Gen Z Woman Asked How Gen X Women Got Their Enormous 80s Hair To Stay In Place — & Boy Did They Deliver

Everyone who lived through the 80s immediately knew the answer, and it all comes down to two iconic, ozone layer-destroying words.

woman who knows how to do 80s hair Olga Ekaterincheva / Shutterstock

Recently, a new trend has emerged on TikTok: 20-something Gen Zers who are obsessed with the 80s. And it's not just about streaming "The Breakfast Club" and listening to some hot Kajagoogoo jams, either — many of these young women are full-on transforming themselves into the kind of looks that a lot of Gen Xers might rather forget. 

But one of these influencers, makeup artist and TikToker Rachel O'Cool, ran into a bit of a snag when it came to styling herself in the iconic and hilarious looks of the 1980s. And boy did Gen X women deliver with the solution.


The TikToker asked Gen X women how to do 80s hair after trying everything to get the hilariously sky-high hairdos of the era.

O'Cool's TikTok channel focuses on all things beauty and style, and one of her favorite looks to turn is the brightly-colored, shoulder pad-bedecked aesthetics of the 1980s.

But in her quest to transform into the ultimate 80s woman, one thing eluded her — how to get those sky-high, frozen-in-place, crispier than a slice of burnt toast and bigger than a lion's mane bangs that were the pride and joy of nearly every woman at the time. You know, what we used to call "mall hair."




RELATED: Millennial Woman Shares What She Learned From Gen Z Coworker Over The Summer — 'They Don't Care, They're Just Living'

So she put out a call to her Gen X sisters (or aunts, more accurately) for the lowdown.

"Okay, if you were in your 20s, in the 80s, how did you get your hair to stay?" O'Cool implored the Gen X'ers of TikTok. "I am teasing and I am spraying," she said as the sprayed the living daylights out of her swooping bangs and tresses, "but in 20 minutes this will be gone."


And as you'll no doubt guess if you were alive in the era, scores of them had the perfect solution. 

Tons of Gen X women responded to tell O'Cool that the secret for 80s hair comes down to two little words: Aqua Net.

Women, and even a few men — they weren't called "hair bands" for nothing, after all — had tons of answers for O'Cool, but one solution stood out above all the rest: Aqua Net hairspray, that icon of hairstyling of the 60s, 70s and 80s that turned your hair into something with roughly the crispness of a kettle chip and the strength of an aeronautics-grade titanium alloy.



"Oh hunnie, Aqua Net," one woman wrote, while another had a whole laundry list of techniques that included "perm, cut layers, tease... scrunchie for added luxury," and a suggestion to "hit [the hair] with blow dryer" — but only after spraying the hair with "aquanet [and] more aquanet."


Some, like TikToker Brandis Bradley, went so far as to give full-on tutorials on how to "tease it to Jesus" and recreate the hottest look of the 80s. "Is that Garnier Fructis hairspray?" Bradley said. "That's your first problem."



"You wanna do this right? You gotta get you some Aqua Net," Bradley went on to say, though she also argued that the most important tool of all is something most women just don't tolerate anymore: extensive hair damage. "Your real problem is your hair is just way to clean and healthy for this job," Bradley quipped.

RELATED: Martin Scorcese's Daughter Films A Masterpiece — By Having Her Dad Guess Slang Terms


The discourse quickly moved beyond hair to one of the strangest and most hilarious bits of 1980s nostalgia: the Aqua Net-related hole in the ozone layer.

If you grew up or were an adult in the 80s, there's no way you don't remember the crisis of the hole in the ozone layer, the part of the stratosphere that helps protect us from the sun's most damaging rays. In the 80s, news of the giant hole that had opened up in the ozone layer — and the myriad ways it was going to kill us all! — was everywhere. 

This bizarre moment in American history became a major plot point in practically every response to O'Cool's call for styling tips, because that existentially dangerous hole in the ozone layer? It was largely due to Aqua Net hairspray and similar products.

"We used hairspray that does not exist anymore that was banned," one woman said in response to O'Cool. 




RELATED: Gen X Mom Asks 'Where Did The American Dream Go?' As She Explains How Much Her Kids Have Struggled Since Graduating College

"It lasted not just all day. It could last for [expletive] 48 hours because of the stiffness of the hair," she went on to say. "So you can't recreate it because that hairspray doesn't exist, but we saved the planet!"


She's right about that last part — climate change deniers often cite the disappearance of the ozone layer panic as evidence that the problem wasn't real, but the truth is, we just fixed it by reconfiguring the formula for Aqua Net, along with every other aerosol product.

The good news is, as O'Cool has proven that what one woman called "80s satellite bangs" can still be had even without the original shellacking formula of Aqua Net, several TikTokers suggested an alternate product that did indeed get her hair towering sky high and not moving an inch, like at all.

So, the 80s live on — and O'Cool didn't even have to destroy the environment to do it. 


RELATED: What Happened To All The Waterbeds? For Nostalgic Gen X & Boomers, It’s Time For A Comeback

John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.