Hair stylists (and those of us who have in the past been completely inept but enthusiastic amateur hairdressers) do manage to come up with some truly silly styles from time to time. Here we celebrate – and snigger at – some of the worst ‘dos in history.
You may blame this one on the 80s, and yes, this decade has a lot to answer for, but it wasn’t the first time that this hideous haircut has been seen. Unbelievably, the 6th century Byzantine Empire had the misfortune of seeing rebels “clipping the hair short on the front of the head down to the temples and letting it hang down in great length and disorder in the back”. Sounds like a mullet to me.
The permanent wave, to give it its full name, has been around for quite some time. To give it its due, it doesn’t always look terrible, just most of the time. The first perms were let onto our streets in the early 20th century when a delightful combination of cow urine and water were applied to long hair, which was then wrapped around hot rods.
Lots of people don’t like mohawks but they can be pretty crazy and distinctive, have a long tribal history and are a long-lasting part of the punk scene. However, the reverse Mohawk is just wrong and doesn’t suit anybody. There are plenty of mohawk variations to choose from (the bihawk, the fanhawk, the dreadhawk, etc), just don’t do the reverse mohawk.
A haircut doled out by parents on thousands of children over the years, the bowl cut is free and foolproof. And also looks dreadful. Its roots go back to Roman times but it has been used by popular society, religious groups and also some indigenous tribes with unerring frequency. A form of this hairdo is now back in fashion thanks to Justin Bieber. This might be the kind of haircut that just isn’t going to go away.
This style haunted the 90s, spreading across the heads of teenagers, footballers and actors with alarming alacrity. Look at any of the boy bands from the period and you can almost guarantee at least one will have curtains. It is one of those fashion trends that is ultimately just going to be very embarrassing when you look back at photos of the time.
There are too many variants of hideous emo haircuts to list them all but this is a pretty good example. The Emo music scene came out of the 80s but it look until the early 2000s for this haircut to surface in popular culture – and then it was everywhere. A combination of a long fringe, choppy layers and inventive use of dye makes this a haircut to forget.
When you start going bald, the answer isn’t to spread the rest of your hair across your head. It doesn’t fool anyone and it does not look good. Ever. It wasn’t cool when Emperor Constantine did it in the 4th century and it isn’t cool now. Those who wear the comb over are nicknamed ‘bar code men’ in Japan because of the straight lines of hair that streak the scalp. Ick!
A product of the 60s, the beehive involved a lot of back-combing to get a huge hairy lump on your head. Unfortunately it came back into fashion in the mid-2000s with stars such as Amy Winehouse sporting this catastrophe of a haircut, making it acceptable for the rest of the population to do so. The aftermath of a beehive looks almost as bad as the cut itself so the whole thing is best avoided.
Feathering can be okay, in moderation and combined with a reasonable cut. But when it ends up like this, it is definitely not okay. One from the 70s, this voluminous look is best confined to the annals of history and forgotten about. Fortunately these days feathering is generally used in combination with a smooth cut rather than textured.
Completely shaved heads look fine but combining shaved head one side with long, flowing locks on the other is not a good plan. It has been part of the punk scene for years and in the last couple of years there have been some celebrities who have sported this look but really, take a step back and think about what this looks like.
The author of this top 10 list is Alex, who writes about all things hair and beauty, including brands Biotherm and L’Occitane.