Saturday, 18 December 2010

Your handy guide to scary hair

Following on from my recent post about the basics of Goth make-up, I thought it was about time that I touched on hair and hairstyles. I only discovered reasonably recently that yes, I can do more things with the mop of rats' tails on top of my head than just dye it different colours *takes a moment to think nostalgically of her green-haired twelve-year-old self* and cut it all off every now and again.

Assuming that you are a little more well-groomed than I am, you may be wondering (those new to Goth, that is) what to do with your barnet - after all, a Victoria Beckham bob with blonde highlights may not lend itself well to the decadent fashion and make-up stylings of a dark diva.

Artful, diva-tastic use of mini-crimpers...
Source: Gothic Charm School on Tumblr
Goth hair FAQ
Do I have to dye it black? - No. According to the media, YouTube, Wikihow and almost anywhere else you can think of, Goth hair must be long, dead straight and raven black. Whilst this 'traditional' style (hardly - how many tradgoths and Batcavers have YOU seen with straight, centre-parted hair? The only time tradgoth hair was 'straight' was when it was pointing straight up) can create a stunning effect, black hair isn't flattering on everyone and certainly isn't necessary if it's not what you fancy.

Do I have to dye it at all? - No. Despite the claims of many websites, your hair doesn't actually need to be pink, purple, red, white, blue, green, or any other unnatural colour. Having crazy-coloured hair can look amazing - but so can natural hair if it's done right. Some Goth looks, such as cybergoth, may not lend themselves particularly well to natural-coloured hair, but that's what wigs, falls, and temporary dyes are for.

Big hair. Do I havta? - Nah. Big hair is good fun but if your hair is thin, weak or otherwise prone to breaking it's probably best to give the backcombing a miss. And if it's not your thing, you won't be losing any major Goth points for not styling your hair like Siouxsie.

Do Goth guys have to have long hair? - No, although many do. I'm not sure if this is something we picked up from the metal scene or if the Gothy guys had it first, but long flowing hair is certainly popular amongst Goth chaps, particularly those in their teens and twenties.

Can I still look Goth if I'm blonde/have no hair/have Afro hair? - Yes, of course you can!

The usual suspects
As you know, the Goth look is all about creativity and individuality, but as Goths generally share a sense of aesthetics there are some styles that are often seen. Shaved heads or shaved sections are seen on both men and women - long hair can also be sported by either.

Deathhawk - Goth's answer to the punk Mohawk: crimped and teased, with shaved sides. Often accessorised with fake spiderwebs, bone clips, or designs clipped or drawn into the remaining short hair at the sides (spiderwebs, again, being popular).

Maximum backcomb - break out the hairspray, fine-toothed comb and crimpers for the ultimate Big Goth Hair. This look hearkens back to the 80s when AquaNet hung heavy in the air and everyone was highly flammable from the neck up.

V-fringe or other strange forehead formations - a V-fringe is, obviously, a V-shaped fringe (or bangs, depending on where in the world you may be) with a point in the centre between the brows. Think Liza Minelli or Wednesday Mourning. Goth fringes may be also heavy and blunt, teeny-tiny and slightly curved (think Adora BatBrat) or somewhere in the middle. Curved fringes (ahem, see my profile pic - although admittedly in my current pic it's more a half-assed V-fringe, which wasn't exactly the intention) are very popular.

Uncle Fester - shave the whole lot off.

Undershave - an undershave is when the underneath sections of hair are shaved, either at the sides to allow spiking up one's hawk or at the back, which looks striking when hair is ponytailed. My undershave is currently growing out, leaving me with an interesting section of two-inch fuzz.

Fantasy locks - in a subculture so heavily inspired by folklore and the supernatural, it's not surprising that a handful of Goths have incredibly long fairytale locks. Really, really long hair can be beautifully accessorised, but doesn't really need any frippery to make a statement. Floor-length (no exaggeration) curtains of hair can be often spotted at Goth festivals at WGT in all shades and colours. This would be my hair ideal - I'm still working on growing it...

Almost sensible - e.g., hairstyles that won't get you fired or expelled.

Rich waves, cute ringlets and loose curls are feminine and a little dreamy, and work well with almost any style (for the ladies, that is). Sleek, straight Morticia locks are also a standby, and will give you Gothic glamour without being OTT. A sharp bob (jaw-length, graduated - whatever), usually in a dark colour, gives a groomed, dramatic appearance.

Retro - with the Gothabilly look experiencing a surge in popularity, many Goths are choosing to go retro with Bettie Page bangs and victory rolls - but the 40s and 50s are not the only decades worth plundering for inspiration. After all, nobody rocked the beehive like Elvira.

