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The Complete Guide to Men’s Hair Products

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If you have searched up men’s hair products on google right now, you’re probably wondering why there’s so many different types.

With so many products in today’s market, you can easily get overwhelmed with the options and variety of hair products that are available to you.

Which one should you even choose? 

Gel. Clay. Pomade. Wax. Paste. Etc.

We get it.  You don’t know how to tell the difference and you came here to better educate yourself with what’s best for your hair. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help!

Modern hair requires modern solutions, and with the competition of people with good looking hair in today’s world, your regular, same-old hair just won’t make the cut (no pun intended!).

To add that extra level of pizzaz to your look, hair products are a necessity that should be in every man’s arsenal. Made to add texture, volume and a particular level of shine for you, hair products come in all different shapes and forms.  

But which one is the right one for you?

Let’s dive in. 

Hold? Shine? 

You may be wondering, how do hair products work? Why do we use it? 

Hair products have been around for ages and have been key to providing men with great hair ever since. Each product provides you with different types of “hold’ and “shine”. You should familiarize yourself with these terms as we move on. 

Hold

Power. Grip. Have you ever seen someone with spiky hair? (Like a mohawk)

Chances are, they are using hair products to keep their hair in the intended shape. 

Hold is used to describe how strong a product is able to grip your hair and hold it in place. You may have noticed in the label of hair products the description describing “strong hold” “medium hold” or “low hold”.

Basically, “strong” would be used to describe a product that keeps your hair stiff and grippy. Whereas, “low” and “medium” give a more pliable feel in the hair, allowing for a more natural look.

Shine

If you’ve lived long enough to remember, back in the late 90s, shiny gel-ed up hair was a look that was quite popular in that day and age. 

Nowadays, men are leaning more towards a more natural hair look with the use of matte shine products. But honestly, both are completely fine!

Shine refers to the appearance of your hair after having applied a product. Some are made with the intent of having a more natural, laid back look, while others are made to provide that glossy, wet appearance that many men have grown to love. 

It is important to understand the different types of shine to go for the intended look that you want. The wrong choice could easily cause your hair to look sloppy and unattractive.

Types of Men’s Hair Products

Now that you’ve understood the basics, let’s get down to more details and take a closer look of the selection of products you will have to choose from.

Pomade

Results: Medium Hold | High Shine 

If you’re looking for that pompadour, side part or slick back, pomade is the product you need. Ah Slicked back, shiny hairstyles. Brings back memories of celebrities like David Beckham and Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Pomade allows for shine with relatively less holds which gives you the benefit of having more flexibility in the hair. It also smells good! 

Unlike most products, pomade does not dry your hair out when used throughout the day,  but you definitely do not want to overuse it, as it would make your hair greasy. 

Pomade can be used on all types of hairs, from straight to thick to curly. However, it is most effective when used on men with thick or curly hair. 

Traditionally, it was made from oil-based ingredients such as beeswax or petroleum jelly. While you still see some of those products today, it is not quite as popular as its other contender. 

In today’s era, the use of more water-based ingredients in pomade is more commonly found in the market. 

Oil-Based v. Water-Based Pomade

Oil-based pomade is usually cheaper than water-based pomade, which is always a plus. It allows for a stronger hold.

However, because it is made from ingredients such as petroleum, it can potentially clog up scalp pores and cause build up. It is also harder to wash out being that it is made from oily ingredients.

In contrast, water-based pomades are easier to wash out (water, duh!) and do not damage your hair like oil-based ones would. It gives the hair more flexibility and lasts throughout the day!

Our Top Picks:

Suavecito Pomade Original Hold | $10.00

Wax

Results: Medium Hold | Medium Shine

Understanding wax is a bit complicated. Marketing-wise, you see several brands market the term ‘wax’ as different products like ‘Fiber’ or ‘Clay’. 

The easiest way to identify if a product is actually wax is in its ingredients. Beeswax, carnauba wax, lanolin. These are the ingredients that you want to look for when it comes to wax. 

Typically, the usage of hair wax allows you to achieve somewhat of a medium hold (slightly less than pomade). In terms of shine, depending on the type of product, you may be able to choose between a matte finish, or a shine. 

Hair wax is most effective when applied on straight hair with short-medium hair length. You may want to be cautious when using this product on wavy hair as it may cause clumping. 

The good thing, however, is that you wouldn’t need to worry about restyling your hair as wax allows for that throughout the day! 

