What Hair Product Can I Use to Slick My Hair Back Without It Looking Greasy or Being Stiff?

Achieve a soft, slicked-back hairstyle like Roxane Mesquida's at An Evening with Ralph Lauren Hosted by Oprah Winfrey in New York October 2011.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

When you're in the mood to slick your hair back, you may find yourself hesitating. The slicked-back look is pretty on the runway, but you may be worried that you'll end up with greasy or stiff hair -- goopy, crunchy products don't say "sexy" in real life. Fortunately, you have a ton of options for achieving a clean, slicked-back style, so put your past product experiences aside and get sleek.


If you're looking for a slicked-back look that appears more natural than it does wet, opt for a pomade. Especially helpful if you have frizz-prone hair, this product is simple to use and never sticky or heavy. Search for translucent pomades -- the texture is like a super-slick, dense gel product, only without the sticky feel. Add a pea-sized amount to your palm, rub between both hands and spread over your pulled-back style. Super easy.


When you don't need a ton of control, but what you're looking for is a sleek, soft look, reach for a bottle of serum. Typically formulated with silicones or oils, serum is a thick liquid that offers shine and frizz control. A tiny bit goes a long way, so an investment in a bottle will last a long time. Rub a drop of serum between your palms and slick your hair back, brushing it into place. Always start with a small amount and add more as needed to avoid ending up with greasy tresses.


If your first response to the idea of gel is horrible memories of super thick, sticky gel from childhood, take a deep breath and remember that things change. Gel has come a long way since the early days of fluorescent-colored products that often left hair looking absolutely shellacked. Search the beauty aisle for gels that offer a ton of control with a natural finish. Look for the word "flexible" and you're in good shape. Add a dime-size amount to wet hair and either brush it back as you dry it or let it air dry in place -- so simple.

Hair Spray

It's true -- hair spray was once known for its ability to turn your hair from soft, movable strands into crunchy, immovable tresses. Fortunately, with technology comes advancements in familiar products. After you've pulled your hair back into the desired style, mist your 'do with flexible hold hair spray for the hold you're after without the crunch factor. If you prefer to spray your hair before shaping it, opt for a "brushable" hair spray that won't flake as you style your locks.

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