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Going Grunge: Your Guide to ‘90s Alt Beauty

Going Grunge: Your Guide to ‘90s Alt Beauty

After years of natural, barely-there makeup trends, beauty lovers are embracing a bolder, edgier aesthetic. Enter grunge makeup. This statement-making style took hold of the beauty and fashion industries in the late 1980s and 1990s and has had a resurgence in popularity in subsequent decades. Here is a brief retrospective of the grunge aesthetic and tips for creating moody deconstructed looks at home using Lime Crime products.  

A Brief History of the Grunge Aesthetic

Seattle, WA, is considered the birthplace of grunge music. Chart-topping headliners such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam originated in the Emerald City. On stage and in music videos, scruffy musicians donned the quintessential Pacific Northwest wardrobe: baggy cardigans and flannel shirts, leather jackets, and roomy denim jeans. These staples were worn layered to stay comfortable during the region’s frequent temperature fluctuations. 

The casual, carefree aesthetic developed into an iconic fashion style worn by Gen Xers across the country. The street style even inspired the runway collections of Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis and Anna Sui in the early ‘90s. 

The 2014 era of Tumblr brought a newfound appreciation for grunge, with users posting throwback pics of fashion trailblazers sporting ‘90s slip dresses, combat boots, and cozy layered looks.    

Key Elements of the Grunge Makeup Look

Dark, sultry makeup complimented the messy fashion and themes of loneliness and frustration that dominated the grunge music genre. Frontwomen Courtney Love and Shirley Manson and actress Drew Barrymore are three ‘90s grunge makeup icons who can serve as your style inspiration today. These ladies mastered the look with matte foundation; thick, smudged liner for a smokey effect; and a bold, deep red or crimson-hued lip. 

In the 2020s, grunge makeup looks reflect people’s desire to reject the minimalist trends of recent years and celebrate their non-conformist sense of style. Grunge glam has appeared on red carpets and Instagram feeds thanks to stars like Rihanna, Zoë Kravitz, the cast of “Euphoria,” and even Kourtney Kardashian.      

How to Master the Vibe

Because the grunge makeup aesthetic is ultra laidback, you don’t have to be a whiz at eyeshadow, liner, and lipstick application to create a stunning look. This makes the style appealing to novices, professional makeup artists, and everyone in between.

Although a matte base, smokey eye, and striking dark lips are the foundations of traditional grunge makeup looks, play up one of these three elements for a modern take on the grunge glam trend.

Grunge-Inspired Eye Makeup

Bold lash lines are a must for grunge eye makeup looks. Use the Sonic x Lime Crime Venus Pigmented Liner in Rouge (an eggplant hue) or the Venus Pigmented Liquid Eyeliner in Dahlia (black) to create a thick line that emphasizes your eye shape. To get that moody effect, smudge the Electric Slide Eyeshadow and Brush Stick in BFF (a neutral brown) or As If (a sultry berry) along the lash line. 

Pair your grunge eyeliner with the Venus Immortalis Eye & Face Palette. The palette features a showstopping collection of eight smokey, grayscale hues in matte, metallic, foil, and iridescent formulas to intensify the outer V and add shiny brilliance to the lid.

Create a warmer, earthier look with the Greatest Hits Classics palette or the Venus XL palette. Both feature brown and brick-red shades that are as comforting as your favorite flannel.

Grunge-Inspired Lip Makeup

To pull focus to your pout, first line lips with the matte Velvetines Lip Liner for added definition. Fangs (a crimson red) and Pumpkin (a brick red) are perfect matches for the grunge aesthetic. Next, apply the creamy formula of the Soft Touch Lipstick in the shade Violet Vibes (a rich violet) or Vintage Spice (a rusty terracotta) over your lips.

For true matte color that won’t budge, try the Velvetines Liquid Lipstick in Riot or Rustic for that classic brick red. Cindy and Shroom are the perfect cool-girl browns.

Grunge might be known as a “less is more” aesthetic, but there are still plenty of ways to experiment with your look. Pull out your favorite guitar-heavy albums, brew a pot of coffee, and see what you can create. Find more ideas to match your mood on Instagram and TikTok

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