Our Top Picks:  

TIGI Bed Head for Men Matte Separation Workable Wax | $7.83

Clay

Results: Medium/High Hold | Low (Matte) Shine

Good ‘ol hair clay. My favourite out of the list. 

Over the years, hair clay has gained its popularity in the hair product market due to its ability to hold and nourish the hair, providing a natural yet stylish look.

Hair clay is made out of exactly what it states. Clay. Usually bentonite clay to be exact (naturally formed from volcanic ash). 

Because of its composition, it absorbs into water quite easily and acts as a sealant that not only moisturises your hair, but also offers quite a good amount of hold. It literally gets fatter the moment it hits water. 

Because of this, clay gives off a lot of volume.  As a bonus, clay can also help repair damaged hair, as well as, draw out impurities from hair without stripping it of its natural oils.

Unlike pomade or wax, clay has relatively low shine. It delivers a matte finish that provides a more natural look – ideal for everyday wear. Clay is also a bit harder to restyle once you apply it. 

Clay has multiple uses for different hairstyles: 

  • Long hairstyles – add volume
  • Short hairstyles – add texture


Always remember to use only a pea-sized amount to start off with. If more is needed you can add that later. 

If sleeky, shiny hair is not your cup of tea, clay is the way to go.

Our Top Picks: 


Hanz de Fuko Claymation | $23.00

Gel

Results: High Hold | High Shine

Hair gel. The gooey, sticky substance that you may have used once in your lifetime. I know I have. 

If you’re looking to get the same type of texture and shine as Taylor Lautner from SharkBoy & Lava Girl, then this is what you should go for. 

Not only is hair gel cheap, but it is quite versatile as well. You can use it on an array of different hair types and textures and it will work out. You can even apply it on damp hair instead of having to wait for it to dry out. 

However, do keep in mind that because hair gel is a high hold, high shine product, you may want to consider how generous of an amount you may want to use for your hair. We don’t wanna look like a diamond from a distance! (or do we?)

Gel is usually composed of alcohol-based ingredients which allow for an ease of spread onto hair. However, alcohol is not the most hair-friendly product out there.

It tends to strip your hair of moisture and compromises your scalp’s health. Usually with gel, you may experience damaged hair after a long period of use. 

Not only that, you might also notice the build up of dandruff and an itchy scalp. 

If you’re able to, look for gel that are alcohol-free & non-flaking.  

Not the most ideal product, but hey, if you’re looking to get some spikes, this is your go-to.

Our Top Picks: 

Johnny B. Mode

 

JOHNNY B. Mode Styling Gel | $18.00

Hair Paste

Results: Medium Hold | Medium Shine

Paste has, and always will be, an essential in every man’s grooming kit.

If you were to compare hair paste with pomade or clay, it might be hard for you to tell the difference. They all look and feel almost the same. 

Generally, hair paste is known to be slightly thicker than pomades, and its textures vary between thick and tacky. The level of hold and shine that it gives off is somewhat in the middle, and may change depending on the specification of the hair paste products you buy. 

Because of its thick consistency, you would only need to apply a small amount to style your hair. Pea-sized is a good start!

Hair paste consists of water-soluble ingredients, so washing this off your hair after a failed attempt would be a rather simple task. 

Not only does hair paste add volume and texture to your hair, but it also creates good flexibility and hair separation for you as well. Therefore, if you’re looking to create a messy look, this product is easily your best bet.

Our Top Picks: 


BluMaan Monarch Matte Paste | $18.95

Hair Fiber

Results: High Hold | Little To No Shine

It’s not what it looks like. I will say that. 

When you think of hair fiber, you might be thinking about actual hair fibers used for balding heads. No, it’s not keratin fibers.

We’re talking about the hair product, hair fiber (a.k.a fiber stylers).

Usually made from beeswax or lanolin, this product may share some similarities with other products, however it is not to be mistaken as any of them. 

Unlike other products, hair fiber has a very strong hold and matte finish to it. It’s a one time thing. You do not want to mess it up as you will not be able to adjust your hairstyle throughout the day like most products. 

Hair fiber is great for adding volume and texture to your hair. It’s a perfect fit for those with thin, flat hair that are looking to add more fullness to their look. 

Our Top Picks: 

American Crew Fiber | $10.19

Hair Putty

Results: Strong Hold | Low Shine

Putty. Weird name for a hair product honestly. I wouldn’t be surprised if you laughed at the name.

Putty can also be known as ‘mud’ in the hair product market. This is not to be mistaken with clay. 

