︎︎︎episode 22

Slumber Party Series (Ch.2): 80’s & 90’s Hair Trends, ‘The Rachel’, ‘The Demi’ ‘The Drew’, Crimping Craze & Torture tools, Herbal Essences & Salon Selectives + Much More!

Dec 29th, 2020

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To coincide with our Slumber Party theme we thought that no slumber party was complete without the hair - which was such an important part of the late 80’s and 90’s. Mainly inspired by celebrities, models and musicians - hair was dramatic and a zeitgeist of the times.

History of Hair 101 

(well just for the 80s and 90s...)

Humongous Hair : 80’s Hair ︎

Kim takes a look at some of the epic hair trends of the 80’s - where the bigger the better. As the 80’s were a decade of excess the hair followed and the 80’s was a mutation of the big hair ideals of the 70’s. The 80’s got messier and curlier as perms reigned supreme. Crimping  followed suit as a home texture. We also got the mullet, asymmetric bob and Princess Di’s Sloan Ranger feather, french braid, big bow and scrunchie styles with Whale Spout and Palm Tree. The peak of the big hair trend hit in 1987 and deflated after then.

Minimal Insanity: 90’s Hair ︎

Iconic celebrity hairstyles defined the generation and fashionable forward hair was extremely important -I would almost argue that young celebrities would get a cool edgy cut to stand out and get featured more in tabloids and news coverage

“The Demi”

As we moved from 80’s excess into the 90’s - big hair was considered “tacky” and minimalism trended. 1990 - Ghost hit the theaters and the clean, cropped adrogenous style was a turning point. Inspired by Linda Evangalista’s dramatic cut in 1988 that subsequently got her banned from the runway but then became ultra fashionable in Paris and then the world. Short hair saw a major trend in all fashions from the most forward celebrities (see the Drew Effect) and daring followers. 

“The Rachel”

The Rachel could arguably be one of the most influential haircuts of all time. The haircut  by stylist Chris McMillan debuted in 1995 on the Friends episode “The One With the Evil Orthodontist." There is a great article that explores the Rachel hair trend from Mental Floss written by Jay Seravino called The One where Jennifer Aniston's 'Rachel' Haircut on Friends Became a Phenomenon>>. With elaborate highlights and its roots in the shag “the Rachel '' took America by storm after being introduced and was big business for America’s hair salons. "That show has made us a bunch of money," Lisa Pressley, an Alabama hairstylist, said back in 1996. Pressley was giving around four "Rachels'' per week to women ages 13 to 30, and she was touching up even more than that. Another hairdresser estimated that, during that time, 40 percent of her business from female clients came from the "Rachel." The funny thing is that Rachel is a really hard style to maintain - it takes a stylist to perfectly blow it out and style it everyday. It is also considered one of Jennifer Aniston’s least favorite cuts. 

The Drew Effect


The Drew (piece layered crop), The Demi (Androgenous crop), Winona (sexy boy crop), Halle (easy androgenous), Gwyneth (posh layered crop), Meg Ryan (edgy layered crop), Toni Braxton (androgenous crop), Jada Pinket (super short) - or even Sinéad O'Rebellion (buzz)


The Rachel (blown out layers), The Claire (red dyed long bob), Drew (short bob with baby bang), the Natalie (“professional” sweet bob), Reese (clean classic bob), Winona (bad girl bob)

Braids & Twists:

The Janet (Poetic Justice ropey braids), Brandy (small long braids) Alicia (two braids), Gwen Stefani (Raver Buns)

Multi Layer updo

Alicia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kirsten Dunst - and pretty much any girl going to prom.

Crimping Craze

The Definitive Guide of Hair Torture Tools in the 80’s & 90’s

We now look back and agree that without formal training - in the hands of teenagers these tools were just for head burns and bad hair days waiting to make our formative years even more embarrassing.

Wielding the power of tv and prime teen time hair care and tool commercials aired for teens and tweens during shows like Saved By the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210.  Additionally this was also the golden era of the teen magazine, Seventeen, YM, Teen, Sassy, etc to showcase such showstopping tools that promised easy, trendy celebrity style from the comfort of your own home!

