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. Read on:
’80s Hairstyles for Medium Hair
Need some inspo about ’80s hairstyles for medium hair? From shags to layers, keep scrolling to check out our top looks.
1. Shag 80s Hair
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.
2. 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.
3. Feathered Layers ’80s Hairstyle for Medium Hair
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.
4. 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 headwraps 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.
’80s Hairstyles Worth Reviving
5. Mullet ’80s Hair
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.
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 crimped hair is seen mostly as accents to ponytails, half-updos, and twists. The secret is moderation and a whole lot of shine. Skinnier, shinier crimps give off a smoother appearance.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. ’80s Hair Scrunchies
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.
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 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 hairstyle 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.
More ’80s Hairstyles: The Perm Edition!
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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-defining cream, such as Suave Luscious Curls Curl Defining Cream so the structure remains.
19. ’80s Bangs
Pair your classic ’80s perm with a full set of bangs to really get in on the retro vibes. Play with color and texture by adding a pop of red hair dye!
20. Bob with Bangs
What’s more ’80s than a bob with bangs? Get in on the curly bangs trend and rock your curls with confidence.
21. Layered Bob
Round out your curls with a layered bob that gives your hair shape and bounce.
22. Long Curls
Go big or go home! Grow out your curls and wear them long for a major statement.
23. Permed High Pony
What’s better than one hair trend? Why, three, of course. Here at All Things Hair, we couldn’t be more excited about the resurgence of the scrunchie. Throw in a high pony and a perm on top of that and you’re rollin’ deep in those ’80s vibes for sure.
24. Ombré Curls
Make your ’80s style a bit more modern by mixing it with an ombré color story.
25. Combed Over
Achieve the mega-voluminous style of your dreams by combing your curls over to one side for some major height, and voilà, you’ve aced the teen-movie look of the era.
’80s Hairstyles for Men
Even in men, we’ve seen waves of ’80s hairstyles come back. Check out more of these looks below!
Mullets are having a major moment right now, so why not join in on the trend? You can opt for a shorter, less exaggerated version of the mullet if you aren’t ready to fully embrace this ’80s hairstyle for men.
27. Slicked Back ’80s Hairstyles for Men
This look can be achieved very easily with gel. We love Dove Men + Care Well Defined Taming Gel because it will keep your hair in place all day while adding a high shine to the look. While this slicked-back style is ’80s inspired, it works for just about any occasion, especially fancier events.
28. Spikey ’80s Hairstyles for Men
Want extra texture in your look? Try out a spikey style like this! This distinct look can easily be achieved with Suave Styling Paste. This paste works on all hair types and won’t leave your hair feeling stiff. Work the paste into your hair hands then run it through the top section of your hair, molding the pieces how you’d like them to stick up.
29. Mohawk Hairstyle
Mohawks make such a statement, and we mean that in the best way possible. This ’80s hairstyle for men has become iconic over the years. If you’re brave enough to try out this style, it will need a little more upkeep than your average look, but overall, it’s pretty easy to do. Plus, this look can be done on any hair type!
30. Bold Hair Color
Bold, vivid hues were huge in the ’80s and we’ve seen this trend creep back into style through e-boy and e-girl looks. If you’re looking for a major change or just want to try something new and exciting, go for a bold color like this hot pink!
It’s important to use a shampoo and conditioner meant for colored hair to keep your color fresh for as long as possible. We love Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo and Conditioner because it keeps your hair vibrant for up to 40 washes.
Thinking about trying an ’80s-inspired style? Snap a picture and tag us @AllThingsHairUS!