Chunky Highlights Are The Latest ‘90s Beauty Trend To Resurface
And everyone from Beyoncé to Dua Lipa are leaning into them
If it feels like '90s style trends have been making "comebacks" ever since the decade ended, it's because they have been. And while on the beauty front, most of the revisited treasures — like scrunchies and brick-brown lipstick — have been relatively subtle, 2020 is shining a bright light on a trend quite the opposite: chunky hair highlights.
Whether its neutral stripes of honey brown and blonde or electrifying neon hues, celebrities are revitalizing the in-your-face hair trend that, much like with exposed roots, has been viewed as cringe-worthy for the better half of the last decade. Made popular more recently by stars including Dua Lipa, J.Lo, FKA twigs and more, the revitalized take on the trend borrows from hair techniques popular in the past, like babylights and face-framing.
"I think we always steer away from what's been done and tend to go for the opposite, so soft and pretty was the natural progression after the grungy '90s," Nicola Clarke, celebrity colorist — who counts Dua Lipa and Madonna as clients — tells NYLON. "Now we're bored of that, and we've moved to our modern take of the '90s."
International hairstylist Koji Ichikawa, responsible for artist Rina Sawayama's face-framing orange highlights, agrees, noting that, while the trend started to pick back up as early as five years ago thanks to artful stylists out of New York and Los Angeles, it's finally becoming more mainstream today. "In recent years, people's understanding of hair color has increased. I think people can feel great [about it] as a design, without seeing it as just bizarre hair."
The style, the experts say, is best done by a professional at a salon, even though it may seem more DIY-friendly than dyeing your whole head in your bathroom. "Well-done clean colors and good sectioning helps with making it not sloppy," says Clarke. When you have the look, having the right products to maintain upkeep becomes imperative to keep the style looking intense and prevent fading. For this, Ichikawa recommends investing in toner spray, along with purple shampoos and conditioners if you opt for blonde streaks. More specifically, Clarke suggests Virtue products — noting that the brand works well to keep hair moisturized — along with limiting heat styling.
"Just like makeup, hair is a way to express yourself and show your personality, so I love that people are feeling more comfortable to make a statement through their hair," Sally Hershberger — the celebrity hairstylist behind Miley Cyrus' mullet — tells NYLON. "We've embraced so many unique looks and trends, and people are showcasing their own sense of style in more ways than ever," she added, noting that the look isn't limited to celebrities anymore. "Whether it's a dual-toned look or a complete, neon transformation, more and more people are requesting this style."
From Beyonce to FKA Twigs, check out a handful of tempting takes on the bold throwback trend — some far more subtle than others — below.