Banish The Backcomb! Tell Volume To Vamoose! The Slicked Back Look Is In

11/07/2013 20:17 | Updated 22 May 2015

Still backcombing your barnet a la Cheryl Cole circa X Factor 2009? Stop! The slicked back, greased up look is in fashion now - but can it work off the catwalk? Eleanor Hubert investigates

Slicked-back, greased-up hair is in. Shuddering? Understandable to an extent. The very substance you step into the shower to remove from your hair every morning is now in fashion.

alexander wang

The "wet-look" style first appeared on the runways in autumn 2012, and has been seen everywhere since from Lanvin in Paris to Alexander Wang in New York (see above). Now, with polished hair having fore-fronted London Fashion Week SS13 - Christopher Kane and Anthony Turner at TIGI slicked back hair creating an androgynous look (see below) - the minimalist look has is undoubtedly the one to covet.

Celebrities are cottoning on too. Rita Ora, Leighton Meester and Brittany Snow have ditched the volume, for a slicker look. And with Kim Kardashian even doing a how-to guide to achieve the look on her website, it seems only a matter of time before the look filters down from high-fashion catwalks and the red carpets into everyday wear.

The question is this: is a generation of staunch backcombers ready for a look this, well, flat? Can we expect to see oils, gels and waxes – products previously reserved for pre-pubescent boys – kicking out the rollers and volumising mousse?

christopher kane

Nick Irwin, Gobal Creative Director at TIGI, seems to think so. "We are looking to the Fifties and Sixties to inspire new products and wet look gel is very much at the forefront of our innovation and creative styling," he said.

Maybe for high fashion, yes. But does a look this dramatic only really exist on the catwalk? Can we expect to see it take off in everyday fashion?

Nick explains: "This is a great alternative style people can create for themselves with the right products and we see this as working with pared down looks and moving on from the braids of the last few seasons. There is also a strong feeling for androgyny. We are using pomades to create quiffs on undercuts on both guys and girls."

Perhaps he is right. Perhaps the hours spent in front of the mirror fluffing and brushing are to be replaced with slicking and combing. Is it time to ditch the curlers and raid your boyfriend's cupboard for hair wax and hair gel? I dare you to try.


For any aspiring Cheryl Coles out there bored of big hair and keen to try out the more refined look, Lily Gamble, Senior Stylist at Toni & Guy, gives a step by step guide on how to achieve it:

1. To get the wet-look look, you must wash or wet you hair first (key's in the name, eh?)

2. Add a 50p size of wet look gel into your hair and run through the hairline to the crown until evenly spread.

3. Comb through and dry with a hairdryer as normal, combing back hair away from the face. Be sure to pull back every strand of hair to maintain the polished look.

4. Add more wet look gel as required and style as normal.

5. Set the look with hairspray.


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