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


a mere reminder 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.

Matthew Spade 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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