There are certain looks that are often easy to achieve, but hard to maintain. This is one of them. But you’re about to learn some great tips on how to make hair look wet all day without using gel.
Before we run through the tips, tricks, and techniques, I wanted to tell you the two secrets to getting it right.
The 2 Secrets To Making Hair Look Wet Without Gel
Bear these two core principles in mind when trying out the specific tips listed later on.
1. Not Too Greasy
Wet hair is glossy and shiny. It can sometimes be easy to confuse this for greasy. Greasy hair looks unclean and is also difficult to manage.
It won’t cooperate – it’s too heavy to effectively style it the way you want it.
It also won’t look the way you want it to. It’ll look unclean and clumped, as opposed to just wet.
It’ll look shiny, but it won’t be the kind of shine you want.
2. Not Too Crispy
A lot of the products out there that do produce a wet look also produce a stiff and crispy hold.
A lot of water-based products out there tend to do this. As the moisture evaporates, what you’re left with is a crispy hold.
While this isn’t the end of the world, if you’re looking for a more relaxed and pliable hold with your wet look, you’ll want to make sure you avoid these products.
That’s why many people want to know how to make their hair look wet without gel. Hair gel does traditionally produce a stiff and crispy hold, despite producing a good wet look.
8 Tips To Make Hair Look Wet All Day (Without Gel)
Now that you know the core principles, read through these specific tips you can use to achieve the look.
This isn’t a step-by-step tutorial. That’s because you don’t need to follow all of these tips. You can pick and choose from the ones you like (for the most part) and still probably get the wet look you want.
1. Start With Clean Hair
Starting with clean, washed hair is important. You want to remove dirt, grime, and excess oil to ensure that your finish is glossy and not greasy.
Clean hair is more responsive and more likely to cooperate with your styling efforts.
So, it’s a good opportunity to degrease.
Using a conditioner when going for a wet look is often a good idea. It’ll smoothen and soften, but also often add a gentle shine to the hair.
This shine will lay the foundation for the wet look you’re going to achieve with styling later on in the routine.
Once you’ve washed the hair, towel-dry. Avoid blow-drying at this point because you won’t want the hair completely dry when you start styling.
That brings me nicely onto the next tip.
2. Start Styling With Damp Hair
When you want to make hair look wet for prolonged periods of time, starting the styling process with wet hair is as useful as you’d expect.
It’ll make the end result glossier and shinier than it would have been if you were to have styled bone-dry hair.
But there’s a limit.
You don’t want to style soaking wet hair. For one, it’ll lead to breakages – wet hair is particularly vulnerable. This isn’t good, especially if you’re going to be combing or brushing it as well.
In addition, it’s tough to get a good hold when styling hair that’s too wet. It won’t stay in place. It’s a tradeoff – you’ll almost always get a better hold when styling dry hair.
But styling dry hair won’t give you as good of a wet look.
Towel-drying the hair until it is damp is better. Applying the product to and styling damp hair is still more effective at producing a wet look than doing so with soaking wet hair would be.
If you find your hair drying up too quickly, having a spray bottle with water in it to hand is going to be useful. Just dampen it up with a few spritzes when you feel like you need a bit more moisture.
But again, don’t overdo it.
3. Smoothing Lotion
Applying a pre-styling product to damp hair is often useful. It accentuates the effects of the products you may be using later on, while also making the hair more responsive.
There are many different types of pre-styler, all attempting to achieve different things. Some of them increase volume, while others add grit and build texture.
But when trying to achieve a smooth and straight finish with your wet look, a smoothing lotion is a good way to go.
There are several out there, but MoroccanOil Smoothing Lotion (Amazon Link) does the trick.
Work it into the damp, towel-dried hair from root to tip.
It’s technically a “blow-dry lotion” that you blow-dry after applying.
But when you’re looking to achieve a wet look, it’s generally best to delay the blow-drying until later on in the styling process (if you need to blow-dry at all).
Instead, simply continue to let the hair air-dry slowly. But don’t let it become completely dry before your styling finishes.
4. Wave Spray For A Wavy Finish
A wave texture spray may be more appropriate than a smoothing lotion if you want a wavy finish as opposed to a smooth one.
I’d really only recommended a wave spray if your hair is at least a little wavy naturally to begin with.
Otherwise, it can be hard to achieve a wavy look with wave spray alone.
But if you’d rather retain the waves you’ve got as opposed to smoothing it all out when wet, by all means, try a wave texturizing spray.
Wet and wavy can be a great look and less formal than the wet and slick/straight look. When everything is completely straight it can sometimes appear like you’ve just come out of the swimming pool.
