Perfectly slick or unceremoniously textured, flowing free or tied up high. A vast number of styles across the runways in 2012 had one thing in common: they all had a wet-look finish. With oils, sea-sprays and gels aplenty dominating the runways again for spring 2013, it would be neglectful of us not to count wet look hair amoung the list of 2013 hairstyle trends – and to look at how the style in its many forms can translate to everyday life.

If you’d like to keep up to date with more hair trend updates, along with all our other trend guides, subscribe to’s free fashion newsletter or our RSS feed.

One can’t help but think of a wet look hairstyle as decidedly modern. Take any style – no matter how classic or vintage – and alter it slightly to look as if it’s just stepped straight out of the shower, and all of a sudden it has a newfound effortlessness. That’s what’s at the core of wet hair as a style in 2013. It’s all about looking like you’ve just thrown the hairdryer aside and let your busy lifestyle draw you from the beach or the pool (or even the gym) to the next activity without pausing to give your locks more than a nonchalant towel-dry.

The exception to the carelessly effortless rule is the half wet, half dry hairstyle. It’s one we saw gracing the runways of Victoria Beckham, Rag & Bone, Barbara Bui and others for spring 2013, and for the most part it’s the elegant sister of the wet look family. More about keeping the face the focus and the hair slicked back, the dry ends give this type of style a more deliberate feel.

Wet look hair: the styles

Slicked back top / half wet, half dry

While fully wet styles were prominent in 2012, 2013 is wont to take it back to a more wearable, semi-wet level. A multi-textured look of half-wet, half-dry is one of the key ways to do this.

This style can work for any length of hair from short (e.g. chin length) to very long. The hair is kept out and slicked back, but while the crown has a wet look, the rest of the hair is left dry.

Straight or wavy hair is perfect for this style, but if you have very curly hair you can still achieve it by straightening the hair first.

half wet look hair
Half wet look hair at Barbara Bui, S/S ’13

How to achieve it

There are a number of ways you can create this style, so you might like to experiment with what works best for you, or what works best with the particular look you’re going for on the day.

At Rag + Bone’s spring 2013 show, Redken’s Guido Palau created a look that contrasted soft and tough elements of wet and dry. He used a volume spray on damp hair and roughly blow-dried it. Next, the bottom half of the hair was lightly curled with a large-barrel curling iron. To get the wet look on top, the front section of hair was slicked back with gel (in this case, Redken’s hardwear 16 super strong gel) and blow-dried to just behind the ears.

half wet half dry hair
Half wet half dry hair at Rag & Bone, S/S ’13

At Victoria Beckham’s spring 2013 show Redken’s team blow-dried the top section of the hair to just behind the ears then sprayed on forceful 23 super strength finishing spray to hold it in place an give it shine. To contrast the slick, firm top, the rest of the hair from the ears down was misted with dry shampoo to create an airy, texturized effect on the lengths.

Semi wet with side part

Side part hairstyles in their various forms are another trend for 2013. So it’s no real surprise that several spring 2013 runways opted to give their wet look hair a deep side parting.

Elie Saab’s spring 2013 runway was complimented by a slick, side-parted ‘do, where the hair was pulled back with a wide barrette. Rather than being drenched through, the hair was only lightly wet for a slick, shiny finish.

side part slick pony
Side-parted slick pony at Elie Saab, S/S ’13

Carven’s semi-wet look had a similar effect: side-parted and slick with more shine than overt wetness.

side part semi wet hair
Side-parted slick hair at Carven, S/S ’13

At Mugler spring 2013 the wet-look hair with side part was a bit more pronounced. Hair stylist Sam McKnight left the hair to dry naturally, then parted it diagonally from the side to the crown of the head. To get the wet look, a holding spray (McKnight used Phyto Phytolaque Soie Hair Spray) was applied to the top of the head and combed through, the ends left dry.

side part wet hair
Half wet hair with side part at Mugler, S/S ’13

More wet look hair tutorials

how to: the slick futuristic ponytail

How to: the slick futuristic ponytail

A slicked back top and slicked down sides make for a futuristic, sci-fi inspired style that's grounded in simple wearability. Spotted on the runway at Nanette Lepore fall 2013, it's easy to create yet visually impacting. Follow the full tutorial to try it for yourself.

wet french twist

Wet look french twist

A wet-look variation on the traditional french twist, this style is summer incarnate. As seen on the runway Nina Ricci, you can recreate this hairstyle by following our wet french twist tutorial at that link.