Conair Crimping & Curling Empire

From wikipedia>>:
  • Founded in 1959 in a garage in Queens, New York, Conair started out by selling hair rollers and then hair dryers.
  • It continued to expand, and became a public company in 1972, but then went private again after a leveraged buyout in 1985.  It was owned by the co-founder and chairman Leandro Rizzuto until his death in 2017. In 2002 Rizzuto pleaded guilty to tax evasion associated with his tenure as Chief Executive Officer of Conair, and was sentenced to a prison term of 20 to 37 months.
  • Conair is one of the largest producers of hair care appliances, ranging from hair dryers and styling irons to its innovative hair curlers, Curl Secret and Miracurl Stylers. The company also manufactures a wide range of home kitchen appliances under its brands Cuisinart and Waring.
As mentioned ...Cuisinart Resort>>>


This styling kit came with not one but five attachments: a zigzag iron, a spiral iron, a triangle iron (??), a crimping iron, and a straightening iron.  Amanda and Kim and likely everyone in this age range had this. Clearly a lot of markeitng dollars spent behind it. Geometricks also came with a free styling book...allegedly a $2.99 value! And while we pored over that book like it was going to clue us into the mysteries of life, It never successfully made our hair look remotely good!!!

Twist ‘N Curl Trio

While we are here talking about miracle 5 in 1 inventions, I think it’s important to give an honorable mention to the Conair 3-in-1 trio, which seemed to be for working with really tight curls...the sign that you had a really good and fresh perm!  It included a 3/8-inch rod, a 5/8-inch rod, and a round styling brush.

Conair Impressions

...which was like a crimper, except it created shapes--using heat--in your hair. Stars, hearts, and a lightning bolt.  There was also a flat straightening plate, so I guess it was somewhat functional.  Conair was really into this multi use stuff!

Amanda also had this one considered it super useless and essentially future garbage. She recalls making hearts in my hair for valentines day and her mom asking her, “what is going on with your hair? It’s weird and flat in places.” Wah wah.  The commercial--which was filled with magical sound effects and animation urged girls to “MAKE AN IMPRESSION NO ONE WILL FORGET.”

Conair Hot Sticks

...were a little bit more sophisticated.  They were long, hot sticks that you had to wrap your hair around and then lock into a loop at the end.  On one hand, they actually worked--unlike everything else I’ve talked about so far--and they looked really good!!! But, on the other hand, you had to experience the hanging of burning your hands while you rolled up your hair. There was no “cool” part of the rod to hold onto.  Also, they definitely burned/irritated your scalp. They can be incredible in the hands of a professional however so there may be use for them still once you get the tricks. 

Clairol Benders

Which Amanda also owned at some point.  Similar to Hot Sticks, but rather than sticking the end through a loop, you just sort of bent them around themselves.  These were super heavy, super hot, and always smelled like burning plastic. 

We can argue that the commercial for Benders was WAY better than Hot Sticks, showing a woman on the subway with her hair in Benders . It was a rap-adjacent type song, that said things like “you’re gonna curl your hair/you’re gonna make them stare.”

Clairol Lock N Roll

...which were these weird like basket shaped curlers called Spoolies.  Of course Amanda owned these, and well, they don’t work with thick or long hair...so they were sort of a lost cause for her. They were nearly impossible to figure out!! Yet another product that was good in theory, but incredibly disappointing in practice! 

Braun Curl N Go Cord Free Iron

...which rather than plugging into the wall, used these butane--yes the same thing used in lighters--cartridges to heat themselves up.   There were several models of this and one of them was called The Independent.  The commercial featured a woman riding in a black Porsche while curling her hair, which is very relatable for a junior high girl.  Of course, Amanda had this one too and swears she never used it because she was afraid of running out of butane.  The cartridges were expensive!!

Tiny hair dryers

Why were they tiny? Who knows, but it was a trend.  And they all smelled like burning hair NO MATTER WHAT.    The most popular was the Conair Wild Thing 1250, which was an animal print hair dryer (purple and teal) with a neon green cord.  We all had this one.  And it always smelled like something was burning.  

