Popular ’80s Hairstyles We Seriously Hope Will Never Come Back
The 1980s: the era where the colors were vibrant, the music was synthesized, and the hair was huge. For one reason or another, the hairstyles of the ’80s were larger than life, frizzier than a standard poodle, backcombed, blowdried, and hair sprayed to the point of no return. Listen, ’80s, we love you. We really do. You gave us Madonna, Molly Ringwald, and Back to the Future. But good lord — let us vow right now that the hairstyles from that decade will never return to the mainstream.
Please. We’re serious. Don’t bring back the mullet, or the side ponytail, or literally any hair style that requires a crimping iron. Please.
Of course, not everyone who lived through the ’80s permed their hair and owned several neon-colored scrunchies. Like any decade, there were those who bucked the trend and kept their hair natural, untouched by heat tools, and didn’t mind that it didn’t have a 6-inch lift off the top of their head. Just look at Brooke Shields, Lisa Bonet, and Julia Roberts.
But unfortunately, too many took part in the decade’s trends, and we’ve come for their teased-out locks. Check out the below list of dire ’80s hairstyles that should absolutely never, under any circumstances, come back to into fashion.
1. Crimped Bliss
Yes, dears. This is Demi Moore with completely crimped hair, wearing bow earrings and a blazer with sequined lapels. And we’re so sorry to have to bring this picture back into the spotlight, Demi, but it’s just too good of an example how people loved their crimpers back in the ’80s.
Crimping one’s hair gave it volume, texture, and was a perfect alternative to getting a perm (a style that we’re most definitely covering later in this list, don’t fret).
2. The Side Pony
Weirdly enough, the quintessential ’80s side pony that was worn by every female child star to grace television actually made a comeback in the early 2000s after the release of Napoleon Dynamite. We really didn’t expect Deb to become a style icon, but after she showed up at Napoleon’s school wearing that side pony, every girl in middle school began doing the same. It was kind of bonkers.
Thankfully, the side pony tail is seemingly entirely dead now, and that’s good news, in our opinion.
3. Cotton Candy
For one reason or another, women of a certain age in the 1980s began transforming their hair into cotton candy. It was fluffed, quaffed, and looked as though it was going to melt in the summer sun. Phylicia Rashad had cotton candy hair throughout The Cosby Show era, as did the entire cast of Golden Girls.
Sadly, this hairstyle definitely made these women look older than their years. But hey, if they thought they looked hot, then more power to them.
4. Permed To The High Heavens
We’re all for rocking your natural curls. However, crafting your own kinky curls with chemicals is a big, outdated no-no. We can only imagine that this woman felt as though her hair was trying to suffocate her. In fact, her peripheral vision must have been completely obsolete.
However, we do have to bring up the fact that perms have come back into fashion, just not in the way they once were. Some have opted to perm their hair straight or into beachy waves in order to cut back on the amount of heat they use, and TBH, these modern perms look bomb.
Okay, perm. We’ll give you another chance.
5. The Mullet
No, Billie from Stranger Things did not dye and straighten his hair. This is actually Rob Lowe circa 1985. Perhaps his photo is a bad example of how heinous the mullet actually was, because TBH, baby Rob actually pulled it off. Let’s look at another pic:
Wait. Crap. John Stamos also makes the mullet, well, hot. Um, just give us a minute…
Damn it, George Clooney! Perhaps the mullet wasn’t too bad after all…? We need to think some things over and reevaluate life for a while.
6. Pom Pom Bangs
Teased to perfection and frozen with a good dousing of hairspray, Vixen’s Janet Gardener’s bangs are the perfect example of the pom pom look so many women (and men) of the ’80s strived to achieve. We don’t know why having your bangs look like a fluffy pinwheel was such a lewk, but it definitely was.
We suppose they’re called bangs for a reason — these look like an explosion.
