Men's Hairstyles of the 80s

Updated April 17, 2017

Men's hairstyles of the 1980s reflected a lot of what was going on in popular music of the time. Disco gave way to hard rock, punk and new wave, and televisions sets were tuning into MTV for the first time. From the big hair of glam rockers to the sculpted "wings" made famous by the music group Flock of Seagulls, the 80s may have been the most diverse decade for men's hair.

Big Hair

Everything was bigger in the 80s -- cell phones, stereos, portable music devices and, of course, hair. And women weren't the only ones teasing their tresses and reaching for giant cans of aerosol hairspray to cement it all in place, many men sported big hair as well. Think of rockers like Jon Bon Jovi and the guys from Poison back when "Living on a Prayer" and "Talk Dirty to Me" were just hitting the airwaves.

Punk and New Wave

Punk rock and new wave aficionados made works of art out of men's hairstyles with mohawks, multicoloured geometrical spikes, asymmetrical cuts, and moussed and sculpted "wings." While these wild looks may seem dated now their influence echoes even today, for instance with "fauxhawks" and emo hairstyles.


Billy Ray Cyrus is often credited with having made the "business in the front, party in the back" look famous but men were rocking mullet hairstyles long before Cyrus was singing about his achy-breaky heart. In the 1980s even David Bowie had a mullet, though the most memorable one of the time may have been on TV's "MacGyver."

Jheri Curl

One of the hottest hairstyles among African American men during the 1980s was the Jheri curl, a look made popular by the likes of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It gave hair a glossy, loosely curled look, as if fresh from the shower.

The Wet Look

Speaking of fresh from the shower, the "wet look" used hair gels and pomade to keep hair looking wet, even when it wasn't. One popular way to wear it was in a pompadour style, a throwback to Elvis Presley and James Dean.

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About the Author

Anne Shelton is a writer and editor living in Columbia, S.C. She honed her skills doing corporate communications and marketing in the health-care, insurance, manufacturing and business fields. She now enjoys writing about an even wider array of topics. Shelton earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Louisiana State University.