The ’80s Called – It Wants Its Hair Back

Did you grimace when you saw the headline on this story? References to ’80s beauty typically conjure visions of either enduring icons like Madonna, or, frizzy perms and Pat Butcher-style metallic make-up – there isn’t much in between. But with no fewer than four major celebrities stepping out with hair unmistakably inspired by the decade of excess in recent days, we’re calling it: ’80s hair is well and truly back.

Notable for its volume and fluffy finish, ’80s hair is big and brushed-out. Back then, hairspray was an essential, with many misting their manes into rigid shapes that felt crispy and stiff due to the old-school formulations. The perm – now dead and gone for the most part – was another big part of the era, as were mullets and other outré haircuts of the time (think shags and wolf cuts), which have crept back towards the edge of the mainstream over the past couple of years.

Cyrus at the Grammys in February. Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

Miley Cyrus has really thrown herself into the resurrection of ’80s hair this year. At the Grammys earlier this month, she turned heads with a bouffant hairstyle – think sky-high root lift and curly tendrils flicking around her face. Her hairstylist, Bob Recine, deployed plenty of Nexxus XXL Volume Hairspray to create the look. The aim? “We wanted [to create] something fuller… but sexy and tousled and touchable,” he said. Cyrus’s hair looked like it moved – not always guaranteed back in the ’80s – thanks to Nexxus’s lightweight formula.

At an event in London on Tuesday, Billie Piper wore a mullet-style look, created by her hairstylist Halley Brisker. “Billie and I have been sharing mullet inspiration on WhatsApp over the last few weeks, working out ways in which we can incorporate one into a look coming up – last night’s suit was the perfect moment to do it,” he tells me.

At a Dune: Part Two photocall in London on Wednesday, Florence Pugh really went there with the ’80s hair. The hair chameleon has previously sported slicked-back styles and Marilyn Monroe curls, but this time she opted for a spiky mullet, complete with lots of root lift, flicked ends and a piecey fringe. This can only be described as statement hair.

Florence Pugh’s voluminous mullet screamed ’80s. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Oh, and then there is Blake Lively, who joined her friend Taylor Swift in a VIP box at this year’s Super Bowl with disco curls that would make a young Mariah Carey proud. A modern spin on the brushed-out corkscrew curls that were so prevalent back in the ’80s, Lively’s locks were a more wearable take on the trend.

Lively joined Taylor Swift at the Super Bowl with big curls. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Why this sudden obsession with the ’80s? Brisker suggests it may be an act of “rebellion against the more polished, clean and sanitised approach to wearable hair and make-up that has been a part of beauty culture for a while now”. While minimalist, luxurious hair remains incredibly popular, this trend works for those brave, experimental types who are keen to try something totally different.

And to give the era its dues, looking back, it brought us countless iconic hair looks to get inspired by – Brisker references Sade and Madonna as two great examples, while Grace Jones, Dolly Parton and Cher also served in the hairstyle department at the time. Today’s take on the ’80s – as Piper, Lively, Pugh and Cyrus prove – swerves that infamous shellacked texture for a soft, wearable finish, while the haircuts themselves are created to flatter each face shape.

Sade and Madonna, two great hair icons from the era. Mirrorpix/Getty Images
David Levenson/Getty Images

“I always take time to make sure the details work for each face, so for example, if it’s a mullet or wolf cut, then ensure you get the bangs right for your face,” Brisker explains. Conversely, “if you look better with more hair around the jawline, then go for that. It’s always important to work with the angles and features of the face to complement them, rather than work against them – especially when playing with an ’80s feel.”

Whip out the hairspray and amp up your roots because, love it or hate it, retro hair is here to stay.

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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