12 Surprising Beauty Icons From '90s TV Shows

There's no doubt that the '90s are back in a big way when it comes to the worlds of both beauty and fashion. From the return of lip gloss (everyone's favourite throwback beauty product) to the continued popularity of the slip skirt, it seems like there's no slowing down when it comes to taking style inspiration from this decade.

For me, the '90s is a hazy time to look back on because I was young; not because I was an active participant in the rave scene. But if there's one thing that I do remember about the decade it's the TV shows. While cable wasn't an option at my parent's house, I'd love going to my friend's house after school to watch Blossom and Saved by the Bell on Nickelodeon. Oh, Saturday mornings just wouldn't have been the same without Sweet Valley High and Clarissa Explains It All.


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A lightbulb-trimmed mirror is key to realising your '90s beauty icon dreams.

So just like Carrie Bradshaw (my ultimate '90s TV icon), I got to thinking: Was there any beauty inspiration to be found in my favourite TV shows of the '90s? In a word: Yes.

Keep scrolling for 12 of the best beauty icons from '90s TV shows.

Rachel Green: Friends


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She's the person who had the most iconic haircut of the '90s. What TV beauty icons roundup would be complete without Rachel Green? Played by Jennifer Aniston, Green's hair had as much of an up-and-down storyline as Ross and Rachel's relationship during the 10 years that Friends was on our screens.

Moving from her cult layered hairstyle (which came to be known as "The Rachel") through to her iconic sleek strands, I'd bet that more photos of Rachel Green have been taken to the hairdressers than any other fictional character.

If you are considering bringing back The Rachel, though, it's worth mentioning that Aniston reportedly had a love-hate relationship with the choppy style due to the intense upkeep. It required regular trims—every six weeks, in fact—to keep it in check so it's definitely not a low-maintenance 'do.


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The nation went crazy for straighteners after Green swapped The Rachel for these sleek strands. 

Hilary Banks: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


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She might have been snobby, self-centered and shallow, but if I had to choose just one fictional '90s TV wardrobe to rummage through, it would be that of Hilary Banks. Played by Karyn Parsons, Banks for me was the real star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I loved how she stepped out in power suits by day, slinky gowns by night and floppy hats and crochet layers for the weekend.

Fashion aside, Banks also had major beauty game—particularly when it came to lipstick. Burnt oranges, soft browns and bright reds were as much a part of Banks's look as her statement earrings. And those perfectly arched brows are about as '90s as they come.


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Everyone should have a manicure station in their kitchen.

Sabrina Spellman: Sabrina the Teenage Witch


When you think of the hit '90s TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, what's the first thing that springs to mind? Salem, the talking cat? Yes, okay, I'll give you that one. What about the next thing? Harvey Kinkle's dimples? Okay, okay, yes, fair enough—he was my first on-screen crush, too.

Actually, it's the lead character Sabrina Spellman's hair that is one of the things I love about the show. Played by Melissa Joan Hart, Spellman is the queen of the bob—the zig-zag partings and butterfly clips are just the icing on the cake.


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Hair jewels, mini twisted buns and beach waves equal major '90s vibes. Salem the talking cat is a bonus.

Lisa Turtle: Saved By the Bell


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Having had something of a beauty resurgence this year, it's interesting to see how hair accessories were being worn in the '90s. Something of a trademark for Saved by the Bell's Lisa Turtle, I am still obsessed with this girl's more-is-more approach to hair accessories, jewellery, outfits and makeup.

Played by Lark Voorhies, Turtle was the risk-taker when it came to fashion and beauty compared to the other girls in the series who wore bright headbands, textured scrunchies, ribbons and hats.

Related: Prediction: These 6 Hair Accessories Will Spike in 2019


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It's the metallic silver headband that steals the scene here.

Jen Lindley: Dawson's Creek


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Disclaimer: I actually didn't watch Dawson's Creek when it was on our screens during the '90s. But my love for Michelle Williams—who played Jen Lindley in the series—means that I'm well aware of this TV beauty icon. In fact, Lindley offers up everything that I love about the beauty looks of this decade into one cute package: cool short hair, perfect nude lips and fresh-faced skin.

