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'90s Hair

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Different styles, all casual. Clockwise from top left: The "Rachel", Poetic Justice braids, shaggy curtains, and flat-tops.
In The '50s, people wore their hair swept prim and properly. In The '70s, they wore their hair long. In The '80s, they wore it extra big. And those dos went right out of style as soon as The '90s rolled around, bringing a wave of Grunge, Goth, and Gangsta Rap with it.
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Nineties hair isn't just one defining trend. Hair fluctuated between long hair reminiscent of the late 60s/70s and very short hair initially carried on from the 80s but later inspired from the mid-60s. Often the hairstyles, like the clothing of the era, would be the most casual and low-maintenance styles possible. For men, this meant letting hair just fall wherever it may, creating a distinctive style, referred to as "curtains" or a "bowl cut". For girls this meant simply tying it back (usually by gathering it at the nape) so it wouldn't get in the face - and always with a scrunchie. Or in some cases this involved emulating the 1960s-era bouffant, just like some Rachel Green did. In the mid-90's (roughly 1994 until about 1997), it was also very common for teenage and college aged boys to wear their hair like Kurt Cobain.

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It wasn't all grunge, however. Getting closer to the Turn of the Millennium, newer style experiments came into play. Crimpers, a hot new invention, meant people with straight hair could iron it into becoming curly and wavy. If you were into the hip-hop scene, some other hair oddities would be to arrange your hair grow your hair into something resembling a Beehive Hairdo with a flat-top, or to shave words into the back of your head. For the ladies, this would include things like cornrows and crazy braids. A little bit of '80s Hair had been retained, reserved specifically for extra large bangs. Also, after Eminem hit it big in early 1999, a lot of teenage and college aged boys immediately began cutting their hair short and combing it in the style of Marshall Mathers.

While there's no single hair trend for the 90's, any number of these styles can date a production.

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And if you're looking for slick crops for men and pompadoured updos topped with feathered hats for women, kindly go to the other Nineties. The kind of Nineties that happened a century before.

Men

  • Spiky gelled hair
  • Frosted tips (dyeing just the ends of the hair blonde or other colors)
  • Fauxhawk
  • What British men call "Curtains", as seen here, here and on Leo
  • Bowl cuts
  • Shaved hair outlines
  • Finger waves
  • Dyed short afros (Dennis Rodman)
  • Cornrows
  • Surfer hair
  • Bleached hair
  • The Stovepipe: A tall flat-top popular with African-American men in the early '90s.
  • The Kurt Cobain haircut (ie. shoulder-length hair combed to the sides and greased up)
  • The Eminem haircut, but just narrowly circa 1999.
  • Dreadlocks or Comb Twists
  • Ponytails for long-haired men (usually in the style of Steven Seagal)

Women

  • Feathered bangs
  • Pigtails
  • Long hair
  • Crimped hair with micro braids and cornrows
  • "The Rachel cut" (Jennifer Aniston)
  • Thick box braids (sometimes with top ponytails)
  • A white woman with box braids will especially date the '90s, since it's always been a traditional hairstyle for black women. And that is all we will say about it.
  • Crimped side and top ponytails
  • Micro braids with beads
  • Asymmetrical bobs
  • Afro puffs
  • Short feathered bobs
  • Micro buns
  • Face-framing tendrils on updos
  • Fountainhead ponytails
  • The much-maligned "I'd like to speak to the manager" haircut debuted in this era.....and seemingly never went away.

Unisex

  • Dyed streaks
  • Bandanas

80s Carryover (mostly until 1995-96)

  • Scrunchies
  • Side ponytails
  • Flattop/Pompadour
  • Middle-parted cuts
  • Mullets
  • Bangs (for women)
  • Perms (albeit only until about 1993)
  • Boyish Short Hair on women


