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 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 couldn’t imagine a world where I didn’t do 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, greasy hair can be transformed into sleek strands effortlessly.
I tried out four 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 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 yourself.
Hailey Bieber's Met Gala Bun
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.
Customer review: "I first used this out of the shower on damp hair yesterday after a clarifying wash. At first, it made my hair softer, and of course, the heat protectant was a plus, but I wasn't blown away yet. The next morning my hair was so shiny it could blind someone. I haven't seen my hair look this good in a long time."
Customer review: "I have really long fine, thin hair. I usually wear my hair up in a bun, but when it's down, I mostly pin it out of my face. I normally have to use four pins on each side as the bobby pins I usually use slip right out and don't hold my hair into place. I bought these bobby pins in a hurry for a wedding and figured they probably wouldn't work, but boy, was I surprised. I curled my hair and used two on each side, [and] my hair did not move all night. I will buy these every time I need bobby pins from now on."
Customer review: "My stylist used this hair spray to complete my look, and not only was my hair 'my hair,' meaning I could move it and run my fingers through it with ease without any sticky residue or crunchy feeling to my hair, but I was left with a wonderful shine as well as my style lasting all day."
How to Do a Slicked-Back Low Bun Hairstyle
If you ask me, this is by far the chicest option (I wear it all the time). Perfect for a buttoned-up breakfast meeting or a power lunch, a sleek low bun is the ultimate workweek hairstyle. I wore this to a beauty event and was told I was serving “model-off-duty” vibes, which is a vibe I, for one, am very happy to emulate. You’ll need tons of hold to make this style 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!).
Customer review: "To be honest, didn't think I'd like it. It's marketed more for curls and less for edges, but it is an edge control, so I used it for that, and it's so impressive. Not only does it smell like Jolly Ranchers, but it works. It laid my edges down, kept the shine with no white residue, stayed smooth with no lifting, and lasted all day with one application."
Customer review: "I literally have to use only two twisties, and I'm all set for the day. Easy to twist into your bun and to untwist out when removing without any hair pulling. My thick hair stays in place without any added strain on my scalp. People, you have to invest in this. Best product ever!"
How to Do a Slicked-Back High Ponytail
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 look like I didn’t have hair instead of achieving the lifted and 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, 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 with an elastic, I like to use an 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.
Customer review: "This T3 Singlepass Stylemax straightener is amazing. [It's] definitely the very best quality I have ever tried. It literally only takes one pass. With my old one, I would have to keep going over my hair repeatedly, and with this one, I do not need to. It also leaves my hair shiny and smooth, and it feels so soft. This straightener heats up quickly too, which is good because I'm always in a hurry."
How to Get the Wet Hair Look
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?
Customer review: "This primer has changed the game for me. It helps my hair be less frizzy, tames flyaways, and, most importantly, helps my hair hold styles! This is honestly such a feat because my hair never holds anything, and I've tried so many products with no luck until this one. It doesn't leave a weird feeling on your hair, and it smells great."