Top 10 Aesthetic Grunge Makeup Ideas 2024: Get The 90’s Look

Kurt Cobain – Did his name pop into your head at the mention of grunge music? It wouldn’t be shocking, considering how he, alongside his band Nirvana, rose to prominence as one of the most legendary symbols of this musical style.

But what does that have to do with makeup? Grunge, as a music genre, captivated many, particularly in the ’90s, profoundly influencing their style – even extending to makeup.

Today, I’ll explain to you what the grunge makeup look is about, how you can recreate it, and what are the most important aspects to nail this look.

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Aesthetic Grunge Makeup

If you don’t feel like reading too long, here are the most important points:

  1. Edgy and Dark Colors: Grunge makeup typically features dark and earthy tones such as deep browns, blacks, and greys.
  2. Messy Application: It’s all about the “undone” look. Grunge makeup often involves messy application techniques like smudging eyeliner and blending eyeshadow for a worn-in effect.
  3. Focus on Eyes: The eyes are usually the focal point of grunge makeup. Smoky eyes, heavy eyeliner, and dramatic lashes are common.
  4. Matte Finishes: Grunge makeup tends to favor matte finishes over shimmer or gloss. Matte lipsticks and eyeshadows are popular choices.
  5. Minimalist Face: While the eyes stand out, the rest of the face is often kept minimal. A natural or slightly flushed complexion with minimal contouring is typical.
  6. Experimentation: Grunge makeup encourages experimentation and individuality. Mixing different textures and unconventional color combinations is embraced.
  7. Accessorizing: Accessories like chokers, dark nail polish, and layered jewelry complement grunge makeup, adding to the overall aesthetic.
  8. Effortless Vibe: Despite the boldness of the look, grunge makeup is meant to appear effortless and slightly disheveled, reflecting a rebellious attitude.

But of course, I have covered the topic in more detail, so if you´re interested just keep on reading.

History of Aesthetic Grunge

 young woman with grunge makeup aesthetic
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90s Grunge Movement

The aesthetic grunge makeup trend was born during the late 1980s and early 1990s as an integral part of the grunge movement. At its core, it was a rebellion against the polished and glamorous looks that were popular during that era.

The iconic grunge makeup style was characterized by smudged eyeliner, dark lipstick, and an overall undone appearance. This statement-making style took hold of both the beauty and fashion industries.

  • Bold, dark lipstick
  • Smudged eyeliner
  • Undone, edgy vibe

Evolution Into Modern Aesthetics

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Over time, aesthetic grunge makeup has evolved to incorporate elements from other beauty trends. Today’s version of grunge makeup typically features:

  1. Dramatic eyebrows: Bold, defined brows that frame the face.
  2. Contoured cheeks: Emphasizing the natural hollows or shadows of the face.
  3. Smoky eyes: In various colors like deep burgundy, brown, or black.
  4. Matte lips: Dark shades like deep red or purple.
  5. Dewy skin: For a natural, healthy glow.

In modern interpretations, the key aspect of grunge makeup remains the casual, slightly undone attitude. What has changed is the addition of more refined techniques and a broader range of colors.

Defining Aesthetic Grunge Makeup

 young blonde woman with grunge makeup
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Key Characteristics

Grunge makeup is characterized by its bold, dark, and often smudged appearance. Here are some key elements that define this look:

  1. Dramatic eyes: Heavy black eyeliner and strong eyeshadow in shades of brown, black, and gray give the eyes a smoky and intense look.
  2. Matte lipstick: Dark, bold lips are a grunge staple. Think maroon, brown, or even black shades.
  3. Messy brows: Grunge makeup doesn’t rely on perfectly groomed brows. Instead, they’re often brushed up to enhance the overall unkempt look.

Color Palette and Textures

The grunge makeup color palette is centered around earthy and darker tones. Here are some common shades:

  • Eyeshadow: Black, gray, and brown.
  • Lipstick: Dark maroon, brown, or black.

Influence on Fashion

Aesthetic grunge makeup has had a significant impact on fashion trends. It has influenced styles like flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and combat boots.

