Slick back hair has had one of the most interesting histories you can imagine as far as hairstyles for men go. It started off with the pompadour in the 50s, modelled by incredibly famous names such as Elvis himself. However, just a few decades later, it had been reduced to a haircut fit for corporate men who wanted to look clean and fresh when going into meetings. How did that happen? How did slick back hair go from being the sign of rebellion to the finishing touch of the corporate attire?
That’s what we’re here to find out. Even more so, we have an entire list of celebrities wearing slick back hair whom we are going to deconstruct and use as inspiration. Plus a number of other ideas for the perfect slick back hair you can wear this year. So let’s start scrolling!
The History of the Sleek Back Hair
As promised, let’s find out a little more about the incredible history of this hairstyle. Believe it or not, the slick back hair started as a women’s hairstyle back in the 1740s. The pompadour was the first haircut we could consider a true slick back. And, yes, it was a hairstyle designed for women in the beginning.
In fact, for one woman in particular. She was Madame de Pompadour who also gave the haircut its iconic name. The lady was an aristocrat at the court of Louis the XVth in France and was also his mistress. She wanted to impress the king and stand out among the other ladies at court who could potentially steal his heart and her position. So Madame de Pompadour had her stylist invent a new hairstyle – it was swept up and back away from her face. By doing this, she was also the first one to use a personal stylist.
Sleek Back Hair in the 1950s
Let’s jump all the way from 18th century France to 20th century America when the sleek back hair becomes the modern phenomenon we know today. It all started as a way for men to rebel against the tradition and conformity of the past decades. It stated that men should not waste time grooming or embellishing themselves in any way. And that they should just cut their hair as short as possible and wear a hat.
All that changed in the 50s with the likes of James Dean and Elvis Presley. They were the front runners of slick back hair, wearing super sexy pompadours.
Sleek Back Hair in the 70s and 80s
It all started with Michael Douglas who played Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street. He wore a very sleek and tight hairstyle with a lot of gel that all young men in the 70s hurried to copy. It meant that you were not there to be played around with. But that you were a hard baller who knew what he wanted.
Sleek Back Hair in the 2010s
The hairstyle made a comeback in the 2010 thanks to, whom else, soccer player David Beckham. The international athlete created a mass hysteria when he chose to sport this hairstyle and thousands of men around the world copied it.
Since then, slick back hair has never really gone out of style again. It has been paired with different modern haircuts such as the taper fade, the modern pompadour and even the fauxhawk. Not to mention that many more celebrities have donned it, as you are about to see.
Celebrities Wearing Slick Back Hair
When it comes to trying on a whole new hairstyle, there’s nothing better than looking to our favorite celebrities for some inspiration and advice. They are being groomed by some of the best stylists in the world, which means that whatever choice they make, it has to be the right one.
So let’s take a look at some of the most famous men in the world who have worn slick back hair.
Clark Gable Slick Back Hair
Let’s start with one of the original men who wore this look back in the 30s. That means some 90 years ago! Which essentially means this haircut has been in style for almost a hundred years and it’s still going strong!
You most likely know actor Clark Gable because of his iconic role as Rhett Butler in the film Gone with the Wind. The look that he wore as that character with a pencil mustache and classic 1930s haircut with a side part and slick back hair is very difficult to top even today. Clark Gable was one of the most handsome men Hollywood has ever put on the big screen!
Cristiano Ronaldo Slick Back Hair
From Clark Gable let’s jump right to one of the most adored athletes in the world. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo became incredibly famous and the talk of the town, so to say, when he took advantage of the half time during one of his matches to get a haircut. When he emerged back on the field for the second half of the game, the whole stadium could see his haircut was different.
Of course, the move was highly debated. Some criticized the soccer player for not focusing on the game but on his looks. While others hurried to their barbers to get the newest and coolest haircut in town.
The Chris Pine
Here’s a cool version of the slick back haircut with a lot more volume on top. You can take your cue from actor Chris Pine if you need to add a few inches to your height. Or if you have a narrow forehead and you need to emphasize it a little.
Brad Pitt Slick Back Hair
So much digital ink has poured over Brad Pitt’s haircut in Fury that it seems almost pointless to linger on it. All we have to say is that this is a taper fade with a slick back on top. It created a real buzz because no one expected such a classic actor as Brad Pitt to wear this type of hairstyle. But he did and looked amazing while doing it!
