The 10 Most Popular Hairstyles From The 80s

When you look back at the Eighties, the hairstyles tend to typify the era. Whether that is the perm, big volume, or feathered hair, each was popularized by the film and music stars of the day.

The 10 Most Popular Hairstyles From The 80s

Each of these hairstyles seems to belong firmly in that decade yet some of those hairstyles are making a comeback thanks to TV shows like Stranger Things which are firmly set in the Eighties.

You may want to try your hair in various hairstyles for a fancy dress party or simply to go for a daring new look that looks back in time.

This may be just the right time to revisit those hairstyles as they creep back into fashion, even the mullet. In this guide, we will detail the ten most popular hairstyles from the Eighties.

1. Big Volume

Put simply, the Eighties were known for volume. Either go big or go home as hair was largely exaggerated for how big it could appear.

Bouncy curls and blowouts were teased out and then kept in place with hairspray for a voluptuous and cushioned appearance. That floaty texture could take hours to achieve yet was well worth it.

2. Bouncy Fringe

The Eighties was also the decade for bangs which have made a belated comeback. Another version of go big or go home was seen in how big and bouncy the fringes were. Largely seen with curly hair, fringes would creep over the eyes for a sultry look.

Rollers could also be used to curl the fringe accordingly so that once the roller was released, the hair would bounce on its own.

3. Feathered Hair

If you look back at the early Eighties, you should be able to see a lot more feathered hair. This was a delicate hairstyle that works for both women and men, if they had straight hair.

Think of the US TV show, Dallas, and the late Princess Diana, both were hugely popular during the Eighties so it was no wonder that the hairstyle went mainstream.

This was a layered look that could include a side parting or simply go through the middle though it was certainly brushed back for both sides to resemble a look akin to bird feathers.

4. Ponytails

As the Eighties wore on, more and more teenage women and young girls decided to grow their hair out and fashion it into a ponytail. That could include the side ponytail where the bulk of hair would be worn on the side so that it stuck out.

For Valley Girls (middle-class or upper-middle-class women from California, specifically the San Fernando Valley), you could expect the ponytail to be a little higher yet it could also come straight and be adorned with scrunchies.

The scrunchies themselves were a big accessory and came in a range of bright colors to hold the hair in place. 

5. Metalhead Hair

Heavy metal bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Mötley Crüe were known for their hit songs but also their rock star antics and their big metalhead hair.

The sheer volume of their hair was turned up to 11 and huge hair could not be avoided, even if it did get in their eyes onstage. Just like their guitar solos, high-pitched vocals, and levitating drum sets, the hair length was genuinely daring.

Tousled waves were also in as men let their hair grow out and then styled it with as many cans of hairspray as they could find to keep it in place during a performance. 

6. Crimped Hair

Women who decided to grow their straight hair out long could really style it by crimping. This hairstyle was also known as deep waves or simply as crinkles. Hair would become wavy and, depending on the crimping, would be in a zig-zag or sawtooth design.

To achieve the look, you needed to apply heat from a crimping iron though if you had more patience you could braid the long hair, give it a few hours, and then pull them out.

Crimped hair became exceedingly popular with movie stars and pop stars such as Demi Moore, Tyra Banks, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George. 

Though the first crimping iron was invented back in 1972 by Geri Cusenza (the original founder of Sebastian), the hairstyle reached its peak in the middle of the Eighties. 

7. The Hi-Top Fade

For hip-hop, The hi-top fade emerged as the Eighties hairstyle for men that added a few inches to their height. This was a hairstyle that was popularized by the emerging rappers of the day including Kid ‘N Play, Big Daddy Kane, and Doug E. Fresh.

Reportedly, the hairstyle was somewhat inspired by the ancient Empress headpiece worn by Queen Nefertiti yet in the Eighties it was short on the side and exceedingly long on top.

You could even see the hairstyle evolve with a more structured shape as hip-hop entered its golden era.

8. Jheri Curls

Whether it is spelled Jheri, Jeri, or Jerry, this particular hairstyle was highly popular with African Americans during the Eighties. The name of the hairstyle came from its inventor, Jheri Redding who was an American hair-care products entrepreneur and hairdresser.

He would fashion his hair into loose, glossy curls and the hairstyle took off when it was worn by the likes of Michael Jackson, Ice Cube, and, latterly, Samuel L. Jackson.

Though popular, this was initially an expensive hairstyle to maintain as it would require several products until a ‘Curly Kit’ was invented by Comer Cottrell. 

9. The Perm

There are several versions of the perm yet as big hair rose in popularity, so did creating tight coiled strands. This was another expensive look to keep and it took hours to create yet that did not seem to matter to the likes of Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, and Jon Bon Jovi.

If you had curly hair, it was a little easier to achieve though it did not stop anyone with straight hair.

You could simply tease your hair out to recreate the look that was seen in so many music videos of the time.

10. The Mullet

Of course, you cannot have a list of the most popular hairstyles from the Eighties and not include the mullet.

Short at the front while long at the back and sides, the mullet pretty much typified the decade and was sported by the likes of David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Patrick Swayze, and even George Clooney.

The hairstyle was pure ‘business at the front, but party at the back’ and truly took off around the mid-Eighties when it became popular with both men and women, whether they had curly or straight hair. 

Final Thoughts

To judge the popularity of hairstyles from the Eighties might mean trying to find out which ones have made a comeback.

Certainly, thanks to the TV hit Stranger Things, certain hairstyles have become popular again simply because they have been seen by so many people.

From metalhead hair, to frizzy perms, and especially the mullet, it may be excellent timing to get the crimpers out of the closet and see if it still works. Some of these hairstyles have not truly vanished from fashion, they simply seem to be considered niche.

Metalhead hair can still be sported without shame by the likes of the actor, Natasha Lyonne, while even Miley Cyrus can rock a mullet.

However, some hairstyles seem destined to remain in the Eighties forevermore including big volume and feathered hair which may simply seem like too much effort to do nowadays.

Certainly, Jheri curls would be considered a bold look while the humble ponytail simply seems a little too straightforward when there is so much you can do with long hair.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Hairstyles Were Popular For Girls In The Eighties?

Popular hairstyles for girls in the Eighties included the mullet, the side ponytail, and the high ponytail. You could also expect to see a shag haircut, permed hair, and even crimped hair. The perm and feathered hair were also popular at the time. 

Some of these hairstyles can be time-consuming and labor-intensive to create so if you do want to recreate them, you may want to set some time aside.

Certainly, styling your hair with a big volume would be an impressive look yet it may require a few cans of hairspray.

It may not even be possible to recreate certain hairstyles now due to the equipment that was used at the time like crimpers and the ‘Curly Kit’ for Jheri curls. 

How Should You Dress For An Eighties Theme Party?

Once you have decided on your hairstyle of choice, there are various fashion items to choose from.

You could opt for parachute pants or simply a pair of dyed or acid-washed jeans. Perhaps a miniskirt, stretch pants, or leg warmers, all topped off with a denim jacket.

For instance, you could want to go dressed as Madonna who wore a wrap-up hairstyle where her punk-esque curls were pulled in by a wrap that was tied into a bow. 

Willa Price
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