These fashion elements often complement the dark and rebellious vibe this makeup creates. Even today, many celebrities and influencers are seen rocking the grunge makeup look, proving that it’s more than just a “phase” — it’s an enduring legacy.

For more aesthetic makeup ideas check out our article on the 5 most aesthetic makeup styles.

Essential Products for Grunge Makeup

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Foundation and Concealer Choices

Perfect Match
Performance Wear Liquid Foundation

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When it comes to foundation and concealer, you’ll want products that will give your skin an impeccable, semi-matte finish. Look for a medium-coverage foundation that evens out your skin tone and hides any imperfections without appearing too heavy or cakey.

Concealer-wise, choose a product that’s long-lasting and provides ample coverage for any spots or blemishes. Remember, you want to strike the perfect balance between flawless skin and a lived-in, effortless feel.

Eye Makeup Essentials

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04/01/2024 05:50 pm GMT

The eye area plays a crucial role in the aesthetic grunge makeup look. Your focus should be on achieving a sultry, smokey appearance with the following key products:

  • Eyeshadow: A versatile eyeshadow palette with a mix of warm, cool, matte, and shimmer shades is a must. For instance, the Huda Beauty Empowered Eyeshadow Palette offers a wide variety of colors to create both subtle and bold grunge looks.
  • Eyeliner: A reliable, smudge-proof eyeliner, whether it’s a liquid, gel, or pencil, is essential for defining your eyes and creating that signature grunge vibe.
  • Mascara: Lastly, a volumizing and lengthening mascara will tie the look together by giving your lashes a bold, dramatic finish.

Lip Products for the Perfect Pout

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04/01/2024 03:49 pm GMT

No aesthetic grunge makeup look is complete without the perfect pout. There are a few lip products you should consider adding to your arsenal:

  1. Dark Lipstick: Opt for a matte, dark lipstick in shades like deep reds or browns to make a statement.
  2. Lip Liner: A matching lip liner will not only help define your lips but also prevent any unwanted color bleeding.
  3. Lip Gloss: If you prefer a less matte finish, consider adding a clear or tinted lip gloss on top of your lipstick to create a more versatile, modern grunge look.

Step-by-Step Guide

 young woman grunge makeup
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I’ve prepared a brief, step-by-step guide to help you achieve the perfect grunge makeup look.

Prepping Your Skin

  1. Cleanse: Gently cleanse your face with a facial cleanser to remove any dirt or makeup residue.
  2. Exfoliate: Use a gentle exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin cells, revealing a smoother canvas.
  3. Moisturize: Apply a lightweight moisturizer to hydrate and prep your skin for makeup.

Creating the Base

  1. Foundation: Apply a light layer of foundation to your face, blending evenly.
  2. Concealer: Cover any blemishes or dark circles with a full-coverage concealer.
  3. Powder: Set your base makeup with a translucent powder for a matte finish.

Eyes and Eyebrows

Waterproof Pen Liquid Eye Liner

✅ Stays without smudging

✅ Gives a sharp look

✅ Very long-lasting

❌ May be a little bit more expensive than other products

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/02/2024 08:49 am GMT
  1. Eyeshadow: Apply a combination of dark, matte shades, like copper, and blend well.
  2. Eyeliner: Create an elongated eyeliner effect with a reverse cat-eye and sharp inner corner.
  3. Mascara: Apply a volumizing mascara to your top and bottom lashes.
  4. Eyebrows: Fill in your brows with a dark brow pencil, and brush them up for a fuller, slightly unkempt look.

Lips and Cheeks

  1. Lipstick: Choose a dark, mauve lipstick or a dark maroon gloss, and apply it to your lips.
  2. Blush: Apply a muted blush shade to the apples of your cheeks for a subtle flush.

Setting Your Makeup

Setting Spray: Finish your aesthetic grunge makeup look with a setting spray to help ensure your makeup stays put throughout the day.

10 Grunge Makeup Ideas

Dark Smoky Eyes: Nothing says grunge like bold, smoky eyes. Combine deep shades of black, brown, or gray and blend seamlessly for a sultry, intense effect.

 young woman grunge makeup
by Pinterest

Burnt Red Lips: Just like Gwen Stefani back in the day, a burnt-red lip color paired with subtle eyeshadow can make a striking statement.

 red lips grunge makeup
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Bold Brows: Grunge makeup is all about strong brows. Fill and shape your eyebrows with a dark pencil or gel for an edgier look.

