Home Fashion What Were the Popular Hair and Makeup Styles in the 1980s?

What Were the Popular Hair and Makeup Styles in the 1980s?

The 1980s were a colorful and exciting time for fashion, especially when it came to hair and makeup. This decade was all about being bold and standing out, with people expressing themselves in ways they never had before. From big hair that reached for the skies to bright eyeshadows that made eyes pop, the ’80s had it all. Whether it was the influence of famous pop stars, movies, or TV shows, everyone wanted to be a part of the unique style that defined this era.

In this article, we’ll dive into the popular hair and makeup styles of the 1980s, exploring the trends that made this decade unforgettable. Get ready to step back in time and discover the looks that set the ’80s apart from any other time in fashion history.

Popular Hairstyles in the 1980s

The 1980s were a revolutionary period for hair, with styles ranging from sky-high volume to edgy cuts that broke all the traditional rules. Each hairstyle from this era not only made a bold fashion statement but also reflected the vibrant and dynamic spirit of the decade. Below are some of the most popular hairstyles in the 1980s:

Big Hair

Retro big hair style

In the 1980s, big hair wasn’t just a style; it was a statement. Achieving this voluminous look required a lot of perms, teasing, and an almost unending supply of hairspray. Whether it was for a night out or just another day at the office, big hair made sure you stood out in a crowd. It symbolized the extravagance of the decade and was embraced by women and men alike, making it a defining aspect of ’80s fashion.


The mullet is perhaps one of the most memorable hairstyles of the 1980s, encapsulating the era’s playful approach to fashion with its “business in the front, party in the back” style. This unisex haircut was versatile, allowing for a somewhat professional look from the front with a wild, party-ready vibe from behind. The mullet’s unique appeal crossed various music and cultural scenes, making it a widespread trend.

Crimped Hair

Crimped hair brought texture and fun to the forefront of ’80s hair fashion. Achieved with a crimping iron, this style added zigzag waves to the hair, creating a look full of volume and personality. Crimped hair could be seen at parties, proms, and even in everyday settings, offering a playful alternative to the more traditional styles of previous decades.

Mohawks and Fauxhawks

The punk movement had a significant influence on ’80s hair trends, with mohawks and fauxhawks symbolizing rebellion and non-conformity. These hairstyles featured shaved sides with a strip of long hair in the center, creating a bold and unmistakable look. While mohawks were more extreme, fauxhawks offered a slightly toned-down version, making the style more accessible to a wider audience.

Side Ponytails

The side ponytail was a quintessential ’80s hairstyle that combined ease with a touch of whimsy. Often worn high and to the side, this look was both casual and iconic. It could be styled with scrunchies, ribbons, or even left plain, making it versatile and popular among girls and women of all ages. The side ponytail captured the decade’s fun-loving spirit in a simple yet memorable way.

Hi-Top Fade

The hi-top fade was a standout style among men, particularly in the African American community. This haircut featured a neat fade on the sides with a flat top or rounded top, making a bold and stylish statement. The hi-top fade was not just about fashion; it was also a cultural symbol, showcasing pride and identity. This hairstyle was popularized by musicians, athletes, and actors, cementing its place as a significant trend of the decade.

You can also check out our top 5 best fashion trends of the 1980s that will match with these hairstyles.

Popular Makeup Styles in the 1980s

The makeup of the 1980s was as bold and expressive as its fashion, with vibrant colors and dramatic applications defining the decade’s beauty trends. From neon eyeshadows to the glossy sheen of frosted lipsticks, each makeup style served as a canvas for individuality and flamboyance, perfectly capturing the essence of the era. Below are some of the most popular makeup styles in the 1980s:

Bright Eyeshadow

The 1980s were all about making a statement with your eyes, and bright eyeshadow was the way to do it. Bold and neon colors were swept across the eyelids, with shades of blue, pink, and purple being the most coveted. This vibrant choice of eyeshadow allowed individuals to express their personality and creativity, making it a staple of ’80s makeup.

Heavy Blush

Heavy blush, or “draping,” was a technique where blush was applied generously from the cheekbones up towards the temples, creating a dramatic and sculpted look. This method not only added color but also contoured the face, enhancing its natural structure. The exaggerated use of blush was indicative of the decade’s penchant for bold makeup choices.

