Slicked back hair looks just as good today as it did in the 50s. Need proof? Check out our 9 favorite slicked back hairstyles.
Slicking your hair back is seemingly a shortcut to “achieving cool.” It’s an iconic look that’s somehow both distinguished and a bit daring.
Historically, the slicked back style is closely associated with the 1950s and 60s, but it’s still very much alive today. It has a strong vintage vibe, but it doesn’t feel outdated.
Perhaps the most famous slicked back hairstyle is the classic pompadour, but that’s not the only way to rock slicked back hair.
As long as you have straight to wavy hair, you can achieve a wide range of slicked back looks.
Slicked hair on its own is really just a styling technique that you can use however you want. You can go pure retro with an Elvis-style pomp, or you could opt for something more modern like a slicked back undercut.
To show that versatility, we’ve picked out these 9 slicked back hairstyles that run the gamut from old to new.
Best Slicked Back Hairstyles for Men
Here are some of the best slicked back hairstyles in no particular order…
Let’s start with the grandfather of all slicked back styles: the pompadour.
There are all kinds of pompadours, but many of them (including this one) are heavily inspired by the pomps of the 50s. The pompadour itself — that is, the voluminous slicked back hair in the front — is a direct nod to the original style.
You get all the elements of classic slicked back hair: the high-shine look, the tight combing, and the curvature of the pomp. However, there are also a couple of contemporary touches like the hard part and mid fade that give this classic style a nice update.
#2: Modern Slick
If you’re looking for an updated slicked back look that still feels traditional, this may be the one for you.
This is a casual side part style that features slicked back (technically side-slicked) hair.
A low-shine pomade is used to give the hair just a bit of that classic slicked look without making the hair look too greasy.
A low fade rounds out this style, providing a nice balance that’s very much in line with vintage sensibilities. This cut is perhaps the best example of the old meeting the new when it comes to slicked back styles.
#3: Classic Side Part
This is a more traditional slicked back side part that effortlessly recalls the early 1900s.
It’s a tightly slicked style complete with the fine-combed look that’s a hallmark of vintage slicked back hair.
You can style this with a low or medium-shine pomade, but you can also style it with a clay and a healthy amount of sea salt spray (as shown here).
#4: Slicked Back Undercut
For the last several years, the undercut has consistently topped “best hairstyles” lists, including our own. And there’s a good reason for that — it’s a perennially stylish look.
One popular variation is the slicked back undercut that takes the basic recipe of the undercut and applies the slicked back style to it. The result is a cut that’s long and slick on top and short and crisp on the sides.
It’s possible to get quite a bit of volume with this style, so if you want something more dimensional than the classic slicked back styles, this is a great option. In addition, there are many ways to style the hair on top, so you’re not limited to a specific look.
#5: Slick Quiff
The quiff is yet another modern style that lends itself well to the slicked back look.
Similar to the slicked back undercut, this slick quiff is a smart, clean style.
It’s all about volume and texture, so styling the hair in the right way is crucial. Avoid products with too much shine, as they’re likely to create an oily mass of hair.
It’s quite full for being a contemporary hairstyle. The top is about 4-6 inches long, and the tapered sides are quite long as well.
#6: Don Draper
One of the most recent examples of a classic slicked back style is Jon Hamm’s trademark haircut in Mad Men. This look has become so popular that it often gets referred to simply as “the Don Draper cut.”
It consists of a short and tight side part that’s slicked back on top and full on the sides. The lengths are crucial here—Draper’s cut is full but short, so you don’t want hair that’s too long on top.
Counterintuitively, you don’t want too much shine here. Draper’s specific style is actually fairly matte with just a hint of shine, so stick a pomade with a low shine.
#7: Slicked Back Fade
Merging the greaser style of the 50s and 60s with a modern edginess, this slicked back bald fade is a bold combination that creates a distinct and unique look.
Like the slicked back undercut showcased above, this fade is fairly long on top. The sides receive a mid bald fade to provide a hefty amount of contrast with the slicked back hair.
This is a neat, glossy style that really leans into the “slicked” part of “slicked back,” so you’ll want to choose the right hair product. Using a medium to high shine pomade should get you that reflective look.
#8: High Side Part
Here’s another take on the slicked back side part that has a couple of twists.
First, the part itself is quite high up on the head. It’s also a hard part, or a shaved line, that runs for a couple of inches, creating a noticeable asymmetry.
Second, the hair is slicked back almost diagonally, which provides a sweeping motion that’s a lot more dynamic than other slicked back styles. The high fade also helps to emphasize the movement.
This is a pretty unique slicked back look, so if you’re after something off the beaten path, you may want to give this a try.
#9: Brushed Up Fade
This high fade is another contemporary style that is strongly inspired by classic slicked back looks.
With a brushed-up quiff, a pronounced part, and a high skin fade, this is definitely a modern hairstyle.
However, it’s also undoubtedly influenced by vintage slickness with its combed texture and high sheen.
All things considered, though, this cut definitely leans more modern, so it’s best for guys who are after a slightly edgy look that hearkens back to midcentury slicked back styles.
Which Slicked Back Style Will You Choose?
Slicked back hair may seem one-dimensional at first, but there are many ways to sport the style.
Whether you’re going for a classic 50s look or a contemporary style with retro appeal, there’s a slicked back style that will work for you.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!