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What Hairstyles Were Popular in the 80s: A Look Back at Iconic Trends

The 1980s were a definitive time for fashion and culture, and the hairstyles were no exception.

If you’re looking for inspiration or just taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane, you’ll find that the 80s boasted a variety of trendsetting hairstyles.

Everything from punk’s rebellious spirit to pop icons’ glamour influenced how people styled their hair.

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As you dig into the ’80s hair trend archives, you’ll remark on the bold and voluminous looks that dominated the era. Iconic styles included the perm, which gave people the tight, curly locks that were all the rage.

Your hair became an extension of your personality, with the perm being one of many ways to express individuality. Moreover, the decade saw a surge in hair accessories and the rise of legendary hair bands, which contributed significantly to what defined the quintessential 80s look.

The era also brought us the mullet, the ultimate business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back statement, and the Jheri curl, offering a glossy, curled style.

Whether you were into big hair bands or preferred the edgier side of 80s culture, there was a hairstyle to match every inclination. Embracing diversity and boldness, the 80s hairstyles weren’t just about fashion, but also about making a statement and leaving a mark on the cultural landscape of the time.

Defining 80s Hairstyles

The 1980s was a decade of bold styles, especially regarding hair. You might remember some iconic hairstyles that have made periodic comebacks. These trends were not just popular; they became defining elements of the decade.

  • The Mullet: Business in the front, party in the back. The mullet was undeniably one of the signature looks of the 80s.
  • The Perm: Love it or hate it, the perm was everywhere, giving volume and curls to those seeking a bold change.
  • Jheri Curls: A glossy, curly look made famous by African American celebrities that became a widespread phenomenon.

In addition to these, teased hair, often paired with bright-colored hair accessories, was the norm for achieving volume. Think big hair with even bigger attitudes. Bands and TV stars often set the trends, influencing what you might have wanted to sport to the mall or school.

  • Shag Haircut: Choppy ends and layers gave shag cuts lots of body and movement.
  • Feathered Hair: This carried over from the 70s but still remained a fan favorite for a softer look.

Each of these looks went beyond mere fashion—they became symbols of self-expression, with your hair serving as a canvas showcasing your personality. Whether you rocked a perm or flowed with feathered bangs, the hairstyles of the 1980s made sure that every day was a walk down the fashion runway.

Iconic Women’s 80s Hairstyles

The 80s was a revolutionary period for women’s hairstyles, characterized by extraordinary volume and creative styling. As you trek through this maze of hairspray and teasing combs, you’ll rediscover the splendor of the era’s most unforgettable looks.

The Perm and Curly Styles

In the 1980s, perms dominated the scene, allowing you to sport the bouncy curly bangs and big curls that defined the decade. The chemical treatment was embraced by celebrities like Cher and Dolly Parton, making it a widespread phenomenon. The Jheri curl, another treatment-induced style, offered a glossy, loosely curled look that became iconic in its own right.

Big Hair and Volume

Big hair wasn’t just a style; it was a statement. Achieved through teasing and ample hair gel, this look aimed to reach the skies. Icons like Farrah Fawcett flaunted their voluminous manes, inspiring you to pick up your teasing comb and reach new heights with your hair.

  • Teased Hair Implements:
    • Hair gel
    • Mousse
    • Hair spray

The Madonna Influence

Madonna was more than a pop sensation; she was a hair oracle. The Queen of Pop brought us the bow barrettes, headbands, and scrunchies needed to pull off her coveted looks. The side ponytail, often called the whale spout, was as much a part of the 80s pop culture as Madonna’s music.

Asymmetrical and Edgy Looks

For the bold and the daring, 80s hair flirted with the unconventional through asymmetrical cuts and slicked-back styles. These edgy looks were on the front line of fashion, pushing the boundaries of traditional women’s hairstyles. If you wanted to make a statement, the asymmetrical cut was your rebellion in hair form.

Iconic Men’s 80s Hairstyles

The 1980s were a hallmark of bold styles and the 1980s hairstyles you might remember are no exception. From the voluminous curls to dramatic height and length, let’s walk through the memorable hair trends that defined a decade.

The Mullet

The mullet became a defining hairstyle of the 1980s. It’s characterized by business in the front, party in the back—a style with short hair on the front and sides, transitioning to longer strands that flowed down the neck. Notable figures like Billy Ray Cyrus were known for their mullets, which are occasionally spotted in modern fashion as a nod to 80s nostalgia.

Jheri Redding’s Influence

Jheri Redding, an influential hairdresser, brought forward the shiny, voluminous look known as the Jheri curl. This style was prominent within African-American communities and gained mainstream popularity thanks to icons like Michael Jackson. The process involved a special perm technique that created loose, glossy curls, often seen as a mark of urban cool.

Hi-Tops and Flattops

The hi-top fade and flattop were your go-to options for those craving the height. The hi-top fade, or tapered afro, stacked up hair to impressive heights and was a staple within hip-hop culture.

Conversely, the flattop created a flat, horizontal plane across the top of the head—precision and attitude boxed into one neat package. These styles reflected confidence and were a dramatic departure from more laid-back hair trends.

