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How To Get The Wet Hair Look For Men

It’s beachy, sexy, posh, unexpected, and unique all at the same time. Women pioneered it, but the wet hair look for men is on the rise.

Table of Contents

What Is The Wet Hair Look?

The wet hair look was first popular among women celebrities and models. (But secretly, I think it’s Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter who pioneered the style.) It’s a hairstyle that uses lots of product to make it look like you have damp hair all day long. 

Male celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Chris Hemsworth have all been spotted sporting the style.

Done right, the wet hair look has a shiny, dark quality. It’s not necessarily that people will think your hair is sopping wet, but it enhances that still-drying stage when your hair picks up a cool shape and color that you wish would stay even when it dries.

One of the most popular ways to style “wet” hair is the simple, slicked-back updo (hence, Draco Malfoy). But you’re not limited to that – men’s styling experts also recommend the wet look with a side part, bangs and fringe, curly hair, a quiff, or even a comb over.

Done wrong, the wet hair look can turn out crunchy or greasy. So don’t dive in without some pointers first.

How To Get The Wet Hair Look For Men

The key to wet hair is using gel OR mousse with a lot of hairspray. It’ll give your hair the shape and shine of damp hair.

  1. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. It’s good to start with clean roots – a blank canvas of sorts. (Try the best natural shampoo for men.)
  2. Let your hair dry for a few minutes so that it’s not sopping wet, but slightly damp.
  3. Work some gel OR mousse into your hair. Mousse tends to work better for guys with curly or long hair, while gel is best for straight or short hair. 
  4. Create an even layer with the product, and shape it as you go. Use a fine comb for a sleeker look, or your hands for a messier look with individual strands. One of the most popular wet hair looks is simple, swept-back hair.
  5. Once you feel good about the shape of your hair, spritz it up with the hairspray. You don’t need to necessarily use a lot of spray, but be more thorough and thoughtful than usual so that your whole head is covered.
  6. Voila! Your hair will dry throughout the day, but it should keep the shape and shine of wet hair.
  7. Make sure to wash your hair thoroughly at the end of the day when you’re done with the hairstyle. Leaving product buildup in your hair can cause scalp irritation and dandruff.

Common Wet Hair Look Mistakes:

• You don’t want to start styling when your hair is sopping wet. The product won’t stick, and you won’t be able to shape your hair nicely.

• You also shouldn’t let your hair get too dry. Once your hair is dry, no amount of gel or mousse will make it look wet again. You’ll just give it a frizzy texture with flyaways.

• Don’t use too much product. Just be more thorough than usual with the amount of product that you do use. Cover every hair, and don’t let clumps form. 

• Keep in mind – if you’re modeling your hair after a celebrity, he’s probably using hundred-dollar hair products and million-dollar hair stylists. Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t achieve quite the same result.

How To Get The Wet Hair Look For Guys With Long Hair

Guys with thick and long hair have the hardest time creating the wet hair look. Because your hair is so heavy and there’s so much ground to cover with product, it’s more prone to falling out.

But here are a few tips:

• Start with mousse rather than gel. Gel will weigh down your hair, making it harder to style.

• Be more generous with the mousse and hairspray than guys with short hair. 

• If you want messy or curly wet hair, don’t use a comb. At all. Let the wet strands stick together and dry for a few minutes before you start styling.

• To tame little fly-away hairs, try using just a small amount of hair oil on the ends of your hair after the mousse and hairspray.

• Don’t use a hair dryer. It will ruin the “wet” hair look.

If you’re still struggling, you can always visit a stylist and watch what they do to achieve a wet hair look for you. For most guys with long hair, it’s a hard look to accomplish and pull off.

How Can I Make My Hair Look Wet Without Gel?

In the past, we’ve talked about hair products that you can use instead of gel or hairspray. You can certainly try substitute products, but for a true wet hair look, expert stylists recommend gel or mousse and hairspray.

I’d say your best bet is to try to achieve the wet hair look by using hair clay or pomade. The styling tips are the same – start with damp hair, and go from there. 

The caveat is that your hair might look more greasy than wet when you’re done. But the upside is that you can restyle your hair throughout the day. Hair clays and pomades don’t dry, so you can reshape them.

You can also try hair putty or wax for slightly more hold. (Read about all the differences between hair putty, wax, and pomade here.)

How To Keep The Wet Hair Look All Day Long

Because there’s so much product involved in creating the wet hair look, it’s pretty good at keeping its shape. Especially if you have short hair, you don’t have to sweat over “wet” hair falling out or losing shape.

If you do notice your wet hair look fading, try to give it an extra spritz of hairspray during your break, or use more product the next time you try a wet hair look.

There’s not much else you can do to “save” a wet hair look that won’t stay “wet.” The style really relies on you getting it right while your hair is freshly washed and still damp. Guys with thick or long hair may have a hard time keeping the shape because of how heavy it gets.

Why Does Wet Hair Look Better?

Maybe it’s those sexy beachy perfume commercials, or pool-side swimwear ads, but something about wet hair gives it a lot of aesthetic and sex appeal.

The ironic part is that the texture of the wet hair look isn’t always that appealing. It’s a great hairstyle for the museum days, with “look but don’t touch” vibes. But if you have a lover who wants to run their fingers through your hair, “wet” hair won’t accommodate that nicely. It’s too laboriously styled and filled with product.

Even though tons of guys are now searching “how to get the wet hair look for men” these days, I can tell you that it definitely isn’t an everyday look, but if you want to catch eyes, it’s perfect for those once-in-a-while days when you need to amp up your style.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.