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From the shag to the mullet, 80s hairstyles are making a comeback

The return of the 80s perm? Stranger Things have happened (Picture: Getty/@barbieferreira/@allannaarrington/@evanjosephcurls)

Is it Stranger Things? Is it our perpetual desire to recycle looks – good and bad – from days gone by? Is it boredom?

Whatever it is, there’s no denying that we love to resurrect old trends. And now, 80s style is creeping back, particularly when it comes to hair and makeup.

You may have noticed that mullets have been on the rise for a while now, usually spotted down your local indie bar.

But new research from hair experts Cloud Nine has found that it doesn’t stop there. TikTok searches for a number of 80s hair styles are on the increase.

The data found that the mullet is in first place, with 6.5billion TikTok views of videos tagged with this term. This classic 80s hairstyle has been rocked by Miley Cyrus, Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock and more recently by Millie Bobby Brown’s character in the latest series of Stranger Things.

Coming in as a close second is the famed 80s perm, with 1.2billion views of the hashtag on TikTok. Google searches for this style have increased by an incredible 8,600% in the last week.

And, partly influenced by the ‘clean girl’ aesthetic, claw clips are back. It’s difficult to browse social media without seeing a tutorial on how to use this hit 80s accessory, so it’s no surprise that they’re in third place with 974.5 million views of the hashtag on TikTok.

Another big hitter comes in the form of the asymmetrical cut, with Google searches increasing by 9300% in the last week alone.

Feeling inspired by Eleven and the gang, and fancy giving it a go? Here’s some inspiration for you – and some tips.

The Mullet

Mullets are the celeb do of choice (Picture: Instagram / @barbieferreira)

‘This classic style is all business in the front and party in the back with a short, more traditional cut up top and down the sides of the hair, whilst keeping longer hair only at the back,’ say the hair experts at Cloud Nine.

‘This 80s style has been making a major comeback as we see it on the likes of Rihanna and Lil Nas X.

‘To achieve a modern mullet, we recommend using a great leave-in conditioner and heat protector on damp hair. Use your fingers to mould the mullet into shape and add definition as you blow dry.’

The mullet is a style that requires you to have your hair cut shorter at the front and sides and keep it longer at the back. However, Nicole Petty, hair expert at Milk + Blush, explains that ‘where it used to be about extreme lengths by being long at the back and super short on the top, the modern mullet is cleaner and structured with a natural texture’.

She adds: ‘The modern mullet isn’t cut in as dramatically. Instead, it features a short and choppy fringe with shaggy, layered sides. But there isn’t just one size fits all, as we’ve recently seen different interpretations emerge. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus have been rocking a pixie/mullet hybrid cut, while the mullet fade or short mullet have grown increasingly popular.

‘If you’re someone who likes to be a bit different, consider adding some fun colours to the look for a cool and modern twist!’

It’s also worth noting that, for a mullet to work successfully, you need to have healthy hair. If you razor cut unhealthy or fine hair, it will fray as it’s being cut, leaving you with excess frizz – and a high maintenance do, rather than low.

The Shag

The low maintenance shag cut is really more of a 70s vibe – however, it was still around in the 80s and it’s very much part of the nostalgic hair trend we’re seeing at the moment. And, we like it. So we’re including it.

Nicole at Milk + Blush says: ‘Not massively different from a mullet, the shag haircut was made famous by Jane Fonda and seen on the likes of Debbie Harry However, the shag is the same length around the head.

‘The style is famous for its choppy texture, with plenty of soft layers, long bangs and sliced ends cut in to give it texture and volume.

‘The good thing about the shag cut in 2022 is that it doesn’t matter what length of hair you have to begin with – there’s a way for everyone to pull it off, regardless of their hair length or texture.

‘Simply embrace your natural hair and the body that the haircut creates by adding some texturising spray for an effortlessly cool look.’

‘Today’s shag haircut sees a modern twist on a traditional style,’ say the team at Cloud Nine.

‘We recommend blow drying on a low setting for extra volume or air drying for added natural texture.’

Big Volume

Volume is everything (Picture: Getty Images)

If you want to achieve the big hair, don’t care look, you’re not alone.

Nicole says: ‘In the 80s, it was all about big, teased hair, as seen on the likes of Cher. While this style is re-emerging, it’s a less permanent hairstyle to experiment with. 

‘Rather than spending hours backcombing it and going for a messy rocker look, think of the 2022 take as softer and bouncier. 

‘To get this style, you need to begin blow-drying your hair until it’s nearly dry, apply a small amount of mousse through the hair, and dry on a warm setting. Then, backcomb the hair from the root with a fine-toothed comb or smoothing brush and tease it back towards the scalp.

‘Continue around the head until you have achieved the desired height and smooth the top of the hair out with the smoothing brush before adding some texturising hairspray.

‘Alternatively, opt for a large barrelled curling iron and some texturising spray for a more romantic texture.’

