"Big" was the binding factor for hairstyles in the 1980s. Using mousse, hairspray and a lot of "teasing"—back-combing hair so it sticks up from the head—men followed the trend from modest cuts to wild rock styles. With the range of gels and mousses available today, you can imitate the extreme haircuts and styles of the 1980s.
The mullet was known as "business in the front, party in the back." The hair was cut short on the top and sides, and left to grow longer in back. David Bowie feathered and teased his hair until it stuck out about 3 inches on the top and sides, leaving the back length straight. Apply mousse at your roots while hair is damp and blow-dry out. Hold tips of hair and apply hairspray to increase volume. Some business men even wore a mullet in the '80s, using a side part and shorter lengths on the top and sides, then pulling the longer hair back into a ponytail, or thinning it out across the back of the neck with a razor.
High Top Fades
Black hip-hop artists popularized the high top fade, where the hair is shaved extremely close on the sides and back and is long and cleanly sculpted on the top. Many high tops were completely flat on top. Caucasian men, who had naturally less textured hair, achieved a similar look by using plenty of gel and hairspray to make their hair stick up, sometimes allowing the ends to relax over to one side, the way Zack Morris' hair did on the TV show "Saved by the Bell." It was common for men to shave symbols into the hair on the sides of their heads with an electric razor.
The typical businessman and politician haircut in the 1980s for white men was neat but still had some volume on top. Sides were neatly combed back using plenty of mousse, and the top and front were a bit more volumized, using hairspray. To imitate the look, cut the hair to about 4 inches on top and comb neatly to one side from an off-center or side part while wet. Blow-dry the top hair against the direction of the part to add volume. Black politicians, like Mayor Harold Washington, grew their hair out naturally, slightly longer on top as well. Others straightened their hair and added volume to the top with styling products.
Billy Idol's spiked, bleach-blond hair is an example of a punk haircut from the 1980s. Mohawks—where the head is shaved on the sides but has a long, spiked or gelled strip of hair down the center—were popular punk cuts as well. Mohawks could be dyed, straight or curly, tall or short. Use plenty of gel to create the spiky look of punk haircuts.
Hair metal refers to '80s bands with large, lengthy, tangled and frizzy hairstyles, like members of Guns n' Roses, for example. If you have curly hair, hang your head upside down and blow-dry your hair out from the roots. Use a comb to back-comb hair and make it stand up even higher. Use a crimper or curler on straight hair to add texture and, for all hair, use plenty of hairspray to keep the hair from falling flat.