Will the Bouffant Become the Latest Retro Hairstyle to Make a Comeback?
We thought when we spotted Dua Lipa with a bouffant hairstyle at the 2021 BRIT Awards it was a one-off. Then, when celebrity after celebrity – from Andra Day to Anya Taylor Joy – started rocking the voluminous ‘do, it finally clicked: the bouffant has quickly become the next retro hair trend to make a return, and it’s here to stay this year.
Extremely popular in the 1950s and ’60s, this style (which comes from the French word bouffante, meaning puffed out) is a hairstyle that’s raised high on the head and features a rounded shape. Iconic bouffant wearers of the past include Brigitte Bardot and Lisa Marie Presley, but besides singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele adopting it as part of their musical personas, the hairstyle has never truly made a resurgence since the mid-20th century. Instead, it was a hair trend strictly relegated to pop culture of the past – that is, until 2021 came along.
It’s hard to say what’s triggered the return of the bouffant, but what we can be sure of is why people keep coming back to this midcentury coif. “It’s because it’s very flattering,” hairstylist Sam McKnight told POPSUGAR. “It’s drama, and while it can definitely be over the top, it can be very underplayed as well. Plus, I think a bit of height always makes people feel a bit taller, and a bit grander, and a bit more done if you like. The best way to do them, the modern way to do them, is to have it kind of really undone and have it not look too perfect.”
A bouffant can be worn with an updo, like Dua Lipa did, a ponytail, or a half-up hairstyle. However you wear it, though, the key is to build up volume. To re-create the look at home, start with a light wave, which means breaking out a large curling iron if you have straight hair, or blow-drying your hair smooth if you have curly hair. If you’re looking for a quick way to go about it, blow-dry three sections of hair at the top of your head and roll into three large Velcro rollers, leaving the hair to completely cool before removing them. Next, mist your roots and the hair at the crown of your head with texture spray, like Hair by Sam McKnight Easy Updo Spray (US$30). Separate hair at the top of the head into slim sections and backcomb gently with a comb. Smooth the surface with a soft bristle brush, create your style (updo, ponytail, or half-up), and finish with a final mist of hairspray.
For some our favourite takes on the modern bouffant hairstyle, click ahead.
– Additional reporting by Sophia Panych