Your arsenal
HAIRSPRAY. No, silly person, not the damn musical. The lovely stuff that comes in a can, preferably a very big can. It may also be worth stocking up on a few hundred hair pins if you a) enjoy creating really elaborate hairstyles or b) tend to lose the damn things just when you REALLY need one to keep your veil or headdress on, like me. (Did anyone else notice that I forgot to finish the previous sentence when I first posted this?)

For day-to-day styling you don't actually need straighteners unless your hair is extremely wayward - a hairdryer with diffuser should do the trick. Keep it angled downwards and use a vent brush to smooth out your locks. Finish with a blast of cold air for extra shine. However, rather than bin the straighteners, you may wish to keep them on hand if you're a fan of Really DEAD Straight hair on occasion.

I'm intending to splash out on a pair of GHDs after Christmas so that I can ditch my straightners and my crappy curling tongs (I can be tonging away on the same bit of hair for half an hour to no avail).

Crimpers are a Goth's best friend - if you're feeling flash you may also wish to invest in a pair of mini-crimpers to add volume or for fun detail.

If you have a fringe, you will find that a round brush is your best friend when it comes to styling. Also, try not to sleep on your face.

Fake it til' you make it
Hair extensions can either add length and volume or add a flash of colour. Glued-in extensions are a touch pricey but last for up to six months. You can also have extensions braided into your natural hair. Clip-in extensions are widely available and are a sensible option for young Goths who would like to liven up their hairdo after school.

Hair falls clip on over ponytails and buns, giving you a whole new hairstyle. Neon colours, plastic doodads and tubing (aka cyberlox) are commonly seen on cybergoths; however there are many other styles available such as heavy ringlets, long straight hair, or crimped with a flash of contrasting colour.

Wigs are a third option for a temporary new look - not cheap joke shop wigs, but 'proper' wigs from shops and brands such as Manic Panic, Trashy Diva and Head Razor. Wigs are also great for themed outfits such as a towering beehive wig for a Elizabethan ball. Wigs are, however, the most expensive option.

Links and inspiration
For fantasy hair inspiration, there's nowhere better than Viona-Art; for general hair lovelies try Goth Fashion; and for all your Gothy hair questions try the Fashion forum on


Anonymous said...

I'm very lazy when it comes to my hair--I just pull it back into some sort of braid or ponytail, or jsut leave it down. My hair's too curly to straighten easily, so I just let it do its own thing. I have been experimenting with colored ponytail holders and other accessories. I think I will have to try an undershave, though.

Stefanie said...

My hair is currently super short and natural mouse but I'm dying it purple this afternoon :D Usually my hair colour is red of some description :)

Julietslace said...

I have a blonde "Pob" cut/Victoria Beckham and it works just well for me, although it's clearly inspired by a 1920s flapper style. The haircut very much depends on the individual and not whether it's "dark" enough.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Julietslace - ah, but a sleek blonde bob is different than an overprocessed cut with ridiculously obvious 'blonde' highlights. More retro glamour than footballer's wife.

SaryWalrus said...

MY GOD. After reading this article more than twice I've only just realised that I've read your exact same article on Mookychick a year or two ago more than twice aswell!

Oh the coincidences.

Anonymous said...

I have a very short butch/emo cut and it's frustratingly plain-- i can't think of a single thing to do with it other than hairclips (ewww) or dyeing it. (I'm considering black with blonde highlights-will that look too fake?) If i try to grow it out it starts to stick out in odd directions, curl in the wrong places, and look generally very shabby. any suggestions?

jessicadawn said...

So happy I read this!! Being new to Goth one of my biggest worries was my hair as it is quite long and just will not be backcombed and everything else I read was saying goth hair has to be big and backcombed...thanks for sorting it out for me!! :)

Anonymous said...

I want to dye my hair pink,but don't want to look like cayber,cause i am not a cyber.Ny haur is very short,like male haircut.I love victorian,and i think it will be very interesting combination of short pink hair and victorian style :)

Mad Vampire Poet said...

Ok, so I've read this a few times. Just ages ago. Maybe last year. It's interesting, as are all of you posts, except the ones I'm not interested in. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I want my hair to be really long - it's about six inches from waist length right now - but it's probably going to take forever to grow. Oh well. I'm just going to have to be patient.

Anonymous said...

In thinking of going Betty page Or vfringe for my bangs... My hair grows too fast, but I have a round face so it seems too shrink under long hair, so I always chop it all off, right now I have a short layered bob, it's newly dyed black/brown I need to work on shaping my eye brows, I'm blind without my glasses so tweezing is near impossible I shaved them off last halloween and I actually enjoyed using the black eye liner. However I work in fashion retail and there policy is becoming stricter xP. Any suggestions? :3

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