It has a similar effect to wax, but without the shine. It achieves a matte look and is best used to recreate that messy, out of bed look that most guys love to do. You can easily restyle it during the day, even with the strong hold. 

Putty is a very versatile product and can be used as a substitute to fiber for a slightly better shine. Ideally, you would want to use this for shorter hair styles. 

FYI: Putty is also water-soluble. 

A suggestion from our experts would be to use a small amount of putty to style your hair. Even with that amount, you would be surprised how long putty lasts throughout the day!

Our Top Picks: 

Pete and Pedro Putty | $19.00

Hair Spray

Results: Low-Strong Hold | Low Shine

At one point, hairspray was considered one of the most popular hair products in the market. Although it generally still is popular, hair spray is currently mostly marketed towards women than men.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. 

In fact, hair spray offers multiple benefits to your hair and is a very versatile styling product to complement your hair. Sometimes used in conjunction with pomade or hair paste, it provides added texture and finish along with an extra strength of holding power to your hair.

Good hairspray can even make those with thin hair have some volume to it. It also helps maintain frizziness and keeps the hair in place for the whole day. 

Do make sure, though, that you look in the ingredients of hairspray. Those that contain ethanol could lead to hair damage by drying your hair out, as well as damaging your scalp. Stay away from those!

Many men may think that hairspray only comes with strong hold, but there are actually a variety of hair sprays in our market today that are catered towards your needs with different types of holds and textures in place.

There are actually 3 types of hairspray hold that you may notice in the market:

Flexible Hold

Flexible hold hairsprays provide low hold and helps you maintain your natural look without the frizziness. A good option for those who don’t want their hair to look its most natural. 

Medium Hold

The ideal option for added volume without too much hold. Acts as a midpoint between strong and flexible. Not too much and not too little.  

Strong Hold

Strong hold is strong. That’s all we can really say. 

These types of products will keep your hair in place throughout the day, maintaining that style and finish for you with ease. 

Our Top Picks: 


American Crew Medium Hold Spray Gel | $10.95

Hair Mousse

Results: Medium Hold | High Shine

Hair mousse, otherwise known as, foam (in French, oui oui!) has been around for quite some time. Although not commonly used by men, it is growing in popularity due to its wondrous benefits.

Hair mousse is known mainly for its ability to add volume to hair. It works by allowing polymers to surround your hair and create a more full look.

Ideally, this product is used on those with thin or fine hair to add that extra touch of volume. Some mousses are even known to help alleviate hair loss (balding fellas, I’m talking to you.)

Mousse is used to provide somewhat of a medium hold that could last you throughout the day, without having to sacrifice any malleability. You’re free to style your hair in between anytime you want. 

It also helps to achieve a higher, wet look that most men love. 

When applying hair mousse, you want to start off with damp hair and start by distributing the mousse throughout your hair. 

Air dry or blow dry afterwards for the look you want to achieve. 

Our Top Picks: 

Kenra Hair Mousse

 

  

Kenra Extra Volume Mousse #17 | $11.53

Hair Cream

Results: Low Hold | Medium Shine

Much like hair mousse, hair cream comes with a variety of benefits that have gained in popularity over the years. 

If you’re looking for that look achieved by wax or gel without the added stiffness or grease, this is the product for you. 

Hair cream allows for a lightweight hold with some level of shine to it, depending on your product specification. Usually low, matte shine for that natural look. It gives you that feel of no product in your hair (and a soft touch). 

It is also quite malleable and is water soluble so no need to stress over washing it out of your hair. 

Not only will cream not dry or damage your hair, but it also provides moisture and protection. In fact, it is also used to help work out frizz and split ends. 

Hair cream works best for men with thin or fine hair. Length is not really a variable for hair cream effectiveness, however, the amount used is. Experiment with the amount that works best for your hair length. 

Start by rubbing your hands together and then applying it directly onto your hair. Even distribution is key to achieving the best effect allowed for hair cream. Add more if needed. 

Our Top Picks: 

American Crew Forming Cream | $8.99

Sea Salt Spray

Results: Low Hold | No Shine

They say it’s better late than never.

Although sea salt spray came in quite late into the game of hair products, many will agree that it’s rise to fame is for good reason. 

Have you ever gone to the beach and realized what your hair felt like at the end of the day? That’s exactly what sea salt spray will do to you. Because it is composed of salt, it allows the salt to absorb the natural oils within your hair to create a good, natural level of texture and volume. 

