Thick or thin, short or long, slicked-back hair is a classic men's hairstyle for a reason: It looks good. But if you're not a hair-styling expert, getting your hair to slick back (and stay put) can be challenging. On the one hand, maintaining a slicked-back hairstyle sans frizz almost always requires the use of styling products, like hairspray or hair gel. On the other hand, too much product can result in buildup that weighs your hair down and causes it to look greasy. Sometimes, it takes a little bit of trial and error to strike the right balance and keep your hair looking its best.
Ahead, we'll help you skip the experimentation and show you exactly how to care for and style men's slicked-back hair. You'll discover seven men's hair styling products to use in your haircare routine, regardless of your hair type. We'll also clue you in on a few tips for ensuring your style stays put all day long. Read on for your ultimate Kiehl's guide to rocking a slicked-back style.
Wash and Condition Your Hair
For your hair to look and feel its best, it needs to be clean and conditioned. So, the first step in your styling routine is to lather up with a lightweight shampoo, like Smoothing Oil-Infused Shampoo. The dense gel-like cleanser emulsifies with water to create a rich, creamy lather that washes away impurities without stripping your hair of its essential moisture. Additionally, it helps smooth your hair's outer cuticle to help give your strands a shinier appearance.
Smoothing Oil-Infused Conditioner
After shampooing your scalp and strands, rake a lightweight conditioner through your hair with your fingers. We recommend Smoothing Oil-Infused Conditioner, which contains fairly-traded argan oil and babassu oil. This unique conditioner has the nourishing properties of a hair mask but with the lightweight feel of a daily conditioner. It helps boost manageability and detangle unruly strands while smoothing your hair for a sleek finish.
If your hair is on the greasier side, try a two-in-one cleanser and conditioner, like Grooming Solutions Nourishing Shampoo + Conditioner. This men's grooming essential helps remove heavy buildup to leave your scalp feeling hydrated and refreshed. The lightweight formula (which is also suitable for beard hair) is for all hair types and can be used daily to promote fuller-, healthier-looking hair. Because it contains moisturizing agents, you don't have to worry about conditioning your hair afterward—just work the lather through your mane and rinse thoroughly for clean, soft hair.
Kiehl's Tip: Learn how to keep your beard looking its best in our article How To Trim a Beard And Avoid Annoying Ingrowns.
Apply a Pre-Styling Treatment
After you've completed your shower routine, dry off and use a towel to blot excess moisture from your hair. Avoid rubbing the towel on your head, as the friction can cause your hair to stretch and break.
Once your hair is no longer dripping wet, detangle with a wide-toothed comb. Then, reach for a smoothing pre-styling treatment to help keep your hair soft and sleek. For hair prone to frizz, we recommend Silk Groom Serum. This men's hair serum with vitamin E and sunflower oil helps smooth dry ends and tame frizz without weighing your hair down. The unique formula also helps protect your hair from humidity and boosts shine to promote a glossy yet clean-looking finish.
Creme with Silk Groom
For dry or damaged hair, try Creme with Silk Groom instead. This effective styling cream moisturizes, conditions, and protects your hair while improving manageability. To use it, dispense a small amount into your palms and gently finger-comb the weightless formula through your damp hair, focusing on the ends. The non-greasy formula will absorb into your hair as it dries, giving it a silky-smooth finish.
Dry and Style Your Hair
Next, apply a long-hold styling treatment, such as Stylist Series Creative Cream Wax. This putty-like wax, which contains hydrolyzed rice and wheat proteins alongside natural silk powders, enables you to sculpt your hair with maximum control. The non-greasy formula helps define your strands for an all-day style that holds up without any flaking or buildup.
A little goes a long way with this high-hold wax. To use it, rub a small amount of the styling wax between your palms and lightly comb your hands through your hair while slicking it back. You'll feel the wax immediately help your hair keep its shape. Once the product is evenly distributed throughout your strands, grab your hairdryer and comb. Style your slicked-back hair as usual, adding more product as needed for maximum hold and control. As soon as your hair is dry and you're satisfied with the shape, you can move on to the next (and final!) step.
Brush Down Stray Hairs With a Lightweight Gel
Now that your hair is dry and styled, it should look pretty much finished. But, if you want to make sure your slicked-back style holds all day, we recommend adding a lightweight hair gel to keep your hair in place (and smooth down any errant flyaways that may have popped up once your strands dried).
Grooming Solutions Clean Hold Styling Gel
To avoid weighing down your hair, we recommend opting for an ultra-lightweight gel, like Grooming Solutions Clean Hold Styling Gel. This men's hair-styling staple contains a blend of aromatic essential oils that give your hair a subtle, woody fragrance. It provides a firm, flake-free hold and dries to a shiny-looking finish. Work a small amount of the gel through dry hair to help hold your style in place, or use your fingers to brush down flyaways for a sculpted, well-groomed look that lasts all day and night.