Considering we’ve been in a ‘90s and Y2K redux for the last few years, it only makes sense that the ‘80s are the next decade to make a comeback. After all, what are trends, if not cyclical? As an era that was marked by maximalism in every possible way (see: mohawks, mullets, perms and shoulder pads), the ‘80s are as good a decade as any to borrow inspiration from if you’re looking to shake things up. So, without further ado, here are some of the biggest and best ‘80s hairstyles to consider trying this year.
‘80s Hairstyles to Bring Back This Year (Without Looking Totally Dated)
Time to break out the Aqua Net!
Meet the Experts
- Bridget Brager is a celebrity hairstylist in Los Angeles. She specializes in styling and cutting hair for fashion week, editorial shoots and brand campaigns. She’s also worked for brands like Target and Chanel, and for publications like Harper Bazaar, Vogue and InStyle. Her previous clients include Priyanka Chopra, Lucy Hale, Zoey Deutch and Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Cassandra Olivia is a hairstylist and colorist based in New Castle County, Delaware. She’s also an ambassador for Leaf and Flower, a line of CBD-based hair products developed for stylists, by stylists.
1. Feathered Layers
“Face-framing layers have been popular for a while, but I see a subtle shift to incorporate more of an ‘80s influence into the look,” says Olivia. “This shift translates to longer hairstyles with feathered layers throughout, channeling a more modern Farrah Fawcett cut, so there’s more movement and body.”
2. Curly Bangs
"It’s Meg Ryan season and curly bangs with natural texture is back in,” shares Brager. “To style this look at home, I would use a curling iron or a tool with various attachments like a diffuser that has precise heat options to allow more moisture to stay in your hair so your curls look healthy and stay bouncy.”
3. Modern Mullet
The best part about the modern mullet is how customizable it is. You can try a very subtle iteration or unleash your inner rockstar with choppier layers. The style can also be cut based on your hair texture and length, so you don’t end up with quite as severe a cut as Billy Ray Cyrus (unless that’s what you’re going for).
A mashup of words, the shullet is a cross between a shag and mullet. Defined by its generous texture throughout, it’s a solid style for those with naturally finer strands because it adds body.
5. The Pixie
"Winona Ryder's effortless pixie is definitely making a comeback, as seen here on model and actress Taylor Hill during Paris Fashion Week last year,” says Brager. “Plus, leaving the bangs long and letting them lay haphazardly over the eyes adds extra drama and keeps the pixie modern and fresh."
6. Cascading Curls
“Behold, the legendary Brooke Shields in the ‘80s but to make it more modern…I give you Taylor Swift in 2023,” says Brager. “I love the cascading effect of her curls here. You can tell that there were different barrel sizes used to create Taylor’s look.”
7. Big, Natural Hair
“A trend I see continuing into 2024 that borrows inspiration from the ‘80s is embracing natural texture and going big with your hair. I love that there’s more of a movement to celebrate all different kinds of hair textures, but especially coily and curly hair, which hasn’t always been en vogue,” says Olivia. “Style your hair as normal, and once it’s dry, flip your hair upside down and using your fingers to shake your hair from the scalp down to add volume. Flip back up and repeat throughout the day as needed.”
8. Box Braids
“Box braids were huge in the ‘80s and I’m excited to see them coming back. I love how Janelle Monae wears them here. They’re a bit thicker than the microbraids we’ve been seeing over the years, and they showcase the natural texture of her hair,” shares Olivia. “The best way to achieve box braids is by scheduling an appointment with a professional braider. It’s a long appointment, and if you have a lot of hair, it can take a full day – but it’s worth it.”
9. Baby Box Braids
Similar to box braids, you’ll want to see a professional to get these mini plaits put in (and yes, it’ll take a long time so make sure to pack yourself a snack). Laura Harrier’s version is knotless, which is known for being more comfortable to wear, as it puts less tension on your scalp.
10. Big Waves
Paging Jessie Spano. Fluffed out, yet well-defined waves are back. To give them the red carpet treatment, pull your hair to one side to make an even bigger impact like Emmy Rossum here.
11. Wolf Cut
We can thank Miley for bringing this shaggy style back to the masses in recent years. Part of what makes the wolf cut appealing is its choppy layers, which give it more versatility. Wear it short or long and across different textures. It’s also favored for being a gender-neutral style, which is apropos for the times.
12. Crimped Hair
Another ‘80s hair styling staple? Why the crimper, of course. Whereas our elders seemed to have preferred a tighter wave, we’re seeing a looser mermaid-inspired iteration lately.
Of all the throwback styles on this list, adding a scrunchie to your hair is perhaps the easiest one to try—that is, if you ever stopped wearing one to begin with. Tip: Go for a silk number for less snags and potential breakage.
14. Jheri Curl
The year was 1982 and Michael Jackson just released “Thriller,” an iconic album that continues to impact music and pop culture to this day. On the album cover, MJ wore his hair in Jheri curls, which moonwalked right back into the zeitgeist in recent years.
15. Punk Hair
Last but certainly not least, we can’t forget the influence that punk had on the ‘80s. If you can’t commit to a full mohawk, there’s always the option to rock a softer fauxhawk a la Nicole Richie here. As Gregory Russell (the stylist behind this look) shared, this twist on the ‘80s style is “simple, romantic, and naturally swept up.”
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