Slicked Back Hair for Men: How to Slick Your Hair Back

This gives you “touchable” hair that can be mussed up after work if you don’t want to look overly slick at happy hour. 

For light hold and medium shine, use oil.

When applied to hair, oil gives a pinch of sheen with no grip whatsoever. This is a better bet for longer styles that won’t otherwise suffer from flyaways. It’s also good to mix with cream or paste for more added control and shine.

For light hold and light shine, use cream.

Cream gives your hair the control and style you want, but will make it look as if there’s no product added at all. This will likely not be enough hold for most guys, but if your hair is a length where gravity keeps it back, it’s a great option. 

For extra hold, use hair spray.

Give your finished look a light layer of hair spray to restrict any movement (if that’s what you want; it doesn’t make as much sense if you only use a cream or oil). 

“Hairspray will arrest those flyaways and ensure that not even an earthquake can make that slicked-back look collapse,” says Davie. Point the spray eight inches from your head, to ensure that the style holds all day.

L’Oreal Paris extra strong hair spray

How to Slick Back Different Types of Hair

Here are a few suggestions for different hair types—since no two men will have the same results, based on density, thickness, and texture.

How to slick back curly or wavy hair

Opt for a lightweight product, like paste, which will give you the right amount of control without compromising your texture. You probably won’t get the same effects as the straight-haired guys, but you can give yourself a nice modified version of the style. Davie says to start with the largest teeth on your comb, then switch to the smaller/finer end of the comb to help lock everything in at the finish.

How to slick back thin or thinning hair

Stick with something lightweight, to avoid any added strain on your hair. Again, pastes are typically a safe bet, since they are lightweight on application but that still provide enough hold. Creams will give you direction without hold, which might be a smart option for you, too.

How to slick back thick, wiry hair

Next time you get your hair cut, have your stylist or barber texturize and thin the hair, which will allow it to lay flatter and cooperate with your styling. Use conditioner and leave-in hair masks to keep the hair hydrated and soft. Then, try something with higher hold, like gel or fiber, depending on the amount of shine you want. You can finish with a hair spray for added control.

The best leave-in hair mask for thick hair

Olaplex bond smoothing leave-in cream

More Tips for Slicking Back Your Hair

1. Think about context.

Having slicked-back hair is a statement. Doing it in your casual clothes—or even your gym clothes—makes you look a little stodgy. It’s better to stick to formal occasions or a buttoned-up workplace.

2. Try different products.
In addition to being a statement hairstyle, slicked-back hair can also read a little intense. (Which can be a good thing, when the context is right.) So, if you like the general look on yourself, it might be wise to modify it for different occasions. Use gel or pomade for really formal occasions. Use paste or fiber for more casual settings.

3. Keep your edges clean.
You need clean lines with this style. That means you need to visit the barber at least once a month to keep a neat perimeter and neck.

4. Get your hair clean after each slick day.

This is easier with water-based products—you’ll have to shampoo to get out heavier stuff. Either way, you want to prevent any long-term buildup.  

A collage of multiple hair products including pomade, hair oil, and spray on a colorful abstract background
These Are the Absolute Best Hair Products for Men

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