’90s bandanas are back in fashion, thanks to teens on TikTok

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Beauty knows no age. That’s why every week, we’ll be featuring real people, experts and professionals from every generation to get the low-down on the best beauty tips and hidden hacks when it comes to their everyday routines. From hair care for women over 50 to the lip color every Gen-Zer needs to own, these are the game-changing secrets that you never knew you needed.

A go-to ’90s hair accessory is making a major comeback, thanks to the coolest teens on the internet. No, the trend isn’t colorful barrette hair clips or giant puffed headbands, but bandanas. Bandanas are gaining popularity on TikTok, and a particular way of wearing the hair accessory has recently infiltrated teen culture.

Sporting bandanas in a tri-fold style is making a comeback after disappearing in the early 2000s. But the look has roots way before the ‘90s — because every dated trend comes back around again.

@charlidamelio

sorry i know i do this dance a lot but i love it and yodelinghaley

♬ Say So – Doja Cat

The bandana style has long been known for being the cliche look for housekeepers, pirates and girls on the prairie. But the “maid style” bandana fold, which involves folding the cloth in half and tying it around your head, is largely associated with ‘90s fashion, first worn in the decade by stars like Aaliyah and the women of TLC. After taking off in hip-hop culture, the style was then worn by the Olsen twins, Christina Aguilera, Shakira and girl groups like the Spice Girls and 3LW. The style was even seen on television shows like Lizzie McGuire and Sex and the City, and movies like Bring It On and Clueless.

“From early Christina Aguilera to the Sex and the City cast, everyone took advantage of hair accessories in the ’90s,” Sal Misseri, owner of Reverie Salon in Chicago, says. “The trifold bandana look became super popular paired with braided hair and colorfully expressive hair colors. Those ‘90s looks are definitely being replicated and modernized for the roaring 2020s.”

But the ’90s style of bandana-wearing was actually first popularized in the 1970s, donned by self-proclaimed hippie women and the likes of Dolly Parton. The style was also worn in the ’80s by Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose, though that is an entirely different story.

“In short, history repeats itself,” Natasha Speth, owner of Triple Crown Salon in Brooklyn says. “I personally love that it is coming back.”

The tri-fold style also has cultural roots in Poland and Russia, where it was less of a trendy hair accessory. The scarf is sometimes called a “babushka” in North America, referring to older Polish and Russian women wearing headscarfs that tie around the neck. The word babushka means “elderly woman” or “grandmother” in both cultural contexts.

Now, teen TikTok stars are taking your grandma’s style, wearing tri-fold bandanas nonstop in their viral videos. Teens like Charli D’Amelio, Avani Gregg, and Addison Rae — all who belong to the somewhat infamous Hype House — have worn the style in their videos. And with a combined 52.3 million TikTok followers between the three stars, the look undoubtedly caught the attention of teens looking for the next big hair trend.

@avani

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♬ Hit the Quan – iLoveMemphis

Aside from being a recycled style of the ‘90s, the look is undeniably practical. If you’re on second day, third day or — dare I say — fourth day hair, covering the top of your head can save you a wash. 

“It is an adorable look and even allows you to get more days out of your hairstyle,” Speth says. “We are all trying to find a way to make a style last more than a day or two, and adding a bandana is a perfect way to do it.”

But the style is more than a lazy day look. The bandana is decorative but practical, holding your hair out of your face, Misseri says. That’s why the style is associated with housekeeping work — and those pesky pirates, too.

“It also allows you to cover your outgrown roots or un-styled hair,” Misseri adds. 

@addisonre

♬ original sound – peachyッ

Even though your hair can be relatively un-styled when wearing a trio-fold bandana, it’s still important to make sure the ends of your hair look happy, hydrated and frizz-free to get the most out of the style. Misseri and Speth recommend using anti-frizz serums and hydrating hair oils to take care of the lengths and ends of hair.

A great option, which Speth recommends, is from my personal favorite hair brand, Davines. The brand’s Oi Oil line is ridiculously hydrating, making hair shiny and smooth. It especially saves the day when it comes to dry, damaged ends.

Shop: Davines Oi Oil, $45

Credit: Davines

But before you worry about making your hair look good in a trendy bandana, you need to own a trendy bandana. Check out some bandana options below that will help you plug into the recycled style. All the cool kids are doing it.

Shop: 12-Piece Multi-Colored Bandana Set, $10.99

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Madewell Lilac Bandana, $12.50 

Credit: Madewell

Shop: Levi’s 3-Color Bandanas, $9.99

Credit: Amazon

Shop: J.Crew Floral Bandana, $16.50

Credit: J.Crew

Shop: Madewell Leopard Bandana, $12.50 

Credit: Madewell

Shop: Anthropologie Cotton Block Print Bandana, $32

Credit: Anthropologie

Shop: Urban Outfitters Paisley Bandana, $10

Credit: Urban Outfitters

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