UK sales of lip gloss and frosted eyeshadow soar as consumers escape to the 90s
Fashion’s love affair with the 90s, given a shot in the arm by the Friends reunion, has spilled over on to the beauty counter with sales of lip gloss, lip pencils and blue eyeshadow soaring as consumers recreate the looks of the decade’s fashion icons, including Jennifer Aniston, supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, and the Spice Girls.
Since its shops reopened last month, John Lewis says shoppers have rushed to buy lipgloss as well as lip pencils in dark colours – a pout-defining tool relied on by Victoria Beckham when she was Posh Spice. Sales of eyeshadow in frosted blue made by high-end brands such as Mac and Clinique have also taken off. The colour was a 90s red-carpet staple for actors such as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie.
Sales of cosmetics plummeted in 2020 as high-street shutdowns, coupled with the shift to home working, have prompted many people to ditch their makeup bags. However, L’Oréal, the world’s biggest cosmetics group, has predicted sales will bounce back this year, with wearing lipstick again a “symbol of returning to life”.
Superdrug says sales in the wider cosmetics category were up by nearly a fifth this month. The high street health and beauty chain has cashed in on the return of Friends with a branded range.
Simon Comins, Superdrug’s commercial director, says 90s-inspired “glossy nude lip and soft brown smoky eyes” had been spotted across all of this season’s award shows and with Friends fuelling interest in the decade predicted these trends would be “hitting the high street in no time”.
With the 90s a decade that made room for both the Spice Girls and grunge, Cosmetify, the makeup price comparison site, says that in the past month UK searches for “roll-on glitter” and “frosted lips” have increased by a third and a quarter, respectively. Over the past year global searches for “overlined lips” and “graphic liner” were up by more 20%, says Cosmetify.
The appeal of 90s styling has been boosted by celebrities such as Dua Lipa wearing blue eyeshadow and Rihanna covered in body glitter on Instagram. However, YouTube footage and TikTok videos provide a rich seam of inspiration.
Carly Cochrane, beauty editor at Cosmetify, suggests that the popularity of 90s makeup was its simplicity because, unlike popular pre-Covid looks such as contouring, you didn’t need to be a makeup artist to pull them off.
With a “swipe of glitter or a bold brown lip liner” you could easily create your own Spice Girls moment, says Cochrane. “We have got so used to sweatpants and no makeup in lockdown, this equally minimal and still fun era has everything we could need in our post-lockdown makeup looks.
“It seems that all trends, including makeup, are all having a moment of nostalgia. Whether this is linked to the recent freedom and lockdowns, I am not too sure, but revisiting these older trends and styles is certainly a great form of escapism.”