Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Perfect Slick-back, a Tutorial

They ask, "How do you get your hair looking so perfect everyday?" "With hot and painful morning hair-pulling, and a cup of hair spray!" I reply, half-jokingly. Knowing how to do the perfect, sharp slick-back is great to keep in one's arsenal for that hot date or the occasional black-tie affair, or for those with the same commitment to dandyism as I have, everyday. Admittedly, it does take a little more time and effort than a tousled dirty-wax hairstyle, but with technique and lots of practice, this 'do can be most certainly do-able.

You might notice the rigor and severity of my technique; I do have to contend with the stubbornness of my horse-thick Asian hair. For those with finer hair, feel free to skip the blow-drying step, or use a gel or pomade with a little less hold. Here's how to do it:

Begin with your hair fresh from the shower; it is most pliable at this state. Towel-dried until it is very slightly damp, parted where preferred.

Start by blow-drying the sides of your hair closer to the head for a slim, sleek profile. Comb the hair down and back, and follow the motion with the hair dryer. Repeat until dry.

Take time to blow-dry the top portion of your hair that falls right opposite the part: this section will carry the most weight, and blow-drying it would prevent it from collapsing throughout the day. Brush back with the comb and follow with the hair-dryer on high.

When all is dry and set, it's time for gel or pomade. I like the sharpness and the volume that gel permits, but if you prefer the more throwback, closer-to-the-head sort of slick-back, by all means use pomade. I use about two teaspoons of Goldwell's mello goo gel, it's thick as jam.

Rub the product thoroughly between your hands, and carefully shape your hair the desired way. I think having it slim on the sides, with a slight bit of volume on the top-front, gradually tapering down is universally flattering.

Follow through with a comb to distribute the product.

And set with hair spray.

I like to run my fingers through the top about ten seconds after spraying it. It gives my pencil-straight hair a bit of texture and it makes for a bit of a controlled messy look. For something more runway-pristine, skip this step and use more hair spray. Make sure to lay the hair spray on twice as heavy on the top portion right opposite the part; this section needs the most support. Set everything with a hair dryer on low.

As an extra flourish, I like to finish it off with a glossing serum. I use the medium-thickness Nigelle Rx from Hair Mates in the East Village.

Rub a squirt or two vigorously between your palms.

And carefully work it through your hair. That extra glint, that shine when the halogen lights at a gallery opening hit your mane, ah, with that perfectly slicked-back mane you will stand out in the crowd.

Finished. Smile, you movie star you.

photographs by Austin A. Wong


yanneng said...

Thanks for this! I've been trying to get the quiff right for ages but well, I don't even have a hairdryer so I guess that's a big problem.

Mat said...

you're hair does just amazing matey, i must admit. this will come in handy for the hair bunch. sadly mines thin on the ground and has been since i was about 20. my grandad had hair like yours, probably a bit longer but similar teddy boy style in the 50s. it skipped my generation and i got lumped with curly fly away hair

chanwit said...

Love it!
Just one question, is it hard to rinse all those products off?

Izzy said...

chanwit: no, it all rinses out cleanly with water.

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