32 of the best 80s hairstyles from the A-list archives

From perm-like curls to backcombing

Collage of Princess Diana, Whitney Houston and Madonna
(Image credit: Bob Scott/Fotos International/Getty Images, Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

When it comes to hair and makeup, the 80s were a time of real expression. More specifically, the best 80s hairstyles saw everything from backcombing to mullets, perms and half-up hairstyles.

Much like the best 80s makeup looks, the decade wasn’t short on celebrity hairstyles that have gone down in the beauty history books either. From Madonna’s big accessorised ponytails to Whitney Houston’s voluminous curly hair, to Princess Diana’s signature hairstyle. 

So, if you’re keen to take inspiration from the decade, ahead we’ve collated the best 80s hairstyles both from the era as well as modern hairstyles that are heavily inspired by the 80s. Whether you’re looking to get ideas for a new haircut or are simply feeling nostalgic, these styles are sure to inspire you. 

32 of the best 80s hairstyles as seen on celebrities

1. The half up

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker attends the "Slam Dance" Hollywood Premiere on September 28, 1987 at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The half ponytail was a style that so many people wore in the '80s and has become popular once again in the 2020s. This curly style from Sarah Jessica Parker, just over a decade before Carrie Bradshaw hit our screens, is a great example. A gel is a great way to give all types of curls hold, while mousse will add volume and body if your hair doesn't have a lot of this naturally. And if you don't have curly hair, they can be styled in using a thin wand.

2. The backcombed ponytail

Madonna in 1985

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Backcombing was huge in the '80s, and pop icon Madonna incorporated it into many of her hairstyles throughout the decade – particularly the accessorised ponytails that really were a staple look for her. 

3. The voluminous curls

American singer Whitney Houston (1963 - 2012) at the American Music Awards, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, 27th January 1986

(Image credit: Bob Scott/Fotos International/Getty Images)

Whitney Houston is one of the most iconic artists from the '80s with so many memorable hair and make-up moments. Her curls always looked fantastic, with the I Wanna Dance With Somebody music video another great example.

4. The Diana

Diana, Princess Of Wales, Wearing A Purple Velvet Sleeveless Evening Dress Designed By Catherine Walker With Matching Choker And Earrings For A Performance Of Mozart's Opera "marriage Of Figaro" At The Munich Opera House During Her Official Visit To Germany

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

This hairstyle is so associated with the late royal that most people know what you're referring to when you say "The Princess Diana haircut". With feathery layers that actually have a bit of 70s feel to them, the style was always blow dried with lots of volume and is a look that's synonymous with her. 

5. The side swept curls

Janet Jackson 1987 American Music Awards

(Image credit: Chris Walter/WireImage via Getty Images)

Curls with lots of volume were key in the 80s. Hair was often heavily swept over to one side, adding height, as seen here on Janet Jackson. If your hair doesn't have a similar pattern naturally, these kinds of curls can be achieved using a thin curling wand. 

6. The big blow dry

Actress Brooke Shields attends the Metropolitan Home Magazine's "Metropolitan Home Showcase" Opening Night Gala to Benefit DIFFA on October 5, 1988 at 126 East 65th Street in New York City

(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Big and bouncy, voluminous blow dries were a go-to style – think old Hollywood but bigger – and rollers were a popular way of achieving said big and bouncy hair. This look on Brooke Shields is a great example of an 80s blow dry. 

7. The shaggy mullet

The American singer Tina Turner at her home in London

(Image credit: frederic meylan/Sygma via Getty Images)

This is another instance of a hairstyle being synonymous with a particular person; Tina Turner's big, layered, mullet-like hairstyle was an iconic look that she was known for. 

8. The soft shag haircut

Goldie Hawn attends the 52nd Annual Academy Awards circa 1980 in Los Angeles, California

(Image credit: Barbara Rosen/IMAGES/Getty Images)

The shag haircut – a look that Goldie Hawn really made her signature along with curtain bangs – was a big deal in the 70s, and that carried into the 80s. The silhouette here is softer and more rounded as opposed to the shaggier vibe you might have seen in the decade before, but it's still very much a statement cut.