wet spring hairstyle

Freshly wet

Looking like you’ve just emerged from the sea – a Goddess amoung women – is one way to work a wet haired look. That’s what the models on the Alberta Ferretti catwalk were channeling with this oceanic goddess hairstyle. Learn how to recreate it at that link.

wet look ponytail

Slick wet look ponytail

The wet-look ponytail on the runway at Anthony Vaccerello complimented a sleek, sexy collection. With a military strictness and pristine finish, this style is all about going strong or going home. Find out how to style your slick wet look ponytail at that link.

wet look ponytail

Textured wet look ponytail

In contrast to the sleek and slick wet-look ponytail, this style is all about rough and messy texture. As seen on the runway at Reed Krakoff, it’s a personification of urban elegance. Find out how to create the textured wet look ponytail at that link.

slick spring 2013 hair cut

Slick half-tuck

A surprise stand-out amoung 2013′s hairstyles, the half tuck is small but significant. This variation takes the idea and gives it a wet-look finish. Read more about the slick half-tuck at that link.

Wet look hair in 2012

As a trend, wet look hair has evolved since 2012 – but only in a small way. Most of 2013′s styles are simply a little less extreme, meaning that last year’s looks can easily still be worn or adapted for the new year. Here are some tips on creating wet look hair based on 2012′s runways.

slicked back top hairstyle
Slick top hairstyles at BCBG Max Azria (left) and Cushnie et Ochs S/S ’12.

For a more matte finish like the one created by Pantene at Cushnie et Ochs, set the top of the hair with gel but later brush it out. The hair will keep its shine and stay away from the face, but won’t have as much of an obvious wet-look.

For another variation you can also play with different products on the dry part of the hair. Try using a mousse or texturising cream on the rest of the hair to give it texture and make it blend in more seamlessly with the wet top half.

Full wet look hair

The pinnacle of a summer hairstyle, all over wet look hair has all the connotations of basking in the sun, sand and sea. Once the hair is saturated with product you only need to decide whether you want to be a motocross babe (a la Alexander Wang’s messy textured wet hair) or a mermaid.

This style will work on any length of hair – even a short crop. Again, if hair is very curly or frizzy you may need to straighten it first – but thanks to the large amount of product being used this is a style that’s great for most hair types.

wet look short hair
All over wet look for short hair (Yigal Azrouel S/S ’12) and long hair (Alexander Wang S/S ’12).

How to achieve it
A number of different products can be used to create an all-over wet look hairstyle. At Alexander Wang, Redken’s Guido saturated the models’ hair with Argan oil all the way through, but not before getting the messy texture first using plenty of volumising mousse and a rough blow dry. To create a smooth look like the one at Carlos Miele, try mixing gel with shine oil in equal parts then layering it all through the hair.

all over wet look hair
All over wet hair at Carlos Miele S/S ’12.

Wet look done up hairdos

There’s more to be done with your textured wet look hair than to just keep it hanging loose. Some haphazard up ‘dos are the perfect way to create even more looks for spring and summer.

One easy style is the messy wet chignon – simple to create and beautifully effective, it’s a style that takes very little time to master. Read our wet look chignon post at that link for a full step by step tutorial.

textured wet look hairstyle
Textured wet look hairstyles at Proenza Schouler and Bottega Veneta S/S ’12.

Another wet textured hairstyle is Proenza Schouler’s modern rockabilly style. Deliberately dishevelled, hairstylist Paul Hanlon for Fekkai used a sea salt spray to wet the hair all over. To build up a wet look take on ’50s rockabilly hair, you can then slick it back and set it with a wax product, pull it into a messy knot and loosen strands to create a messy effect. This one is all about roughness and texture so don’t worry about creating a perfect quiff – it’s meant to be a modern rock-chic update.

If you want to keep your up ‘do slick rather than textured, the slick ponytail is the contemporary classic of choice. For spring 2012 it can be a neatly brushed high ponytail, or a lower ponytail that keeps a slight centre part through the hair.

slicked back ponytail
Slicked back ponytails at Ruffian and Herve Leger, S/S ’12.

More updates

For more inspiration, trend reports and how-to guides on 2013′s hairstyles of choice, follow that link to our full hair trends guide.

Images: Imaxtree
Share some style:

Want to keep up with fashion?

Once a week, we send out an update with the latest fashion trends, styles and collections.
Get yours direct in your inbox and keep ahead of fashion.

Our newsletter is spam free and your email address will never be shared or sold.