There Are 250 Perms in Stranger Things Season 3
The show’s lead hairstylist on what it took to transform Eleven, Nancy, Steve, Billy, and the rest of the cast into authentic ‘80s kids.
Stranger Things season three picks up seven months after Eleven closed the gate to the Upside Down — or did she? Now, it's the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and every character has embraced the style of the mid-'80s, especially in the hair department.
In the season's trailer, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) has a perm. Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) has discovered bleach, adding frosted tips to his glorious fluffy mullet. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) wears florescent scrunchies, and Billy's (Dacre Montgomery) curly mullet is even more extreme.
Of course, any Stranger Things stan knows that nothing is ever what it seems in Hawkins — and that includes the secrets behind all of these epic hairstyles. Ahead of the premiere on July 4, InStyle talked to Sarah Hindsgaul, the show's hairstylist, to get behind-the-scenes insight on all the fresh '80s looks you're about to see.
Perms Are the Star of the Show
The biggest hair trend of the '80s was, well, big hair. And in season three, the residents of Hawkins have finally caught on to the perm. Hindsgaul says that they gave 250 cast members perms on set, including main characters Nancy and Billy's wigs, extras, and stunt doubles. She enlisted students from Tony & Guy's Academy in Atlanta (where the show is filmed) to perform the treatments.
"We had eight hairstylists help out the students, and they permed for weeks," she says. For Billy, she took the '80s-era Robe Lowe inspired wig the character wore in season two, and made it curlier and longer in the back — a true '80s hair masterpiece.
Many Characters Also Got Highlights
This season takes place in the summer, which means the teens of Hawkins are spending more time outside. Hindsgaul gave many characters — including Steve, Eleven, and Billy — blonde highlights that mimic the way the sun can naturally lighten hair (or maybe the Hawkins teens discovered Sun-In, the DIY hair lightening product popularized in the '80s).
To keep the blonde from getting brassy, Hindsgaul applied toner every so often, and washed with repairing or purple shampoos. Her favorites include Toyko Lab's repairing color-protecting shampoo and, for blonde hair, KEVIN.MURPHY's Angel.Blonde.Wash.
Mousse Was the Most Popular Product On Set
To get the actors' hair super big and crunchy, Hindsgaul used a ton of mousse. She says she used KEVIN.MURPHY's Body.Builder on some of the main cast, like Millie Bobby Brown. Otherwise she used Suave, a drugstore classic, because she says the formula's higher alcohol concentration really gets the hair to hold volume.
Natalia Dyer Wore Part of Winona Ryder's Wig from Season One
Along with a perm, Hindsgaul added a big faux hair piece up top for extra body and fluffiness. Instead of getting new fake hair, she created the piece by recycling something from an earlier season.
"Natalia’s piece is part of Winona’s old wig from season one that I cut up, because we like to reuse that stuff sometimes," she laughs. "Suddenly, everyone was wearing little pieces of each other’s wigs that we started cutting up from past seasons."
Hindsgaul also used a roller set in Dyer's hair. "I used a roller set, because she is the daughter of Karen Wheeler who probably taught her well in the self-grooming department," says Hindsgaul. "I had the piece sitting on top because we were shooting in 100 degree weather and no matter what you do, that’s too hot and humid for hair to stay up."
Joe Keery's Mullet Is 100% Real and 100% Hard to Style
Last season, the internet fell in love with Steve's mullet — seriously. When you Google "how to get Steve Harrington's hair" tutorials come up in the results. While Steve tells his protégé Dustin that he uses Fabergé Organics shampoo, conditioner, and Farah Fawcett hairspray, Hindsgaul says that styling Keery's hair is more of a process.
"He had always cut his hair short his whole life until we started the show, but the only way to control that massive amount of hair is to have some length to it," she explains. "We grow it out and then layer it throughout so it’s a bit piece-y. Otherwise, it gets stick straight."
To achieve the look, she blow-dried the hair back, and used KEVIN.MURPHY Night.Rider to give it some texture. "I blow dry that into the hair as I’m holding it down and back on top," she says. "We soft style the sides to get as much curl and texture as we can."
Eleven Uses Scrunchies as Friendship Bracelets
"This year she’s [Eleven] finally got a girlfriend, and I think we see a little bit of Max in her," says Hindsgaul. "Max wears all of these colorful scrunchies and I feel like when you have a girlfriend, you start looking a little bit like your friends."
While Eleven and Max swap scrunchies at sleepovers, she ditches the hair accessory as the season progresses. "As the season goes on, Eleven gets more and more slicked back," says Hindsgaul. "I like to have her as clean as possible when we start going into monster-slaying mode."
VIDEO: Hawkins Goes Hollywood at Strange Things Season 3 World Premiere
Noah Schnapp's Wig Came from an Unexpected Source
Hindsgaul tells us that the male cast members have a four month period before filming starts where they can't cut their hair to make creating those retro mullets and bowl cuts easier.
So, getting a big haircut days before filming starts? That's a big no no, but that's exactly what actor Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, did. "He was in the South of France and I saw an Instagram of his full buzz cut and I was like, oh my god," laughs Hindsgaul.
To create Will's signature bowl cut this season, one of Hindsgaul's employees actually gave her hair to the cause. "One of my employees had cut off all of her hair when she was around 10 and had saved it," she says. "We needed children's hair for Will's wig and hers was so soft and fine. So, we made a wig out of it for the show."
It might sound unconventional, but stranger things have certainly happened.
Stranger Things’s third season will premiere on July 4 on Netflix.