9. The volumised updo

Fashion model Iman poses for photographs

(Image credit: Vittoriano Rastelli/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Much like other hairstyles, updos were also all about volume in the 80s, often seen with a lot of added height – as seen on this super elegant hairstyle worn by Iman. A gel will really help to slick down the sides of this style – or any sleek updo – while keeping them in place.

10. The side swept waves

American actress Michelle Pfeiffer on the set of The Witches of Eastwick directed by Australian George Miller

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

A heavy side part was seen everywhere during the 80s – many styles were swept over to one side which boosted the volume. Michelle Pfeiffer's waves were accentuated with a soft side fringe, all swept over for a kind of big, beachy look.

11. The layered pixie cut

Jamie Lee Curtis

(Image credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jamie Lee Curtis has had other hairstyles, but the one that we most closely associate with her is some kind of pixie cut, which suits her down to a tee. The layering on top gives the style some added height, while the overall haircut accentuates her face shape. 

12. The heavy side fringe

Olivia Newton John at the General Studios in Hollywood, California

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Heavy fringes were big in the 70s, too, and that trend continued into the 80s, no question. Olivia Newton John's style sees her with a big sweeping fringe that goes into shaggy layers for an understated take on that haircut. We're sure you'll agree it perfectly frames her face. 

13. The blunt bob

American singer and actress Diana Ross attends an event in New York, New York, circa 1980

(Image credit: Oscar Abolafia/TPLP/Getty Images)

A blunt edged bob with a lot of volume throughout was a major look in the 80s and a real power hairstyle that was seen on several film and music stars – including the iconic Diana Ross here. 

14. The perm

Singer and actress Cher poses for a photo session in June 1981 in Los Angeles, California

(Image credit: Harry Langdon/Getty Images)

We probably don't need to tell you that a perm went hand in hand with the 80s, and really was a huge trend for the decade. Music icon Cher loved changing up her hair, and often sported a big curly hairstyle in both the 70s and 80s.

15. The rounded shag haircut

Actress Jane Fonda on television set on September 19, 1989 in Paris, France

(Image credit: Pool BASSIGNAC/BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Jane Fonda is another star who made a particular haircut her signature, and this was an earlier iteration of the shaggy look she's known for – slightly longer and with rounded layers and a fringe, with a lot of volume on top. 

16. The loose curls

Julia Roberts

(Image credit: S. Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images)

One of Julia Roberts' most recognisable hairstyles are her loose curls, which she often sported from the late 80s into the 90s, usually swept over to one side. This is also a look she was seen with in some of her most popular films. 

17. The longer layered pixie

Actress Halle Berry attends the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Benefit on October 30, 1989 at Stringfellow's in New York City

(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

A pixie cut is a timeless classic that has been a popular choice throughout history, and Halle Berry has had several variations of it throughout her career. The style perfectly compliments her face shape and here it's a longer, layered style. 

18. The curly shag haircut

Singer and Actress Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in October 1989 in Los Angeles, California

(Image credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

Dolly Parton absolutely loves a big hairdo and, though she may have tweaked it a little over the years, some kind of voluminous shag haircut has been her signature look for decades. In the 80s, she often opted for a curly shag with bangs. 

19. The full fringe

Farrah Fawcett circa 1980 in New York City

(Image credit: Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Farrah Fawcett is a go-to reference when it comes to iconic 70s hairstyles, with her feathery winged shag haircut a real classic. In the 80s the look softened a little but still kept that shaggy vibe, paired with an ever-so-slightly feathered full fringe. 

20. The short crop

Portrait of Jamaican singer and actress Grace Jones (Grace Mendoza). 1987

(Image credit: Angelo Deligio\Mondadori via Getty Images)

An '80s icon, singer, actress and model Grace Jones often wore her hair short, seen here with a short crop that really shows off her bone structure. The star was also known for incredible make-up looks like this one. 

21. The voluminous blow dry

Julianne Moore (as Frannie Hughes). 1985

(Image credit: CBS via Getty Images)

There were many different big blow dries seen in the 80s but, generally speaking, the go-to styles had one thing in common: lots of volume. Here, Julianne Moore's hair curves at the ends of the layers for a fuller appearance. 

