When it comes to style trends, these ’80s hairstyles were the most popular and iconic looks of the decade. Hairstyles in the 1980s offered volume, texture and style with the idea that bigger translated to better. Whether you’re going to a themed party or just want to explore haircuts from the time, there are several classic ’80s hairstyles for women to consider.
The most popular styles include the perm, high ponytail, afro, shag, pixie, blowout, half up half down, crimping and long blonde hair. To complement these hairstyles, oversized accessories like scrunchies, velvet bowties, barrettes, banana clips and headbands served as bold fashion statements.
To inspire you, we’ve compiled examples of the best ’80s hairstyles for women. From short to long, explore these 1980’s hairstyles to find cute, easy and famous looks that are making a comeback.
- 1 80s Hairstyles
- 1.1 Curly Bangs
- 1.2 Crimped Styles
- 1.3 High Volume
- 1.4 Permed Hair
- 1.5 Afro
- 1.6 Shag Haircut
- 1.7 Mullet
- 1.8 Pixie Cut
- 1.9 Cute Bubble Ponytail
- 1.10 Blowout
- 1.11 Side Ponytail
- 1.12 High Ponytail
- 1.13 Asymmetrical Style
- 1.14 Feathered Hair
- 1.15 Bob with Bangs
- 1.16 Shaved Sides
- 1.17 Layered Hair
- 1.18 The Whale Spout
- 1.19 Statement Highlights
- 1.20 Headband Hair
- 1.21 Half Up Half Down Hairstyle
- 1.22 Flipped Ends
- 1.23 Punk Rock Hairstyle
- 1.24 Goth Hair
- 1.25 Long Blonde Hair
- 1.26 The Jheri Curl
As a popular hairstyle for women in the 1980s, curly bangs have become a style trend in recent years. If you have natural curls or waves, it’s easy to achieve this trendy look. This style is best for women who have thick hair; curly bangs should be cut thick to achieve the classic style. These bangs can frame your face and draw attention to your eyes, and they may even add some youthfulness to your overall look but be prepared to spend some time styling in the mornings to tame those unruly curls.
Crimped styles were all the rage in the 80s, with most younger women having at least one crimping tool in their arsenal. If you dream of looking like your favorite retro pop star, you will be glad to know that crimping is back in style! A crimping tool provides you with a sharp zig-zag pattern throughout your hair rather than curls or waves, and it can also add texture and volume to hair that tends to fall a little flat. After crimping, you can work your hair into any number of looks, including ponytails, half-up half-down and headband styles.
High-volume styles were another incredibly popular look during this iconic decade. Women would utilize every method available to them – including entire cans of Aqua Net – to achieve huge, voluminous hair. Today, big hair is one of the hottest trends on runways. The good news is that this style works well with virtually any hair texture, whether yours is straight, curly, or somewhere in between. If you have fine or limp hair, you may not be able to achieve an enormous amount of volume, but you can still rock the high-volume look with some heat tools and styling products.
Permed hair continues to be a fashionable style that allows women with straight hair to enjoy curls. In this decade, perms involved super-tight, boisterous curly hair that verged on the unruly side. The modern look comes in many different types, including short spiral curls and long tight curls with spring. You should be aware that permanently setting waves or curls into your hair requires the use of caustic chemicals, which can cause serious damage to your tresses. A professional stylist can help you maximize your look while minimizing the damage to your hair.
The afro is one of the most popular natural hairstyles for black women who want to embrace their texture. Numerous celebrities teased and tousled their hair to create the largest afros possible and create their signature looks. This hairstyle is relatively simple to achieve, and while it does not require frequent trims to look its best, it does tend to dry the hair out. Make sure you’re using a good moisturizer if you choose to go for this timeless style.
The shag haircut first hit the scene in the 1960s. Although many people attribute it to The Beatles and their rebellious look, it wasn’t until the 1980s that women began adopting this style. The shag is one of the most versatile cuts and it can work well with any hair type, texture or length. If you love the classic look and are feeling a little rebellious, the shag haircut may be the perfect choice.
