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A Brief History of the Poof

September 29, 2022

4 Min read

“Are you tired of flat boring hairstyles? Do you go through a can of hairspray trying to get that full volumized look?”

If there’s anything people born before 2000 remember it’s the Bump It commercial. Two minutes of mid-2000 nostalgia worthy hair moments complete with chunky highlights and piecy bobs that most of us, until now, might seriously cringe at.

I mean – we’ve reinterpreted so much from the time period, did we think we were safe? The Poof, so it’s been called as of late, is back. And while one super famous TikToker isn’t using the plastic hair piece per se, she was recorded adding some serious volume to the crown of her head and wondering where her Bump It was.

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Well – the pouffe – a French ancestor of the poof, dates back to the 1700’s when Marie Antoinette decided her wigs were not enough – she needed a style that added even more volume. French noble women used metal cutouts and cushions to create towering pouffes that they adorned with trinkets. The trend didn’t catch – that is until the 1950’s when a only slightly more modest version of the pouffe (also known as the bouffant or beehive in this era) was made popular by British celebrity hairstylist Raymond Bessone. 

The style is characterized by hair at the top of your head teased and hair sprayed to high heavens and then laid back in an arch shape to create, well, a poof.

In the 1960s, Jackie Kennedy rocked the bouffant, along with Bridget Bardot, Dolly Parton and Priscilla Presley. Soon however, the style lost its charm in favor of a more Cher-esque 70’s long and ironed look – but over the decades artists, celebs and us regular people have called in the statement style to harken back to the 60’s mod aesthetic. Take Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey for example. 

The poof has also taken up permanent residence in wedding and prom styles, and has been known to grace editorial and runway quite often. It had landed almost right where it started: for those looking to convey a sense of high fashion, or elegance.

That is until 2008, when that good ole’ Bump It commercial landed on the scene. This adaption of the style was marketed towards everyday wear, not just those going for “retro”. When Snooki adopted the trend in the first season of Jersey Shore, it was a done deal! She made the poof her own, and solidified a new aesthetic for the hair style: Juicy Couture, Ugg-wearing it girl. 

Today, you can still get Bump Its, or a variation, at your local drugstore. Whether you’re channeling Jackie Kennedy or Snooki – the best things about hair trends, and the way we approach style in general these days, is our ability to take what we like from a style and adapt it to fit our needs. 

How to Style a Poof

While getting a foot high Marie Antoinette or Priscilla Presley poof might take a little more work, here’s how to do the classic mid size.

First decide where you want your volume. Classic poofs create volume on the back of the crown, but the middle and front of the crown are also options. Pick your tool! For mid-size poofs you can go with the classic Bump Its, but opting for a non-plastic option might reduce hair damage. Cutting a bun donut in half is also an option! Part your hair from left to right where you want your volume (perpendicular to your neutral part) and tease the base of your hair that’s facing the hair piece with a wide tooth comb. Add some hairspray or gel and lay it back over the piece, repeating this with more hair until your donut is covered. Then pin into place, and top off with even more hairspray or gel.

For removal: please do not start hacking away with a brush! After unpinning and removing your donut or Bump It, wet your hair and condition deeply. This will remove as much product as possible and start the detangling process. It’s not the healthiest style for your hair, so your best bet at reducing damage is also starting with a healthy strand. A good custom Shampoo and Conditioner is a good place to start!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Phillips is a freelance New York based storyteller across mediums. With a BFA in writing from The New School, Phillips uses language to convey her personal truths and imagine new worlds in fiction, poetry, screen writing and non-fiction. Her non-fiction can be found in office Magazine, CryBaby Zine, Period Space, Chanel Void, Editorial Magazine, 10011 Magazine and includes editorial work for brands. Her creative writing is published in Unvaeled Journal, Rookie Magazine, and her poetry book, “Nowhere Words,”  published in September of 2020.  In all of her work, she believes in creating content that engages viewers through shared experience and authentic narratives, rather than elitism or insecurity. Follow her instagram @c.har.lee for more.

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