22. The shaggy bob

Debbie Harry of Blondie at the Ritz Hotel, London, 20 November 1983

(Image credit: David Corio/Redferns via Getty Images)

Blondie's Debbie Harry is another '80s music icon, and her platinum blonde hair is still referenced today. This look – a kind of shaggy long bob with a shaggy fringe to match – is one of her famous hairstyles. 

23. The mullet

Miley Cyrus attends the Tom Ford AW20 Show at Milk Studios on February 07, 2020 in Hollywood, California

(Image credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Jumping forward to more recent years with some '80s-inspired looks; the mullet was one of decade's most famous hairstyles, which Miley Cyrus brought back years later with her own take on the look. And though she's since grown the style out, there's no denying that it seriously suited her. 

24. The half up bun

Gabrielle Union attends the reopening of The Landmark at Tiffany & Co 5th Avenue on April 27, 2023 in New York City

(Image credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Half up hairstyles were huge in the 80s, giving wearers the best of both worlds with an updo and longer hair, and they continue to be a popular choice in the 2020s featuring a ponytail or bun – just as actress Gabrielle Union proves.

25. The spiral perm curls

Blake Lively attends "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" U.S. Premiere at Times Square on May 02, 2019 in New York City

(Image credit: John Lamparski/WireImage)

Maybe a little less voluminous than the 80s, Blake Lively's style here still feels like a clear nod to the spiral perms that were popular during the decade. It's a look that can easily be created temporarily using a curling wand. 

26. The curly shag

Sandra Oh attends Gold House's 2nd annual Gold Gala at The Music Center on May 06, 2023 in Los Angeles, California

(Image credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

The shag haircut, which was seen through the 70s and 80s, is still an on-trend look today, though it's much softer than when the style first became popular. Sandra Oh's layered hairstyle with curly bangs is a great example of an updated curly shag cut. 

27. The voluminous updo

Salma Hayek attends the "Killers Of The Flower Moon" red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2023 in Cannes, France

(Image credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

'80s updos were often all about volume. Salma Hayek's incredible updo here features added height on top as well as being quite a voluminous style, giving the look a kind of '80s feel. 

28. The high ponytail

Jennifer Lopez poses with the Fashion Icon Award during Winners Walk during the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on June 03, 2019 in New York City

(Image credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Ponytails have always been popular, but they were especially so in the '80s and a go-to style for many pop stars, usually worn quite high – not too dissimilar to Jennifer Lopez's extra long style here.

29. The quiff

Cate Blanchett walks the red carpet ahead of the movie "Khorshid" (Sun Children) at the 77th Venice Film Festival on September 06, 2020 in Venice, Italy

(Image credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Quiffs were another feature that was seen on 80s hairstyles, seen both on updos and both shorter and longer hairstyles. Here, at a red carpet premiere in 2020, Cate Blanchett's updo incorporates a soft, side-swept quiff. 

30. The wet look side swept hair

Actress Priyanka Chopra attends the Second Annual "InStyle Awards" presented by InStyle at Getty Center on October 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California

(Image credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for InStyle)

Wet look hair, often slicked back from the hairline, was another key 80s hair trend that has made a comeback in recent years. Priyanka Chopra's look, swept to one side and featuring wet look waves, is a great example of a moden take on the trend. 

31. The backcombed bardot

Anne Hathaway attends the photocall for "Armageddon Time" during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2022 in Cannes, France

(Image credit: Daniele Venturelli/WireImage via Getty Images)

Backcombing was a popular technique in the 80s and often the case was "more is more" for that voluminous finish. It's still seen on the red carpet today but is far more understated – Anne Hathaway's Bardot hairstyle here features very subtle backcombing to give the style height. 

32. The voluminous pony

Eva Longoria attends the amfAR Gala Cannes 2022 at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 26, 2022 in Cap d'Antibes, France

(Image credit: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Last but certainly not least is actress and model Eva Longoria. Worn at the 2022 amfAR Gala in Cannes, this ponytail, which features loose curls for a voluminous look, has similar height to the ponytails that were popular throughout the '80s. 

Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for titles including Marie Claire, Glamour and OK!, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare advice to beauty trends and reviews of the latest products. During her career she regularly speaks to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists, has covered backstage at London Fashion Week and interviewed many a celeb about their beauty routine.