Some men’s hairstyles come and go, only lasting a few years. These temporary styles die out after a fashion fad is over and don’t have the impact to survive the test of time. Others stay trendy for decades and remain a classic style that can’t be touched. Slicked back hair is exactly that.

Slicked back+mid skin fade
@z_ramsey / Instagram

While slicked back hair dates back to well over 100 years, the style gained immense popularity in the fifties with styles like the pompadour. Today, slicked back hair is loved by both classy guys who like its retro vibe and contemporary men who want a refined hairstyle.

The idea of slicking back hair is a particularly versatile technique. It can be applied to a variety of haircuts and works well with most hair types and face shapes. Think of slicking back your hair as the secret sauce to go along with your favorite haircut. You can sport a slicked back undercut, a slicked back side part––the only limit is your imagination.

George Clooneys Slicked Back Side Part e1538369788485
s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

What do I need for slicked back hair?

You might be wondering if you have the right hair type or face shape to get slicked back hair. The good news is that slicked back hair will work pretty well for all face shapes. Whether you have a round, square, diamond, or even oblong shaped face, you can use slicked back hair to get a suave look.

slicked back blackfishbry
@blackfishbry / Instagram

However, slicked back hair doesn’t work perfectly with all hair types. Both thin and thick hair will work, and if you have straight or wavy hair, you’re good to go. If your hair is extremely wavy, curly, or coiled, you’ll have a tougher time. The more unruly your hair is, the tougher it will be to slick it back. So if your hair is very wavy, you have a chance at taming it. However, if your hair is curled into tight coils, you probably won’t be able to slick it back.

If you have a hair type that’s good for slicked back hair, you’ll need to get your hands on some essential hair products. First, you’ll need a good pomade. Get a light hold if you have thin hair or a firm hold if you have thick hair. We recommend a water-based pomade instead of oil-based. Water-based pomades are much easier to wash out and manage. Suavecito and Layrite offer good options.

slicked back e1538369821865
@alan_beak / Instagram

Next, you’ll need a good comb. While this seems like a basic necessity, the quality of your comb is a crucial component to getting a good slicked back hairstyle.

There are a couple of optional accessories you can use as well. If your hair is having a hard time staying in place even with pomade applied, you can use a blow dryer to blow your hair into place. If all else fails, you can use a light amount of hairspray to make your slicked back hairstyle stay right where you want it to.

Tapered Pompadour with Widows Peak and Receding Hairline e1538369758304
@barbergreg/ Instagram

How to Style the Slicked Back Hairstyle

Since slicked back hair can be applied to a wide range of haircuts, we’ll go over only the styling process. You can start from almost any haircut and slick back the hair to add a touch of class.

It’s best to start with damp hair that’s been towel dried after a shower. Scoop out a small amount of pomade, roughly the size of a small coin (an American nickel size is a good start), and use your fingers to work it into your hair. Make sure the pomade only coats your hair and not your scalp.

Military fade pompadour %40blackfishbry
@blackfishbry / Instagram

The slicking action should be a smooth motion toward the back of your head.

Next, take a comb and proceed to slick the hair back. Start with the comb right above your forehead and continue moving back until you reach your crown.

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After the first slick back, you can follow up with more to make sure your hair is laying the right way. Using a comb will provide the neatest results.

And that’s it! If your hair is having problems staying, use a blow dryer or a little hairspray to help it stay in place.

To know more check out these examples in action:
Pumped Slick Back with Beard
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Pumped Slick Back with Beard

If you happen to have thick wavy hair, this is a witty way to style a slick-back. Instead of going all the way slick, you can allow your hair to conserve it’s natural texture for an easygoing look, yet fashionable as ever.

Slicked Back Pompadour with Glasses
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High Volume Puffed Slicked Back

This straight pompadour is one of the more bold, slicked back options, but it’s incredibly stylish with a twang of hipster-ness. It’ll take some time in front of the mirror to get it just right, though!

slicked back
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Pampered and Combed Tight Slicked Back

We love this slick for the smooth and gradual contours. Also, it’s not ridiculously long, which makes washing and styling a lot easier.

slick-back-side-part-anthonythebarber916
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Thin Hard Part with Wavy Textured Top

It’s hard to focus on the hair when there’s such a great ‘tache at play, but we think the part in this cut is really what’s tying the whole look together.

Slicked Back Hipster Style
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Slicked Back Hipster Style

The slicked back cut is a favorite among hipsters, just because it’s a little more out-there than other boring cuts. And in case you were wondering, here’s how it looks with a beard, tattoos, and denim jacket.

