Why Big Hair Will Always Be In Style In The South

We love big hair, and we're not ashamed to admit it.

Dolly Parton | Circa 1970
Photo: CSU Archives/Everett Collection

Yes, it's a stereotype—Southerners have and love big hair. But this is one stereotype that's absolutely true and we're not ashamed to admit it. Southerners have been making waves with their oversized hairdos for decades and—we'd argue—have been the biggest hairstyle trendsetters to date. Southern women love their big hair. Here’s what to know about the love of big hair and how to pump up the volume to create your own voluminous 'do.

Meet Southern Trendsetters

In the 1950s, Texan and singer-songwriter Dale Evans rested her cowboy hat atop voluminous curls with her omelet fold hairstyle. In the 1960s, Memphis-native Aretha Franklin gained our R-E-S-P-E-C-T not only for her singing chops but also for her mile-high beehive. In the '70s, Corpus Christi-raised Farrah Fawcett's blonde feathered curls made her a timeless beauty icon...and the rest of us green with envy. Who could forget Georgian Julia Roberts' full-volume wedding day updo in the 1980s movie Steel Magnolias? In the late '80s to early '90s, former Miss Florida and actress Delta Burke had as much hair as she did Southern sass while starring in Designing Women. And of course, we can't forget the queen of big hair, Dolly Parton, who has sported a series of larger-than-life 'dos to match her personality all along the way.

Embrace Big Hair

Today, celebrities like Selena Gomez (from Texas) with an overload of dark waves and Reese Witherspoon (born in Louisiana) with her sleek but full blonde locks are putting a new spin on big hair, and we're saluting them for carrying on the tradition. After all, if the inescapable Southern humidity is going to make our hair grow anyway, we might as well embrace the look. That's why we're saying when it comes to hair, Southerners will always go big, or go home.

Get Big Hair

Replicate that big Southern hair with some practice—and teasing, spraying, and rollers. The easiest way to get big hair volume is with a set of hot rollers. Use the large rollers in a set for waves or just to add smoothness and volume. A set of Velcro rollers will also give your locks a boost. Use the medium and large rollers in a set after blow-drying, and let your hair set in the rollers until it cools completely. Finish with hairspray to keep everything in place.

Give fine hair a boost with volumizing products, and blow-dry hair upward with a round brush.

Combat Humidity

The South’s humidity is a common enemy of big hair. To thwart a droopy hairstyle, the best trick is to embrace your natural hair texture. Don’t try to straighten hair that wants to curl, and don’t curl hair that’s straight as a stick. If it’s known to frizz, try a big sweeping updo that still has emphasis without falling flat. Use hairspray to tame flyaways. And there’s nothing wrong with keeping a small bottle and a comb in your purse for touchups.

Get the Right Haircut

The iconic feathered hair Farrah Fawcett made popular didn’t go out of style with disco. Giving those wings a modern twist is a great way to add volume to hair. Big face-framing curls and flips, feathery curtain bangs, and shaggy layers have maximum volume potential. 

If the feathered look isn’t what you’re after, you’ll still get plenty of oomph with the right haircut. Bobs, lobs, shags, and layers provide texture for all hair lengths without much maintenance.

Master the Tease

You need staying power for a big hairstyle to survive almost any event in the South, and teasing your hair will help that hairdo last till you get home and kick off your shoes. You don’t need cat-eye glasses and a beehive look, but a little bit of teasing can go a long way to add some height.

To start, section your hair, spray with hairspray, and use a comb to pull down from the middle of the section toward the scalp a few times. Comb out and repeat sections. Finish with hairspray.

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