The 5 Best ‘90s Inspired Lip Trends

Hello Beauties,

If the latest beauty trends dominating TikTok are giving you déjà vu, that’s because many are swiped straight out of the ‘90s. Sleek bob cuts, pastel eyeshadows, and French manicures are just a few of the nostalgic looks filling beauty enthusiasts’ feeds, but nowhere is the ‘90s influence stronger than in lips. Popping up under new names like Gym Lips and The Lip Lift, make no mistake: these sought-after shades and pro tricks originated with the likes of Kate Moss and the Spice Girls, not the Kardashians. And whether you’re into low-key makeup or statement-making color, there’s enough variety that you’re bound to find a ‘90s lip look that you love. Here are five trends we think are all that and a bag of chips.

1. Burgundy-black lips

Early ‘90s grunge fashion ushered in the deepest of deep berry lip colors, with everyone from Courtney Love to Naomi Campbell sporting a dramatically opaque blackberry pout. Back then, the lip color was usually heavily pigmented with a velvety finish that smacked of edgy glam.

Now, burgundy-black lips are having a renaissance, albeit with more shine and less of a perfectly crisp finish. One shortcut is to outline your lips with black pencil, then fill them in with a classic red lip color and blend the two together to create your own custom merlot shade. Or just try our Wonder Blading Peel & Reveal Lip Color in Divine.

2. Gym lips

With 2 billion views on TikTok, #gymlips is the viral makeup sensation of the summer. While the phrase may sound like it involves a facial workout, it’s actually the closest thing to a zero-effort look. Coined by New York City makeup artist Kelli Anne Sewell, “gym lips” refers to overlining your lips with a pencil that’s close to your own lip color—which helps them appear naturally fuller—then patting on a moisturizing lip treatment. And that’s it. The name stems from this being such an ultra-low-key look, you could even wear it to the gym.

The last time nude lip liner caused this much sensation was in the mid ‘90s when M.A.C. Spice changed the way we use lip pencil forever. Before Spice, lip liner was designed to match your lipstick, not your lips, and served mainly as a border to protect lipstick from bleeding. Spice's rosy-brown hue introduced the concept of using pencil just on its own to play up the shape of your natural lips, and we’ve been sketching outside the lines ever since.

3. Gradient lips

Gradient, popsicle, reverse ombré—there are numerous names for this painterly-looking pout where the color is bolder and more saturated in the center of the mouth and fades out as it reaches the lip lines. The most recent iteration of this look began in South Korea using Korean lip tints, a product that Korean beauty experts describe as similar to lip stains, only richer in color with a lightweight finish and long-lasting wear. 

Two-toned lips first became a thing back in the ‘90s, when shimmery nude or golden gloss was often combined with dark brown lip liner for a gradient-like effect. If it sounds a bit murky, it was, and the newer Korean version—which encourages using fresh colors like cherry red or peony pink for a bright finish—is a softer, more sophisticated upgrade to the ‘90s version. This TikTok tutorial and this one show you how to easily create the look.

4. Glittery gloss

For a period in the late 90s, it seemed like color cosmetics were dipped in fairy dust. Eyeshadows were frosted, and lip colors came in all sorts of sparkly variations from fine shimmer to iridescent to mega metallic. And the lip glosses, oh how they shined with an ultra-wet finish and a hefty dose of glitter that made your kisser look positively galactic.

The gleaming lips of the moment are a bit more down to earth, with chunky flecks of glitter replaced by finely milled shimmer hues that create a sleek gunmetal finish.

5. Obvious liner

Dark brown lip liner contrasted by a lighter lip color (or none at all) made quite the splash in the ‘90s, popularized by supermodels and singers of the era who embraced the unique aesthetic. Now the look is having a resurgence, only this time with a slick of super shiny gloss to give the style a multidimensional finish. Try ourWonder Blading Supreme Shine Lip Glossfor the ultimate glossy topper.