How to Do 80s Goth Hair

The Goth look had its roots in the late 1970s post-punk scene in the United Kingdom; by the 1980s, the look was distinctive. Famous exponents of this style included Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Robert Smith of The Cure. Some '80s Goths grew their hair extremely long and wore it straight down, but the majority preferred a layered cut that allowed for more volume when styled. Besides black colour, key elements of 1980s Goth hair include big volume and a carefully constructed messy look. Styling is the same for both men and women.

Colour your hair either at home or in a salon. If you dye your hair at home, closely follow the instructions that come with your chosen product. For permanent colourants this usually involves mixing the dye components, then leaving them on your hair for a set time before shampooing out.

Blow-dry your hair roughly to get a tousled look. Bouncy, healthy shine were not part of the 1980s Goth look.

Backcomb hair, separating sections at the crown and backcombing at the roots, working towards the ends. Concentrate this at the top of the head to create height, leaving the underside hanging down to keep some length. Either leave fringe straight and heavy, or backcomb them to stick right up. Set with hairspray as you go.

Crimp hair to give more volume and an authentic '80s feel. You can crimp individual strands or the whole head.

Clip up sections of hair for your desired style. You could scrape everything into a very high, messy ponytail, or use hairgrips to pin up either side. A final spritz of hairspray holds your style in place.


Goth hair icons like Siouxsie Sioux changed their look frequently. Try different ways to pin your hair up and get volume. Getting a structured cut with heavy fringe or layers makes the Goth hairstyle easier to experiment with. For costumes and parties, use a spray-in black hair colour from a professional make-up shop, rather than dye. If unsure of the style, use a semi-permanent dye, such as Crazy Color, which washes out in a couple of weeks. Smooth a dab of petroleum jelly around your hairline, face and neck before dyeing your hair to stop the colour staining.


Patch-test hair dye before using it, as some people are allergic to hair-colour ingredients. Buy two packs of dye if you have long hair; black will only look strong if it is the same tone all over. Never mix henna with regular hair dye, even if using separate applications over many weeks. To avoid damaging hair, decide on a type of dye and stick with it.

Things You'll Need

  • Black hair dye
  • Pin-tail comb
  • Hairspray (optional)
  • Crimpers (optional)
  • Black matt hairgrips (optional)
  • Black hairbands (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.