Epic Accessories

Comb Band

The number one most tortuous device was the stretch comb headband, also called a zigzag headband.  It basically pulled all of your hair back super tightly--scratching your forehead along the way, and giving you a headache that intensified throughout the day.

Banana Clip.

Whoever invented these was a monster.  If you wanted pain all day, but you wanted to also have poofy mall bangs, then this was the device for you!   But let’s just say you wanted to combine these two torture devices into one...well don’t worry, we’ve got them!  It’s a comb banana clip!


The 90s were also all about clips...but specifically teen tiny butterfly clips and massive oversized clips.


basically velour covered snap bracelets, these were supposed to give you elegant updos...unless your hair was thin, too thick, too long, or too short . The slogan was "just fold, wrap, and snap!
The commercial starts with “in japan, the art of folding paper is origami.  ...now experience the art of folding hair with HAIRAGAMI.”

Topsy Tail

“If you can make a pony tail, you can Topsy Tail”  I never had hair that was long enough for this...well I guess I do now, but I do remember girls at school using this.


“magic styling wand”--alleged to give you the kind of hairstyles that you might get for $50 at a hair salon!  And it came with a VHS that showed your styling tips!

Part Pizzazz

from the makers of Hairagami--this gave you a zig zag part, which I totally remember being obsessed with having! “Want to know the secret art to getting that Hollywood part?”

Historical Haircare

The 80's required more volume, more curls, more teasing and thus MORE PRODUCTS to go with that perm or crimp. Gel, mousse and hairspray were hot. In comes the most popular brands LA Looks, Dep, Stu-Stu-Studio Line, Rave and Aussie (the latter apparently is considered rather toxic despite the claims to natural ingredients>> with a 1.1/10 rating by the Natural Skincare Authority).

Utilizing celebrity influence hair care companies hired celebrities and supermodels to be spokespeople for their brands like Sharon Stone with Finesse, Brooke Shields was with Wella Balsam, Christie Brinkly was with Prell.

The New Era

Salon Selectives hit the scene hot to trot with Commercials that implied that you could look like the perfectly and professionally styled model asking : "Why do some women look like they just stepped out of a salon?" They claim it's because those women simply use Salon Selectives products and used their 7 levels to find the perfect chemistry for your type of hair. With british accents and scientific cross sections - Salon Selectives really offered a premium apple scented experience.

This led into the vitamin infused hair care that is still popular today - including Pantene Pro-V and Revlon Outrageous.

Clairol’s Herbal Essences

With a scent forward angle, natural and stand out orgasmic ads Herbal Essences  took serious market share. Although super popular in the 90s the line was actually started in the 70’s as the singular Herbal Essence. The original product distinguished itself with its amazing scent different from anything on the market the brand tapped into the desire for scent in the industry as well as the demand for more naturally inspired products that coincided with the trend in the 70s toward natural foods, herbal teas and herbal beauty products. The product was tired by the 90s and went through a bit of a rebrand and relaunch over at Clairol - Adding an “s” and releasing four different varieties of shampoo and conditioner, made for different hair needs. "They wanted people to understand that there are different wildflower essences in this [new] product,". This is also when what is arguably the most iconic Herbal Essences bottle — clear, with a reverse label that could be seen through the shampoo (instead being pasted on the front) and a dark green cap — came onto the scene. This new variety of ingredients "did extremely well," and was in fact “on fire."[Clairol] was the first brand to really look at how to use these natural ingredients and the variety of ingredients to deliver these different types of benefits" to more than one hair texture.

The real cincher were the commercials that really stood out and stayed in the customers heads - featuring women doing mundane tasks like riding the elevator or gossiping - when she suddenly is in a shower lathering up with Herbal Essences and experiencing pure orgasmic pleasure induced by the scents. The ads were a hit and commercials ran through the early 2000s.

Kara McGrath over at Bustle has a whole article about the cult of Herbal Essences for even more details.

90’s Hair Porn

From Personal Experience

styles from suburbia