80s Hairstyles in Pop Culture

Looking back at the 80s, you’ll immediately recall how the era’s fashion and hairstyles were bold and flamboyant, and pop culture icons were the trendsetters. The distinctive hairstyles they rocked weren’t just styles; they were statements that defined a generation.

Television and Movie Stars

Some of the most memorable TV and movie stars of the 1980s had hairstyles that now epitomize the decade. Princess Diana’s short, layered cut inspired women worldwide with its royal elegance.

Jane Fonda brought aerobics and the high-impact workout look into vogue, popularizing slicked-back ponytails and voluminous cuts. Meanwhile, Farrah Fawcett’s feathered hair remained a symbol of 70s glamour that smoothly transitioned into the 80s, influencing many with cascading waves that framed the face beautifully.

  • Princess Diana: Short, layered elegance
  • Jane Fonda: Workout-inspired ponies
  • Farrah Fawcett: Iconic feathered waves

Music Scene Impact

The impact of the music scene on hair in the 80s is undeniable. Heavy metal bands embraced long, wild manes that symbolized the rebellious spirit of the genre. Punk music brought an edgier look with Mohawks, colorful dyes, and shaved designs.

Pop icons, however, had some of the most influential styles: Madonna’s ever-changing hair, including her iconic bleached locks and hair bows, became something of a cultural phenomenon. Cher’s voluminous curls and bold hairpieces reflected her larger-than-life persona.

On the male side, Michael Jackson’s Jheri curl captivated fans, and Cyndi Lauper’s vibrant and quirky hairstyles encapsulated her fun, eclectic music and personality.

  • Heavy Metal: Long, wild manes
  • Punk: Mohawks, colors, and shaved designs
  • Madonna: Bleached locks and bows
  • Cher: Bold curls and hairpieces
  • Michael Jackson: The Jheri curl sensation
  • Cyndi Lauper: Vibrant, eclectic styles

Styling Techniques and Tools

In the 1980s, achieving the quintessential look meant utilizing a variety of styling techniques and tools, with a focus on creating volume and texture. Crimping and distinctive hair accessories were emblematic of the era’s bold approach to hair.

The Rise of Crimping

Crimped hair was a staple of 80s hairstyles and getting that zigzag texture required a special tool: the crimping iron.

Heated plates with a wavy pattern were pressed onto sections of hair—usually after a mist of styling product—which then cooled into the iconic crimped style. Besides all-over crimping, you could add a few textured accents to otherwise smooth hair for a mixed look.

Hair Accessories

The 80s were not shy about accessories. Here’s a quick list to jog your memory or perhaps inspire your next throwback look:

  • Scrunchies: These fabric-covered hair bands were gentle on your hair and came in every color and pattern imaginable.
  • Headbands: Worn across the forehead or pushing back the hair, headbands were a statement piece, often in bright or neon colors.
  • Banana Clips: Gathering your hair with a banana clip created a faux-hawk look by fanning hair out to the sides.
  • Bow Barrettes: Whether at the end of a braid or clipped to the side, bow barrettes added a sweet touch to any outfit.

Each accessory not only complemented the high-volume, high-energy hair styles of the decade but also became iconic symbols of 80s fashion.

80s Hairstyles and Modern Trends

The 80s were a time of bold styles and expressive trends in hair fashion, many of which have found their way back to popularity with a modern twist.

From Excess to Elegance

During the 80s, hairstyles were defined by excess and a go-big-or-go-home attitude, with voluminous looks that included perms, mullets, and the iconic bubble ponytail. Today, these same styles have been refined, giving you a modern spin on the beloved classics. Celebrities like Zendaya have been spotted rocking modern mullets, combining the playful edge of the 80s with today’s sleekness.

Retro Styles on Social Media

Retro styles have become a sensation on platforms like TikTok, where users showcase their takes on ‘80s hairstyles with a contemporary flair. From the wolf cut, which blends the shagginess of the 80s with the layered trends of today, to a glossy rendition of the bubble ponytail, you can find tutorials and recreations that guide you through achieving that nostalgic yet fresh look right in your own home.

DIY 80s Hairstyles Today

Embracing the bold and voluminous looks of the 80s can be a fun way to refresh your style. You can recreate these iconic hairstyles right at home with patience and the right tools.

Home Perming and Styling

To achieve the quintessential 80s voluminous curls, you might consider a DIY perm. Although it’s important to exercise caution with chemicals, home perm kits are available for those with the courage to try. Always buy from a trusted brand and follow the instructions carefully to prevent damage to your hair.

For a less permanent option, you can use hot rollers or a curling iron to mimic the perm’s effect. Apply a strong hold hair gel before styling to help your curls stay bouncy throughout the day. If you’re interested in a shag cut, it is a layered hairstyle that promotes movement and can usually be styled to suit various hair textures.

Accessorizing Like the 80s

Accessories were a hallmark of 80s hairstyles. Amp up your DIY style with scrunchies to secure a high ponytail or add a pop of color. Use a thick headband to push back your hair and create lift at the roots, reminiscent of fitness and dance fashion of the era.

Banana clips can gather your hair in a way that adds volume and length down your back, a style that is making a comeback. For something more delicate, incorporate hair bows into your look, either at the end of a braid or pin back the sides of your hair. It’s all about making your statement unique while nodding to the past.