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Beauty trends right now owe everything to nostalgia – but why?


Beauty trends right now owe everything to nostalgia – but why?

Nostalgia is a huge talking point in the beauty industry right now, as we begin to again embrace beauty elements we’ve enjoyed or admired from the past. 

The word itself means ‘wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period’ and even though some beauty trends have always been somewhat cyclical, providing an escape from the challenges and upheaval of recent times could be credited with the boom in throwback elements cropping up now. 

Heavy 90s and 00s references are no more obvious than on the young Hollywood and the social media stars of today and right now hair is the most dominant way to reference the nostalgia beauty trend. 

This week Bella Hadid stepped out wearing a stretch comb headband.  Tiny butterfly clips, mini braids and ‘space bun’ hair knots were absolutely everywhere at the recent Coachella music festival in California and Kim Kardashian has taken to wearing a French Roll up-do complete with tendrils reminiscent of 90s ball photos everywhere. 



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Krystine Batcho, PhD, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, told the Speaking of Psychology podcast, nostalgia can be either personal, or historical. 

“Personal nostalgia means that you are longing for or feeling good about aspects of your life that you already lived through and have stored in your memory. 

“Someone who experiences historical nostalgia might have an emotional attachment to, or longing for, times in history that predate their own birth.”

“Historical nostalgia, in my research, suggests it is more likely triggered by dissatisfaction with the present,” Batcho said on the podcast. 

It explains why Gen Z in particular has recently embraced beauty ideas the older generations have lived through. 


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“When things start to change…it’s comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past that reminds us that although we don’t know what the future is going to bring, what we do know is that we know who we have been and who we really are,” says Dr Batcho.  

We’re not just conversing about these moments from the past, they’re returning to shelves and salons via new products and styling trends, just as previously popular TV shows and movies are getting a reboot and musicians bring back 90s music icons to perform with them onstage. Think Billie Eilish performing with Damon Albarn and Harry Styles bringing out Shania Twain at Coachella or the plethora of 90s stars that shone at this year’s Superbowl halftime show. 

‘Y2K’ is currently regularly referred to as a way to encompass the return of almost anything beauty-wise that was big in the early 2000s. Think shiny lip gloss lips, cosmic shimmer and French Tip manicures. 

In turn the 90s rears its head in the form of the current beauty trends that encompass tawny brown lipstick, fine eyebrows and spiky hair knots.

‘Mod makeup’ defines the rise of dramatic black winged eyeliner complete with a ‘cut crease’ (a distinct line that adds extra depth and contouring across the eyelid popular in the 60s) pastel eyeshadow, and even Twiggy-style lashes. 

Hairstylists have been referring to the return of the 70s shag haircut for at least a year, along with flicky ‘curtain’ fringes, but they’re certainly lingering longer than any of us expected.


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But like double denim or major shoulder pads in fashion and bold blush or frosty eye shadow, if you wore it the first time, is it hard to get amongst a second time round? How do you feel about the return of these looks? It’s fair to say we’ll be seeing them for a while yet. 

Image, top: @haileybieber



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