The classic mullet was a cool style that featured short hair in the front and sides with a longer cut in the back. Also called a bi-level cut, the modern mullet has become a trending hairstyle for women and men alike. There are numerous variations of it, including some beautifully done bi-level cuts that are both trendy and stylish. It’s great for all hair types and textures, but it does take some bravery and self-confidence to really pull it off well. When done by an experienced stylist who can add a little flair, the mullet goes from tacky to daring, bold, and chic.
The classic pixie cut was a staple style back in the 1980s, and that hasn’t changed much today. This style looks great on virtually anyone regardless of their face shape, and a few expert snips can take it from flirty to edgy in seconds. The pixie looks best with straight or wavy hair, but it will also work with curly hair – if you’re willing to put some time into styling it, that is. The pixie can be close-cropped or left a bit shaggy depending on your preferences, and it always looks great with some wispy fringe.
Cute Bubble Ponytail
The cute bubble ponytail is an excellent choice for women who want to revive a hot style from the ‘80s without committing to a drastic change. This ponytail is easy to wear and recreate on your own, exuding a boho flair. To do it, just tie your hair up into a ponytail, then secure an elastic every three or four inches down the length of the ponytail. Finally, loosen your hair between each elastic to create the iconic “bubbles”.
A blowout is simply a fancy term that’s used to describe the act of blow-drying your hair immediately after shampooing to create a look that is big, bouncy, and sometimes even bold. This style works well for all hair types and textures, but to get the best effect, your hair should be at least shoulder length. If you’re skilled with a round brush, you can create the look with nothing more than the heat from your blow-dryer and the brush; otherwise, a thick-barreled curling wand or even large Velcro rollers can help you achieve this stunning look. It exudes grace and sophistication, so the blowout is perfect for work or even formal events.
The side ponytail was a cool look for tweens and teenagers in the 1980s but the modern variation offers more than a youthful vibe. The classic side pony can be dressed up in several ways to create looks that range from flirty and romantic to over-the-top daring. To do it, pull your hair to the side and secure it with an elastic right behind your left or right ear. To add some bold flair, you can tease it up at the crown and through the length; you can even pair it with side-swept bangs and a few loose tendrils around your face if you prefer the flirty look.
The ponytail has been around for thousands of years in one form or another, but the high ponytail is undeniably a product of the 1980s. It’s a chic, timeless look that’s easy enough to accomplish, and it works well for virtually any event, whether you’re headed to a business meeting or spending the day lounging by the pool. If your hair is straight, the high pony will give you a sleek put-together look. If you add some waves, you can instantly make it softer and give it more movement. Try wearing a high pony in a half-up, half-down ‘do if you want some volume.
The asymmetrical hairstyle was hugely popular and is coming back in a big way. You can find asymmetry on fashion runways in Paris, European cities, and in other places where individualism is embraced and appreciated. The asymmetrical look has a very sharp and angular vibe, so it’s going to turn heads wherever you go. If you’re not afraid of eliciting attention from strangers, you’re feeling a little rebellious, and you don’t mind spending some time styling every morning, this could very well become your signature style.
Feathered hair was incredibly popular throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, never having really gone completely out of style. The feathered look involves adding texture to the hair that almost resembles the layers of a bird’s wings. If you have curly or fine hair, it is very difficult to achieve the signature “feathered” appearance that makes this style so beautiful. If your hair is thick and straight or wavy, your stylist can help you achieve this classic look that’s surprisingly easy to maintain at home.
Bob with Bangs
The bob with bangs is one of the most iconic hairstyles of all time. It can draw attention to your favorite facial features, make you look youthful and vibrant, and add volume to hair that might otherwise look lifeless and dull. If you have thin, fine hair, the bob with bangs is one of the best styles for adding some bounce and movement; however, if your hair is very thick or curly, the shorter length can make it look triangular and “puffy” rather than bouncy and full. This is a timeless style that can easily become your 80s-inspired look.
If you’re feeling especially bold and audacious, consider rocking the shaved sides look alongside your favorite style. Shaving your sides can offer that punk vibe that’s perfect for self-expression. There are so many ways to make this look your own that it’s difficult to pick just a few, but one of the trendiest looks right now involves growing your hair long, shaving the sides, and then pulling the hair back into a ponytail. The best part about this look is that it works well for almost any hair type and doesn’t need a lot of styling. The cut is already rebellious, so just let it speak for itself.
