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Photo: John Carlo Tubelleza

west coast beauty

The Scrunchie is Here to Stay

A brief history of this most controversial accessory and why your hair colorist really wants you to wear one.

Written On 3/14/2022

It’s hard to think of another fashion or beauty trend that has ricocheted so wildly in and out of style.

Truly, this seemingly demure piece of scrunched up cloth has enjoyed a love/hate relationship with people of all ages and steezes since it was invented in the 80s by a singer named Rommy Revson. (Although, according to the internets it was actually first developed by Philips E. Meyers in the 60s but failed to gain any traction. Sorry Meyers, you were ahead of your time.)

If you were a cool kid in the 80s and 90s, chances are you rocked a scrunchie like you meant it. The nature of the beast—simply fabric sewn over a common elastic hairband—lends itself to all matter of variations in both size, texture, and colors. Neon was a popular choice from the beginning, and the scrunchy was everywhere in pop culture: Phoebe on “Friends” had one, the Tanner girls on “Full House” were drowning in them, and pretty much every major pop star from Debbie Gibson to Paula Abdul wore the hell out of some scrunchies.

Then, something unthinkable happened to the most popular girl at school: Back in the early 2000s when “Sex and the City” was basically the most influential show ever (when it came to setting sartorial standards anyway), SJP’s character Carrie Bradshaw pronounced scrunchies to be a serious faux pas. PR nightmare amirite? Nobody wanted to be caught dead wearing one, and we can only assume sales plummeted as people tossed them off their heads and out of their lives.

But do not mourn for this poor creature, because as we all know, scrunchies are like a zombie that simply will not die. Around 2009 American Apparel reintroduced the scrunchie and hipsters—who love irony more than life itself—started wearing them once more. This comeback kid was suddenly everywhere again.

More recently, a new generation of trend setters have adopted the scrunchie, and its staying power is just kind of mind-blowing. The Hadids and Biebers of the world flaunt them on the regular, and even the highest echelons of the fashion world have gotten involved: Fendi famously created a $275 silk set that totally sold out. That’s a pretty high-toned scrunchie.

Now, we have been all caught up in the aesthetic value of this staple, but please, consider its utilitarian benefits as well. Hairstylists love to recommend them, especially to their color clients, as normal hairbands tug and tend to tear strands. Not so with the scrunchie! Why, is there anything these little babies can’t do? Only time will tell folks, time will tell.

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