Top 10 Iconic 80s Hairstyles That Defined the Decade

The 1980s were known for their daring fashions, especially in the hair. The 1980s saw a proliferation of hairstyles that have become instantly recognizable icons, from spiky hair to feathery locks. These hairdos were more than just a passing fad; they were a cultural phenomenon that came to symbolize the entire decade and still has an influence on modern hairstyles.

Here, we’ll examine the top 10 hairdos of the ’80s that everyone remembers and loves. These hairdos, from the punk-inspired mohawk to the timeless bob, are timeless examples of distinct flair. These cuts will spark creativity and enthusiasm in anyone, whether they grew up in the ’80s or just like a throwback aesthetic. So, let’s just go right in.

1. The Mullet

The mullet is a style with short hair on top and sides with longer hair in the back. A shaggy haircut is achieved by layering the hair at the rear of the head. The 1980s saw the rise of this look, which has since been linked to a more rustic or working-class aesthetic.

The Mullet

Popularity Among Men and Women

Although men were the primary demographic to sport the mullet in the ’80s and ’90s, the style also saw a surge in popularity among women. Some men and women today continue to sport the mullet, however, the hairstyle is widely seen as unfashionable.

Billy Ray Cyrus and David Bowie Were Mullet-Wearers

Billy Ray Cyrus, with his hit song “Achy Breaky Heart” in the ’90s, is just one of many prominent people who have rocked the mullet. David Bowie, Andre Agassi, and Michael Bolton are just a few more famous people who have rocked the mullet. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have adopted mullet-like hairdos in recent years.

2. The Big Hair

A big hairstyle is one with lots of height and volume. In the 1980s, teased hair, usually in the form of curls or waves, was all the rage. Bangs were a common addition to the style, and they were given extra height by being teased and lifted off the forehead.

The Big Hair

Hairspray and Teasing’s Significance in the Look

The primary ingredients in the large hair look were hairspray and teasing. Hairspray was used to keep the teased hair in place, and the hair was backcombed at the roots to provide height and volume. The greater the quantity of hairspray and teasing, the fuller the hair.

Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston Were Big-Haired Celebs

Dolly Parton’s blonde bouffant hairstyle was popular in the 1980s. Whitney Houston, known for her voluminous curls, and Cyndi Lauper, who teased her hair into a punk-inspired style, both embraced the large hair trend. Rock bands like Bon Jovi and Poison wore teased and disheveled hairstyles onstage.

3. The Rat Tail

The rear of the head is left long and thin in the rat tail hairstyle. The hair is typically braided or put into a low ponytail to create a unique appearance. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the rat tail was extremely fashionable, especially among young males.

Rat Tail

The rat tail controversy includes school dress codes banning it.

Some schools and businesses have banned the rat tail haircut due to concerns about its unprofessional appearance. The rat’s tail has been stigmatized in various cultures as a sign of defiance and nonconformity. Others have pointed out that the long, thin part of the hair can easily accumulate dirt and filth, making the style unclean.

celebs like Vanilla Ice wore rat tails

Vanilla Ice is a famous rat tail wearer. The rapper, who became famous in the early 1990s with “Ice Ice Baby,” had a long, blonde rat tail. In “Road House,” Patrick Swayze wore the rat tail, and David Beckham tried it in the early 2000s. Heavy metal and punk rock musicians also wear rat tails.

4. The Perm

The perm is a method of chemically altering one’s hair to get long-lasting curls or waves. Curls are set by applying a chemical solution, wrapping sections of hair around perm rods, and then neutralizing the hair. Curls of varying tightness and bounce are the outcome.

The Perm
Photo: 80s Fashion

The popularity of the perm among women

Many women in the 1980s and 1990s went for perms because they were a quick and easy solution to give their hair more body and texture. Those with straight or fine hair found the perm especially useful since it gave them a chance to experiment with a curly or wavy style that would have been otherwise challenging to accomplish.

Celebrities who had perms, such as Meg Ryan and Cher

Meg Ryan famously wore a curly perm in “Addicted to Love” in 1997. Cher, who had curly hair in the 1970s and 1980s, and Julia Roberts, who had a perm in “Steel Magnolias,” have also had perms. Pop artists like Madonna and Taylor Swift have tried perms.

5. The Side Ponytail

Hair is pulled to one side of the head and secured with an elastic band or scrunchie to create a side ponytail. The resulting ponytail is allowed to drape over one shoulder, creating a carefree and young appearance. The ’80s and ’90s were heydays for the side ponytail.

Side Ponytail

The popularity of the side ponytail among young girls

Many young women in the 1980s and ’90s wore their hair in a side ponytail for school and other activities. Scrunchies and ribbons were common accessories for the hairdo, adding to the carefree and vibrant vibe.

Madonna and Cyndi Lauper wore side ponytails

In her 1985 “Material Girl” music video, Madonna had a high-side ponytail. Cyndi Lauper typically wore a side ponytail with rainbow scrunchies in her music videos. Reese Witherspoon wore the side ponytail in “Legally Blonde” in 2001, and Ariana Grande has revived the hairdo.

