How to get the spiky hair look for women

Getting spiky hair is quick and easy, with all fresh and get-up-and-go attitude of punk rock and pop. A really successful spiky look relies on a structured cut that focuses on texture. So the first thing to do is to choose your style. After this you can experiment with adding touches of colour to highlight the look, or styling the spikes at different angles. Take inspiration from famous spiky hair eras like the 1970s and ‘80s, or opt for a modern, demure emo style with a long spiky fringe.

Ask your hairdresser for a cut that allows you to wear you hair spiky, and that will work with its specific texture. Short layers usually make spiky styling simple. Feathering, shag cuts and razor cutting are all easily styled into a spiky look, and have become popular women’s styles since the 1970s.

Smooth a dab of gel or golf-ball sized ball of mousse through clean, damp hair. Choose mousse if your hair is fine and gel if you need a little more control, or want a stronger look.

Blow-dry hair, angling the nozzle up rather than down. This creates volume and encourages the layered hair to separate and start to sit up in spikes. Use fingers to comb it through as you blow-dry, rather than a creating a smooth, silky look with a brush. You could use this technique on just one section, such as a fringe.

Shape spikes with fingertips when hair is dry. Warm a little putty between fingertips, then use this to pull and shape hair into a spiky look. Matte sculpting putty is ideal for shaping without adding weight or grease.

Set your style with hairspray, if you want a really retro look.


Liberty spikes are a classic punk style from the 1970s and involve sculpting longer hair into distinctive pointy spikes all over the head. Rumours abound that the original punks used glue to achieve this, but a less damaging way is to drench damp hair in strong hold gel, then sculpt with hands until set. Coat with hairspray to help keep the shape.

Style emo hair after drying by running flat irons down the long spiky fringe to show off the layered cut.

If you have very fine, fluffy hair that goes limp easily, backcomb it a little at the roots to help it sit up for longer.

Short hair is easier to spike, so if you wear your hair like this often, you could consider an overall short cut. Or try a high-fashion style that has one area around the side or back cut short and spiked.

It is hard to give a spiky look to curly hair but on a shorter cut you could flat-iron hair first, then use a combination of gel and spray to spike it up.


Be wary of razor cutting and feathering techniques on thick, wavy hair. These can be effective but need to be done by someone very experienced. As the techniques create volume, these can make wavy hair look frizzy and damage dry ends if done carelessly.

Things You'll Need

  • Mousse or gel
  • Hair dryer
  • Matte styling putty
  • Hairspray (optional)
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About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.