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 @blackfishbry
@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.

slicked back medium messy swept back e1534907664544

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

Nothing screams confidence like a well-done pompadour. Just one of the various slicked back styles you can try your hand at!

Slicked Back
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Fancy Temple Shave with Layered Slicked Back

Slicked back hairstyles can have a bad reputation for not playing enough with volume but here’s a clear example of how keeping volume can actually elevate the style. Pair that with a fancy temple shave of this kind and create an amazing yet subtle contrast.

Gelled Slicked Back with Low Fade
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Gelled Slicked Back with Low Fade

As classy as it gets. No hair out of place held together with product to keep the form. Here the style is shown with a low fade, to get more conservative (if that’s the goal) a classic neckline taper would do the trick.

Brushed Back Blonde
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Ear Tucked Blonde Hair

Keeping a fairly uniform medium hair length will allow you to try this hairstyle. It was kind of born out of the necessity to keep one’s hair away from the face but with a little strong-hold product we solve that problem!

Slicked Back Mid Fade Undercut
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Slicked Back Mid Fade Undercut

We can bare call this one an actual slicked back style, but it checks off just the right boxes! Since the Hair at the top looks rather breezy I’d say little to no product was applied to keep the movement.

Dyed Slicked Back
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Dyed Slicked Back

We got given a real curveball on the classic way of wearing this hairstyle by no other than a dye job! Trust a little change in your natural shade to truly make a difference.

The strategically placed ‘line’ it’s super unique!

HIgh Volume Slicked Back
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Thin Hair with Faded Slicked Back

Thin hair strands can make up a pretty concise volume look like the one shown here! Again, we see how the hair is brushed back with a light product leaving a considerable amount of volume given by the hair length.

Undercut with Skin Faded Sides
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Undercut with Skin Faded Sides

When you slick back your curls they usually have a say about it, don’t they? That is because curly hair has more of a mind of its own.

Instead of fighting the natural pattern too much, try out a style like this one. It leaves the end of the hair strands to do their own curly thing.

Clean Mid Part
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Clean Mid Part

Going back on the style, century-old variations made the middle and side part popular. Slicked back doesn’t always mean no part, I’d even go ahead and suggest a side natural part to change things up a bit.

Slicked Back Hairstyle with Side Part and Big Forehead
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Simple Cut with Combed Back

We don’t get a great visual from this angle but the slick pompadour is accompanied by what can only be described as the classic regulation crop part. Sectioning some hair to make the part and taper sharply to finish with a cohesive tapered undercut. 

Slicked Back Undercut
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Undercut Slicked Back with Faded Temple

A high and tight shape for sure, this hairstyle takes the best of a short crop on the sides and medium length hair on top to present us with this slicked back variation.

Not so much on the conservative side, but it manages to put together a pretty clean look.

Slicked Back Undercut, by @shrunknheads / Instagram
Tammer Hassan slicked back
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Straight Back Pushed Style

If you got thinning hair, a style like this is popular for making rounds to visually trick the eye into seeing more hair volume. Styling made with some product to keep every strand in place.

If you’re looking for products to keep your hair happy and growing as healthy as it can, here’s a list of our favorite products for hair care. 

Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Low Skin Fade
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Low Skin Fade

When hair hits this length, it possesses enough weight so that you can pull off styles like this with little to no product depending of course on your hair texture and growth direction.

Notice how the top has been given some long-ish layers for texture.

Finger Combed Back Swept
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Finger Combed Back Swept

The slick back with a modern twist. This one very close to the quiff feels very Rock ‘n Roll but in a super chill way.

Undercut Slicked Back with Taper Fade
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Undercut Slicked Back with Taper Fade

A pair made in heaven, the undercut, and long top slicked back. Detailed with a drop fade looks like perfection.

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Simplest Form of Slick Back with Tapered Temple

Super classic and clean-looking. The classic taper brings this one home for me.

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Tapered Temple with Ivy League

Technically the Ivy is much shorter, but as fashions go by this is one style that has ever so slight variations most popularly. A lot like this slicked back.

Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle
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Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle

A finger-comb can look super even like it does here. It plays with depths and creates texture at the front.

Finger Comped Back Swept Hairstyle, by @javi_thebarber_ / Instagram
Back Swept Hairstyle
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Informal Slicked Back with Finger Comb

Closer to a quiff, this finger-comb slick back works all its breezy magic to create some volume and texture at the front.

Back Swept Hairstyle, by @tombaxter_hair / Instagram
Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle
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Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle

It’s not like this hairstyle will get old, but I mean how old-school-cool does this look?

Skin Fade + Slicked Back Hairstyle, by @javi_thebarber_ / Instagram
Classic Taper Fade Slick Back
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Classic Taper Fade Slick Back

Letting the hair fall slightly to the side, this classic look plays as much with the texture as it does volume.

slicked back disconnected undercut beard
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Slicked Back Disconnected Undercut

This slicked back is giving all the right Viking vibes!
A beard like this is the perfect complement to balance the amount of hair that’s shaven off the sides.

Skin Fade Slicked Back
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Skin Fade Slicked Back

An undercut as short as this is a great complement for the medium-long push back hairstyle.

Shorter Sides
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Shorter Sides

This one here is all about the balance, hair left longer on top and the sides kept just long enough!

Ronan Keating Slicked Back Undercut Blonde Hair
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Ronan Keating's Slicked Undercut

Blissfully and effortlessly on point, says it best when saying nothing at all! Keating sports a super cool undercut to complement his slicked-back-heartthrob hair.

Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Messy-Slicked
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Messy Slicked

This slightly unkempt style gives major rebel vibes. Following the natural hairline and letting the hair get messy but maintaining the crucial combing direction backward.

Classic Slicked Back
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Slicked Back Side Part

Such a clean taper deserves a medal! Love how the volume still follows the close hair comb pattern. Definitely grab some good defining product when attempting this style.

receding hairline slicked back
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Slicked Back with Receding Hairline

Following a uniform crop and slicked-back hair, it doesn’t get classier than this.

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
The Tidy Slick Back
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The Tidy Slick Back

Heavier on product this one, but definitely with a purpose! This is the kind of hairdo that will hold up the whole day.

ysbrand / Shutterstock.com
Undercut and Relaxed Slick-Back
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Undercut and Relaxed Slick-Back

Much like a lot of the look variations here, the slicked-back hair doesn’t always need a bunch of products to look super cool! Give this hairstyle a go and have fun with all the possibilities.

wayhome / Shutterstock.com