The slick back is a classic, timeless hairstyle for the modern day gentlemen. A famous hairstyle sported by the like of James Dean and Elvis Presley and now worn by contemporary celebrities and style icons, the slick back has been an unwaveringly popular style over the decades. The hairstyle suits all kinds of men and always gives off a sophisticated air. It’s perfect for professional settings, formal events, the red carpet or just for a sleek, everyday look. It teams well with the classic pompadour for a bit of extra flair. It’s an excellent look for men with naturally straight or fine hair and gives a perfectly sleek look. Its popularity has had a boost lately with many classic gentlemanly pursuits such as barbershops and the classic single shave, cigars and fine suits coming back into style. Fine whiskey, long beards and well styled outfits are in vogue. There’s been a renaissance as of late with a range of new products like beard oils and men’s hair products hitting the market. Take part and learn how to do the stylish slick back. Read on below to find out more.
What is the slick back hairstyle?
The slick back is a classic style that involves pushing the hair backwards off the face with a comb or the hand. There are a few variations of this style, from the classic pompadour – made popular in the 50’s by the likes of Elvis Presley and James Dean, to the undercut or modern day slick back fade. The style is essentially the same no matter what twist you put on it. Sleek, with the hair pushed back. Products like gels or pomades are usually use to style the hair and keep it put. It’s important to beware though, it’s easy to accidentally step into the ‘oily’ hair territory. There’s a fine line between stylish hair and greasy locks. Getting the slick back is about balancing smoothness with product – less is more. The slick back is a timeless look, made versatile by the myriad of different way it could be worn. Read on below to find out about how the slick back came to be, how to style it and the best kind of products to use to achieve the look.
The history of the slick back style
The classic slick back hairstyle has actually been around for a long time. It originated in the Edwardian era, all the way back in the years of 1901 to 1910. The undercut style of the slick back was developed by barbers who lacked the skill to properly blend the back and sides with the length on top. The undercut slick back style became popular in the 20th century with criminal gangs, who would wear it with slick, and well-coiffed hair on the top. The choice of style can be party attributed to the danger of having longer hair during fights – the slick back made it harder to grab at any hair during a tousle! The undercut style remained in rotation until the 1960s when the popularity of hippy culture and celebrity figures like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones made long hair popular again for the first time in almost a hundred years.
Meanwhile, the pompadour became popular in the 1950s and 60s by rock and roll stars. The style was taken from a mistress of French King Louis XV. The style is worn high, swept back from the forehead towards the back of the head. Combining the undercut and the pompadour is the basis for what we know as the contemporary, slick back hairstyle. The hairstyle looks great worn sleek with a clean shaven face, but many celebrities have also rocked the look with a beard in a ‘scandi’ take on the look. Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum have both worn the look as of late.
The classic slick back
If you want to try out a slick back style then the classic slick back style is undoubtedly the best place to start. The classic slick back is the perfect look for both a professional setting and a night out on the town. It’s a great style for men on the go, who have time to style their hair in the morning but likely won’t have time for touch-ups during the day. Unfortunately, it’s not the perfect style for everyone. Those with curly or unruly hair will struggle to keep their hair set in place and will likely find that the style puts unnecessary stress on natural curl. Natural curls will feel heavy and look too product laden when forced into a sleek style like the slick back.
It’s also not the ideal style for very fine or thin hair which will get heavy with hair product – the slick back can end up looking like an attempt at a comb over on very fine hair.
If you’re lucky enough to have the right texture for a pompadour however, then you’ll find the classic slick back is an excellent way to start and that you’ll achieve great results when styling the hair. The classic slick back is the easiest of the slick back styles to maintain, although it worthwhile to ensure that you regularly wash or rinse your hair because the style requires a lot of product to hold it all in place.
To achieve the classic slick back you should ask your hairdresser for a cut that’s a two or three on the sides. You should ask to keep as much length on top as possible. Immediately after getting out of the shower, you should make sure you apply some strong hold pomade to your hair. Work the product through your hair evenly with your fingers – warming it in your fingers first will make the pomade easier to work with. Push your hair back with your fingers and a fine tooth comb. Once styles, allow your hair to air dry. Set any fly-away’s with some additional product before going about your day. If you prefer softer products then use them, but you’ll probably find yourself needing touch ups throughout the day.
Side parted slick back
The side parted slick back is a trickier style to pull off than the classic slick back hairstyle, although the side parts adds a more modern twist on the classic style. To get this look, try and keep your side a little bit longer with a gradual fade from the bottom up. The side parting of the hair needs to be well defined with shears for a sharp look. The top of the hair should be thinned out with thinning scissors for a better style.
When styling the hair apply product to damp or wet hair and then work product into the parting f the hair. If your blow dry your hair you’ll likely get better volume and style in your hair. If you have wavier or curlier hair, use a straightener to straighten out any stray locks of hair.
The slick back undercut and fade
To make a big impression, you should try out an undercut or fade with your slick back style. The undercut and fade are dramatic and will make your hair look modern. An update on the classic slick back style, the undercut takes out a lot of the length from the sides and back, leaving the length only on the top. The longer section of the hair should hang over the undercut, whilst remaining shorter at the back.
Try a fade
If the undercut is too safe for you then you should try a fade. Request that your barber start with the skin from the base of your head and increase the gradient up to your slick back. The fade isn’t the best style for everyone as it won’t suit every head shape, but it’s certainly a very dramatic and contemporary look.
How to slick back your hair
So how do you style a slick back? The most important first step you should take when trying to achieve the slick back is to find the right barber or hairdresser for you. The slick back can be a hard look to achieve, so a skilled barber whose confident in their ability to cut your hair in the right way to get the style you want. Once you’ve found a barber that your feel comfortable with, you need to select the right style to suit your face shape and hair texture or length. The best barbers will be able to help you with valuable advice about what styles are best suited to you and your face shape.
Once you achieved the perfect cut it’s time to style your hair in the right way. Before you do anything in regards to styling your hair you should keep your hair healthy and fresh as this will give you the best results for styling your hair.
Wash and condition your hair
You should begin styling your hair by washing or conditioning your hair with a high quality nourishing shampoo and conditioner duo designed to remove excess oil and dirt from the hair. Sleek hairstyles look best with clean hair. Gritty hair won’t take well to hair products, instead your hair will be course, hard to manage and frizzy. You’ll have a much harder time keeping fly-away’s in check when your hair is dirty.
Protect your hair with pre-styling products
Once you’ve washed your hair, you should apply some hair serum or protective products to your hair. You should work this product all the way through your hair. If you plan to use heat styling products like a hairdryer or straightening irons then find a serum with heat protectant qualities. This will help you to achieve your desired style without using too much wax, pomade or gels. Too much of your heavier styling products will leave your hair looking oily. Lightweight serums are important for getting the best out of your style.
Blow-dry and shape your hair
Once you’ve washed and pre-styled your hair, you should blow dry your hair with a rounded brush. Brush your hair backward whilst drying your hair – this will give your hair more definition and height.
Style your hair
Once you’ve shaped your hair, you should set it by working your product through the hair. This will give your hair some coverage and help you to achieve your desired effect and a MAX3 Shampoo will help you reducing hair loss.
Finish your hair
If you’re planning to side part your hair, make sure that the part line is well defined and straight. A good quality parting comb is ideal for the job. If you’re going for a more relaxed, everyday look then try styling with your fingers as this will give your hair a less defined look. If you want to achieve a classic look then find a high quality comb. A good comb will give a lot more control over the strands of your hair and help you to achieve a cleaner look.