If one particular item could sum up life in the 1980’s, Aqua Net Hairspray would be a frontrunner! In an era that was marked by prominent shoulder pads, aggressive neon colors, and spandex apparel as a second skin, Aqua Net reigned supreme.
Just as clothes were bright, tight, and over-the-top, hair was layered, teased, lacquered, and rendered unmovable from vigorous spraying, preferably with Aqua Net.
Aqua Net was first conceived in the 1950’s and grew into a household name. It was once commonly used in fine salons and became a retail product later in the decade. The brand had a loyal following, and much later on, it became a go-to beauty product for celebrities such as Kim Cattrall and Donna Mills.
Aqua Net even was featured in movies such as “Mad Men” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Aqua Net also had a resurgence in the early 2000’s with the revival of the play Hairspray on Broadway.
We’ve all probably heard the mantra, “Less is more,” but back in the 1980’s, the philosophy was definitely “the more, the better.” The popular trends all emphasized more, and as much more as possible.
Just a few examples of 80’s excess would be wearing neon colors like lime green, fuchsia, and the same color yellow seen on caution signs. Many rock bands were known as “hair bands” for the long, full, teased hairdos their members sported. Guys in bands wore caked on mascara, eyeshadow, and lipstick. Their clothes often involved leather, studs, fringes, neon, and leopard prints.
The typical 80’s women’s fashion included tight jeans and flashy colors. The hair was layered, often dyed or bleached, and teased up several inches on top of her head. The word subtle didn’t exist in most people’s vocabularies. It was all about flashy hairstyles, makeup, clothing, cars, nightlife, and more.
Aqua Net was a great tool for keeping up with the hedonistic lifestyle. Even those who danced up a storm until closing time could keep their hair relatively flawless with enough Aqua Net spray! The excessively stiff coiffure was as artificial as the staged personas of the image-conscious partiers.
Discos and night clubs featured deafeningly loud music with pounding rhythms, accompanied by copious amounts of multi-colored and strobe lights. Those on the club circuit were obsessed with keeping up the right image with designer clothes, salon hair styles, and impressive cars.
Aqua Net hairspray, which was also quite popular in the 1960’s, was definitely a must-have beauty supply for women and many men. How else could they keep those layered and teased styles stiffly styled and towering above their heads? Moreover, Aqua Net was easily available to those who couldn’t quite afford the ultimate sportscar.
With Aqua Net, there was no risk of anyone’s hair falling flat or moving out of place after hours of dancing or strutting along a windy beach. The artificiality of the layered, blow-dried hairstyles fit perfectly with the obsessive quest to portray the right image and fit in with the elite social class.
Owning stock in the company that produced this magic elixir called Aqua Net probably resulted in windfall profits for many 1980’s “yuppies” in search of the good life. Today Aqua Net has re-emerged with new, more modern packaging and is found in retail stores throughout the country.