2022 might have been the year that the internet rediscovered and embraced the ’90s blowout (it was when influencer Matilda Djerf’s gravity-defying hair essentially became its own content category), but 2023 took hairdos to new heights that made even those styles look flat. After the release of Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, not even the return of the big blowout was enough to scratch the architectural hair itch. People have been experimenting with towering 18th-century curls and piled-high top knots in addition to copying Priscilla Presley’s sky-high ’60s ’dos. One creator even urged, “we need to get back to focusing on achieving the biggest hair possible. A lot of you have lost sight of what is important.” Blow dryers, mousses, velcro rollers, and hairspray are getting the kind of use we haven’t seen in years. Even with all the tools, not everyone can easily achieve that inflated look (and get it to stay). But, there is one surefire way to create major volume and height that lasts: bringing back the bouffant.
The bouffant was created in the 18th century — rumored to be a solution to Marie Antoinette's otherwise thinning hair — but was popularized in the late ’50s and ’60s. Seen on the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, the style involves teasing and backcombing a pouf of hair on the crown of the head into a half-up style and securing it in place with bobby pins, a barrette, or even a bow. Unlike other bigger-is-better hairstyles, it’s not all about bounce and buoyancy. The bouffant has a little more design to keep hair piled high and allows for the lengths of hair to hang long. We have, of course, seen glimpses of the hairstyle over the past few years. Lana Del Ray has spent most of her career with a bouffant, Ariana Grande had one in her 34+35 music video in 2020, and even Dua Lipa wore a bouffant to The BRIT Awards in 2021. But love for the puffed-up look has ramped up this year, with Anne Hathaway, Sabrina Carpenter, Kaia Gerber, Beyoncé, and model Florence Rose all wearing bouffants in just the past few months.
While there’s no denying that Priscilla-inspired hair was a defining trend of 2023, hair artist Hos Hounkpatin (who has created similar full-bodied styles for Kaia Gerber) expects that the bouffant will take us into 2024. “For the longest time, it was all about the beachy wave, but now, it’s all about the va-va-voom,” he says. “People want to look more chic.” Effortful hair is back in after years of wanting to look “natural”, and what’s more, people are tired of having the same look as everyone else stuck in the loose waves trend. “Everyone wants to feel different so now they’re doing up-styling,” says Rosario Cannata, a master colorist at Warren Tricomi Salon, “the ‘Priscilla effect’ is transcending into more updos.” The desire to try something new and to be unique is fueling more expressive — and more time consuming — hair styling.
Whereas the mid-aughts gave us the “as seen on TV” Bumpit (a piece of plastic to hide in your hair to ensure it never falls flat), 2024 has some better solutions for delivering that level of desired volume. Sure, there’s still plenty of backcombing involved, but using newer tools like the viral Dyson Airwrap or dry shampoo means the bouffant no longer needs to be rock-hard to stay put. To make the look modern, the trick is actually to cut back on products. Some creators are even posting tutorials that use no hair products at all. “Back in the day, ’60s hair was very hairspray-ish, where it looks like it doesn’t move,” Hounkpatin says. To avoid this, he used only a set of rollers, Milbon’s texturizing spray, and a touch of Milbon hairspray to create Gerber’s look.
The swooping blowout was just the beginning, leading to the even bigger (thanks to some infrastructure) bouffant revival. With Marie Antoinette-esque curls also having a moment this year, it’s clear there’s a growing interest in hairstyles that take up much more space than sleek “clean girl” buns or “quiet luxury” ponytails. This year’s biggest styles are meant to stand tall and be seen — so leave a bouffant-shaped place in your heart for 2024.