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, there was apparently a great shift in fashion statements after the main characters' arrival from Namek. The most notable wearers of '90s Hair are Trunks and Androids 17 and 18, all of whom have "curtains" of varying length.
  • Tsutomu wore a mullet in the 90s Birdy the Mighty OVAs. The 2008 adaptation modernized the fashion and shortened his hair.
  • Occasionally crops up in earlier seasons of Pokémon, with Misty being depicted with her hair in a ponytail as part of her persona (though she sometimes took it down in formal occasions) and James having a "curtains" style for his blue hair. As the series went on, it was more downplayed; but still stuck around in the Johto seasons (airing in the early 2000s) as well as shown in flashbacks to the original series.
  • Digimon
    • The original Digimon Adventure has varying degrees of this; such as Sora having a variant of the Rachel haircut when she's not wearing her hat. The Digimon Adventure tri. movies depict the Digidestined with more subdued hairstyles as a result of the Time Skip six years after the events of the series (and first being released in 2015).
    • Digimon Tamers has some of the characters depicted with this; first airing in 2001 with many elements of the 90s still being around. Examples include Rika's ponytail and the hairstyles of Takato's friends Kenta and Kazu.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elric has curtains, along with a braided pony tail in the back. The manga premiered in 2001, so this was likely a hangover of nineties style into the next decade.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman sported a rather infamous mullet for a while after his death and resurrection, which he wore as a ponytail as Clark. It's hard to say which one was the bigger eyesore, and it's probably not a coincidence that he cut his hair the morning he married Lois Lane.
  • Many DC Comics characters had mullets in the '90s, such as Beast Boy and Nightwing. Nightwing's mullet is likely the most famous besides Superman's and often gets referenced to this day (usually to be made fun of). In a reversal from Supes, Nightwing sometimes wore it as a ponytail while in costume.
  • Tim Drake wore his hair gelled into spikes as Robin.
  • Venom: Three of Eddie Brock's hairstyles were a flat-top, a combination flat-top and mullet, and straight-up long hair.

    Comic Strips 
  • Jeremy and Hector of Zits both had very 90's hairstyles until they were updated later on. But Jeremy still wears his iconic flannel shirt.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994): Although one may not notice it, but Simba's mane is reminiscent of a curtain style, given that this film premiered in 1994.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The article Hocus Pocus, which came out in 1993, says that the main character Max Dennision's hair dates the movie to the decade (not to mention they state outright it's 1993 in dialogue). His hairstyle is best described as "curtains".
  • '90s culture is really lampshaded in The Brady Bunch Movie to emphasize how out-of-place the stuck-in-The '70s Bradys are compared to the rest of the public; likewise, one Peter's Jerkass classmates has a mullet.
  • The skinhead characters in both Higher Learning and American History X had '90s Hair until they became, well, skinheads.
  • Despite being released in 2001, Bridget Jones' Diary featured this: Daniel Cleaver's curtains, Bridget appears to have a more relaxed "the Rachel" or face-framing tendrils when her hair is up (although she calls her hair "mad"), Jude and Mark's business partner Natasha and Daniel's girlfriend Lara and their Smug Married lady friends have "Can I speak to the manager?" hair, Shazzer has long wavy hair, Tom gels and slightly spikes his hair.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu: The video introducing Howard Clifford depicts him with this hair in archival news footage as a way of Painting the Medium; with Clifford having a more modern hairstyle in the present day.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe examples:
    • The 1999 prologue of Iron Man 3 has Happy Hogan sporting a mullet during a Y2K New Year's Eve party in Switzerland.
    • Black Panther (2018) depicts the characters living in Oakland during the prologue in 1992 wearing hairstyles such as cornrows and hi-top fades. This contrasts the more traditional African haircuts worn in Wakanda when the royal guard shows up looking for N'Djobu.
    • Captain Marvel (2019): the main story is set in 1995, with both Carol Danvers and her fellow test pilots sporting this kind of hair. Notably, Danvers later switches to a more modern haircut after the five-year Time Skip in Avengers: Endgame that still homages her comic hairstyle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "The Rachel", or the hairstyle worn by Jennifer Aniston as Rachel in the first few seasons of Friends, shown on the page. Other celebrities were also seen wearing it after Friends got big. Women would go to their hairdresser and ask for a Rachel cut. Funnily enough, by all accounts, Aniston herself despised it. Monica occasionally sported the feathered bob that was popular towards the end of the decade. Phoebe started out with long, wavy Granola Girl hair that became straighter over the years, but stayed fairly long in comparison to the other ladies.
  • Danny Bonaduce once poked fun of the mullet he had back in The '90s when he recounted his transvestite hooker incident on an episode of World's Dumbest...
  • On The Big Bang Theory, a few of the guys have hairstyles that look very 90s - Leonard's curtains and Howard's bowl cut to name a couple.
  • Barring perhaps the pilot,note  My So-Called Life is filled to the brim with 90's hair. Especially in the last third of the series, when Kurt Cobain haircuts begin popping up.
  • Power Rangers:
    • The sheer Fashion Dissonance of Tommy's hair is a joke in both the fandom and the actual franchise. He started out with a very 90s mullet, then moved to a ponytail and then just wore it long. Every post-2000 appearance he's made has kept it much shorter. The Rangers in Power Rangers Dino Thunder mocked a photo of him with this look, with Tommy retorting it was the style at the time.
    • Zack sometimes sported a flat-top.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue was only just out of the '90s, as you can tell from Carter's hair curtains.
  • Tobias has some fairly noticeable curtains in the Animorphs show, a look that made it onto the cover of his first Character Focus book. Given that he's a sweet, reserved guy in a Star-Crossed Lovers situation with Rachel, it works.