Dark Lip Liner with Lighter Lipstick

The contrast between dark lip liner and lighter lipstick became a defining makeup trend of the 1980s. This contouring method defined the lips more distinctly, often featuring a significant contrast between the liner and the lipstick shades. It was a trend that added depth and dimension to the lips, making them a focal point of the face.

Bold Eyeliner

Eyeliner in the ’80s was all about being bold and making a statement. Thick lines and dramatic shapes were common, with some styles extending beyond the natural eye line for an even more dramatic effect. This approach to eyeliner contributed to the decade’s signature intense and captivating eye makeup looks.

Frosted Lipstick

Frosted lipstick, known for its shimmery and glossy finish, was a must-have look in the 1980s. This type of lipstick added a touch of glamour and sophistication to any makeup ensemble, making lips look fuller and more enticing. The popularity of frosted lipstick during this time reflected the overall ’80s theme of bold and shiny fashion statements.


Glitter was used liberally in ’80s makeup, adding a sparkle to eyes, cheeks, and even lips. This added element of shine and sparkle was in line with the decade’s love for all things bright and attention-grabbing. Whether for a night out at the disco or just for fun, glitter helped everyone shine a little brighter.

Influence and Inspiration of the Hair and Makeup Styles of the 1980s

The beauty and fashion trends of the 1980s were not created in a vacuum. They were heavily influenced by a variety of cultural, social, and media factors that encouraged individuals to express themselves in bold and unique ways. Below are some of the key influences and inspirations that shaped the era’s hair and makeup styles:

  • Music Icons: Madonna, with her ever-evolving style, inspired trends such as lace gloves, bold eyebrows, and striking hair accessories. Prince and David Bowie, known for their androgynous looks and daring fashion choices, influenced bold makeup and unconventional hairstyles. The glam metal bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison popularized big hair, bandanas, and smudged eyeliner, contributing to the unisex adoption of makeup.
  • TV Shows and Movies: “Dynasty” and “Dallas” showcased the power dressing and glamorous makeup that became synonymous with ’80s affluence, emphasizing bold eyeshadows and voluminous hair. “Miami Vice” introduced pastel shades and a more laid-back yet stylized look that influenced men’s fashion and grooming trends. “Flashdance” and “Footloose” inspired a more casual, dance-oriented aesthetic, with sweatbands and natural makeup looks becoming part of everyday fashion.
  • Fashion Designers and Runways: Designers like Gianni Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier pushed the boundaries of fashion with bold prints, vibrant colors, and unconventional silhouettes, directly influencing makeup and hair trends to complement these styles. The introduction of power suits by designers like Thierry Mugler emphasized strong, structured looks that were echoed in bold, confident makeup choices.
  • Cultural Movements: The punk movement, with its ethos of rebellion and DIY fashion, inspired edgy haircuts like mohawks and the use of unconventional makeup colors. On the other hand, the New Romantic movement, with its emphasis on androgyny and flamboyance, influenced the widespread adoption of dramatic makeup and elaborate hairstyles.
  • Technological Advances: The advent of MTV and the rise of music videos as a dominant form of entertainment brought musicians’ and actors’ styles directly into viewers’ homes, rapidly spreading new trends. Improvements in makeup and hair product formulations made vibrant colors more accessible and easier to apply, encouraging experimentation among the general public.

These influences and inspirations created a fertile ground for the development of the distinctive and memorable beauty trends of the 1980s. The era’s styles were a reflection of broader cultural shifts towards individualism, self-expression, and a break from tradition, leaving a lasting impact on fashion and beauty standards.


The 1980s were a time of bold self-expression, where hair and makeup styles broke free from the past and embraced the new and the daring. From the voluminous hair to the vibrant makeup, each trend of the decade tells a story of creativity, cultural shifts, and the desire to stand out. As we look back, the legacy of the ’80s continues to inspire fashion and beauty today, reminding us of the power of individuality and the joy of expressing our unique selves. We hope this article helped you learn more about the popular hair and makeup styles of the 1980s.

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