The decade of the 1980s was a time when both fashion and hair were larger than life. It seemed with everything, it was the bigger or brighter, the better. Nothing was worn or styled so that it was modest or not to be noticed. Make-up was bright, clothing was sparkly or neon and hair was big, tall and teased. The 1980s are probably known most of all for the gigantic perms that all women had at one time or another.
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When you think of hair in the 1980s, you think of big hair teased to heights that rival skyscrapers. In the '80s, both women and teens alike got permanent waves set in their hair to create curls and volume, and to make their hair even more voluminous, they sometimes backcombed it while using a lot of hairspray.
In a time when bigger was better, many teen girls loved to push the limits to see how high their hair could be. At a time when hair was seen as a status symbol, it was important to compete to see whose hair was largest.
Whether their hair was permed or straight, many girls wore their fringe teased and curled so that they sometimes stood as high off of their foreheads as 3 to 4 inches. Giant fringe were usually worn whether the hair was worn down or in an updo, and even with a simple ponytail or braid. Bangs were always curled and sprayed stiff so they'd stand tall. Much like the giant perms, teen girls throughout history have always had a knack at being excessive, and in the '80s, hair and make-up was no exception, especially when it came to tall fringe.
The most popular asymmetric style of the '80s was the bob, with the hair worn more sleek and flat, but with very angular layers and sides, sometimes with geometric shapes cut in the front where the fringe were. Sometimes the fringe were cut short on one side and progressively got longer on the other side.
Asymmetric styles were popular with teens because they were very futuristic and therefore rebellious during the decade. Parents tried to get their daughters and sons to have more sensible haircuts, or at least hair that was cut evenly. The same power struggles exists between teens and parents today, but the 1980s was when the use of extreme haircuts became more common.
Side-ponytails are much like regular ponytails except worn on the side of the head, so you can see the whole tail from the front. Side-ponytails were usually worn with brightly-coloured hair elastics and gigantic teased fringe. Sometimes, even the ponytail part itself was curled and teased so that it appeared puffy and large. The side-ponytail was fun and easy to create, but what girls of this age loved about it was that it was a look that got them noticed.
Mullets then, and still are, known as "business up front, party in the back."
Boys and men all over had short hair in the front, on top and on the sides, but had long locks in the back. Mullets weren't always popular with the parents of teen boys, but the boys loved the freedom that this '80s hairstyle represented.
Rat tails are similar to the mullet, but instead of having thick, long hair in the back, a rat tail consisted of only a thin strand hanging down the back, much like an actual rat's tail. Similarly to the mullet, boys loved that this was not a popular hairstyle with authority figures, though it may have been popular with the girls.
After Farrah Faucet's lovely feathered shag in the 1970s, men and boys copied her look and created their own heavily layered feathered hairdo in the 1980s. Like giant fringe and perms, the female counterparts to the boys' feathered 'dos, this look was all about volume! Both boys and girls wanted their hair big, and the bigger the hair, the more attractive you seemed. As teens sought the attention of the opposite sex, they groomed themselves according to the style of the day, including teasing their already big hair.
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