It’s no accident the fashion treadmill is having an 80s flashback.

Tongued curly hair

Tonged curls look soft and loose within a strong shape. Hair by Xena Parsons for Xena’s Beauty Company, NY, NY.

David Bowie and Madonna meet Nancy Regan and Debbie Gibson? Time traveling 80s style is all about wishful thinking because the street hopes things get rich again. In the original decade, punk revival and the “hair bands” were all about an in-your-face reaction to politicians, while closer-to-God hair signified hope. By the end of the era, everyone wanted to look like a millionaire. Or now, like a Gossip Girl.

This is great news for curl because this time around, the takeaway is in the texture. On the 2010 fashion runways, the Chris Benz, J Mendel and John Patrick Organic shows all showed off spirals and waves, while Carolina Herrera got Orlando Pita to mix-up natural with glam in textured and twisted chignons. The 80s influence was in sophistication and shine, accessories (barrettes and beads) and asymmetry. Even low-at-the-nape chignons were worn offside, a much better look than that 80s ponytail that sprang out the side of your head.

Says Fabian Bordelon, owner of Fabian’s in Baton Rouge, LA, “Redoing the 80s will be fun. Eighties curl was frizz; now, frizz is intentionally avant garde. The new mainstream looks are lots softer than the older influences, but they still have a strong perimeter. The square bob is a perfect example. Texture is more controlled, and as part of the trend, every manufacturer has a perm that can be used on curl to make it bigger or more refined. If you don’t have great home-styling skills, cuts are stronger; if you’ve been home-schooled in styling by a salon, disconnected cuts are right.”

Blonde 80s hairdo

An ‘80s redo requires volume and glam styling. Styling by Darlene Martinez for Xena’s Beauty Company, NY, NY.

Glam rock hair had its 80s chemical romance, and it’s no different today, as the flat iron gives way to curl softeners and smoothers, presented as “cold” versions of Japanese Thermal Straightening. (Basically, they’re thio-based products.) Going out on a limb, we can bet you’ll never see Jheri curls again; styling products meld right into the hair to moisturize and give shape without grease, as evidenced by the slew of dry oils on the market.

You can’t talk 80s influence without mentioning big hair and bold color. These, too, favor curl, which expands with ease and embraces panels and color blocks, as opposed to micro-lights. Explains Dennis Bartolomei, who owns a namesake Chicago-based salon, “Hair is more expanded today, like the early 80s Sauvage cut and the curly wedge. The shapes are wider with narrow napes and heavy bangs—the cut controls the curl. For color, blocking shows-off shades much better. Color is always multi-dimensional: like nature, with extra punch.”

What else can you expect from hair that’s a little more haute than hip? Here’s what hairdressers say is Too Hot:

She’s Like the Wind

Hair being braided with a curling iron

For volume and movement, braid, heat and release. Styling by Darlene Martinez for Xena’s Beauty Company, NY, NY.

Eighties hair was heavily rock-influenced, and 2010 trends were first showcased at the Grammy Awards. Talk about a difference! Volume was big but it went sideways, not up. Says Xena Parsons, owner of Xena’s Beauty Company in NYC and a Framesi educator, “Everyone at the Grammys had bend and wave. There’s no flat ironing now; curl can be crimped or braided and then let out. We like to use the tongs, which are U-shaped, as opposed to circular. Hair is styled with creamy pastes that disappear into the hair; they aren’t hard or sticky.”

For tight Afro curl, Parsons says texture is either left natural and cut geometrically or it’s softened and “redesigned” with a mild straightening product, like Framesi’s SILIS, which uses thio in a coconut-crème base. Longer hair is windswept or beachy. Says British-born educator Don Francis, who cuts at Marie Bove in NYC, “For the most part, hair is still very lose and mid-length-to-long, or quite short. The short trend will gain speed with the masses, like in the early 80s when the gamin crop was big. We just need another Mia Farrow to spark it off. Commercially, lengths are longer but they’re pretty shapeless and neutral, so that hair can be thrown up with accessories like hair bands and clips—not those 80s banana clips! Volume is definitely starting to evolve to an everyday thing.”

Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun

Within the opposing trends of strong geometric shapes ( for shorter hair, tighter curl) versus near-shapeless (for longer hair, looser curl), disconnection and asymmetry come into play for the latter. Parsons forecasts extremely strong asymmetrical styles and for longer, textured hair, various disconnected lengths with volume in strategic places. This playful approach also mixes up textures, with crimped sections being most reflective of 80s hair. On her recent trip from Italy, Parsons says there were no real “hair cuts,” just good shapes that flowed naturally from shoulders to the mid-back. Texture play adds the fun, with waves, crimps, braids and curls adding spicy variety to a single style. However, even textural mixes look pre-planned, with a classic twist.

Roll with it

Woman with a wide, red hair braid

Try an expanded finish, topped with a fat braid.

At iDaburn in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, (www.idaburn.com), stylists recognize that no two curls are the same. Explains the salon’s Floor Manager and Network Educator, Laura Garwasiuk, “This year more than ever, natural textures are in. They can range from barely there kinks to the tightest, most rebellious curls. Cuts are freehand, airy and inspired. It’s hard to put a limiting trend to what is going on in the curly world, there’s so much diversity. Our trends are in our consultations and executions. However, we especially love long waves or spirals with visual layers, cut and textured to each curl’s natural movement.”

Do That to Me One More Time

Au courant color may be more natural than Flock of Seagulls’ lightening-strike white, but it’s never a singular sensation. Here’s one thing everyone agrees on: roots are darker and ends are lighter. Bordelon adds color blocks by placing them to direct the eye, based on face shapes. Bartolomei says he lightens ends using balayage, but adds the end color to the underlayers only. It’s a big hit in Chicago, were Level 5 brunette gets feathered-on gold or pale gold end color. If you foil ends first, you almost always end up adding more balayaged pieces, he says.

Let’s Go Crazy

Also cool for curl is Parson’s Plasma technique, in which hair is placed on a Visibles see-through coloring strip before darker shades are added at the root area and lighter color is brushed-on the ends. Then, the hair is covered with another cellophane strip and the formulas are mashed together, while the colorist observes the borderline-free effect. Make it strong with whites and purple, or choose colors on the subtle side. The only requirement is that the color look opulent again…and Simply Irresistible.