While this can be the desired look for some, it just looks too slick for others.
Another way of changing the finish (slick/straight vs wavy/messy) is what you use to brush or comb the hair. I’ll be discussing that a little later on.
5. Use A Non-Gel Shiny Product
There are styling products out there that aren’t gels but will help you achieve a wet look all day.
In other words, they produce a shiny and glossy finish that’s pliable and not stiff and crispy like that of a hair gel.
The key here is in the ingredients.
To make your hair look wet but not hard or stiff, use oil-based products that produce a soft and pliable shiny finish. Examples include oil-based pomades and hair waxes.
Oil-based pomades are generally a little heavier and often greasier than simple hair waxes. When you’re looking for an ultra-slick and shiny finish that’s also pliable, oil-based pomades would be a good option.
They’re great when you’re going for those classic, vintage, glossy styles such as slick backs, pompadours, and side parts.
They look wet, but the hold isn’t crispy or stiff.
However, they aren’t for everyone. Oil-based pomades can be very tough to wash out.
Although some may like this as it leads to “buildup” and the need for less product as the week goes on, others would rather sleep with a less oily head of hair without the need for frequent degreasing.
Hair waxes are generally a little lighter and easier to wash out, while still producing a shiny and pliable finish.
This isn’t always the case, as you can still get some pretty heavy hair waxes and you’ll also usually need to use shampoo to wash them out in any case.
But in general, your average hair wax is easier to wash out than your average oil-based pomade.
The main point here is that when you’re looking for a glossy and wet look, the type of product you choose is important.
Yes, hair gels will help you achieve it. So will water-based pomades. But these water-based products will produce a stiff hold.
Oil-based pomades and hair waxes will give you a glossy, defined, formal finish while also having the benefit of a pliable hold as well.
6. Brush, Comb, Or Fingers
When styling, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to use to distribute the product and produce the finish you want.
Your options are – hairbrush, comb, or fingers.
You do, of course, have the option of using a combination of them. However, most men will want to stick with one tool only as the effects of these tools often conflict with each other.
A hair comb will produce a “tighter” and more precise wet look finish. They’re great if you’re sculpting out a neat and formal style such as a side part, slick back, or contoured pompadour.
They’re also usually better for men with thinner or finer hair types. Men with thicker hair may find it tough to work through it with the narrowly-spaced teeth of a comb.
A hairbrush will also give you a tidy wet look, although you’ll have less precision than you would with a comb.
You’ll also get more strand separation with a hairbrush – the finish will have wider-spaced lines than you’d get with a comb.
There are different types of hairbrushes, but a Denman boar bristle is hard to go wrong with for this purpose.
Either way, when you want a well-defined, neat, and relatively straight finish, a comb or brush would be good options.
If, on the other hand, you’d rather a more relaxed and messy wet look finish, there’s no substitute for styling with your hands alone.
Gently twisting and tousling your hair into place using your styling product of choice and your fingers will be a lot more effective at achieving this look than a comb or brush would be.
7. Blow-Dry After Styling
If at this point you’ve got the look you want, you don’t necessarily need to blow-dry it.
But it can often be helpful for maintaining the wet look you’ve achieved after styling by setting it in place.
To do this, it’s important to use low settings – that goes for both heat and speed.
Use a cold setting and a low-speed setting with the blow dryer held at least 6 to 8 inches away from the styled hair.
This often helps to set the hair in place and will make it more likely that your wet hair look will last for longer periods of time.
It isn’t necessary for everyone. But some may find this useful. It’s something worth experimenting with.
If you find that blow-drying simply makes it look drier than you want it, it’s probably best to avoid it.
8. Hairspray For Extra Hold
Be careful here. Most hairsprays are notorious for producing a crispy finish.
When you’re not a fan of the hold that hair gel produces, it’s unlikely you would be with that of your average hairspray.
But if you’re finding it tough to get the hold you want with the earlier tips in this post, a few spritzes of hairspray may be worth considering.
But be careful with it – the right hairspray technique is important.
Use the minimum amount necessary to produce the hold you want – don’t overdo it.
Using it sparingly should help you avoid an overly stiff hold.
Many hairsprays do produce a somewhat shiny finish, so this may actually appeal to you. A final push toward the wet hair look you’re hoping to achieve.
But if you find that the hairspray simply makes things too stiff, it may be something to skip altogether.
Try using a styling product with a stronger hold instead.
There’s a good chance you may not choose to follow every tip in this list. But the key is to experiment and find the ones that help you achieve the wet look that you want.
Use the list as a guide to helping you do just that.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.