Layered hair is a fantastic option if you have very thick hair that is difficult to manage, and it can also be a wise choice if you have thinner hair that doesn’t have a lot of bounce or life. The addition of layers takes some of the weight away from the length of the hair, which provides eye-appealing contrast and adds movement and bounce. If your hair is curly, it’s best to opt for longer layers. The shorter your hair, the bouncier your curls, so too many layers can make your ‘do bushy and out of control.
The Whale Spout
If you’ve ever seen a whale forcing water from its blowhole, then you already have the gist of the whale spout – a classic 1980s style. To achieve it, simply pile your hair into a high pony with a poofy scrunchy and let it fall naturally. It adds height and volume without looking too forced or fake, and it’s also functional since it can keep your hair out of your face while you’re at work or play. It’s important to note that you’ll get the most drama from your whale spout if your hair is long and thick, but it will work to some degree with virtually any hair texture.
Statement highlights are one of the most 80s-inspired looks, providing a bold style that will stand out anywhere. This decade was all about bright colors, funky shapes, and as much contrast as humanly possible in everything from your hair to your shoes. The goal is to create thick, chunky strips of highlights that are at least two or three shades lighter than your natural hair. While brunette hair with platinum highlights was a classic look in the 80s, the modern trend incorporates the use of bright colors like blues, pinks, and greens.
Headband hair is another throwback to a decade that was all about accessorizing as much as possible. While they never really went away, the headbands from the last four decades have been more about function than fashion. Today, the headband trend is back, and it’s all about utilizing a wide range of fabrics, colors, patterns, and knot styles to really personalize your look. You can certainly buy ready-made headbands, but some of the best looks come from turning your existing scarves (fashion staples through the ’00s and ’10s) into stunning wraps that show off your hair and your personality.
Half Up Half Down Hairstyle
The half up half down hairstyle was often used in conjunction with other awesome ’80s styles, including the whale spout and the high pony. The main difference between modern and traditional half up half down styles is the accessorizing. Current half-up hairdos are kept simple and natural, while retro styles were all about big, bold accessories like scrunchies, velvet bowties, barrettes, and even banana clips! To recreate this look yourself, just utilize your favorite chunky accessory with your favorite half-up, half-down look.
The flipped ends trend was big in the late 50s and 60s, and it made a major comeback in the 80s. The trend involved straight hair that was shoulder length or longer with the ends flipped outward and around to varying degrees. If you want a flirty and somewhat girlish look, consider going for a big flip in which the hair almost forms a complete cylinder. If you’re looking for something edgier, go for a deep side part, slicked-down locks, and a slight flip on the ends.
Punk Rock Hairstyle
It should come as no surprise that the punk rock hairstyle is one of the most iconic ‘dos of that time. With so many options, the most common look mashed together high volume, choppy layers and hair spray to hold it all together. Another popular “glam” option involved teasing long hair as high as humanly possible, then pulling one side up with a cute barrette. Of course, there are short punk styles, too – even a classic pixie can be made punk with some height and hair spray.
While the movement got its start back in the 1980s, goth hair was a relatively new concept at the time. For the most part, all goth styles of the 80s involved dark (often dyed black) hair, tons of volume, and loud, tenacious styling. One of the trendiest styles involves crimping the hair all over, then teasing it into full volume. Another classic that’s making a comeback is the wild bedhead look paired with super short blunt-cut bangs.
Long Blonde Hair
Long blonde hair is a timeless and cute hairstyle for women who want a feminine look that will always be popular. During that decade, longer blonde styles were considered glamorous, glitzy, and sexy. To get a classic 80s look for your own long blonde hair, try a simple blowout and then curl the ends of your hair to provide big voluminous waves. Women in the 80s loved their bangs, especially when they were voluminous and curled to one side. While this style may be associated with the 80s, there’s an air of timelessness about it that makes it a classic.
The Jheri Curl
The Jheri Curl is one of the most iconic ‘80s styles, offering a cute and natural look for black women. While the process behind these curls can be painstaking, this stunning hairstyle is making a comeback for its cool vibe. Invented by a hairdresser named Jheri Redding, this permed hairstyle will transform tight, kinky natural curls into a bouncy and loose style with a glossy finish. While there are many different curl shapes and sizes, stylists tend to aim for a more natural look than the classic trend.