Nostalgic 90s-themed beauty products proliferate

Seeing that Gen Ys are drawn to product revivals (which ultimately help them recall simpler times in their lives), brands are tapping into this cohort's strong sense of nostalgia by releasing beauty products that have a 90s-inspired pop culture spin.


Vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand NCLA teamed up with Mattel to create a 90s Barbie-themed makeup collection that recalls the heydey of the iconic doll (rather than the evolved modern version Mattel has since rolled out). NCLA x Barbie includes nail adhesives, nail lacquers, pink jelly balms, and semi-matte lipsticks. The collection’s packaging is designed to feature the iconic silhouette of Barbie—complete with her high ponytail—and the makeup names are directly taken from the Barbie brand (such as Barbie Beach Cruiser, Barbie Dream, and Barbie Convertible). NCLA is currently selling the full collection for $110, but customers can also purchase specific items separately.


Hot Topic looked to the 90s cult-classic movie Clueless when developing this nostalgic eyeshadow palette. The Totally Buggin’ makeup palette, which retails for $16.90, looks like a notebook and has a blue and yellow plaid pattern to match the skirt the main character Cher wears in the movie. The palette features a mix of 12 matte and shimmer shadows that are named for classic lines in the film, including “Whatever,” “Fashion Victim,” and “Ugh, As If.” A heart-shaped mirror containing the phrase “You’re a Total Betty” and an eyeshadow brush that looks like Cher’s famous fluffy pink pen accompany the eyeshadows.


Nickelodeon cartoon characters from the 90s made a comeback via Hot Topic’s Nickelodeon-inspired eyeshadow palette. The palette looks like a funky retro cassette tape and is covered in characters from the channel’s most popular cartoons, including Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. The palette includes 10 eyeshadows, each named for a reference to different shows (like “Football Head” from Hey Arnold! and “Smashing” from The Wild Thornberrys), and sold out within a week of its release.