Curls, Shags, & Beanies — How Mid90s Got Skater Hair Just Right

Photo: Courtesy of A24/IMDb.
If you couldn't already tell by the title of Jonah Hill's directorial debut, mid90s, the movie is a throwback to the decade of teenage angst. But we're not talking about the Clueless kind, with Alaïa dresses and scrunchies everywhere. For Hill, the decade was mostly spent inside an L.A. skate shop, listening to A Tribe Called Quest and wearing éS SAL 23s. This movie isn't for the Cher Horowitzs of the worlds, but for the young Jonahs who found solace in a community of outcasts.
For Hill to tell the story just right, the cast, the music, and the fashion had to be believable — and the hair played a major role in that. Even for a movie that employed young skaters as amateur actors, Hill hired a trusted hair team, headed by Lori Guidroz, to make the sure that even the smallest details (like Stevie’s shag or Ruben's buzzcut) felt authentic. So, how did they get the skating subculture right when it's so often inaccurately portrayed onscreen? We asked Guidroz — and she answered.
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Guidroz shares her personal relationship to skater hair, the real story behind Lucas Hedges' eyelashes, and Hill's acute attention to detail, ahead.
Warning: This story contains spoilers for mid90s.
This film bleeds '90s skate culture. How did you make sure it was authentic to not only a specific group of people, but also to one particular decade?
"What was so funny about it all is my boyfriend, Rodney Mullen, is a pro skateboarder. I used him sort of like a model throughout the film. It's always fun to do a period film and even more fun to do one with Jonah because he's so specific about every detail. He really didn't want this to be a movie about '90s hair porn or have someone watch it and say, 'Oh, that's '90s hair.' He collaborated with production design, wardrobe, and myself to make sure everything would blend and be subtle. The story had to drive the movie, not anyone's look in particular."
Photo: Courtesy of A24/IMDb.
How did you recreate '90s skater hair?
"I really looked to religious skaters to guide my hand and make the characters unique and individual, but still function together and seem real. Sometimes people on the outskirts of the skating subculture think they have to create this certain look. But the real hardcore skaters, like Tony Hawk, didn't put all that attention on their hair, but on their skills. My boyfriend also had a lot of old magazines, so I pulled from archives to make inspiration boards for Jonah to see."
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Sunny Suljic's character, Stevie, has amazing hair. Is there a reason you kept it so long?
"My boyfriend had that longer look when he was younger, so I wanted Stevie's hair to look really grown out, too. Sunny would come in first thing in the morning, straight out of bed every day and look like a madman. I'd wet his hair, style it, and then unstyle it because it couldn't look done or like he'd been in a hair chair all morning."
Na-Kel Smith, who plays Ray, is a pro skater in real life. Did you change his look at all?
"No, he came in and we left his hair as is. I did do some research on Black skaters from the '90s, like Kareem Campbell, because, again, we really tried to keep it real."
Was there anyone's hair you did have to change for the film?
"I decided to buzz Gio Galicia's hair for his character Ruben. His hair was really long in real life, but I pitched to Jonah that we should cut it really short and he agreed. At first, Gio was like, 'I'm not cutting my hair. I'm not cutting my hair!' But Jonah finally convinced him that he was an actor and it'll grow back. Actually, I had Jonah do the first few buzzes on Gio's head to get him more comfortable with it before we cut it all off."
Photo: Courtesy of Tobin Yelland/A24/IMDb.
Lucas Hedges also looked very different in this movie thanks to his darker hair. What was his routine like?
"Lucas is the sweetest, softest person, ever. Since he has natural strawberry-blonde hair, light eyebrows, and even lighter eyelashes, we had to dye it all. He had to look as dark as his character, who really was this menacing prick. I had to tell Lucas to not wash his hair so often because the color we used washed out so easily. I dyed it at least five or six times while filming."
Leaving the theater, I heard everyone talking about Olan Prenatt's gorgeous hair. Is it really that beautiful in real life?
"Oh, he showed up with the most beautiful hair. I can't take any credit for that. Jonah wanted him to keep that hair. He had the most hair out of all the boys, but he didn't take too long to get ready for set. I'd always put a little something in everyone's hair just so they felt like they were being taken care of; I liked to specifically use this hair bar I make on Olan's curls. It's a mix of beeswax and cocoa shea butter, so it really made his hair look a little unclean and less fuzzy."
How did you handle the scenes leading up to the car accident? It looked brutally hot out that day...
"I had to wet them all down with water because the weather would fluctuate so much. I wanted it to feel like they were really sweating, drinking, and just a mess. So, I'd mist Sunny down and wet along his hairline, so it'd feel like he was skating all day in the sun. There were other times when we would have them driving around and it would just have to be what is was. Jonah didn't want the kids to feel like they were in the movie and have them touched up over and over again. He wanted to capture their real moments."
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