6. The Spiky Hair

Spiky hair is a type of short haircut in which the hair is cut short and then styled into sharp points that project from the crown of the head. Several products including gel, wax, and hairspray are used to create and maintain the spikes. Spiky hairstyles were all the rage in the ’80s and ’90s.

Spiky Hair
Photo: eBay

Gel and hair products for the look

The use of hair treatments like gel or wax is common practice while styling hair into spikes and maintaining the look. A tiny quantity of product is used to style the hair, and then the hair is brushed or teased into place to get the desired look. Hairspray is commonly used to keep the spikes in place all day long.

Billy Idol and Flock of Seagulls had spiky hair

Billy Idol, a punk rocker with bleached, spiky hair, was one of many 1980s and 1990s celebrities with spiky hair. A Flock of Seagulls had long, sharp spikes on top of their heads. David Beckham and Gwen Stefani both had spike hair.

7. The Mohawk

The Mohawk is a type of hairstyle in which only the top of the head is left unclipped and fashioned to stand up or be spiked. Some Mohawks feature long, brightly colored spikes, while others are more understated and feature a shorter, more subtle style.

The Mohawk is a daring and edgy hairstyle that has become synonymous with punk rock and the counterculture of today’s youth.

The Mohawk
Photo: Pinterest

The punk rock influence on the Mohawk

Punk music culture, which arose in the 1970s, was defined by an anti-establishment mentality and a DIY aesthetic, both of which are strongly connected with the Mohawk hairstyle.

The Mohawk became a symbol of rebellion and individuality for many punk bands, especially in the United Kingdom. Punks adopted the hairdo as a symbol of their rejection of conventional beauty standards and their refusal to blend in with the general populace.

Mr. T and Joan Jett were Mohawked celebrities

The most renowned Mohawk-wearer is Mr. T. Mr. T’s gold chains and black Mohawk were 1980s icons. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Joan Jett of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts rocked a Mohawk. Pink wore a bright pink Mohawk in the early 2000s, and Travis Barker of Blink-182 has tried many Mohawk styles.

The Feathered Hair

The 1970s and 1980s saw widespread adoption of the feathered hairdo. Feather-like long layers are flipped outward or inward at the ends to complete the effect.

To accomplish this look, choppy layers were cut with a razor and the hair was then blown out with a round brush to provide volume and texture. Feathered hairstyles were especially well-liked by women and were frequently interpreted as representations of sexuality and allure.

Feathered Hair

Blowdrying and styling tools in achieving the appearance

Hairstyling products including blow dryers, round brushes, and curling irons are often used to get the feathered hair appearance. Hair is washed and dried to roughly 80% moisture content before being styled.

The feathery effect is achieved by blow-drying the hair while using a round brush to lift and smooth the hair. To keep the hair in place and add shine, many people use hairspray or another styling product.

Farrah Fawcett and John Travolta had feathered hair

The classic image of Farrah Fawcett with her feathery hairstyle from the 1970s and 1980s has become one of the most popular hairstyles of all time. John Travolta, whose feathered hair in the film Grease became a cultural sensation, and supermodel Christie Brinkley are two more famous people with feathered hair. Jaclyn Smith, Heather Locklear, and Jane Fonda are just a few other famous people who have worn feathers.

The Jheri Curl

Tight, glossy curls that are heavily groomed with hair products characterize the Jheri curl, a hairstyle that was fashionable in the 1980s. Jheri Redding, a hairstylist, came up with the style and promoted it to people of African descent as a means to make their naturally curly hair look softer and more hydrated.

To get the distinctive glossy, defined curls of the Jheri curl, a unique chemical treatment is first applied to relax the curls, and then a special curl activator is applied.

Jheri Curl

The Jheri Curl’s Appeal to African Americans

In the 1980s, people with naturally curly hair used the Jheri curl to obtain a more casual, defined style. This style was especially popular among African Americans. Many African American superstars, such as Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, and Lionel Richie, helped popularize the style, which many saw as a representation of black pride and cultural identity.

Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy wore the Jheri Curl

Michael Jackson’s 1980s Jheri curls cascaded over his forehead during performances. In “Coming to America,” Eddie Murphy played Prince Akeem, a Jheri curl-wearing character. Lionel Richie, a 1980s superstar, wore a Jheri curl for years. Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and Rick James also had Jheri curls.

The Bob

The bob is a timeless and adaptable hairstyle defined by short, sleek locks that rest at or just above the shoulders. The bob is a classic hairstyle because of its versatility and its ability to flatter a wide range of face shapes and hair types through the use of different angles, layers, and textures.


The rise of the bob in female fashion

The bob is a classic women’s haircut that has endured more than a century of changing fashion and cultural norms. The bob is a popular hairstyle among women because it requires less maintenance and can be worn in a variety of ways, from straight and smooth to wavy and voluminous.

Princess Diana and Demi Moore have bobs

Princess Diana, who popularized the “Diana cut” in the 1990s, wore the bob. In the 1990s smash “Ghost,” Demi Moore popularized the bob with a short, sleek bob. Victoria Beckham, who has worn short and long bobs throughout her career, and Katie Holmes, who cut her long hair in 2008, are other celebrities who have worn the bob.

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