Popular '80s Hairstyles

Written by tamara moffett
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During the 1980s, individuals constantly sought creative new ways of expressing themselves. Style in the '80s was all about excess, glitz and glamour. Colours were bold and bright, and clothes were multilayered. Men and women used bold and daring hairstyles to make a statement. Many drew the inspiration for these hairstyles from the celebrities, culture and music trends that dominated that era.

Big Hair

When it came to hair in the 1980s, size definitely did matter. No matter what style a woman wore, she usually wore it big. To create volume, women in the '80s would use a comb to tease out their hair so that it framed their face.

Women could also create big hair with a crimping iron. Crimping the hair created extra volume, which could be even further teased out. Big hair in the '80s also included big fringe. Women wore their fringe long and teased out over their foreheads. To maintain their crowns, women would saturate their hair with hairspray.


Although the mullet officially began in the 1970s, it peaked in popularity during the 1980s. Both men and women wore mullets in the '80s. To create a mullet, the hair is cut short on the top and on the sides, and worn long in the back. Mullets were considered to be a dual-function hairstyle. The short part in the front was considered to be an office-appropriate style, while the long part in the back was considered to be weekend ready.

While very popular in the '80s, mullets ultimately declined in popularity and became associated with tackiness. Celebrity mullet-wearers in the 1980s included David Bowie and Michael Bolton.

Jheri Curl

The Jheri curl was a popular hairstyle in the 1980s among African-Americans. The Jheri curl was invented by and named after American stylist Jheri Redding. This style involved the use of costly chemical products. A chemical softener was used to loosen and soften the hair. A second chemical was used to give the hair its characteristic "wet and shiny" look.

Despite its initial popularity, the Jheri curl was ultimately a messy style that required a lot of maintenance. African-American celebrities who wore a Jheri curl in the '80s included Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.


The Mohawk is a 1980s hairstyle that embodied the punk rock subculture and lifestyle. The punk rock movement was largely an outlet for the youth to rebel against established society. To achieve this look, Mohawk wearers would shave the sides of their heads, leaving a row of hair straight down the middle. A generous amount of gel was applied to harden and spike the hair so that it stood straight up. While some individuals wore their natural hair colour, many dyed their hair wild colours such as blue or pink.

Big Accessories

Women in the 1980s not only wore their hair big, but they also wore big accessories in their hair. One popular 1980s hair accessory is the headband. Women in the '80s would wear large headbands on the top of their heads. They either let the back of their hair hang behind the headband or tied it up in a ponytail.

Women who wore ponytails in the 1980s used large, colourful hair ties to tie them up. Sometimes two or three different coloured hair ties were used to make the ponytail stand out. Large bows and ribbons were also popular among women and young girls.

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