There was something reassuring, if surprising, about the way fashion trends kept emerging even when everyone was living in joggers. It was hard to imagine how people embodied the 1990s trend in lockdown, but the square-toed shoes, chunky block heels, North Face padded jackets and baguette bags sold well regardless, and now there’s finally a chance to give them a proper airing.
Makeup, too, is obsessed with all things 90s. That decade’s look – I can say with first-hand knowledge – was all about the lipliner. Specifically, MAC’s lip pencils, ideally worn three shades darker than your lipstick. So it’s only right that self-proclaimed 90s makeup artistry legend Terry Barber, who sold the pencils on Harvey Nichols’ MAC counter back then, is hailing the return of lipliner.
For my own lips, the 90s never ended. I never put on my face without using a pencil to even up my wonky upper lip and add definition to lipstick, which I absolutely refuse to apply with a brush.
I’m pleased to say that MAC still makes the best. Its lip pencils (£15.50) are perfect – hard enough to line sharply and to last ages, soft enough not to scratch. The original 90s supermodel favourite, Spice, is perfect against earthy pink lip colours, or blended inwards against pale neutrals to add the impression of volume, for the most authentic retro lip. It works on all skins, but deep tones can also wear Hover, a rich caramel that, when worn with peachy lipstick, is pure Naomi. Plummy rose Whirl is very 90s Drew Barrymore, while newer shade Subculture is a pink that is dirty enough to stop a rosy lipstick looking boring. I carry Subculture everywhere and can vouch that it’s also perfect without lipstick, just a little clear balm to move the universally flattering colour inland.
My next most used liners are Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk (£17). Each of the three shades – original, medium, intense – is designed to mimic a fuller mouth on light, medium and deep skins respectively. The original, a nude pink, somehow manages to line any shade of lipstick without a mismatch.
NYX’s Suede Matte Liners, a mere £4, are more 90s than Tamagotchi and much lower maintenance. Fetish and Free Spirit are a fitting tribute to the rebirth of Britney.