7. The Puff
Similar to the cotton candy styles mentioned earlier, the style that we’re calling “the puff ” was a longer version sported by Diana Ross and Jamie Gertz during her Lost Boys stint. The look is seemingly achieved by having naturally curly or permed hair that’s blow dried without much hair — perhaps with the help of a round brush? And then it’s kind of left alone.
Although the puff makes hair look big and voluminous, we can’t help but thing anyone who wore it would look much nicer with their natural hair texture, you know? But hey, to each their own.
8. The Scrunchie
Sometimes paired with the side pony, the scrunchie look was big back in the ’80s. We specifically appreciate how Janet Jackson paired her gold scrunchie with her gold mock-neck top. And we even more so appreciate how she fashioned the hair coming out of her ponytail to look like some sort of graceful water feature, splashing into the rushing waves that are her voluminous bangs and curly face-framing locks.
Choices were made, and at the time, they were good ones. But now…um, not so much.
9. The Sonic The Hedgehog
What happens when you want the layers of a shag, but crave the volume of the Bride of Frankenstein? Well, you probably end up looking like this poor soul who gives us major Sonic the Hedgehog vibes. To achieve this look, one would need an entire can of hairspray (give or take), and perhaps some strong hair gel — you know, to keep those spikes in place all day.
The ‘do certainly isn’t the most stylish thing in the world. But perhaps it improves one’s aerodynamics? You’d have to ask Sonic.
10. Feathered Like Farrah
Before we realized that we could put layers in our hair without necessarily doing so much to said layered, we were feathering our hair like Farrah Fawcett. Fawcett’s flawless feathered look was “The Rachel” of the late ’70s/early ’80s. And people feathered many different ways. They kept their feathers long like Fawcett, or chopped them short:
No matter how you feathered, you definitely did feather one way or another. Truthfully, most styles of this list are a version of the feathered haircut. And also truthfully, they’re all tragic.
11. The Big Blowout
Drew Barrymore was the queen of the larger-than-life blowout during her rise to fame during the late 80s/early 90s. How can hair be so incredibly straight yet have so much volume? This ‘do gives the effect that someone is blowing a fan on your face at all times, which isn’t totally a bad thing (just look at Beyoncé). But sometimes too much volume is, well, too much volume.
Sorry, Drew. We can’t see this look coming back any time soon.
12. The Cockatoo
Okay we hate to pick on Janet Gardener again, but the rocker seriously looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical outlet. Another huge trend in the ’80s, more so in the alternative scene, was looking as though someone rubbed a balloon on your head, or as if you were some cockatoo Animorph.
Bizarre, we know. We most definitely know.
13. The Updo With Bangs
Madonna did it. Sarah Jessica did it. Everyone in the ’80s once flaunted an updo with fluffy, curly, or spiky bangs cascading out of a headband or head wrap. It was fun, flirty, and showed that you were hip, young, and with it. And again, the more hair that fell into your face and protruded off your head, the better.
And if your hair was too short to pull all the way up, just do your best and let the shorter pieces fall where they may. As long as you have a headband on, you’re doing the right thing.
14. The Asymmetrical Flop
For those who wished to straighten their curls rather than enhance them, some opted to do the asymmetrical bob, in which they would straighten and brush all their hair over to one side. This looks is definitely less offensively in your face in comparison to the giant, teased nests that were also popular at the time.
But in truth, this look didn’t do much for the wearer.
15. The Boy George
Look, we totally get that Boy George was pulling off a persona in order to further his career, and we’d be remiss if we said that this kind of stuff doesn’t still happen today (looking at you Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, etc.). But good lord this hair style was a lot to wrap one’s head around.
Half rag doll, half steampunk dude? We’re still trying to figure it all out. Perhaps we shouldn’t. Perhaps we should just let it be.
As Dolly Parton showed us, the higher the hair, the closer to God. No offense, God (or anyone else who may be watching), we’d rather be a bit more down to earth than those who lived through, and were trendy, during the ’80s.