Tom Hardy and Antonio Banderas Slick Back Hair
Actors Tom Hardy and Antonio Banderas are essentially wearing the same hairstyle here. It’s a medium haircut that has been completely slicked back with the help of copious amounts of pomade or hair gel. It’s a super easy look to achieve and definitely one you can try at home by yourself!
Ivy College Slick Back Hair Style
The Ivy college haircut is, without a doubt, elegant and classy. And it’s perfectly exemplified here by Ronan Keating, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Justin Timberlake. They’ve all added the gorgeous element of the slick back hair as well, to make it look more casual and youthful, as if they’re college students on holiday. You can take your cue from any of these handsome men!
Justin Bieber Slick Back Hair
Even though Justin Bieber will forever be famous for the swoop he used to wear when he was a teenage boy, that doesn’t mean the haircuts he wore later in life are not worth looking at. This is a particularly interesting one, even though the singer only wore it for a little while. It’s a medium length hairstyle which he completely slicked back using matte pomade. But he kept his signature blonde color.
Slick Back Hair with Side Part
Adding a side part to your slick back hair will make it look extremely elegant and classy. Therefore, it might not make for a day to day look or one that you can wear casually at the office. Our tip is to save this one for a party, your prom or even your wedding. Take Joe Manganiello, George Clooney, and David Beckham as inspiration and you cannot go wrong!
Harry Styles Slick Back Hair
Singer Harry Styles has one of the best heads of hair in the business. In fact, there are entire Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts dedicated to his hair alone. Not to mention how angry his fans got when he had to cut his hair prior to starring in the movie Dunkirk. Therefore, you know this celebrity can do no wrong when it comes to hairstyles.
As far as slick back hair goes, he absolutely loves this look. Harry always wears his hair medium long so that he can show off his natural curls as well as his gorgeous natural color. It’s a chestnut brown with caramel highlights. Lucky guy!
Elvis Presley Slick Back Hair
Last but definitely not least on our list of celebrities wearing slick back hair is the man who started it all. Elvis Presley and his incredibly famous pompadour. To recreate this look you will need a copious amount of shiny pomade or gel. Otherwise, if you want to go as old school as possible, use a hair product based on Vaseline or even Brylcreem. That’s probably what the king himself used as well. Which brings us to this.
What Products to Use for Slick Back Hair
We know that the past few years have absolutely flooded the market with tens of products meant for hair styling for men. Which can be quite confusing if not downright frustrating. But here’s a tip. When it comes to slick back hair, just keep it simple.
Pomade for Slick Back Hair
Pomade is the most basic option you have. Think about it this way. Pomade is also what your grandfather and great-grandfather used to use back in the 50s when they did their slick back hair as well. Apart from that, pomade will work wonders if your hair is unruly or even curly. Given the fact that it’s quite a heavy product, it will last all day long and keep your hair in place even if it’s windy outside.
However, watch out for shiny pomade. Because, of course, you get two kinds – shiny pomade and matte pomade. The shiny one is classic, giving you the Elvis look. But that’s a little outdated now and you might end up looking like John Travolta in Grease. Which is, by the way, where the name of the movie comes from – the grease they used to style their hair. You don’t want that.
Apart from that, pomades that have an oil base will prove to be super difficult to wash away. In fact, they might even leave residue in your hair if you don’t wash it correctly or don’t use the right shampoo. Which should be a clarifying one.
Therefore, you will be better off if you use a product that is water-based and also matte. It looks better and can be cleaned a lot easier out of your hair.
Clay for Slick Back Hair
Your second option is clay. The upside to this product is that it comes in a lot of options so you will definitely find one that suits your hair. Apart from that, clay is made with natural minerals that won’t harm you hair.
Here’s a tip – whatever you do, please don’t use gel! It’s very cheap and might seem like a good choice for slick back hair, but it’s not. Most gels are actually alcohol-based. This means they will dehydrate your hair severely and dry it out. Not to mention it’s highly flammable. The same goes for hair spray. It can hold your hair up very well, but it too will harm it and dry it out. Plus, we don’t even have to mention just how flammable hair spray really is.
What’s the conclusion?
Slick back hair is not easy to wear, that’s for sure. As mentioned previously, it’s a hairstyle that has been continuously in fashion for at least 90 years. Therefore, you need to constantly find a way to make it look modern and interesting. However, once you find the perfect balance between vintage and fresh, and once you match it well enough with your clothes and accessories, this hairstyle has the potential to become the one for you. The one you will be wearing for the rest of your life!