If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, WWD may receive an affiliate commission.
Milan Fashion Week wrapped on Monday, and style inspiration oozed from the catwalks to the cobblestone streets. Of all the beauty looks we saw on and off the runway at MFW, one stood out: The street style set is embracing slicked back hair.
At any fashion week, street style is an outlet for creativity, as fashion tastemakers aim to turn heads (and camera lenses) by incorporating trends in a wearable way. More often than not, show attendees ditch their day-to-day uniforms, opting for bold colors, playful silhouettes, and statement-making designer bags. At NYFW, green garments and hair accessories dominated the scene. For MFW, the fashion set polished their looks from head-to-toe, with stylish socks and slicked back hair — two refreshingly accessible trends.
“The best part about a slicked back hairstyle is that it’s perfect for any occasion and any hair type,” explains celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, who regularly works with Megan Fox and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian. “I think this look will always be a leading style due to how easy it is, how well it stays together, and how it works for just about any hair type.”
Fitzsimons loves the sleek, slicked back look for its versatility, which was on full display at MFW. Entrepreneur and style influencer Olivia Palermo went with fresh-from-a-swim strands for a relaxed, mermaid-like effect. Portugese model Sara Sampaio, on the other hand, opted for an updo that looked sculpted from stone.
These sleek finishes adapt to myriad makeup looks and hairstyles, too. “A natural slick back with the hair down is perfect if you have a dramatic makeup look on so nothing looks too busy,” Fitzsimons says. If you’re averse to wet-looking hair, Fitzsimons notes that you can achieve them without looking like you just showered; just brush your hair back firmly when you’re creating an updo. “If you’re going to be out from day to night, I love a slicked back bun as it really holds nicely together and is effortlessly chic,” he adds.
Another benefit of these swept back styles is that they pull your hair away from your face. “It highlights the facial features, especially your cheekbones, in a very flattering way,” Fitzsimons explains. This effect also puts your jewelry, like trend-forward chunky earrings or hoops, on full display. And with some strategy while you’re styling, you won’t have to fuss with your hair throughout the day.
Fitzsimons explains that anyone can ace the slicked look with the right products on hand. He recommends starting out by combing your hair from the ends up to get all tangles out, then apply your desired product. “I recommend a serum for a wet look and a gel for an updo, and make sure the product is evenly distributed throughout by combing it with a wide tooth comb,” Fitzsimons explains. “Style the rest as desired.”
Ahead, the best products for the job.
Top Products for Slicked Back Hair Looks
Andrew Fitzsimons Hard Strong Hold Hairspray
“A solid hard hold hairspray is the most important part to keeping the style in place,” says Fitzsimons. His line’s Hard Strong Hold Hairspray ensures your look won’t budge, but won’t leave your hair feeling crunchy.
Related: The Best Fragrance-Free Hairsprays
Hairitage Smooth Talker Wide Tooth Comb
A wide tooth comb is essential for distributing any type of hair product — Fitzsimons signs off on Hairitage’s Smooth Talker Wide Tooth Comb. It’s gentle on the scalp, and you can also use it to detangle hair when you’re applying a hair mask or conditioner in the shower.
The Best Hair Brushes for Every Hair Type
The Best Hair Styling Tools
Color Wow Pop + Lock High Gloss Finish
Color Wow’s Pop + Lock High Gloss Finish serum is your friend if you’re after a wet hair look. The oil-serum hybrid formula imparts reflective shine while treating your hair to conditioning ingredients, so your strands will look great now and later.
Matrix Controller Gel
To lend a slicked back look to any updo, go with Matrix Controller Gel. The newly launched formula will hold every last hair in place, especially top it off with a hit of hairspray.
Meet the Expert
Andrew Fitzsimons is a celebrity hairstylist born in Dublin, Ireland. After leaving school to pursue hairdressing at just 13 years old, Andrew’s career has exploded on a global scale. With 15+ years of experience under his belt and more than 650,000 Instagram followers, Andrew now works internationally with fashion, beauty, commercial and celebrity clients alike. He has been featured as a beauty and hair expert in publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, E! News and dozens more. His trend-setting looks can regularly be seen gracing red carpets on beauties including Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Megan Fox, J Lo, Madonna, Bella Hadid, Shay Mitchell and Janet Mock. Andrew partnered with the Los Angeles LGBT Centre and TEEP (Trans Economic Empowerment Program), to launch the Trans Cosmetic Donation Program, which provides a unique and exciting opportunity for beauty professionals to donate unused personal hygiene and cosmetic products to transgender and gender non-conforming people. The LA LGBT Center manages their distribution to its clients and to clients of various local organizations that serve the trans community. Andrew has also launched his first-ever global haircare line, Andrew Fitzsimons Haircare which includes 4 care and 1 styling range, made with high-quality ingredients at an affordable price point now available in Boots (UK) and Ulta (US).
Meet the Author
Claire Sullivan is the Senior Beauty and Lifestyle Commerce Editor for WWD and Footwear News. She’s spent over five years researching, reporting on, and writing about the beauty industry for publications like Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, and Byrdie. She’s tested hundreds of products during her time as a beauty editor, including dozens of mousses, mists, and hot tools for your hair.