Ah, the '90s. An era defined by MTV, Lisa Frank notebooks, and more boy bands than we care to count. (For the record, we think 98 Degrees was super underrated.) Some of our absolute favorite pop culture moments were born out of this decade, and when we think back on it, we can't help but relish in the wonderfully wild '90s hairstyles.
From messy buns to a broad selection of bangs, and, of course, butterfly clips galore, there was something special about the hair trends from this time. The It girls of the era, such as Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, and Gwen Stefani, were serving up enough inspiration to carry us right into the following decade.
If you're as nostalgic as we are, then you'll love this roundup of the 20 most quintessentially '90s hairstyles we would low-key wear today. We might get some strange looks, but hey, we'll never shy away from an adventurous beauty look. Keep reading for our favorites.
1. Quasi Cornrows
The only thing that could make this style more '90s is a butterfly clip placed at the end of these pseudo cornrows. This half-rolled hairstyle, also dubbed "picture-day hair" by the elementary school set, ruled the decade.
The amber hue gives these little beauties a major upgrade.
2. The Winona Pixie
The subtle layers and laid-back styling made this pixie cut an instant hit when Winona Ryder debuted it in the late '90s.
Pixie cut devotees know the power of a great pomade—this one smells good, too.
3. Micro Braids
No one rocked micro braids quite like Brandy Norwood. This was her signature hairstyle on her hit TV show Moesha as well as in her real life.
Treating your scalp to some T.L.C. is a must when wearing protective hairstyles.
4. Bumped Bob
The soft curl added to this classic bob adds an interesting element to the hairstyle. Shown here on an angelic-looking Angelina Jolie, this spin on the bob would make us do a double take if we saw it walking down the street today.
Go big or go home with our favorite mega-volume mousse.
5. Mall Bangs
There was a period of time when it seemed like every TV character was sporting these voluminous, feathered bangs. From D.J. Tanner to Kelly Bundy and, of course, Tiffani Thiessen's Saved by the Bell character, Kelly Kapowski, these bangs were the mark of a cool girl.
You'll need a reliable blow dryer to get those bangs just right.
6. Claw Bangs
On the other end of the bang spectrum were these fringe bangs, defined by face-framing, peekaboo pieces.
Never underestimate the power of the perfect round brush.
7. Teeny Double Dutch Pigtails
This easy hairstyle screams '90s. Britney Spears fashioned her short haircut into two messy plaits fastened on the ends with elastics and just enough hair peeking out of the bottoms for a playful 'do.
Invisible elastics will do the trick.
8. The Flip
From the pencil-thin eyebrows to the dark lipstick and the leopard-print collar, this photo of our queen Drew Barrymore is like a time capsule into the '90s. Her flipped hair (and those enamel hair clips) is another huge clue as to which decade we're looking at.
When your go-to 'do calls for a multipurpose tool.
9. Bedazzled Bandanas
Okay, so in all fairness, this photo was taken in the year 2000. But it's important to call out here because it exemplifies the influence that '90s hip-hop had on style and culture well into the decade that followed. J.Lo's bedazzled bandana accentuating her braided hairstyle is proof.
A classic bandana never goes out of style—it's an accessory you can wear almost anywhere.
10. Jumbo Box Braids
Janet Jackson's braids circa Poetic Justice were (and still are) a legendary look. The addition of this newsboy cap solidifies it as one of our favorite looks of hers.
Keep your braids healthy and hydrated with this citrus-scented daily moisturizing treatment.
11. Butterfly Clips
Stefani wasn't afraid to push the envelope when it came to hair. But here, we see her adopting a trend that took hold of just about every '90s girl: the infamous butterfly clip. It was such a thing.
Gold butterflies feel slightly more now than '90s.
12. Shortest Possible Platinum Pixie
Jada Pinkett Smith showed us plenty of short haircuts in the '90s, but this bleach-blonde, barely there cut takes the cake.
Fight frizz and humidity on shorter styles with daily use of this texturizing and thickening styling paste.
13. The Hilary Banks
Everything about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a perfect representation of '90s life, but nothing compares to Hilary Banks's perfectly coiled coif, which she'd often top with a statement hat or oversize bow to tie her ensemble together.
If you are naturally curly, then you already know the importance of using products specifically formulated for curly hair of all shapes, sizes, and patterns.
14. Messy Bun + Wispy Tendrils
Don't be fooled by the name: The messy bun could be a super-chic look. Paltrow proved this point on a '90s red carpet, where she kept with the undone theme by letting some face-framing curls hang loose.
Just wave this magic wand, and voilà!
15. The Rachel
Do we even need to explain? Didn't think so.
16. The Sky-High Pony
Leave it to supermodel Tyra Banks to claim even more height with this sleek high pony. The flipped curl and swooshed bang add that much more '90s flair.
It never hurts to go back to great basics.
Nineties girls were all about an undone look, as evidenced by the trend of leaving just two straight strands of hair out in the front of an otherwise polished style.
Perfect for creating antennae at home.
18. Two Braids
In an era marked by plenty of grungier styles, this almost childlike style really stood out. Note the clipped bangs as well.
Don't underestimate the power of a simple-looking hair clip. Anyone growing out bangs knows exactly what we mean.
19. Chunky Highlights
Apparently subtlety just wasn't in style in the '90s. Kelly Rowland's lurid streaks, coupled with her choppy cut, were clearly meant to stand out.
We're fully in support of bringing back (temporary) colorful highlights.
Scrunchie madness was such a defining trend of the '90s. They were perfect for securing any kind of ponytail or even just wearing around one's wrist like a bracelet. You know, just in case.
Fact: One can never have too many scrunchies.