It would be an understatement to say that 15-year-old me was obsessed with The O.C. I grew up in the London suburbs, where life involved going to the local comprehensive by day and drinking contraband Bacardi Breezers in the living rooms of whoever’s parents were out by night. Yet that didn’t stop my from empathising with the rich people on The O.C.
A parental punch-up at the debutante ball? The embarrassment. A Chanel bag from Paris as a gift from your absent mother? I feel you, Marissa. But middle-class melodrama aside, it wasn’t just the wild parties, breakups and pool-house antics I lived for—it was the so perfectly noughties fashion and beauty.
Of course, at the time, I didn’t realise that Summer’s low-rise jeans and lip liner and Marissa’s polo shirts and blunt fringe were just a style snapshot of a very specific moment in time—I thought these characters were the height of cool.
Watching The O.C. as a 30-year-old, 15 years after it first aired, means that the beauty nostalgia is real. Refinery 29 went as far as to make the argument that everyone on The O.C. had terrible style, and these days, I would be inclined to agree. But that doesn’t mean I don’t look back fondly on the show and all those amazingly terrible beauty looks. Let’s face it—the mid-noughties were most definitely a vibe. Keep scrolling for all of the best beauty looks from The O.C.
Nothing said special occasion in the noughties like ringlet curls and a serious slathering of lip gloss.
The bandeau top. The metallic-tinged nude lip. The straight fringe. The bouncy curls. Marissa, I love you.
Of course, Julie’s wedding to Caleb deserved a bridal beauty look to fit the drama of the occasion. The satin lipstick and heavy black eyeliner are only topped by the most ’00s of beauty looks—the side fringe.
I always knew that the ponytail was the hairstyle that makes everyone look rich—and here is Marissa proving it. I have to say though, her dewy skin look is pretty timeless.
Although I was always Team Summer, there’s no doubting that Anna’s beauty looks were a whole lot cooler. Her tousled pixie crop is so 2019.
Did Summer’s gamble to wear a beaded floral headband over a high ponytail with zigzag parting pay off? Yes, it did.
There was clearly no short supply of hair rollers in Orange County. Marissa’s softer curls here are still more prom queen than the beachier waves she rocked in later seasons of the show.
There’s an overload of great beauty looks in this photo: Summer’s blue eye shadow, Marissa’s extreme side parting, Julie’s push-up bra… Iconic.
I’m not sure if Kirsten is genuinely reluctant to watch her dad wed Julie Cooper here, or if it’s her super-thin eyebrows that are making her look concerned.
Why wear just one ponytail when you could wear two?
The edgiest girl in Newport had to be Alex Kelly, played by Olivia Wilde. Her hair reached heights never been seen in California, and that streak of purple was almost as rebellious as her tattoos.
Before heat tools and curling tongs were a staple in every girl’s beauty stash, the only way to get beach waves was by plaiting your hair overnight—as demonstrated by Marissa’s uniform curls here.
I’m all kinds of obsessed with Julie’s beauty looks. From the frosted pink eye shadow to the carefully coloured in brows, she’s the noughties personified.
After GHD launched in 2001, hair straighteners started inching their way into the homes of pretty much every girl I went to school with. Summer’s sleek strands and side parting were the epitome of cool-girl hair.
Bangs + blush = 2003 beauty heaven.