 Bold Brows grunge makeup
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Distressed Eyeliner: Smudge your eyeliner using your fingertips or a brush for an undone, rebellious demeanor.

 Distressed Eyeliner grunge makeup
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Understated Contouring: Instead of sharp lines, opt for subtle contouring that enhances your natural features without overdoing it.

 Understated Contouring grunge makeup
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Subdued Lip Colors: Grunge makeup doesn’t have to be all dark shades. Try wearing nude or pale lip colors for a more subtle, yet still daring, approach.

 Subdued Lip Colors grunge makeup
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Glossy Lids: For a modern twist on the grunge aesthetic, try adding a glossy finish to your eyelids with a transparent or tinted eye gloss.

 glossy lids grunge makeup
by Pinterest

Two-Toned Lips: Create an intriguing look using two contrasting lip colors— one for the top lip and another for the lower lip.

 two toned lips grunge makeup
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Daring Color Combinations: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different color combinations. Play with shades of blue, green, or even purple for an avant-garde touch to your aesthetic grunge makeup.

 Daring Color Combinations grunge makeup
by Pinterest

Mismatched Eyeshadow: To achieve a truly unconventional style, apply contrasting eyeshadow colors to each eye. You can even experiment with bold gradients for an edgier appearance. (This is not grunge makeup, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find a better picture)

 mismatched eyeshadow grunge makeup
by Pinterest

Styling Tips and Techniques

These techniques will help you create that edgy, smudged look that defines grunge style.

 crunge makeup aesthetic
by Pinterest

Blending for a Smudged Look

When working on your grunge makeup, blending is everything. You’ll want to use your fingers or a brush to blend your eyeshadow and eyeliner for a perfectly smudged look.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Apply a dark eyeshadow: Choose a color like charcoal, dark brown, or deep burgundy. Sweep it across your entire eyelid, and even below your bottom lash line. Don’t worry about being precise—the grunge look is all about looking undone.
  2. Smudge your eyeliner: Use a pencil eyeliner to trace along your upper and lower lash lines. Use your fingertips or a smudging brush to blend the eyeliner and eyeshadow to create that smoked-out effect.

Contouring for Edginess

Contouring can add some edginess to your aesthetic grunge makeup look, enhancing your cheekbones and overall face shape.

Here are some tips to achieve that perfect chiseled look:

  • Use a matte contouring powder or cream, no shimmery bronzers.
  • Focus on the hollows of your cheeks, along your jawline, and around your temples.
  • Remember to blend well using a contouring brush or a makeup sponge for seamless lines.

Incorporating Accessories

Accessories are key to completing your grunge look. Here are some must-haves for a grunge vibe:

  • Chokers: Black velvet or leather chokers complement the aesthetic grunge makeup perfectly.
  • Layered jewelry: Pile on silver or blackened metal necklaces, bracelets, and rings for a lived-in feel.
  • Piercings: If you’re feeling bold, consider getting a few piercings—think septum, lip, or multiple ear piercings.

Iconic Grunge Makeup Looks

 gwen stefani
by Pinterest

Celebrity Inspirations

When I think of celebs rocking the aesthetic grunge look, Gwen Stefani’s burnt-red lips and barely-there shadow from the ’90s immediately come to mind.

Another star who effortlessly embraces this style is Shay Mitchell, who nails the classic grunge elements with her smoky eyeshadow and brick-red lipstick.

CelebrityGrunge Makeup Element
Gwen StefaniBurnt Red Lips
Shay MitchellSmoky Eyeshadow, Brick-Red Lipstick

Music Video Iconography

Aesthetic grunge makeup has been influential not only in the world of celebrities but also in the realm of music video iconography.

Music videos like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” showcase grunge makeup as a reflection of the rebellious, anti-establishment ethos of the era.

