The Chicest Way to Wear Hair Gel for a Wet Look

Less is definitely more.

Unless you’ve been dilly-dallying under a rock for the past few months, it’s probably come to your attention that the wet look is back with a va-va-vengeance. It was flirting with possibility last summer, and is now definitely making the rounds full force. Call it the power of the 1990s, but we’re definitely crushing on this slick, sharp hairstyle, with our favorite iteration being the understated new way tastemakers have been using hair gel for a wet look. How so? Very subtly, with a smooth, whisper-light application focused on the sides, instead of the tops and roots.

How We’re Crushing On Hair Gel for a Wet Look

hair gel for a wet look long and soft
The keywords: soft and moistened, not hard and untouchable. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

A modern femme fatale look with a slight teddy-boy spin, using hair gel for a wet look via smearing just the sides of your hair is a charming, retro throwback that most anyone can wear. Decidedly less aggressive than a full-on wet look (and arguably more economical), the side-smear is also more flattering as it allows for the top of your hair to be parted to one side, instead of being completely pulled back.

hair gel for a wet look pony
A ponytail offers a style-switcheroo for this product-laden look. Keep the gel on the sides only, and not on the back of the head. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. Use a tiny amount of the right product.

A dime-sized drop of firm-hold gel (we like the wet-finish control we get from TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Hold Gel) is usually enough to give that fun, unmistakeable definition on both sides of your head. Rub product between your palms and spread evenly on the hair behind each of your ears. Apply any leftover product onto your fringe area, and comb all sides with a fine-toothed comb to refine. Tuck the sides behind your ears for a more confident, face-forward effect, and leave the ends and back of the hair soft for a more touchable finish.

2. Pair with the right makeup.

We love playing up the inherent film noir characteristics of this look, so don’t be shy with the kohl liner and dark, vampy lipstick (yup, even at the same time—just keep it in the same undertone family so you don’t overwhelm your coloring!). Want a true style boost? Play around with of-the-moment textures, like glitter on the lips and gloss on the eyelids, and you have an instant evening-worthy look. For a lighter, more springtime vibe, dab on some pink eyeshadow and add a swipe of juicy pink lip gloss, to echo the luscious feel of your wet look.

Want more straight-from-the-runway hair inspiration? Check out our latest transitional-weather roundup.