Thursday 12 March 2015


Another in our great series about growing up in a different decade… we talk to Jo who was a teenager in the 1980s!

Jo says:
I was a post punk indie rock chick in the 1980s. The most important part of my look was my hair and eyeliner. The eyeliner was easy - kohl pencil had been around since the ancient Egyptians, but spiky hair was quite a new look and there were hardly any hair products available. The only gel was Boots own brand, which came in glass jars and was green or blue. I got through a jar a week. It was really watery and I had to blast my hair with the hairdryer to make sure it had set before applying hairspray on top. The hairspray was designed for old ladies who got their hair set every week at the salon. It wasn't ideal, but still I gassed myself regularly with Silverkrin Ultra Hold spray to get the look I wanted, even though it did bad things to my skin.

My friend Sam and I went to Kensington Market to get our hair cut. Paul, the hairdresser, had professional hair products. KMS gel came in a cool bottle with a lid like a sports water bottle, even though bottled water didn't actually exist back then! KMS was awesome because it worked without the hairdryer and smelt different to Boots gel. Sam squeezed some on her pillowcase so she could sniff it and think of Paul the hairdresser whenever she was feeling down. These days, I use a layer-enhancing, texturizing paste/gel /gum made by L'Oreal, Tigi, Redken or one of a zillion other brands… but I don't use hairspray any more, because it always did give me spots!

Cathy says:
Love this… and yes, I remember the woeful lack of hair products back then! These days Jo is a fabulous author - find out more about her work at . Would YOU have liked being a teenager in the 1980s? COMMENT BELOW to tell us why, or why not!


  1. Jo sounds awesome although I certainly don't envy her lack of hair products! I used got2b gel and hairspray to keep my impressive mohawk up and I use VO5 matt styling wax to keep my super short hair spiky now. Such choice! I used Silverkrin hairspray when I was 13 though - I took a massive can of it to school in my bag each day so I could redo my hair at break and lunchtime. I was just wondering how The Exploited got their hair to stand up if there wasn't a great choice of products...but I used to be friends with a guy who was a punk and he used to have a 1ft high mohawk that he says he kept up with wallpaper paste! Was he having me on or did punks actually slather their hair in wallpaper paste back then?
    Blue. :-)

    1. I'm sure the wallpaper paste story is correct. I had heard of guys using sugar solution and even Superglue, only I don't know how you'd get Superglue on your hair without sticking your fingers to your mohawk. I expect they are all bald now!

    2. Sugar and water was the beat way to get a perfect mohican back then… I had a few friends who did this. The rest of us just backcombed like mad and used tons of hairspray! xxx



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