Look I've Always Wanted To Try: '90s Gwen Stefani

At a time when every other chick in music was bubblegum, Gwen Stefani was fishnet-tops-and-fuzzy-bikinis-how-the-hell-do-you-pull-that-off-straight-up-and-down-cool.
Publish date:
August 12, 2013
eyeshadows, nars, celebrities, lipsticks, eyebrows, Revlon, hair, makeup, gwen stefani, '90s, bindis

Do you remember when you were young and impressionable? You wanted to be like the cool kid who boasted about smoking cigarettes, or the girl in your class who was allowed to shave her legs? That's what this image of Gwen Stefani represents to me.

It reminds me of when I was 12, wearing knee-high black leather Converse and texting boys I hardly knew from schools I didn't go to.

It's kind of bittersweet remembering how embarrassing you acted back then, but also how willing you were to try on different shades of yourself. Maybe you've settled into something more comfortable now that you've grown up, but I hope you never feel too old to experiment.

With that nostalgia and stab at being "wise" (I'm 22, what do I know?) out of the way, I shall begin gushing.

At a time when every other chick in music was bubblegum, Gwen Stefani was fishnet-tops-and-fuzzy-bikinis-how-the-hell-do-you-pull-that-off-straight-up-and-down-cool. She was in a band with JUST BOYS HELLO OMG, and had the least boring hair colours ever. When I want to walk down the street looking both hot and ridiculous I put on "Hollaback Girl."

While Gwen today is the picture of classy houndstooth perfection, I will be paying respect to the '90s girl she used to be and probably still is beneath that blonde hot-mum quiff.


The correct way to describe Gwen's complexion is "luminous pixie" and very little else will do; "alabaster princess" gets kind of close but honestly doesn't convey her inner shine well enough.

Our skin types couldn't be more different. I combined a Nivea tinted moisturiser **discontinued** in equal parts with Stila all over shimmer liquid luminizer (what I use when I attempt to know what contouring is).

I applied the mix all over my face with my fingers and tried to make sure it was evenly spread. I went back with a bit more shimmer over parts like my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose. The sparkly-ness is pretty hard to see in photos but trust me, I was basically glowing.


This bit is extra-fun because you can literally use whatever colour you want, except for anything boring or natural-looking like beige or whatever. I chose purple because it's my favourite. I've noticed that sometimes Gwen would match her eyeshadow to her hot pink or blue hair, and I'm genuinely jealous because I may never reach that level of coordination in my aesthetically occupied life.

I used a Revlon ColorStay eyeshadow palette in Lavender Meadow and started off with the lightest shade, which I put all over my eyelid and along my brow bone. I then put the middle purple shade in the middle of my eyelid, and finally, the darkest shade along the outer edges.

You then need to put black eyeliner on the top and bottom lids. This may feel somewhat counterintuitive depending on how you normally apply it because you now want it to be thick and obvious. It was kind of heartbreaking for me to do because I'm so used to wanting to be cute, and this wasn't very flattering, but it all comes together in the end.

Oh, and obvi don't forget to curl your lashes and put on black mascara.


These days, Gwen is the proud owner of two fully formed and beautifully shaped eyebrows. Back when she was younger, this was a very different story. Think, Greta Garbo minus the black and white film camera in your face.

I used a Rimmel eyebrow pencil (it needs to be darker than your hair colour) and followed the top line of each brow in a heavy, singular motion. This is where you need to persevere! You may feel like going down the conventional eyebrow route, but fight that instinct!


On her lips Gwen always has a deep red going on. I first put on a dark purple base, Fetish by Illamasqua, and then a dark red Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil by NARS second because, yeah, I'm COMPLICATED LIKE THAT.


For the longest time, I wanted to have cute buns. Each time I saw them on weird, adorable, edgy girls my heart would break a little inside. I spent 20 minutes in a public toilet once, confusing women who were lining up to pee because I was stationed in front of the mirror breaking through each of my hair ties totally desperate for two round bits of hair on my head.

I think it came to me in a dream or my brain started functioning logically, either or. Middle part your hair and tie the front bits into two little ponytails--these need to be quite far forward because you don't want it to look like your buns are sliding off the back of your head into oblivion, okay? That's where they end up… oblivion… because nothing counts as cute if nobody can see it!

Oh and p.s. oily hair is best because it holds well (and you get to be lazy with showering).

Once that is done, you twist the hair and wrap it semi-loosely around the hair tie and secure this with bobby pins. Don't worry too much about this being tidy because, well, you're obviously not conservative--you've got buns on your head and weird eyebrows RIGHT ON YOUR FACE.


I know that there is a lot of talk around cultural appropriation at the moment with Selena's bindis and Miley's twerking. I've wanted to try this since I was young, which doesn't help the argument either way. I fully believe in respecting and appreciating every culture and I find the bindi to be a beautiful accent to a woman's face. When I was in primary school in the Philippines, the librarian was from India and she taught us about what they symbolised and their importance and gave each of the girls one afterwards.

Obviously there is a lot that goes into looking like Gwen Stefani, and some things like the skinny eyebrows are so far outside of my comfort zone, but I was surprised at how positively this unusual makeup routine made me feel, and it's definitely left me yearning for something else unfamiliar to try. If you ever see me walking down the street covered in purple eyeshadow and smiling, I'm probably listening to some Gwen.