How to Perfectly Slick Back Hair


Slicking your hair back is one of the most classic hairstyles around. This simple and smart look is an easy way to make anyone look stylish. Whether you want a traditional pompadour or a modern fade cut, there’s something for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know about slicked back hair.

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Slicked Backed Hair

As one of the oldest hairstyles around, it’s fair to say that the slick back look has changed throughout the years. The amount of choice is endless when it comes to this traditional style. A glossy undercut is probably the most classic and formal style you can go for. However, if you want to add a modern twist to your hair then why not try a fade, or grow your hair out and have a longer look.


How to Slick back Curly Hair

Use a hair brush and blow dryer to pull your hair back away from the front of your head- doing this while your hair is still wet will make it easier. Spray your hair with sea-salt spray to maintain the curl and texture of your hair. Once your hair is dry use a strong product such as wax or clay to maintain the slick of your hair. Try to avoid brushing or combing your hair too much as this may also brush our your natural curl.


Slicked Back Hairstyles

The Classic vs Modern Pompadour

The classic and modern pompadour are two of the most traditional slick hairstyles you can get. Although they are extremely similar, the classic generally has more volume and is less tapered on the edges. 50s celebrities like James Dean and Elvis are famous for this type of pompadour.

The modern pompadour brings detail, structure and control to this classic style. A tapered haircut gives you the classic look whilst also adding an extra dimension to your style.


Long Hair Slicked Back

Although long hair seems like a lazy option, it’s actually a lot harder to maintain your hair when it’s longer. It’s not hard to let your locks get out of control when they’re a bit longer, and slicking them back is a great way to combat this. The weight of your hair should hold most of it back, meaning you don’t have to use a particularly strong product. Use a wet look pompadour to slick it back for a simple and smart look.

Slicking back long hair is one of the easiest ways to manage and style a typically difficult way of wearing your hair, adding a more controlled and formal look to usually unruly hair.


Slick Back Undercut

Popularised in the 1930s, the slicked back undercut, with a beard or without, is a staple haircut for men. The sides and back are cut short to the same length, leaving the length on top ready to be slicked back. The slicked back undercut is currently emerging as a popular look for men. Mixing a formal and casual style, the slick back undercut is becoming the hairstyle for all occasions.

Slick Back Fade

The slick back fade is a modern interpretation of the classic tapered back and sides look. Fading works particularly well for blending the longer hair with the sides and looks great with a modern pompadour style. The different levels of fade also bring an element of variation to your style.

Combed Back Hair

The comb-back is the probably neatest and most formal variation of the slick back hair look. Using pomade, gel or wax, use a comb to style your hair into a structured look. This is a hairstyle that works in formal and work situations as it keeps your hair smooth and neat.

Products for Slicking back Your Hair


The majority of barbers agree that pomade is the best styling product for slicked back hair. Pomade comes in three variations Natural, Oil and Water bases. Natural pomade will leave your hair with a matte shine. On the other hand, the oil and water based pomade’s will give your hair more shine, which creates a smart gelled back hair look.


Wax is probably the most versatile product you can use for slicking your hair back. Although it won’t give you as much shine or manoeuvrability as a pomade, it’s perfect if you want some extra hold. Wax is, therefore, a good option if you want a more textured look that remains in one place.


Clay is great for making your hair appear more natural. This product is a lot drier than wax or pomade and gives a much more textured look to your style. Apply a pea-sized amount of clay to some towel dried hair and create a messy slick back look for a modern style.

Short Back and Sides Hairstyle
PHOTO CREDIT: Men’s Hairstyle Trends

Comb vs Fingers

A comb and your fingers are the quintessential tools for styling your hair. Everybody styles their hair using their fingers, whether it’s a quick run through in the morning or a touch up on a night out. If you’re not bothered about structure, then adding the product and running it back through your hair is a great and time effective way of slicking back your hair.

However, if you want your hair to be smooth and slick then the comb is your new best friend. The comb adds precision to styling, making the hair smooth, slick and structured.

Celebrities with Slick Back Hair

Mark Wahlberg Hair

Despite his checkered past, Marky Mark has grown into one of Hollywood’s most famous actors. Other than his films, Mark Wahlberg has become famous for styling his slick back hair. His mid-length hair is perfect for creating a smart wet look.

If you, too, have long or mid-length hair, you NEED to make sure you keep on top of washing it. We all know the “but Robert Pattinson never washed his hair and then it started to wash itself” tale, but please, don’t be that guy. Greasy hair is simply a no. It looks awful and probably smells awful, too. Let us help you keep your locks fresh and fine with our top hair washing products.

Shia Labeouf Hair

Although you may remember him as the kid from Even Stevens, Shia Labeouf has become one of the most uniquely stylish actors in Hollywood. His natural curls make his hair perfect for creating a wavy slick back style that looks great in a more casual setting, as well as a formal look.

As well as keeping your hair in check, if you, like Shia, have a beard, you need to keep that in check, too. Whether you’re going for a neatly trimmed style or a more rogue look, use some beard products to keep it maintained, healthy and looking good. Check out Idle’s favourite beard products below.


David Beckham Slicked back Hair

There is no better example of a modern slick back look then David Beckham’s quiff. By combining a classic pompadour style with a contemporary twist he manages to create the ultimate slick back haircut. Note, Beckham doesn’t have short sides. Instead, he uses a comb to hold the sides back to continue the slicked-back look.

To achieve this look, pick a product that’s malleable and not too greasy. You’ll need to ensure the style you are going for suits your head shape. Aim for your hair to be slick and shiny without looking like you’ve put in wet gel and make sure you comb your hair and that all the product runs through your hair evenly. Now you’re ready!


How to Slick Back Hair

  • Begin by using a comb, brush or your hand to pull your hair towards the back of your head. This is easier if your hair is damp or towel-dried. Use both hands to ensure an even distribution of the product.
  • Apply some sea-salt spray to add some texture to your locks if you want. This works best if you have curly hair.
  • Allow the hair to dry naturally, or use a hair dryer to help style your hair into a particular look such as a quiff.
  • Use some pomade, wax or clay to style your hair. Apply a pea-sized amount and spread it throughout your hair, continuing to pull your hair backwards.
mens david beckham slicked back hairstyles street style
David Beckham in a Tux

On That Note

The slick back hair look is timeless, and whether you’re looking for the classic style, or a more casual modern cut, slicking back your hair will always look great. Remember to look after your hair properly –  don’t wash it too often, and pick the right product for your style. If you can get all of this right then you’ll have a classic look to go with anything.


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Slicking your hair back is one of the most classic hairstyles around. This simple and smart look is an easy way to make anyone look...
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