Related
slick-back-mattyconrad
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Casual Slicked Back with Loose Ended Strands

You can adapt the slicked back style into a manly one, when needed. Rougher styling and thicker hair does the trick here… or maybe it’s all the bushy facial hair.

Brad Pitt medium slicked back hairstyle
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Brad Pitt's Medium Length Slick Back

For those with medium length hair, the slicked back can also do the trick as an elegant cut. You know, the kind of thing you’d wear to a posh dinner party.

Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Slick back your wavy medium long hair
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Slicked Back Wavy Hair

There’s no need to brush out and flatten up your hair for a slicked back, since it works just as well with wavy hair.

ESB-Essentials/shutterstock.com
Ewan McGregor slicked back undercut
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Short Top Pushed Back Texture

We’re also impressed by shorter, gelled back styles like this one. For the busy man with a little less time to spend on adjusting his hair, this is definitely a contender.

Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
Zachary Quinto slicked back undercut with hard part
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Zachary Quinto's Slicked Back Undercut

There’s often some sort of tapering on the sides with this kind of cut, but in this slicked back, the sides are trimmed off completely. The result? Something a little different, and surprisingly cool…

Twocoms / Shutterstock.com
High Volume Slicked Back
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Wavy Textured Styled Widow's Peak

Quick reminder: slicked back top doesn’t have to mean short sides. This slightly tamer, lion-like (no pun intended) cut seems more reserved to us.

Brad Pitt’s Slicked Back Undercut
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Brad Pitt's Undercut Slicked Back

Shaving off the sides and slicking the top right back leaves us with Brad Pitt’s fury hairstyle, which has an impressive fierceness to it thanks to the skin-tight sides.

Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com
slicked back
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Individual Stranded Slicked Back

Here’s another long variant of the slicked back haircut, this time with long locks suspended over the head. It’s a good choice for the colder winters, where you really need some length to cover those ears.

Classic cut natural loose slick back
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Gentlemen's Pompadourean Slicked Back

This loose, brushed back hairstyle is definitely a clean look. However, haircuts play to your face shape, and we think that’s resulted in a slightly strange, stretched look here.

Classic cut - Natural loose slick back hair, Credits: Braid Barbers
Slicked Back and Beard
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Taper Faded Sides with Styled Top

This is another variant of the slicked back cut with shaved sides, but it’s amazing how much difference the bushy beard makes.

Confident Slicked Back Puff
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Confident Slicked Back Puff
Slicked Back
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Fancy Temple Shave with Layered Slicked Back
Gelled Slicked Back with Low Fade
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Gelled Slicked Back with Low Fade
Brushed Back Blonde
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Ear Tucked Blonde Hair
Slicked Back Mid Fade Undercut
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Slicked Back Mid Fade Undercut
Dyed Slicked Back
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Dyed Slicked Back
HIgh Volume Slicked Back
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Thin Hair with Faded Slicked Back
Undercut with Skin Faded Sides
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Undercut with Skin Faded Sides
Clean Mid Part
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Clean Mid Part
Slicked Back Hairstyle with Side Part and Big Forehead
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Simple Cut with Combed Back
Slicked Back Undercut
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Undercut Slicked Back with Faded Temple
Slicked Back Undercut, by @shrunknheads / Instagram
Tammer Hassan slicked back
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Straight Back Pushed Style
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Low Skin Fade
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Low Skin Fade
Finger Combed Back Swept
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Finger Combed Back Swept
Undercut Slicked Back with Taper Fade
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Undercut Slicked Back with Taper Fade
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Simplest Form of Slick Back with Tapered Temple
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Tapered Temple with Ivy League
Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle
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Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle
Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle, by @javi_thebarber_ / Instagram
Back Swept Hairstyle
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Informal Slicked Back with Finger Comb
Back Swept Hairstyle, by @tombaxter_hair / Instagram
Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle
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Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle
Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle, by @javi_thebarber_ / Instagram
Classic Taper Fade Slick Back
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Classic Taper Fade Slick Back
slicked back disconnected undercut beard
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Slicked Back Disconnected Undercut
Skin Fade Slicked Back
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Skin Fade Slicked Back
Shorter Sides
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Shorter Sides
Ronan Keating slicked back undercut blonde hair
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Slicked Undercut
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Messy-Slicked
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Messy Slicked
Classic Slicked Back
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Slicked Back Side Part
receding hairline slicked back
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Slicked Back with Receding Hairline
s_bukley / Shutterstock.com