For those of us old enough to have enjoyed the 1980s in full force, we can truly say the era was like no other. Nothing was off limits during this electric decade of excess: Everything from ’80s hairstyles to clothes, music, and pop culture were all delightfully OTT (All that neon! All that hair!), and the best part? Everybody just enjoyed the ride.
And apparently, just like love, the ’80s has proven sweeter the second time around: Much more watered down—and less outrageous—versions of these fun, flashy hair trends are popping back up onto the scene. Call it a healthy sense of irony, but a rediscovered love for texture and embellishments (as well as a love for a good throwback) are giving us back a lot of these beloved styles, and they’re looking better than ever.
80s Hairstyles Worth Reviving
The fe-mullet gets renewed airplay this year, but in a decidedly quieter dosage brought on by a softer, fuller fringe and more blended layers. More Euro-punk than backwater Podunk, this infamous ’80s look sheds its reviled reputation this year with a much more sophisticated, shorter disconnect between layers. This can actually be a flattering look, especially for those with round, square or triangle-shaped faces.
Several industry insiders have referred to the shag as L.A.’s hairstyle du jour, and to be quite honest, we didn’t exactly see this one coming. We’re happy bandwagoners though, as this year’s redux features totally directional texture—shiny waves—in the hottest length of the year: the lob. Ask your stylist for brow-grazing bangs and chunkier layers that go past the jaw for a less helmet-y look.
Once the sole property of tweens, pop stars, and after-school-special celebs, crimped hairstyles are another one of those 80s hairstyles that grew up for the better. Now rendered as accents to ponytails, half-updos, and twists, they’ve taken on a much more refined look as opposed to their former frizzy states. The secret is moderation and a whole lotta shine. Skinnier, shinier crimps look healthy and deliberate. A humidity-protecting spray, like Nexxus Frizz Defy Finishing Mist, will keep your crimps tamed and frizz-free.
4. Braided Half-Updo
Dressing preppy was huge in the ’80s, and offsetting all those sweaters and pastel was the half-updo. Braids—especially the French braid—were an added one-two punch to the whole more-exclusive-than-thou look prevalent in teen TV tropes everywhere. Now that we’ve all gone braid-crazy this year, the half-updo has become a quick and easy way to infuse the trend into our looks in, well, half the time. Keep this look budge-free with touchable texture from a light mist hairspray, such as TRESemmé TRES Two Ultra Fine Mist Hair Spray.
5. Permed Bob
A valentine to curly-haired teen queens back in the day, the permed bob is a sweet, angst-free approach to big curls that we can all definitely get in on this year. In fact, it’s quite similar to all the natural-textured bobs we’ve been seeing lately, save for slightly tighter, more defined ringlets. To emulate, keep it neat and in a soft wedge shape, ideally chin-length or shorter.
6. Feathered Layers
Gleaming, middle-parted waves molded to perfection were the hallmarks of the decade’s pretty girls. A feathered hairstyle was the first-generation “Rachel,” and flattered almost all face shapes due to its democratic layers and low-maintenance length. This shoulder-dusting 80s hairstyle also was the perfect foil for the exaggerated feminine silhouettes of the era (ruffles and lace!), and easily transitions into this fall’s off-shoulder and ruffle trends too.
7. Shaved Sides
Mohawks and side-shaven undercuts were an underground staple, particularly with the punk movement. Pairing these edgy looks with alternative hair colors, such as bright blues and greens, was also the norm. These days, this 80s hairstyle has pretty much resurfaced in all its subversive glory, and with a gamut of patterns and colors to boot. A firm-hold hairspray, such as Bed Head by TIGI Hard Head, helps you wear your look loud and proud.
Not gonna lie: We had these in every color, for every day of the week. These bad boys were the main hair accessories of the 1980s. No other hair tie was as comfy or held our high ponies in place as efficiently. Whether it was the extra traction from the curly fabric cover—or simply tons of hairspray—we will never know. For now, it’s safe to say our top knots have found their most hardworking reinforcements, in more sophisticated renditions such as leather and metallic elastic.
9. Wrapped Hair
At one point, “excessories” such as bows, headbands, lace ribbons, and scarves all blurred together into one big, hot mess, #SorryNotSorry! These days, we’re thankfully taking the deconstructed route in terms of hair accessorizing, and using head wraps as both a practical and stylish way to look polished with minimal effort. In the 1980s it was about style overkill. These days, it’s the hairstyle that takes center stage, with add-ons just providing a quirky final touch.
10. Barrette Twists
A list of 80s hairstyles wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ preppy twists, loved by coeds and general goody-two-shoes gals everywhere. Clipped away from the face, barrettes kept flyaways on lock and the overall look super pristine, while leaving enough flirty length free. These looks also showcased smooth, healthy strands—easily achieved with a shine-enhancing system, such as TRESemmé Pro Pure Light Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.
11. Bubble Ponytail
Looking back, we sometimes think the unofficial goal of the 1980s was just to find funky, irregular ways of doing anything. This includes this offbeat way of revving up your standard ponytail. Simply segmenting the tail with hair elastics throughout the length creates a whole new look. Easy, unique and honestly, quite ingenious, it’s another quirky ’80s look that’s been on current rotation this year.
12. Fanned-Out Bangs, Long Hair
That said, we just had to look for an ingenious way of styling our bangs. Enter the outrageous fan shape: a wispy fringe that’s been blown-out and set to one side. Was it because it gave our locks a fuller appearance? Was it because it spiffed up an otherwise vanilla sheath of regular long hair? We may never know.
13. Fanned-Out Bangs, Blunt Bob
Naturally, we also applied this bangs trend to the bobs of the era, which were delightfully blunt (and look super chic, even to this day). Bangs on short hair seemed even bigger than ever, we surmise to even out the cropped length. No complaints, just hairspray!
14. Bowl Cut
The charming, tousled bowl cut was one of the hallmarks of the decade that seemed to cross gender lines. Even back in the day… this look was unwittingly ahead of its time. That, and the fact that it’s one of the hottest looks on and off the runways nowadays makes a strong case for this look.
15. Tapered Afro
A lot of curly-haired beauties used to style their hair in a tapered look during the 1980s. To emulate, pin back the sides of your afro, or simply ask for a slightly tapered haircut that thinned down towards the nape.
80's Hairstyles: The Perm for Every Length
1. Short Hair
The short perm features loose, somewhat lazier curls on a relaxed bob. More ingénue than incredulous, it’s a less uptight version of the original ’80s short perm, and as such is a more flattering look. Best achieved on straight to wavy hair textures, first ask your stylist for a chin-length bob—it’ll shrink once it’s permed or curled.
2. Medium-Length Hair
Perms get a more light-hearted aesthetic when done on shoulder-length hair. Almost all face shapes can get away with a mid-length perm. It’s a look that stands on its own—no accessories required. Tighter ringlets are the hallmark of this look for sure, but unlike the stiff, crunchy curls of yore, these ones are shinier and more well-defined, not frizzy. Lobs and cuts with slight, subtle layers give a bit of shape to the perm, especially around the bottom. A leave-in conditioner, such as The Good Stuff Volumizing Hydration Foam, applied before being dried with a diffuser, can help keep the integrity of those curls.
3. Long Hair
A long-haired perm can veer away from traditionally tight ringlets. The look is more island-girl than cherubic, and as such, can be styled in a myriad of ways. Our favorite though is letting it cascade long over our shoulders, and just reinforced with a dime-sized amount of curl-recall cream, such as Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound, so the structure remains.