The newest beauty trends and formulas are so wearable—and I’m living, breathing proof. Welcome to Case in Point, a new beauty series where I try out the latest in all things beauty so you can see how it looks on a real person. I’ll test the current buzzy formulas, the trending looks, and the daring styles you didn’t know could be so versatile. It’s no secret that the best way to know if something’s worth trying is to have an industry expert test it themselves and give you honest commentary, and that’s the whole point of this series.
I’ve recently become infatuated with a hair trend that I used to think was reserved only for celebrities and runway models. In fact, I used to think it didn’t look good at all—and if you’d talked to me even last year, I would have never considered touching hair pomade or gel with a 10-foot pole, unless it was curl gel. Enter slicked-back hair, Hollywood’s most polarizing hair trend.
Once I started slicking my hair back regularly, I can’t imagine a world where I stop doing it. In my opinion, it’s best on third- or fourth-day hair that you’re trying to avoid washing for one more day. If you feel like your hair is starting to lean oily, that’s even better if you’re trying to achieve a slicked-back vibe—you want your hair to look as shiny as possible. With help from the right products, that means that greasy hair can be transformed into sleek strands effortlessly.
I tried out four different celebrity-inspired slicked-back hairstyles so you can see them in action on a regular gal, and not just a supermodel off-duty (we all know they could make wearing a paper bag look good). I know reaching for a high-hold gel or strong hairspray might seem scary, but the end result is worth trying something new. Keep reading for my favorite slicked-back looks and all of the products I used to achieve them, so you can try them for yourself.
This was my favorite look of all of the styles I tried, though it did require the most work to achieve. After seeing Hailey Bieber’s Met Gala hair, I knew I had to try it myself. I started by covering my entire head with a frizz-taming hair serum. I brought the back half of my hair into a high ponytail, and then secured it into a neat bun with bobby pins. From there, I parted the front section down the middle and pulled it back into the bun, securing it with bobby pins. I used a strong-hold hairspray to make sure my hair didn’t move as I hopped from beauty event to beauty event. Another beauty editor told me that it looked like I had a very chic “Olaplex bun” going on—and I kind of did, thanks to the hair serum I used.
I won’t lie—this was my least favorite look to try for myself, and I likely won’t be going out in public with it anytime soon (just because it’s intimidating to pull off in real life!), though I’m glad I tried it. This is a look best served with hyper-dewy, glossy makeup to match its vibe. To achieve this, I spritzed my hair down with an ultra-fine, nourishing hair mist, worked in tons of leave in conditioner so my hair was still touchable instead of crunchy, teased the very back of my hair, and smoothed down any stray flyaways with pomade. The end result made me look like I’d just stepped out of the shower—but in a cool way, no?
I’ve always been a fan of super-sleek, sky-high ponytails, but honestly, I’d never tried the look out on myself. I thought I would end up looking like I didn’t have hair, rather than achieve the lifted, pulled-back vibe I love. Once I tried this look out on myself, though, I quickly realized it’s actually very wearable, and dare I say, easy? A glossy high pony has become my go-to lazy hairstyle. For the sleekest pony possible, start by passing a flat iron over your hair (if you’re short on time, just straighten the ends of your ponytail after you pull it back). Then, brush your hair back and gather it at the crown of your head, securing it with an elastic. Pull it tight, but not too tight—you don’t want it to result in breakage. After my hair is secured in an elastic, I like to use a ultra-reflective hairspray to hold the hair in place and give my hair a sparkling finish. For any stray hairs that can’t be slicked back with hair spray, I use a pomade to keep them in place.
If you ask me, this is by far the chicest option. Perfect for a buttoned-up breakfast meeting or a power lunch, a sleek low bun is the ultimate work week hairstyle. I wore this to a beauty event and was told I was serving “model off-duty” vibes, which is a vibe that I for one am very happy to emulate. You’ll want tons of hold to make this style truly work, so opt for a workable styling paste that will keep every hair in place. Work it through the ends for even more hold on your bun, then secure with bun twists for an effortless bun that looks like you might have gotten it done professionally (trust me, no one needs to know that you didn’t!).