    Music 
  • At the height of their popularity, the members of *NSYNC often experimented with strange '90s hairstyles that often involved gel spiking and odd colors.
  • The Backstreet Boys, and other fellow Boy Band (or pop in general) acts, would also go crazy with the hair experimentation well into the 2000s. Things got considerably toned down after 2003.
  • Our Lady of Rage, one of the only female rappers associated with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the rest of the Death Row Records "Dogg Pound", released a song called "Afro Puffs" on her solo album, regaling her use of that hairstyle.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Ozy and Millie debuted in the '90s when its creator was fresh out of college, and it shows: Millie and her mom both have distinct sidebangs reminiscent of the Rachel (especially Millie's mom), even if they both have ponytails in the back.

    Western Animation 
  • Part of Mandark's origin story in Dexter's Laboratory involved him completing his Start of Darkness by taking out a bowl and cutting his hair in the bowl's exact shape, including the chips at the side.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Arnold's best friend Gerald's hi-top afro is clearly a product of the show's time. He keeps it in The Jungle Movie despite it being set nearly 20 years later.
    • It's hard to tell due to how stylized Arnold's football-shaped head is, but it seems his hair is in the curtains style.
  • Daria has this with the boys (spikes, curtains, a cross between curtains and dreadlocks) while the girls wore their hair long (Fashion Club and Daria), pigtails (Stacy and Brittany), long and in tiny braids (Jodie), and asymmetrical bobs (Jane and Andrea, albeit spiked); there are also mentions of scrunchies in the tie-in books with Quinn sometimes wearing her hair in a high ponytail.
  • The show it spun off from, Beavis And Butthead, has hairstyles that carried over from the '80s, like mullets and the girls still fluffed their hair. Of course, it also had plenty of '90s hair to go around (particularly around the time Season 4 began).
  • As Told by Ginger has this to a lesser extent (having started in the year 2000). Several boys wear their hair spiked up or in curtains while girls wore scrunchies (derided in one episode as being "so Nineties") and Miranda wore Afro Puffs when she didn't have a top ponytail. Dodie's distinctive pigtails have been worn since she was very young (in the 90s). One old film strip shown Ginger's father with a long curly mullet style and her mother with early 90s-style hair.
  • One episode of the DC Nation New Teen Titans shorts series had Mad Mod throwing history backwards. The first stop was the 90s and had Beast Boy laughing at Robin's mullet (as he was shown wearing Tim Drake's Robin uniform yet sporting Dick Grayson's mullet) before stopping and realizing he had one, too.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, Dick Grayson grew a mullet between being Robin and being Nightwing.
  • Released in the 2003, no one in Teen Titans had '90s hair (though Bumblebee wore afro puffs), however in a Flash Forward Nightwing has long hair obviously based on his '90s mullet. It however was styled in a way that made him into a Long-Haired Pretty Boy.
  • Recess:
    • Vince wore a hi-top.
    • The Diggers had mullets at one point.
  • Ten years prior to The Powerpuff Girls (2016) the Professor had a mullet. It's supposed to bring to mind this trope, however as the series clearly takes place in the late 2010s then the flashback must have taken place in the 2000s instead of the 90s.
  • In one of BoJack Horseman's flashbacks to the '90s, one of the indicators of it being that decade (along with a cavalcade of period culture references) is that the younger Princess Carolyn is sporting "The Rachel". With her fur, of course.
  • The curtains had been popular in 2010s cartoon shows since they were worn by Lane Loud from The Loud House, Cricket Green from Big City Greens and Reggie's older brother having this hairstyle in Twelve Forever.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: In "The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker", Timmy goes back to 1992, just before his birth, and spots his dad with a mullet.

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