Slicked back men hairstyles

The slick back is a versatile hairstyle that is bound to turn heads! In this guide, you will find out if the sophisticated and bold slicked back hairstyle is the one for you.


Slicked back men hairstyles lookbook

Below you will find a selection of all versions, worn by both movie stars and Dutch men.

If you get the basics right (short sides and at least 8 inches’ worth of hair on the top of your head), you can create both versions with just a few steps.

Inspiration videos

Good to know

You may have noticed that the slick back has become very popular in recent years.

Just like the side part, undercut and buzz cut, the slick back is one of the classic men’s hairstyles worn by movie stars for decades.

What has often happened is that Dutch men embrace these classic styles and make them popular in their own right.

The slick back (also called “tight back men’s hairstyle”) is a men’s hairstyle that is easy to combine with, for example, an undercut, and which gives you a striking and sophisticated style.

In this article, we’ll discuss the two versions of this hairstyle. You will learn what makes this hairstyle so ubiquitous and what you have to do to style your hair, as well as what not to do with this hairstyle.

You will also receive a short history lesson and of course we will give you plenty of inspiration.

The classic slick back and the modern slick back

Before you read on, it’s important to know that there are two versions of this signature style, namely the modern version and the classic version. The difference between these two has to do with the height of the hair above your scalp. Barbers and hairdressers usually call this the volume of the hair.

Another minor difference is the use of hair product to style one of these two versions. We will tell you more about this below.

→ See also: the ultimate inspiration guide for men’s haircuts, including the slick back hairstyle for men.

The classic slick back

In the classic version of this hairstyle, the hair is combed completely “slicked back,” or completely flat against the scalp.

This type of hairstyle became popular around 1930 and is the version that features no volume at all.

The most famous model of the classic slick back is by Jimmy Darmody in the hit series Boardwalk Empire (8.6 on IMDb. We recommend it if you are a fan of mafia films by the way).

Since the beginning of the series, the classic slick back has seen a boost in popularity thanks to Jimmy.

Styling the classic slick back

You obtain the classic version by combing your hair backwards until you’re happy with how flat your hair is on your head.

Typically, the hair in the classic slick back is no higher than an inch from the skull.

Because your hair has to be weighed down considerably, we recommend using a hair product that makes your hair heavier, so that it stays down more easily.

In this case, an oil-based pomade is the best solution. Such a pomade gives the strongest hold and makes your hair moist.

Reuzel red is a pomade with an excellent price / quality ratio. Fun fact: lard was also used in the 1930s to style the slick back in the same way.

It is likely that your hair will fall in a curve after you comb it back.

If this happens, try moistening your hair and applying a little bit of pomade. Then comb your hair back again.

The modern slick back

The modern slick back is, as you now know, the version with volume. This modern version has made a comeback in recent years and is often worn along with a full beard and mustache.

The choice is of course entirely up to you. With or without facial hair, the modern slick back is a trendy hairstyle.

Just like the classic version, the modern slick back has been popularized by the entertainment industry — namely the movie Fury, in which Brad Pitt wears the striking hairstyle.

The actor sports the modern version with volume (in a World War II setting, though).

Styling the modern slick back

Unlike the classic version of the slick back, here you want to create volume. That’s why we recommend a water-based pomade, since you don’t want to make your hair too heavy.

You can also use a light mousse to give your hair maximum volume.

Use a moderate amount of pomade or mousse and spread it over your fingers.

Then use your fingers as a comb and spread the pomade or mousse over your hair, while ‘combing’ your hair backwards. This way you create volume, unlike when using a comb.

As a finishing touch to give your hair an extra boost in volume, try using a hair dryer to get your hair into shape.

Slick back with long hair

There is a third option when it comes to the slick back hairstyle. You need a little patience for this one… but then you’ll end up with a striking and grown-up haircut.

You can choose to let your hair grow to shoulder length (long hair) then style your hair until you have a slick back look.

The long-haired version most closely resembles the classic slick back, because the hair lies tight on the head and is kept in place with a generous amount of wax or pomade.

The origin of the slick back

As we mentioned, the origin of the slick back can be traced back to the ‘20s or ‘30s.

At the time, the hairstyle was worn tight on the head (i.e. without volume) because men often had to wear a hat for formal events. However, they also wanted a sophisticated hairstyle for when they didn’t have to wear a hat.

The classic version could be worn both with a hat and without a hat, making it a perfect choice.

The modern version enjoyed a boost in popularity in the 1970s, for example with films such as Grease, in which John Travolta wore the slick back as an ode to heroes of the 1950s.

About ten years later, Michael Douglas also toyed with the slick back hairstyle in the movie Wall Street.

Since 2012, celebrities such as Justin Bieber and David Beckham have proudly worn the hairstyle, making it a popular choice for Dutch men as well.

In 2015 we even saw famous women with the slick back on the red carpet. Scarlett Johansson, for one, was seen sporting the hairstyle.