'80s Punk Hairstyles

Updated November 21, 2016

The punk rock movement in the 1970s and '80s gave a voice to a generation of self-described misfits. Led by bands like the Sex Pistols, punk's music and message spread quickly throughout Europe to the U.S. and beyond. Everything about punk, from the hairstyles and clothing to the attitudes, screamed anti-establishment and went against the status quo.


The Mohawk was one of the hairstyles most associated with the punk rock scene of the 1980s. A Mohawk consisted of shaving the hair all around the head except for a strip of hair running from the centre of the forehead to the base of the head in the back. When the style emerged in the 1970s, it was a mark of being a true rebel and living on the fringe of society. Ironically, by the mid-1980s, the Mohawk was being worn by many middle class kids looking to shock their parents.


Another punk hairstyle that was trendy in the '80s was spiked hair. The longer the hair, the better, as longer hair made for taller spikes. Sometimes the spiked look would be combined with the Mohawk look. People wore spikes of hair in a Mohawk pattern and shaved the sides of their heads nearly bald. Another spiked '80s look was smaller spikes all over the head. Spikes were achieved by gelling the hair into a spike, spraying it with hairspray and using a blow dryer to dry and harden the gel and spray so the style would hold.


Asymmetrical hairstyles were another trend with punk rockers in the 1980s. The look was often seen on women, but was worn by plenty of men as well. This style was achieved by shaving half the head, leaving one side of the head shaved and the other side with hair. Patterns were sometimes created on the shaved side of the head. On the side of the head where hair was left, it ranged in length. The hair was sometimes bobbed all one length mid-ear; other times that side was left very long, even to the shoulder.


In addition to shocking with the styles of their hair, punk rockers in the '80s liked to stand out with bright colours of dye as well. Far beyond natural hair dye colours, punk styles saw hair dyed every colour of the rainbow and the brighter, the better. Each style was regularly accompanied by a bright dye job. Sometimes several colours of dye were used on one head. Spiked Mohawks, for example, had a different colour dye on each spike and asymmetrical styles regularly had several colours of dye on the longer side of the hair.

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