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Big Hair

In the extremes of the 80s, the “bigger is better” concept came also to hair. To follow the fashion precept that all things must be in proportion, the wide shoulders, nipped waists and ballooning pants that marked the decade’s silhouette left nowhere for hair to go but up.

Big hair was sported in malls from coast to coast, and with the release of the 1988 movie Working Girl, starring a colossally coiffed Melanie Griffith, big hair became a national phenomenon.

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Anyone could get big hair (in seven easy steps): all that was needed was hairspray, a teasing comb, and a blow dryer. If you were willing to go an extra step, bleaching your hair with dye or peroxide would strip the hair of its healthy quality and make it more receptive to the hairspray and the desired look.

  • Have at least one can of hairspray (any brand will do, but it had to be industrial strength).
  • Apply a hearty handful of mousse to your wet hair to prime the hair for the hairspray.
  • Hold head upside down as you run the blow dryer over it, “scrunching” it with your fingers.
  • When hair is almost dry, and with the blow-dryer still going full blast, begin to spray hair with hairspray until you’ve obtained a crispy texture or the can is finished – whichever comes first.
  • Flip head up and fluff out the shaggy ball now known as your head.
  • Nope, not done yet. Take a teasing comb to your bangs. Of course you have bangs – you can’t have big hair if you don’t have bangs. Tease bangs to get them at least half the height of your head. There are several options here: either tease the bangs evenly so you get one big teased ball on your forehead, or you can achieve the more distinctive “side wave” which is essentially a giant tidal wave of hair that lifts high off your forehead and is shellacked to the side.
  • Apply another long and liberal dose of hairspray to discourage even a windstorm from disturbing one little hair.

You’re all set. Just remember to check the overhead clearance . . .