Like all kids who grew up in the ’80s, I went out as a punk rocker for at least two Halloweens. It was a great excuse to dye my hair pink for the night and wear my mom’s Mary Kay makeup, which she bought from this beautiful blonde lady named Cindy who used to come to our house in her pink Cadillac and tell my Mom she was suicidal. I now realize that was her way of always being the top sales lady and keepin’ that pink Cadillac. (True story. In ’80s fashion, I was always in the room for these conversations).
My best friend Shawn recently pointed out to me that the reason our generation might be so messed up is because we were the only people who were actually sober during the ’80s. Even the teens were high as balls back then, and asking someone for a bump of coke in the ‘80s was the modern day equivalent of being, like, “Oh dude, do you have an extra piece of gum?” Things are so PC for kids these days, but back then, adults were snorting lines and being like, “Oh, I have this great effing idea for a show! It’s called The Smurfs, and they’re blue and there’s, like, one girl and this totally evil cat! It can be an allegory for World War II! Children will love it!”
And then, there we were these stone-cold sober kids taking it all in, sitting in the back of our parents’ cars while Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” was blasting on the radio and the grownups were sucking back on “road rockets” and chain smoking with the windows rolled up like the party never stopped. I can’t help but wonder if ’90s grunge apathy was actually just one giant worldwide come down…
That said, the hair was amazing back then. When I want to channel my inner Sally Struthers or early Whitney Houston, I’ve formulated my own unique way of getting big ’80s hair without any dangerous teasing required. Here’s how to go big or go home…
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting with straight hair or really super curly hair. Plug in the most high-powered curling iron you can find, and heat that baby up. I like to start at the bottom, so I put the rest of my hair up in a high bun on the crown of my head and leave about the bottom quarter of my hair down. I brush it out and then curl it in two inch sections, alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise. Before I even touch the curls, I spray them all with hairspray – a lot of hairspray… I mean, like, an ’80s amount of hairspray. I repeat this on each section of my hair until my whole head is done.
Done each section? Spray it all again with hairspray! Now flip it upside-down and spray it with hairspray. Done? Now spray it all again with hairspray! Pretend your hair is a crazy aggressor and that hairspray is a maze. Spray! That’s what they did in the ’80s, and that’s because it worked. Most beauty writers would never tell you to do this, but I actually don’t believe most beauty writers are willing to tell you the truth. Fact.
You’re probably feeling light-headed from all that hairspray and you’re trippin’ a little bit like you’re at a Huey Lewis and the News concert and they’re singing “Happy To Be Stuck With You,” and that’s a good thing. Now it’s time to brush it out. I use a non-bristle brush for this because I don’t want it to get too big. I still want a hint of curl to pop through my look and not go full poodle. Grab two-inch sections of your hair and start brushing it out starting at the end of the hair and working your way to the root to avoid breakage. Sure, this isn’t great for your hair, but other beauty writers would have told you to tease your hair for this look. Trust a girl who’s woken up in the morning and had to make a haircut appointment immediately having not known that teasing isn’t a good idea if you’re planning to go to an all-night party and not take your hair out carefully when you get home. No one ever does it, and then you’ve got a rat’s nest that needs a-choppin’.
This is terrible for your hair, so be careful and only do it if you look like you’ve been totally electrocuted and need a little more definition. I just curl the odd wisp in a little half ringlet to make it look more natural. Kidding! This will never look natural, and that’s the whole point.
This is a step they didn’t even have in the ’80s, which makes my modern ’80s update all the more rock star. If you add a bit of dry shampoo to the roots of your hair and then massage it around with your fingers, you’re going to get crazy volume that would make David Lee Roth look like just another extra on Little House on the Prairie in comparison.
I can’t help you here, man. Just put on the Pointer Sisters and dance.