealer
It’s hard to talk about ’90s glam without mentioning brows. Celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek remembers supermodels preferring a very thin brow by the mid-’90s—filling them in with pencil or powder. “To keep it modern, you do not have to fill them in—just use a brow gel to shape them,” pro makeup artist Robert Rumsey notes.
The Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil Automatique
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Brow Sculpt Shape and Hold Gel
“When it comes to lipstick, both browns in light nude shades to really deep browns and [reds] were very of the time,” Sesnek explains. “Most of these tend to be matte and sometimes you would have a satin finish.” Holm notes that lips were always lined in a darker shade for dimension with contoured corners.
Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour
Matte Revolution Lipstick
Essential Lip Compact
Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick
“Eyeliner on the eyes and [lip liner] always,” Ferreira says. The liner, typically some shade of brown, was “a little overdrawn but blended through the lip to create an undetectable finish.” The eyes, on the other hand, could be accentuated with a smokey wing.
Creamy Kohl Longwear Eye Pencil
24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
Victoria Beckham Beauty
“Don’t forget a thick coat of mascara,” Harris says. Rumsey is a fan of Lancôme’s Définicils—an acclaimed formula that expertly lifts and lengthens each lash. The idea is to create a wispy flutter. If you want to take your natural lashes up a notch, Holm says Kiss’s Falscara system will do the trick.
Définicils Defining and Lengthening Mascara
Falscara Natural Wispy Wisps
’90s Supermodel Hair
For celebrity hairstylist Ricky Fraser, ’90s glam has always been a huge inspiration. The pro names the aforementioned supers plus Claudia Schiffer, Yasmeen Ghauri, Helena Christensen,
Nadja Auermann, Stephanie Seymour, Tyra Banks as hair goals. “It was an era that exuded confidence and power, while still owning your femininity,” he says. “The women of this era personified strength while still being the ultimate pillars of glamour.”
Celebrity stylist and eponymous brand founder Andrew Fitzsimons explains that the ’90s look—coiffed to perfection by the likes of Oribe Canales, Kevin Mancuso, Sam McKnight, Oscar James, Frederic Fekkai, Guido Palau, and Kim Kimble—was about being bold and blunt. “Highlights were chunky and more pronounced versus wispy and blended, ponytails were sleek and sharp, and loads of people were wearing their hair straight with blunt bangs,” Fitzsimons says. Even the softer styles were big—voluminous blowouts and messy updos à la Pamela Anderson.