Maintaining the Look

 gwen stefani
by Pinterest

Skincare for Grunge Enthusiasts

Taking care of our skin is crucial to achieving a flawless aesthetic grunge makeup look. I like to follow these simple skincare steps:

  1. Cleansing: Opt for a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser to remove dirt and makeup without drying the skin.
  2. Exfoliation: I find using a gentle exfoliator once or twice a week is perfect for keeping the skin looking smooth and avoiding cakey makeup.
  3. Moisturizing: A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer is essential for proper hydration and for creating a smooth makeup base.
  4. Sun protection: Don’t forget to use broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Long-Lasting Makeup Techniques

 woman with grunge aesthetic makeup
by Pinterest

To ensure your aesthetic grunge makeup stays put throughout the day, we can follow these long-lasting makeup techniques:

  • Primer: Applying a primer creates a smooth base for our makeup and helps it stay put while looking fresh all day. I recommend using a pore-filling primer for a smooth canvas.
  • Foundation: Opt for a long-wearing, transfer-proof foundation that matches our skin tone perfectly. Use foundations with a matte finish, as they tend to last longer and look great with grunge looks.
  • Setting powder: Dab on a translucent setting powder to set our makeup in place. It also helps control oil and shine.
  • Eyeshadow base: Apply an eyeshadow primer to our eyelids before applying our grunge eyeshadows. This will prevent creasing and fading throughout the day.
  • Waterproof mascara and eyeliner: Choose waterproof mascara and eyeliner formulas to avoid smudging or running even on the busiest of days.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

 woman with grunge aesthetic makeup
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Dealing with Smudging

Smudging can be both a blessing and a curse in grunge makeup, as it adds to the effortless and moody vibe. However, too much smudging can turn your look into a mess.

Here are a few tips to avoid excessive smudging:

  • Use long-lasting, smudge-proof makeup products
  • Apply eyeshadow primer before applying your eyeshadow
  • Set your makeup with a setting spray or powder

Pro Tip: You can also embrace a bit of smudging by using a smoky shadow instead of a dark eyeliner. This gives a subtle grunge effect without going overboard.

Quick Fixes and Adjustments

Not every aesthetic grunge makeup attempt goes according to plan. For those moments when you need a quick fix, here are some go-to solutions:

  1. Mascara smudges: Use a cotton bud or tissue to gently lift the excess mascara from your skin. A touch of concealer helps cover any remaining traces.
  2. Uneven eyeliner: Don’t panic – just grab a cotton swab dipped in makeup remover and carefully refine the line until you’re happy with the outcome.
  3. Too dark lipstick: Blot with a tissue to remove excess color, and if necessary, apply a nude or lighter shade on top to tone it down.

Remember: Aesthetic grunge makeup is all about embracing imperfection, so don’t be afraid to experiment and make adjustments as needed. With these tips, you’ll be a grunge makeup pro in no time!


Top 10 Aesthetic Grunge Makeup Ideas: Get The 90's Look
IG: grungeeveraesth

What is grunge style makeup?

Grunge-style makeup embraces edgy, undone looks with dark, smoky eyes, minimal face makeup, and bold lip colors. It often incorporates messy application techniques, like smudging eyeliner, and favors matte finishes.

What is grunge aesthetic about?

Grunge aesthetic revolves around a rebellious, laid-back vibe, characterized by distressed clothing, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and combat boots. It’s about embracing imperfection, individuality, and a sense of non-conformity, often influenced by the alternative music scene of the 1990s.

How did grunge affect fashion?

Grunge revolutionized fashion by embracing a casual, anti-establishment aesthetic. Ripped jeans, flannel shirts, oversized sweaters, and combat boots became staples. Its DIY ethos and rejection of conventional beauty standards influenced mainstream fashion, paving the way for a more relaxed and eclectic approach to style.

Why is grunge called grunge?

“Grunge” originated as a slang term describing the messy, unkempt appearance associated with the Seattle music scene. It reflects the gritty, raw sound and aesthetic of the genre. The term encapsulates the disheveled, anti-fashion ethos embraced by grunge musicians and their fans.

If you liked this blog article about the topic: Aesthetic Grunge Makeup, don’t forget to leave us a comment down below to tell us about your experience.

Luk Endres
Luk Endres

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