Popular Women's Hairstyles from the 1980s

Updated April 17, 2017

When you think 1980s, think big. It was the decade of excess. Hairstyles of that era followed the same trend. Big, heavily back combed and hairsprayed styles were popular for men and women. Perms were common as well as the heavy use of styling products like mousse and glitter. Women's hairstyles were influenced by TV shows like Dynasty and Dallas, and pop stars, such as Madonna and Cindy Lauper, inspired teenagers with their flamboyant hairstyles.

The Perm

Many women in the 1980s permed their hair. The 1980s permed look was achieved by applying generous amounts of hairspray, teasing the hair out to create a lot of volume, then securing the style by applying even more hairspray. Often fringe were hairsprayed to stand up. Mid-length hairstyles, popular in TV shows like Dynasty and Dallas, were often referred to as helmet hair because so much hairspray was used hair did not move.

The Punk

Punk music inspired extravagant hairstyles. Often, the head was partially shaved, then sections were straightened and fixed into place with gels and hairspray. An example of this sort of a hairstyle is the mohawk where the head was shaved except for a section of hair in the middle. It was not unusual to see multicoloured hair. Hairspray paints could be used to create eye-catching hairstyles.

The Ponytail

It was popular to wear a ponytail to the side during the 1980s. Hair got pulled high on top of the head, but was secured slightly to the side. Often accessories like hair clips and scrunchies were used to create this hairstyle. A softer version of the side ponytail was the fountain ponytail. Especially popular with shorter haircuts, hair was piled on top of the head, secured by a long hairclip, then fanned out to create a fountain look.

The Mullet

The mullet was a popular hairstyle for men and women. Women tended to wear a softer version of the same haircut. Hair was cut short on the sides and front but left longer at the back. Often hair was permed to create a soft curly look at the front. The back of the hairstyle could be curled or kept straight. Many consider the mullet as a 1980s signature hairstyle.

The Asymmetrical

The asymmetrical hairstyle of the 1980s was created by cutting parts of hair into uneven lengths. One side of the head could even be partially shaved. A typical example of the 1980s asymmetrical style is the bop, where one side is visibly longer than the other. Hair was kept straight, and striking hair colours could be used to accentuate the haircuts. This sort of hairstyle was heavily influenced by popular New Wave bands like Blondie and Adam and the Ants.

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About the Author

Kris Helen became a freelance writer in 2008 and has never looked back. She has written reviews, news and interviews for such online publications as The Neave and Blogcritics, and has also written a regular music blog. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbia College Hollywood.