Ombre lips, frosted eyeshadow, space buns and thin brows have all become part of our lockdown lexicon. On Instagram, Depop and TikTok, you don’t have to scroll far to find beauty references from the late 1990s to the early 2000s — #Y2K has racked up 1.6bn views on the latter alone.
Even celebrities are getting in on the trend. Earlier this year, Lizzo wore Y2K hair clips to the Grammy Awards, while Megan Thee Stallion was recently seen sporting ombre lips and space buns. Elsewhere, Barbie Ferreira and Dua Lipa were spotted wearing colourful eye shadow in shades of mellow green and frosted lilac, while Bella Hadid has become the Y2K poster girl with her thin brows and spiky updos.
“I’m always inspired by the 1990s and the 2000s when it comes to Megan Thee Stallion — we reference it so much,” says makeup artist Priscilla Ono, who created the WAP singer’s Grammys look featuring high-gloss lips and hair piled up with strands coming down at the front (very prom girl circa 2000). “I wanted to stay true to her look while giving her fresh, red-carpet glam. I went neutral with her eyes, but kept a full ‘Megan’ lash. Also, she can’t go anywhere without her lip liner, so I kept the centre [of her lips] the perfect nude-brown for her skin tone.”
How do you style the Y2K beauty trend?
Defining the Y2K beauty aesthetic is easy: it’s about taking a light-hearted and fun approach. There’s less focus on heavy contouring and perfection, and more on colour, cute details and playful texture. When it comes to nails, expect a renaissance of the French manicure, designer logos and extra embellishment.
For hair, it means claw clips and mini pigtails, with plenty of swept-up ends sticking out. Over the past year, when hairdressers could safely open, hair colourist Aura Friedman from Sally Hershberger Salons saw a rise in client requests for colourful streaks and chunky highlights. “I’ve been applying chunkier highlights, which is a departure from the whisper-thin balayage that was popular,” she says. “Coloured highlights are also having a moment, and there’s lots of room to play with them in terms of pigment and placement.”
As for make-up, think pale pinks and baby blues, high-gloss lips and thinner brows. Model and Byredo make-up ambassador Princess Gollum is a key proponent of the style. “When I think of Y2K beauty, I think of bright-white eyes – not just on the lid, but all around – lip gloss, lipstick, metallic lips, lip liner, rosy-pink cheeks, smudgy sparkly eyes, thin brows and streaky hair. Also, metallic-blue eyeshadow with a red lip. Such a classic.” For her own look, the model has been obsessively using Byredo’s Purple Stinger Colour Stick. “This colour screams Noughties to me,” she adds.