Enthusiasts of the midcentury modern aesthetic know instinctively that polish makes the man. It’s all in the details: the way you prefer your martini, the shine of your cufflinks, even the way you hold a cigar—all have made the case for the perfectly-put-together gentleman, at least back in the day. As far as grooming goes, one of the most notable hallmarks of the well-suited, retro-handsome guy has got to be the gelled comb over.
For this post, we show how to style a gelled comb over without a) looking like you’re stuck in the Golden Years of Vegas, and b) without too much product. Going overboard with this look can take you from dapper leading man to sad, dated caricature really quickly. Read on for tips on how to bring the gelled comb over into 2018 (yes, even to the workplace!):
How to Create the Crisp, Clean Gelled Comb Over
Step 1: Start on clean, freshly washed hair.
No, it’s not counterintuitive—this minimizes the grease in your hair, which can lead to an oily scalp and even flake flareups. Also, clean hair is easier to manipulate and style, so we suggest starting off your look in the shower with a shampoo formulated for cleansing and targeting flakes such as Bed Head For Men by TIGI Wise Up Scalp Shampoo. Rinse and towel-dry.
Step 2: Blow-dry your hair.
Wiggle your blowdryer all over your head, focusing the nozzle downwards from your desired part line. This will help make your part crisper and less prone to cowlicks.
Step 3: Pick a shine product with hold.
Some classicists prefer pomades, such as Bed Head for Men by TIGI Slick Trick, that offer a firm hold with a sheen, and is best for semi-shiny looks like the gelled comb over. You can also use a gel itself, like Dove Men+Care Control Gel, which offers a controlled, smooth style with a wet finish.
To style, take a finger-swipe to dime-sized amount of product and rub it between palms. Spread it all over your hair, first focusing the product on the main side of your comb over (a.k.a. the side with more hair). Mat down the leftovers on the minor side and the back of your head. Make sure product is smoothly and evenly spread by refining hair and combing it with a fine-toothed comb.
Step 4: Refine your fringe area.
Some guys like a gelled comb over to lay flat down; we think a bit of lift at the hairline gives a more modern, sexy twist to this classic late-1950s look. To achieve, blast your hairline one last time with a blowdryer, focusing the nozzle on the roots in an upward direction. Leave for a few seconds and affix the shape in place by combing in an upward direction with a comb or brush. Put on that suit, and you’re ready to make the ladies swoon!