Ideally used for those with medium to longer hair styles, seasalt sprays provide a light hold with a natural look. No grease. No stickiness. Use along with your other hair styling routines for that added texture if needed.

Keep in mind that because it is made from salt, it also causes your hair to dry if overused. Make sure to wash out after each usage to prevent hair damage. 

When looking for sea salt sprays in the market, you want to make sure that your product does not contain any harmful substances such as parabens or sulfates. 

Our Top Picks: 

Beauty by Earth Sea Salt Spray | $17.99

Hair Type v. Hair Product

Straight Hair

To be quite frank with you, straight hair works for almost everything. 

For all you straight haired men out there, you’re in luck.

However, in most cases, straight hair leaves your head looking thin and flat. Because of this, many prefer hair products that allow for more texture and volume. 

You can honestly pick and choose which product you’d like and it would work. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve summarized for you above:

  • For a wet shine — go for products like pomade, mousse,  wax or hair cream. If you’d like a stronger hold then go for gel. However, be sure to use sparingly as you don’t want you hair to look all goop-ed up.
  • For a matte shine — go for clay, fibers or putty for strong hold. If you want something that sticks less and looks more natural, pick hair paste, sea salt spray or low hold hair spray. 

Wavy Hair

With wavy hair, you want to choose a hair product that not only highlights your waves but also keeps them somewhat moisturized. Frizzed hair is the least you’d want to worry about throughout the day. 

Hair products that have wet, moist properties will be your best bet. Ideally water-based pomade or cream will help you achieve that look you are looking for. They have somewhat of a low-medium hold that gives your hair more of a natural hold along with that wet shine. 

Clay could also be an option as well, however, keep in mind that it does achieve somewhat of a matte look. It doesn’t necessarily dry out your hair because of its self sealant properties, but be sure to apply it sparingly and see what works best for you. 

Avoid products that could cause clumping and damage your waves, such as wax or gels. 

Curly Hair

Curls are hard to manage. And even harder to style. 

When choosing hair products for hair curls, ideally you want something that would enhance your curliness and give it more depth and action while eliminating the frizz and split ends that you may have 

Much like wavy hair, you do not want to choose products that dry out your hair or even make it look dry. That knocks a lot off of this list. 

With curls, you also want to consider the nutrients your hair is getting as well. 

Products like mousse, pomade and cream work best for you. They will give you that moisture and shine you are looking for while also adding texture to your curls. Not to mention, they are very healthy for your hair. 

Short Hair

Short hair is a bit harder to style than others. Not necessarily because it’s hard to control or anything but just because it’s short. 

Aim for texture and a more matte look for your hair. We would recommend you go for clay, or hair paste. Not too much hold and not much shine either. 

If you want high shine, go for gel or some wax. Be sure to start with a pea-sized amount as you won’t need much given your hair length. 

Thin Hair

We get it. You’re concerned about your thinning hair. Now although the balding process may be something you want to get checked later on, in the meantime, you want something that allows you to look like you’ve got a thick bed of hair on top.

We’re talking volume! And in this case, we want hair products that do exactly just that. 

Cream, mousse, hair spray all can be used to add volume and texture towards your hair without weighing it down. 

You want to avoid products that are heavy. Pomade and wax could be too heavy for you and won’t allow you to achieve your desired hair volume. 

Thick Hair

Have you ever heard of the saying, “Thick hair saves lives”? Damn. No? Just me? Ok. 

Well, it’s true. Thick hair has been on the top of the good hair list for ever since I could remember. 

No balding. No thin hair. All that thick goodness. 

However, with great power comes great responsibility. With thick hair, you want to choose products that help build your hair texture with good hold and allow for the preferred shine you want. Pomade, clay and waxes all work as good products for thick hair. 

You could even add a little seasalt spray to spice things up a little. 

Conclusion

As we bring this article to a wrap, we want you to consider the many options that you have available at your fingertips to style your hair. With so many options to choose from, you must be selective. 

It’s not just about putting any product onto your hair and hoping that it works. It’s about enhancing what you currently have and making it better. After all, we all are just trying to look our best. 

Whether it’s the hold, the shine or the texture, be sure to keep in mind what type of hair you have and what you want the hair product to help achieve. It’s not always a one size fits all and we hope you all learned something new today. 

So, what are your favourite hair products? And which one are you going to try out next?

Let us know below! All feedback and comments are heavily appreciated. 

 

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