For me, though, the best thing about Lindley's look is her brows. They were perfectly plucked, rounded arches that I think would have required some serious upkeep. The complete opposite to the enormous Insta-brows that have been dominating our screens for the past few years, Lindley has me pondering whether to reach for the tweezers.


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Tia Landry & Tamera Campbell: Sister, Sister


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Played by real-life twins Tia and Tamera Mowry (obviously), the eponymous on-screen duo was a breath of fresh air for curly girls everywhere. Proving that kinks, corkscrews and curls shouldn't need to be slicked into submission to appear on mainstream TV, Tia and Tamera rocked their natural curls throughout Sister, Sister.

Some episodes they might have topped their curls with a denim sunhat or printed bandana or tied their strands up into a half-up, half-down style, but it was always their natural hair that was the star of the show.


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This silver eye shadow screams '90s.

Audrey Horne: Twin Peaks


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I was but a babe in arms when Twin Peaks aired the first time around, but Audrey Horne made the perfect angsty teen beauty icon in later life. Played by Sherilyn Fenn, the femme fatale–inspired character of Horne put snug sweaters and pleated skirt on the fashion map.

When it came to beauty, her signature look consisted of a '90s nude lip, arched brows and a slick of black eyeliner. Cool, coy and effortlessly seductive.


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Who knew a kilt could look this cool?

Topanga Lawrence: Boy Meets World


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Following the relationship of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence, played by Danielle Fishel, Boy Meets World was a Disney channel staple in my house growing up. While adults might have been looking to Rachel Green for hair inspiration, I can safely say that I've never seen anyone with a head of such impressive strands as Lawrence.

Locking in my love of a full fringe since childhood, Lawrence's long, swishy locks manage to tick all of the hair boxes: shine, volume and radiant colour.

Related: These 31 Looks Prove Every Day a Good Hair Day for Sienna Miller


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Seven-year-old me could only dream of hair this long and swishy.

Dionne Davenport: Clueless


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For me, Clueless is potentially one of the most iconic TV shows of the '90s. Following the escapades of Cher Horowitz, it had amazing fashion, great beauty looks and plenty of high school drama. Played by Stacey Dash, Dionne Davenport (aka Dee) knew how to have fun with beauty. In fact, there's even one scene where she curls her hair in class.

Frosted eye shadows, lashings of black eyeliner and plenty of highlighter was key to Davenport's look. But it was her choice of lipstick shades that I always lusted over. Reds, oranges, lilacs—Davenport's lipstick collection was a veritable rainbow.


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The only way to pull off a lip colour that bold is with a serious amount of sass.

Carrie Bradshaw: Sex and the City


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Carrie Bradshaw's hair is as famous in its own right as SJP herself. Bursting onto TV screens in the late '90s, Sex and the City continues to be a source of fashion and beauty inspiration almost two decades later. For me, Bradshaw's hair was just as iconic as her outfits throughout the show.

Although she transitioned through a tightly coiled lob through to sleek, straight strands and into beachier waves throughout the six seasons, it's her volumised curls that I love most.


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That topknot.

Moesha Mitchell: Moesha


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From 1996 until the early noughties, R'n'B sensation Brandy was on our TV screens as the character of Moesha Mitchell in (you guessed it) Moesha.

Mitchell had a foolproof beauty formula in the show and it consisted of two key items: lip gloss and shimmery eye shadow. While the lip was normally kept pared back with a glossy nude or brown shade, eye shadows in lilacs, purples and blues were par for the course.


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Lilac was definitely a thing in the '90s.

Willow Rosenberg: Buffy the Vampire Slayer


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I was actually too scared to watch Buffy when it first aired on TV in the late '90s. But Alyson Hannigan—who played the character of Willow Rosenberg—was an absolute teen-girl crush of mine. When I think about Rosenberg, it's her cool red strands that first spring to mind. But for me, it's her skin that marks her out as a '90s TV beauty icon.

With barely a hint of blusher in sight, Rosenberg's skin was always matte as matte can be. And, while a glow-free complexion isn't exactly on-trend in the dewy-obsessed noughties, there's something to be said for how chic a matte complexion can look.


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This maxi-skirt–and-trainer combination feels very 2019.

Next up, this major '90s beauty trend is back and better than ever.

Mica Ricketts