The return of 90s grunge make-up is here

Written by Chloe Burcham

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From clumpy lashes to smudgy eyeliner, the 90s grunge make-up look is back – and it’s easier to recreate than ever. 

Over the past year or so, many people’s relationship with make-up changed drastically. We ditched the lipstick, packed-in the foundation and only our most important Zoom meetings warranted a slick of mascara. But now that we’re out and about again, our new-found freedom is also being reflected in our make-up and hair choices. We’re taking more risks when it comes to hair cuts and trying out make-up trends we’d usually shy away from. One trend that’s seeing a resurgence? 90s grunge glam. And we’re not going to lie – we’re into it. 

So if you’re ready to have fun with make-up and experiment with something new, keep scrolling for everything you need to know about 90s grunge glam make-up…

What is the 90s grunge make-up look?

“Grunginess in beauty is essentially wearing make-up mistakes as a style statement,” says Terry Barber, director of make-up artistry at MAC cosmetics. “Whether that be a slept-in black kohl, a knowingly clumped mascara or a raw punky liner. It’s an attitude rather than a perfected transformation.”

“Making your make-up look a bit ‘broken-in’ is not about it looking ugly, it’s about it looking cooler and slightly nonchalant. It’s looking good, but like you haven’t tried, which is definitely a thing again.”

Why has there been a resurgence of 90s grunge glam?

“After a decade dedicated to robotic, princess-y perfection, people are once again seeking to individualise and customise their beauty,” notes Barber.

“It’s no longer about correction and chasing an ideal, it’s about how it makes you feel. People are looking to the more indie, alternative subcultures that influenced style so much in the past for inspiration. A signature smudge is becoming way more appealing than a generically perfect line.”

The best inspiration for 90s grunge make-up

If you’re into the idea of 90s grunge glam make-up but not sure where to start, it’s always a good (and fun) idea to look back at old celebrity inspiration pictures.  “A post-party Kate Moss, the Tommy Lee era Pamela Anderson, 90s Drew Barrymore, goth-meets-skater Kristen Stewart and retro 50s-meets-punk Amy Winehouse would be some of my favourite people to draw inspiration from for this make-up look,” says Barber.

Shop the trend: The best products for 90s grunge make-up

  • MAC Eye Kohl Pencil

    “Draw an angsty black line of kohl in the waterline, blink hard and blend in the smudges for a sexy slept-in liner,” suggests Terry Barber.

    Shop MAC Eye Kohl Pencil at Boots, £16

    buy now

  • Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Tuxedo

    This creamy eyeshadow stick is perfect for recreating that smudgy eyeliner look. 

    Shop Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Tuxedo at Boots, £25

    buy now

  • Makeup by Mario Master Pigment Pro Pencil

    This dual-ended kohl pencil features a mini brush on one end, making smudging and smoking out liner a breeze. 

    Shop Makeup by Mario Master Pigment Pro Pencil at Cult Beauty, £19

    buy now

  • MAC In Extreme Dimension Lash

    “Apply a generous coat of mascara, dust a little bit of loose powder on top and then do another coat for an extra chunky lash,” suggests Barber.

    Shop MAC In Extreme Dimension Lash Mascara at Boots, £22

    buy now

  • Morphe Bake And Set Powder

    This translucent setting powder is perfect for sprinkling over lashes as Barber suggests for a clumpier lash look.

    Shop Morphe Bake And Set Powder at Cult Beauty, £12

    buy now

Main image: Getty

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