The Best Slick Back Haircuts For Men In 2024

Is your hair game feeling stale? Do you keep getting compliments from your grandma? Maybe it’s time to kick things up a notch and get your barber to chop some badass into that choirboy haircut of yours. But how?

Two words: Slick back.

The slick back is the de facto trim of bad boys, Hollywood villains of the low-key cool variety and rebels without a cause. It’s a surefire way to take your aesthetic from god botherer to The Godfather and channel your inner rogue in a stylish manner.

But before you reach for the Brylcreem and comb, there are a few things to know. Not everyone will suit this particular cut, and even if you’re one of the lucky ones, there are a number of key variants to choose from.

To clue you in, we’ve provided some essential information on slick back haircuts, along with our pick of the best styles. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is A Slick Back Haircut?

A slick-back haircut is exactly what it sounds like. That is, a haircut in which the hair is swept back, away from the face and towards the back of the neck. There are lots of subtle variations but all of them are united by this key, overarching detail.

In general, the ‘slick back’ part mostly refers to the hair on top of the head. In many slick back hairstyles, this hair is worn longer than the back and the sides. This means that most slick back cuts need a fair amount of length to begin with, as it’s impossible for the hair to lay down sufficiently otherwise.

As for the back and sides, they’re often worn shorter, sometimes with a taper, a fade or a combination of both.

Is A Slick Back Haircut For Me?

Before you march down to the barber shop clutching a photograph of Dracula, you need to determine whether or not a slick back is right for you.

The good news is, generally speaking, this is a low-maintenance style. As long as you have a comb and your preferred styling product, there’s not much you’ll need to do. However, if you’re going to opt for a version that incorporates a fade or undercut, it’s worth noting that frequent touch ups will be required to keep it looking sharp.

Aside from maintenance, the other thing to consider is your face shape. Thankfully, the slick back is pretty versatile, so if you’re dead set on it then you can probably find a style that will work. The key thing to remember is height. This style is always low-volume on the sides, which means you’ll want to keep it close to the scalp on top if you have a long face. Those with round, heart-shaped or square faces may want to think about opting for a slick back variation that offers a bit of loft on top. It’s all about balancing out proportions.

The Best Slick Back Haircuts For Men

Classic Slick Back

This cut is a timeless classic that has been sported by everyone from Marlon Brando to Brad Pitt. It’s the slick back in its purest form and the version from which all others are derived.

The trim itself requires mid-length hair, usually cut shorter on the sides to sit closer to the head. The hair is scraped back away from the forehead and temples and towards the back of the neck.

This is the easiest slick-back haircut to style and maintain. Simply grab some pomade and a comb, guide the hair back into position and you’re good to go.

Slick Back With Skin Fade

A contemporary twist on the classic slick back, this manicured variation brings things bang up to date. The addition of a skin fade at the back and sides creates a more modern look, while retaining the attitude and swagger of its elder, lengthier sibling.

Again, the hair on top should be a decent length in order to carry this style off. It is combed back off the face and towards the back of the neck. At the back and sides, clippers are used to graduate from very short around the temples and nape of the neck to blend in with the longer hair on top of the head. This gives the cut a neat, tapered appearance.

Styling is relatively simple, requiring just a comb and some product. However, the skin fade will require regular visits to the barber in order to maintain its sharp look.

Mid-Length Slick Back

If you have longer hair, this slicked-back style could be a good option. It’s a great way of keeping things neat and tidy with the bare minimum of effort. It can be combined with a subtle taper at the sides to create shape.

You’ll need to grow your hair out before attempting this style. The good news is you can simply rock a classic slick back until it’s long enough. Don’t go too far, though. Mid-length hair looks great swept back. Long hair, not so much.

One key thing to note when styling is that this style looks best with the hair loosely combed back as opposed to scraped back. Tease it into place roughly with a comb and some pomade rather than plastering it to your scalp with hair gel.

Side-Part Slick Back

The side part and the slick back are two opposing forces. One is smart and conservative while the other is brash and ballsy. On paper, they shouldn’t work together, but they do. This particular style is perfect for anyone looking for something slightly less extreme.

The cut itself has a lot in common with the pompadour. It’s brushed up and back, but instead of styling the hair straight back, it’s worked into a side parting. Generally, the hair at the back and sides will be worn shorter and tapered from bottom to top.

Styling-wise, you’ll need a brush, a comb, some styling product. It might help to use a blowdryer from wet to brush the hair back too.

Slick Back With Undercut

One for the Peaky Blinders fans. This slicked-back style takes things to the extremes, with contrasting lengths and throwback looks.

The key defining characteristic of this style is the sharp contrast between the long, slicked-back hair on top and the closely shaven hair at the back and sides. There’s no graduation between lengths, which results in a striking overall look.

Style it much the same as you would any other slicked back haircut. Simply use a comb and your preferred styling product to sweep the hair back and away from the face, and make sure to visit your barber regularly to keep things looking pristine.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.