’80s Hairstyles for Women: 19 Outrageous Styles That Look Good

Mullets, big hair, punk, crimping, and large perms. What do these words have in common? If you said the ’80s, then you must have been a child of that unforgettably distinctive and fabulous decade.

The ’80s may be over, but whenever I see images of models and actresses sporting big voluminous curls or crimped hair, I am reminded that they sure knew how to have fun! In commemoration of that same free-spirited and outrageous vibe, why don’t we take a peek at some of the best ’80s hairstyles for women?

’80s Hairstyles for Long Hair

Whether in an updo, swept to the side in a ponytail, or hair that cascaded down one’s shoulders, the ’80s offered up a lot of possibilities for long hair. Let’s take a look at some of these hairstyles.

#1. One-Sided Fountain Pony

One Sided Fountain Pony

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Back in the ’80s, everything had volume, even ponytails! I believe that the one-sided fountain pony might have been invented by women who were sick of the traditional ponytail.

It entailed gathering all your hair to one side of your head before fastening it with a clip. Cute and spunky, this was a particularly popular hairstyle for young girls.

You can still see variations of this style today. The hair is still gathered to one side of the head, but much lower with the hair draped over one shoulder.

#2. Long Messy Locks

Long Messy Locks

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Long messy locks with or without a side-part are a trademark ’80s look. The style consisted of hair that fell below the shoulders that were either teased, permed, or crimped then topped off with hairspray for more body. This hairstyle was great for highlighting your jaw and your facial features.

For a clearer mental picture, think Cristina Applegate or Heather Locklear in their heyday.

#3. Hair Bow Updo

Hair Bow Updo

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The hair bow updo was just that:

hair gathered into an updo in the shape of a bow. If you couldn’t tease or spray your hair into creating more volume for you, you could always shape it into a bow at the top of your head.

Since it entailed more work and expertise, the hair bow updo was the ’80s version of elegant event hair reserved for special occasions like weddings and cocktail parties.

#4. Princess Style

Princess Style

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As the name suggests, the princess style was inspired by royalty. The ’80s saw the peak of Princess Diana’s popularity, a woman admired and respected for her exceptional poise and style.

Many women sought to emulate her. The princess style was characterized by huge, soft-looking curls accented by a perfectly placed bow tie or tiara-like headband decorated with faux pearls and gems.

’80s Hairstyles for Short Hair

A big chunk of the ’80s was about originality and asserting one’s independence. In the world of hair, what could be more confident than a short hairstyle? Let’s take a look at some of the popular ways that women styled their short ‘dos.

#5. The Mullet

The Mullet

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What list of ’80s hairstyles for women would be complete without the memorable mullet? The mullet was originally a hairstyle meant for men, but the ’80s had their ideas and turned it into one of the decade’s most popular hairdos.

This hairstyle featured short, cropped, voluminous hair at the crown with contrasting long flat hair at the back. To this day, nothing spells confidence more than this funky hairstyle.

On occasion, I still see celebrities like Kristen Stewart and Rihanna pulling off this look.

#6. Floral Fusion

Floral Fusion

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What’s a hairstyle without hair accessories? Floral fusion was this decade’s take on hair accessories. Of course, it had to be big. This hairstyle featured a flower-shaped ornament that was at least the size of your palm.

Think traditional Spanish señoritas with big hair and you’ve nailed the ’80s floral trend.

#7. The Simple Wave

The Simple Wave

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The simple wave was one of the easier hairstyles of the ’80s. Hair flowed down in loose layered curls that had been permed or styled at home with a curling iron or curlers.

To get an idea of what the simple wave looked like, look up Farrah Fawcett.

#8. Highlights


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When I think of highlights today, I imagine highlights, lowlights, and balayage-style gradients that are more subtle and natural-looking. Not the ’80s. During that time, highlights were bold and striking. Sections of hair were dyed bright pink, electric blue, neon green.

Iconic ’80s singer Cyndi Lauper kept this trend going by adding pink-red highlights to her light blonde hair.

’80s Hairstyles for Curly Hair

In a decade that prized voluminous hair, there was no shortage of hairstyles for curly hair. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

#9. Permed-Hair Permed Hair

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One of the reasons hair was so voluminous in the ’80s was permed hair. Whether women opted for large curls or tight spiral curls, they would tease their hair and style it so that it would fan out and frame their faces. It didn’t matter if your hair was short or long, it was always a perfect time for a perm.

Women who couldn’t find time to have their hair permed at the salon would resort to plastic curlers. They would wind their wet or unstyled hair around the curlers, fasten them, and leave them on for a few hours to achieve a similar-looking body.

#10. Crimped Hair

Crimped Hair

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Crimped hair was another popular method of adding volume and making hair look thicker than it was. Women would use crimping irons, a heat-styling tool similar to curling irons. Instead of producing curls, crimpers would style hair in small zigzag patterns that created a crinkled look.

It hasn’t come back in a big way, but you can still see this styling method used from time to time in big fashion runways.

