’00s Nollywood Is Inspiring Autumn’s Boldest Black Beauty Trends

Photo courtesy of Netflix.
The bustling Nollywood scene is famous the world over. Coined in the mid '90s to describe the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood is now the second biggest movie producer globally. If you're of Nigerian descent, you'll no doubt adore it for the satirical look at daily life, iconic soundtracks, unforgettable characters and borderline comical special effects. But there's no denying that Nollywood has made its biggest mark on sartorial trends.
Seasoned viewers will know that Nollywood (a stark contrast to the slick Hollywood scene) has always championed experimental style rooted in cultural heritage and diasporic influence. It seems we've become increasingly nostalgic for it lately, too. On TikTok, the hashtag #nollywood has 419.5 million views, while #nollywoodmovies and #nollywoodclips have amassed 200.7 million and 6.8 million pairs of eyes respectively. Nollywood covers a wealth of themes, from love and betrayal to family and friendship but its approach to beauty – using distinct female archetypes – is what viewers are most obsessed with in 2021. TikTokers have even named it Nollywoodcore.
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Played by the likes of Regina Askia, Eucharia Anunobi and Genevieve Nnaji, Nollywood archetypes such as The Vixen, The Femme Fatale and The Campus Queen (not to mention The Mami Wata and The Mother-in-Law From Hell) have unmistakable styles. Short, flicky wigs, lashings of jet-black kohl eyeliner and darkly lined lips with a generous slick of gloss are just a few looks. Now, brilliant Instagram pages like @nolly.babes and @yung.nollywood are paying homage to these boundary-shifting beauty trends from the 2000s and providing Black women with so much new beauty inspiration in the process.
It makes sense, says Theodora Imaan Beauvais, the mastermind behind @yung.nollywood. "Fashion and beauty is like history. It always repeats itself, and naturally, these trends are coming around again. A lot of the people who were kids in the early 2000s are adults now and we've brought the Y2K aesthetic back because it's what we've creatively internalized. Good style is timeless," says Theodora.
Modern iterations of these quintessential Nollywood beauty looks are being emulated by celebrities like musician Tems, Lady Donli and fashion designer Mowalola as well as makeup artists like Ayopo Abiri. "My favourite thing from old Nollywood is definitely the use of monochromatic colour," Ayopo says. "One of my first projects with Lady Donli for her 'Corner' music video really drew from that era: thin eyebrows and obvious lip liner," she says, taking cue from classics like The President’s Daughter (2006), Keeping Faith (2002) and Girls Cot (2006).
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Inspired? Read ahead for the most wearable '00s beauty trends influenced by Nollywood's biggest babes (with expert tips on how to pull everything off in 2021).
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Mahogany Lined Lips

"Simple but highly visible is the best way to describe the deep, overlined lip," explains Ayopo, who says this is the most wearable beauty trend right now. It's all about the heavy emphasis of dark brown or even burgundy lip liner, which is always teamed with clear lip gloss or lip oil. It's so versatile and flattering, says Ayopo, that she wonders why it ever went out of style. To achieve the contrasting lip look favoured by almost all Nollywood babes, Ayopo suggests choosing a lip liner that has a nude feel to it, like NYX Professional Makeup's Slim Lip Pencil in Burgundy, for a night out. For everyday, try MAC's Black girl classic: the Lip Pencil in Chestnut, £16, which is a woody brown hue. Leave the centre free from bold colour and opt for a slick of something clear for an ultra juicy finish. Try Tower 28's ShineOn Lip Jelly, or Victoria Beckham Beauty's Posh Gloss.
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The Micro Fringe

"Getting out the kitchen scissors may have been a lockdown trend but if you're after a micro fringe for your hair or wig, book into a salon," advises hairstylist and artist Joy Matashi. BLEACH London and Elevate in Brixton are brilliant but if you really want that Nollywood-esque feel, look no further than Zazzah's Place in Pop Brixton. (If you aren't London-based, here are some excellent Black hairdressers across the UK.) For at-home taming of your mini fringe, try Amika's Velveteen Dream Smoothing Balm, and for uber straight styling grab the T3 SinglePass Luxe Straightener, which is an expert favourite.
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Ultra Thin Brows

If Nollywood is anything to go by, bushy brows are over and skinny brows are back in business. "To perfect the ultimate dinky 2000s brow, you need a super sharp, waxy pencil," says Ayopo. The cheaper, the better, she adds, referring to the £1 pencils you might spot in your local hair shop. "They'll give you the best pigment payoff," she says. Also try beauty editor favourite Rimmel London's Professional Eye Brow Pencil, or Yves Saint Laurent Dessin des Sourcils Eyebrow Pencil, which features a brow brush on the end so you can groom and define. "You can also sharpen the brow with a really precise concealer brush like MAC's 212 Flat Definer Brush, and a dewy yet pigmented concealer like MILK Makeup's Sunshine Under Eye Tint + Brighten," says Ayopo. Together, they'll give you that iconic sculpted look.
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The Flicky Pixie Cut

"Traditionally, old school Nollywood hairstyles were those shake and go wigs from the hair shop," explains Joy. "They weren't really cut or styled. Now, when opting for a wearable look, I'd advise slathering your chosen pixie wig with mousse after washing, then brushing and laying the wig with a silk scarf." Try Creme of Nature's Argan Oil Style & Shine Foaming Mousse. For less of a plasticky feel, you should opt for a human hair wig, says Joy.
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Shimmer Eyeshadow

"Nollywood makeup is about shimmer, always," says Ayopo. "Matte eyeshadow is never going to give you the sheen that old Nollywood beauty is well known for. Layer shimmery hues and blend them out with warmed fingers or a fluffy eyeshadow brush." Her trick? "The less precise, the better, and take the same shade right across the lid and up to the brow bone." To emulate this look, play with the Pat McGrath Labs Mothership IX: Huetopian Dream Eyeshadow Palette, which features 10 shades in iridescent lilac, gold, coral and more. For one-pot perfection it has to be the Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow, available in eight shades from moss green to baby pink. To nail the monochromatic look, try dusting the same shade on your cheeks and lips.
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Microbraids

"The hair industry has seen so much innovation over the past decade," says Joy. "Even with ultra thin micro braids, you can now have them on tracks. Just like a weave on, you stitch in the hair before braiding a small leave out section. It cuts down the time process by around 90% but you still get the look." She suggests opting for pick and drop and knotless braids, which have also seen a meteoric rise in salons from Lagos to London. "Even with synthetic braids you can curl up the ends for a more natural feel," says Joy. Maintenance is key. To keep your braided style looking polished, try laying your edges with Creme Of Nature's Argan Oil Perfect Edges Extra Hold, or Bouclème's Super Hold Styler.
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Heavy Kohl Eyeliner

"This is a makeup trick I first saw my mother do," says Ayopo. "Now, I practise the look on both myself and clients. For the darkest kohl application, you need to really focus on your inner waterline." After covering the waterline (both the top and bottom of your eyes, says Ayopo), do the same in the lash line and use your fingers to smudge the outer corners. "Like all '00s Nollywood looks, precision should be an afterthought," says Ayopo. You can use black but Nollywood's cult shade is dark blue. Use Jones Road's The Best Pencil, in navy or Max Factor's Masterpiece Kohl Kajal Pencil in Azure, before finishing off with Kjaer Weis Im-Possible Mascara, for thick and fluffy lashes.
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