Growing up in Texas, I heard that infamous “the higher the hair, the closer to heaven” maxim so much that I thought it was an actual Bible verse. While tall, teased hair might not have been literal scripture, it might as well have been. The bouffant beehives—whether they're attached to ‘60s chanteuses or a zebra print-clad Snooki—alike remerge in the trend cycles every so often, but are always infused with some sort of contemporary touch.
For much of the late 2010s though, teased crowns and big hair in general were largely reserved for speak-to-the-manager memes and aesthetic throwback shots of Dolly Parton. But this year, thanks to a perfect storm of movies and music, those sky-high hairstyles are back with a vengeance. When your Instagram feeds and FYPs are all featuring pageant queen-approved hair heights, it's time to consider something serious: are we living through a full-on Bumpit revolution?
Ahead, we're taking a look at the burgeoning bouffant trend, exploring its roots, and asking the pros for help on nailing it (with minimal tangles, too).
Where You've Seen It
If you watched even a half-hour of daytime TV from 2008-2012, you've invariably witnessed the infuriatingly catchy infomercial for Bumpits. As a relentlessly perky voice laments the horror of "flat hair" (followed by, yes, a horror movie scream sound effect), viewers are invited to inflate it at home by placing a lightweight plastic wedge underneath it all. Chicken-and-egg-style, it's hard to say if Bumpits influenced the culture or the other way around.
The late aughts were already rife with big-haired icons inspired by the '60s: Amy Winehouse made a vintage-tinged, larger-than-life beehive her calling card; Beyoncé wore a literal beyhive in tribute to Barbra Streisand, and Zooey Deschanel matched her retro aesthetic to playful projects. Of course there was also the "pouf"—where bangs were pulled back off the face and bumped with volume—that was a staple of literally every starlet of the mid-aughts.
But perhaps the most notorious original Bumpit girl, Snooki, leaves the most memorable impression. Somehow, the Jersey Shore star managed to take massive, teased hair and make it truly personal—no one was comparing her bouffant to any silver screen queens, and that's exactly the way she designed it.
Back before the Bumpit, most hair heights were achieved the old fashion way: lots and lots of teasing. In the '60s, previously-popular styles were amplified by teasing, puffs, and artificial hair pieces to make the looks sufficiently ginormous. Era icons like Ronnie Spector, Sharon Tate, Diana Ross, and even First Lady Jackie Kennedy all conjure distinct images of the large-and-in-charge hair of the day, continuing to impact trends and capture the imagination.
Look at the gasp-worthy hair heights of Priscilla Presley. Not only is her legendary look still influencing stars like Lana Del Rey and Lily Collins, but when the credits rolled in the latest Elvis biopic, entire rows of girls ahead of me immediately launched into a strategy on getting that hair.
Add to the equation the fact that Gen Z it-girls like Bella Hadid, Devon Lee Carlson, and Matilda Djerf have given the pouf their stamp of approval, and we're expecting volume to be back in a big way.
"I love the whole vibe of the '60s," says Clariss Rubenstein Saraf, celebrity stylist, noting that the decade's impact is indeed everywhere. "I love how Adele wears a throwback look and Ciara rocked a voluminous updo with loose curls and pieces down around the face that was reminiscent of Brigitte Bardot—that was perfection."
How To Get The Look
Think about it: at this moment in time, many of the top-line beauty trends are influenced by the '60s and, accordingly, the late aughts—just look at all the talk about the supposed twee revival. When you want to look half-The Hills, half-"Be My Baby", it's time to turn to teased hair. But for serious volume and height, is the Bumpit (still available, btw!) the best way to make it happen?
While celebrity hairstylist Clayton Hawkins does indeed declare the Bumpit look major for 2022—it's been a frequent request from his Gen Z clients—he suggests another method. Rather than using the actual hard plastic arc to lift up hair, Hawkins says he cuts a hair donut bun-maker in half, and places that at the crown to fluff it up and score that coveted height. He says to separate the hair where you plan to place the cut donut and lightly backcomb underneath with a Tangle Teezer comb. Then, place the roll, pin it, and brush the top layer of hair over the entire thing. But just as important as shaping the hair is making sure it's not sustaining serious damage in the process.
"It's so crucial that when you are doing the teasing, you're using products and tools that aren't going to damage it," he says, listing a wide-toothed Tangle Teezer as a key pick. "It's the same way we use a heat protector now, the same way we use Olaplex now," he explains. "You can have your hair totally curled, you can tease it out, but you want to use products and tools that aren't going to damage your hair." He adds that he loves paring these styles with accessories like bows and flowers to really lean into the femininity of the look.
If it's a slightly less theatric (yet no less retro-glam) look you're after, you might not need much beyond just a few basic pieces. Rubenstein Saraf says the best place to start is on slightly dirty spritzed with dry shampoo or a texturizer for hair for maximum grip and hold—she recommends the MONAT Studio One Dry Texturizing Spray ($35) Next, section the hair out and get ready to gently backcomb with a teasing brush. Make sure you're angling your hair forward when teasing so when you flip it back, it has more volume, she says, adding that finer or more delicate hair types should use a lighter touch. When it's time to dissemble the style, patience is a virtue. As tempting as going sicko mode with a detangling brush can be, Rubenstein Saraf goes a much safer route. "When you wet that hair to wash it, add a ton of conditioner before shampooing so the tease slips out," she says. "This also helps to gently remove all the product."
As it turns out, big hair "full of secrets" is surprisingly true to life. With so many celebrities and civilians alike getting in on the va-va-voom movement, consider this your sign to bump it up.