I recently drove my roommate to the barber to get his hair cut because his truck is dead and his mother told me to. It was in the row of red vinyl chairs across from the line of men in well-ironed white jackets that I remembered seeing a photo of Kourtney Kardashian with super-slicked-back hair. There wasn’t a People magazine in sight, but Chef Roommate’s go-to man, Manny, was working on a guy that I SWEAR looked like her. Or maybe he looked like Mason. Or Scott. Whatever. I'm definitely saying that the guy looked like Kourtney and NOT the other way around.
I have this weird tendency to want to (I don’t) look at the paps photos from time to time because I feel like that family would be totally cool to chill with. I remembered I had seen this super chic photo of my favorite Kardashian after sitting in front of the computer for over three hours--those stints when Reddit leads to HuffPo and then you realize you have more than three tabs of Daily Mail open.
Further delving into creating an in-brain mood board (does anyone actually cover their walls with inspiration photos?), I should point out that this look is highly popular with every fashion designer. Ever. And for obvious reasons. It’s all about clean minimalism or aggressive edginess, both of which any designer will eventually reference either to align the hairstyle with the clothing or directly contrast it.
Don’t believe me? Spend some time on Style.com and realize that this look can be incorporated into anyone’s go-to personal style. I’m not saying this is new or trending; this look is old news. I’m just saying you should be doing it right now.
With all of this in mind, it wasn't until I stumbled home (in a cab, of course!) in the middle of the night that I happened to recreate the look. I skipped straight to the bathroom to wash my face. This is where Chef Roommate comes back to the story. He’s not the most tidy of roommates (I’ll hold off on the criticism), and tends to leave his stuff everywhere, usually in a state of disarray.
After playing face with the mirror for a few minutes (my eye makeup was on point), I noticed the lid haphazardly askew from a new tin of Layrite Deluxe Pomade that he had picked up at Avenue Barbershop. Beyond the obviously tempting packaging (a hottie in heels wearing nothing but a string of pearls, clutching a barber pole between her legs. I mean. Come. On!), the waxy product caught my eye. It’s a bright pinkish malleable gel, much different from other men’s styling products--milky white texturizers or sculpting gels with a clear color--that I occasionally found in my hair. Yeah, I went there.
So, in the name of research, I stuck my fingers in it and felt around not unlike Ryan Gosling’s hands exploring a bloody wound in his latest film, set to moody strings and the equally shady lighting of my apartment. Which brings me to another dose of slick hair inspo: last year for Halloween, I went as Gosling’s character in Drive. The look came together in a panicked “I don’t have a costume!” few hours before I had to be at a party. Sadly, no photos exist from this night. I made out with a too-handsome stranger, so if you’re worried this look is too boyish for you, remember, I was emitting some major dude vibes and this guy was definitely straight.
What I mean to say is that this look is SO EASY and obviously cool, so just give it a try.
First, gather your arsenal. This style is usually accented with post-ocean waves or pin straight hair, but most always begins with damp hair, making texture easier. Since I was working from dry hair and wanted to have more control over the finished product, I dusted off my straightener to flatten things out a bit.
Run some heat-protecting serum through your hair and straighten as usual, focusing on the lengths and ends. If you have any huge waves at the base of your crown, separate the hair and get a little detailed with your iron. This said, these same techniques can be applied to create a softer, beachier look.
It took me a few minutes to flatten things out. If it takes you all day, don’t be discouraged! It’s best to have super-flat hair the first time trying this look out--the fewer variables in the experiment, the better the results should be! (Next time you try it out you can get creative by incorporating a fuller texture, sea salt spray, or any product with “wet look” written on it.)
Next, comb your hair upwards and backwards, with intention. I have a super-cheap comb with wide bristles on one side and thin bristles on the other, and it’s really the best for managing a lot of hair. If you have a shorter cut, you could probably borrow Chef Roommate’s comb and be just fine (and would probably be just fiiiine starting these steps with damp hair).
The trick to getting a streamlined look is lots and lots of combing. I loaded up my hands with Kerastase Oleo-Relax Serum and coated the lengths and ends of my hair to not only make this look appear more “wet” but also to make combing the crown easier.
I have unruly bangs, so to get them incorporated into the rest of my super-long hair, I applied the smallest bit of Layrite, combing them upwards and back into the rest of my hair. This got them in the mood for layin’ right there so I could continue with the rest of the look.
Once your hair is combed and tangle-free, scoop up a quarter sized amount of Layrite and massage it into your hands. This heats the product up and allows it to distribute more evenly, and since I started with dry hair, this step is crucial to prevent any product-dreads from occurring. Focus on long, smoothing sweeps through just the crown of your hair--you’ll want to have more product around your hairline to create a foundation from which the rest of your not-so-heavily-producted hair can anchor to. Keep adding quarter sized amounts until you feel that things are fairly set.
Layrite does not actually dry, so you can keep moving it around to achieve the desired look without worrying about it hardening. If you take a pencil and align it with the angle of your inner ear, as shown below, and make a line back towards your head, this is about the extent of where the pomade should go.
After some initial combing, the product will start to keep the hair exactly where you run the comb through. At this stage you will want to grab an elastic and secure your hair in a ponytail, shooting out of the back of your head. Smooth out the length of the pony and, if you’re feeling product happy, work a little Layrite into the ends to keep them harsh and straight.
Then, with a super-fine comb (I used his), run through the top of your head again, putting each piece of hair exactly where you want it to go. Work in more product as needed to ensure your hair isn’t going anywhere, and take out the ponytail, smoothing out the back of your head with any remaining product--the more the merrier to shoot to aerodynamic heights.
When I recreated this look for this article, I wore my hair like this running errands around town during the hottest hours of the day, and I’ll go ahead and say that this is my new style for summer. It’s super-quick, super-slick, and gets rid of my bangs without having to grow them out.
While wearing your hair severly slicked back has been rumoured to cause breakage at the hairline, I’ve worn my hair like this once a week for the past month and haven’t noticed any fall-out or weakening at the hairline. Layrite is water-soluble, so all it takes is a light shampooing to get your hair back to normal boring.
If you’re one of those gals that likes to stretch out between shampoos, this look is great for the final day of dirty hair. Nobody can tell if your hair was super-greasy an hour ago, because it looks HELLA greasy now.
What kind of beauty tricks have you tried out in the wee hours of the night? What products do you borrow from the boys?