Curly Bangs

Get the Stranger Things look of your dreams (Picture: @evanjosephcurls)

If you’ve been inspired by Stranger Things, look no further. Curly bangs is what you need.

‘For this style, it’s all about the products,’ says Cloud Nine. ‘You’ll want to make sure to use a good shine spray to reduce frizz and avoid flyaways.

‘Run leave-in conditioner through your bangs and curl with your fingers to create definition.’

‘While bangs have been coming back for a while in various forms, these bangs are all about the volume,’ says Nicole at Milk + Blush. 

‘Ask your hairdresser to cut them while your hair is dry, holding the scissors vertically to give the bangs a softer edge. The ends should just graze your cheekbones, while the middle appears much shorter where the two sides meet.

‘Blow them out using a hairdryer and a round brush to achieve a full and bouncy effect.’

Crimped Hair

I was so inspired working with @nikki_makeup & @lukepluckrose This look really pushed me to want to try new looks this year! I love meeting super talented artists and getting a chance to work with them after admiring their work on Instagram View all 1,172 comments

Crimping can still be cool (Picture: Kim Kardashian / Instagram)

Crimping is one of the most recognisable 80s hairstyles – but it doesn’t have to be all tight crimps and puffy sleeves. There is a modern take to be had, as evidenced by Kim Kardashian.

Nicole says: ‘Crimped hair is back – the style that looked wavy in an unusual zig-zag pattern. But that doesn’t mean we need to frazzle our hair like we used to back then.

Rather than go all out, we’d suggest going for something a bit softer and more subtle by just crimping a section of the hair, like the front, using a straightener on dry hair.

‘Start by creating tiny braids close to the scalp, spraying them with hairspray and working your way down the braids slowly with straighteners. Leave them to cool before unbraiding the hair to see the results.’

‘Using a heat protectant is important when using a heat styling tool – which you’ll need to achieve this look,’ advise the experts at Cloud Nine.

‘You’ll want to work in small sections to ensure that no hair is missed when crimping. Use clips to pin back the hair and work through the sections one at a time.’

Asymmetrical Cut

Demi Lovato sporting a subtle take on the trend (Picture: WireImage Copyright / 2016 Steve Granitz)

‘The bravest out of all the 80s styles making a comeback, the asymmetrical cut certainly makes a bold statement,’ says Cloud Nine.

‘For this style, you’ll want to straighten the hair to a sleek look. Use a hair oil after styling to tame flyaways and create a polished do.’

‘With one side shorter than the other, the asymmetrical cut can be achieved on long or short hair,’ advises Nicole.

‘Try it out by flipping your hair to one side for a few days to achieve a deep parting before taking the plunge.

‘If it’s still for you, there are a few different things that you can do with your locks, such as asking for your hairdresser to mix it up with your bob or layered bob, shag, bangs, pixie or even curly hair.’

And if you’re not quite ready to embrace the full lopsided look, you can go for a more subtle take on the trend, as pictured on Demi Lovato above.

80s Perm

Big hair, don’t care (Picture: Instagram @alannaarrington)

‘Big hair is back. The 80s perm is a curly chemically treated style made famous by 80s icons Cher, Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand,’ says Cloud Nine.

And now – Strangers Things has made it cool again.

‘Otherwise known as a permanent wave, a perm is where curls are chemically or thermally set into the hair to alter its natural texture,’ adds Nicole.

‘Far removed from Julia Robert’s big voluminous locks in Pretty Woman, the modern-day perm has been toned down to make hair look wavy rather than tightly curled.

‘To see whether it will work for you, try crimping or loosely curling your hair. If the texture is right for you, head over to the salon where they can advise you what type of perm would be best.

‘Once you’ve got it, the good news is that you won’t need to use any heat tools for a while and can wear the style loose and beachy, shaggy, or however you want (it’s a good look regardless!)’

Cloud Nine add: ‘Moisture is everything when maintaining this look. You’ll want to avoid hair damage by significantly reducing the use of heat in your hair and regularly using a leave-in conditioner before styling.’

Claw Clips

Kendall Jenner knows (Picture: PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Also known as bulldog clips if you’re British, claw clips are back with a vengeance.

‘Simple yet effective, a claw clip can transform a dull hairstyle into a chic up do in a matter of seconds,’ say Cloud Nine.

‘The 80s hair accessory is going viral across social media and shows no signs of slowing down.

‘For most hairstyles, we recommend using a medium-large claw clip as the larger clip and longer teeth allow for more grip in the style, especially for those with thicker hair.’

According to Nicole, the effortless style takes a matter of seconds to create – you can simply use the clip to pin up a section, or all, of your hair. 

She says: ‘To make the claw clip trend fit your style, have a shop around for one that suits you. There are so many styles and sizes on the market, designed for all types of hair textures, colours and cuts.’

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