#11. Blonde Beauty

Blonde Beauty

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In the ’80s, blonde hair was in and it didn’t matter if your color came from birth or a bottle. Short hair, shoulder-length hair, long hair – as long as you were blonde, you were golden. In true ’80s fashion, however, blonde hair was often teased and permed to give it more body.

#12. Whitney Love

Whitney Love

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The Whitney Love is named after two female music artists from the ’80s: pop R&B sensation Whitney Houston and alternative rock princess Courtney Love. While Whitney had a lot of thick tight curls that gave her a lot of volumes, Courtney had short chunky textured locks with sections of it styled into waves.

This look refers to women who had their hair chopped short, worked some waves in, and topped it off with mousse for even more volume.

’80s Rock Hairstyles for Women

Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, and Queen – these may have been male-dominated rock bands, but that didn’t mean women stayed away from rock culture and the hair that came with it.

#13. ’80s Rocker Hair

'80s Rocker Hair

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The rocker hairstyle never goes out-of-date among rock and punk enthusiasts. You can still see some rock icons sporting this hairstyle today. Eighties rocker hair has spiky feathered fringes over the forehead and around the crown of your head with hair flowing down to your shoulders.

Paired with dark eye make-up, fishnet tights, gloves, and rock and roll style rings, this look is attention-getting and speaks to your inner wild child. This hairstyle had tons of volume, hairspray, and attitude.

#14. Punk Rock Hair

Punk Rock Hair

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Think of layered textured hair, but with lots of volumes added even to your wispy bangs and you’ll have pictured punk rock hair. This hairstyle was characterized by a short-cropped pixie-like cut around the crown and towards the front with flowing hair towards the back. You could even up the ante by dying your hair a shocking pink, red, green, or bright blue color.

This was concert-ready hair for rock enthusiasts and rock stars back in the ’80s as well as today. You’ll need a lot of spunk to sport this look, but hey that’s the point of punk rock hair: making a statement.

#15. Powerful Pixie

Powerful Pixie

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The pixie hairstyle has been an enduring style among women of all ages, face shapes, and hair texture. It is a bold cut that was born in the early 20th century. Back then, women were expected to keep their hair long well below their shoulders. The pixie cut defied that tradition with its closely cropped fringe that hugged the face.

The ’80s version of the pixie cut sported more volume towards the top and was worn by popular ’80s actress Winona Ryder and Diana, Princess of Wales.

’80s Hairstyles For Women Looking to Recreate Their Youth

If, like me, you just can’t get over the ’80s, reminisce on these hairstyles that will always be synonymous with the decade.

#16. The Whale Spout Pony

The Whale Spout Pony

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The whale spout pony looks like a relative of the one-sided fountain pony mentioned earlier in this list. Instead of gathering the hair to the side, you would gather all your hair towards the top of your head and tie it together with – what else – a scrunchie. The hair would flow out from the top like a fountain fulfilling one of the ’80s cardinal rules of going big especially when it came to hair.

#17. Big Volume

Big Volume

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I have two words for you: Aqua Net. Indeed, what ’80s look would be complete without this instant volume-inducing and hair stiffening hairspray? If there was one common denominator among all the ’80s hairstyles, it was volume.

During the ’80s, the more volume you had the more en vogue you were. You could never get enough of it which was why in addition to hairspray and mousse, people would tease their hair. Teasing hair involved holding a section of your hair and combing it from tips to roots to get it to stand up more.

The term “go big or go home” hadn’t been invented yet, but it sure feels like the perfect term to describe ’80s hairstyles for women.

#18. Statement Headbands

Statement Headbands

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Headbands made of elastic and colorful fabrics came in strong during the ’80s. Whether it was worn as a workout headband like Olivia Newton-John or as more of a statement piece like the one worn by Madonna, headbands were all the rage.

What’s not to love? They effectively kept hair from your face or could be used as an accent for the bangs and wispy hair that framed your face.

Other popular hair accessories during the ’80s were giant hair bows, bandanas, and banana clips.

’80s Hairstyles for Women Over 80 Years

If you’re a woman over 80 years old, try the timeless and easy-to-do side-swept bob.

#19. Side-Swept Bob

Side-Swept Bob

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A side-swept bob was one of the classy short hairstyles of the ’80s that is almost as popular now as it was back then. It involved sweeping the majority of your hair to one side and sometimes over one eye.

The center part was unattractive when paired with voluminous hairstyles which led to the rise of side-swept hair. Women with different hair lengths capitalized on this trend. It was popular for being easy to do and for being a flattering style for a lot of women.

If you’re an ’80s movie buff, think Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles.

Today, it is still easy to spot women sporting this same hairstyle with more modern touches like highlights and lowlights.

A Few Parting Words

The ’80s were an outrageously fun time to experiment with new looks and new hairstyles. With today’s hairstyles being tamer, sleeker, and more toned down, it is even more fun to revisit ’80s hairstyles for women that created and set the trends I still see more than 40 years later.

Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.