Hair Products for Men: A Gentleman’s Guide

The ultimate men’s hair products guide for dapper gentlemen

If there’s something that, as a barber and hair salon owner, I feel that has plenty of misconceptions, then that would be the topic of hair products for men. Back in the days when slicking your hair back or sweeping it to the side were the most common hairstyles (i.e. 1920s to 1960s), men had it very easy when it came to choosing hair products: it was either an oil-based pomade, a hairdressing cream or a hair tonic. That was all that there was with regards to men’s hair products, and each of these 3 aforementioned hair products had very pronounced results:

  • Oil-based pomades gave a very strong hold to style the hair and plenty of extra shine. Oil-based pomades were most-commonly used to slick back the hair or to sweep the hair flat to the side.

A professional photograph of Gary Cooper with his hair styled in a side swept hairstyle with an oil-based pomade

  • Hairdressing creams had a medium hold while leaving the hair less oily than the oil-based pomades did. Hairdressing creams were used primarily to comb the hair flat and to the side in a side swept hairstyle. Hairdressing creams were also used by curly haired men as the best hair products (out of the main 3 available) to side sweep their curls for the classic 1930s gentleman’s look. However, in the case of very curly hair or in order to achieve a dapper S-wave curl style, oil-based pomades were the most-preferred product over hairdressing creams for men.

A 1930s picture depicting two men with the classic side swept hairstyle styled with oil pomade

  • Hair tonics provided a wet hair effect without the oiliness of the oil-based pomades and of the hairdressing creams. Hair tonics didn’t provide any shine either, so the main use of hair tonics in the decades between the 1920s and 1960s was to side part the hair with some volume while maintaining a formal and elegant gentleman’s look. Hair tonics were eventually replaced by men’s hair wax products and men’s hair gel products in the later decades of the 20th century.

A picture of a handsome male with a side part hairstyle achieved with a hair tonic from the 1950s

Nowadays in the 21st century and in the 2010s, men have a wider range of hair products to style their hair with. The present-day range of men’s hair products is so wide that many men walk around without having a clue about what actual products to use for the equally-wide range of men’s hairstyles that constitute the repertoire of looks that the modern gentleman can presently choose from on a daily basis.

A picture of a dapper gentleman with messy curly hair and a stubble beard wearing a Ralph Lauren sweater

Don’t get me wrong here, though: as a barber I can safely state that all classic hairstyles and modern hairstyles have great hair products for men which are tailored for the modern gentleman’s need to keep his hair, style and dapper image in check no matter what the chosen hairstyle may be. And, while there are some excellent websites and resources out there that provide professional advice on men’s hair products, many men continue to remain confused about these products, which ruins the excellent product availability that men can enjoy nowadays.

A picture of a male with a classic Ivy League haircut and the hair on the front styled in a quiff with hairstyling wax

I’d like to thus publish this men’s hair products guide to detail all the hair products available to you as well as to point you in the right direction when the time comes for you to choose the right hair product for your desired hairstyle. While, as a barber, I do prefer the classic hairstyles and hence the classic men’s hair products (i.e. pomades and hairdressing creams), I do absolutely honor the fact that there are other great types of hair products out there that are designed to perfectly suit the needs of the modern dapper male.

These are the 7 types of men’s hair products that can be used to style your hair and which will be covered in this hair products guide:

  • Pomade
  • Hair wax
  • Hair gel
  • Hairstyling cream
  • Hair mousse
  • Hair spray
  • Leave-in conditioner

I will now proceed with this guide to detail below all about each of these 7 hair products for men that you have at your disposal for your hairstyling needs. You will also find, at the end of this guide, a “Frequently Asked Questions” (i.e. a FAQ) section with answers to some extra hair-product questions that you may have and which are based on the questions that I get asked the most at our hair salon by our male clientele.

Pomade

If you’re into the classic men’s hairstyles, then pomade is the absolute king of all hair products. Pomades have been in use for over a century and their ingredients have changed over time. Originally, pomades were made of mashed apples blended with boar fat (or sometimes with pig fat), which produced quite a greasy ointment. By the 1920s, however, mineral oil was introduced as a base oil to use in pomades and so were other wax-based compounds.

A black and white photograph of actor Marlon Brando with slicked back hair styled with a pomade

By the early 2000s and after many decades of product innovation in the hair products industry, pomades were made up of a wide range of ingredients, and nowadays we have two main types of pomades: the classic oil-based pomades and the newer water-based pomades (the latter as a type of pomade would have been unthinkable back in the 1920s!).

Oil-based pomades

Oil-based pomades are the type of pomades that rockabilly guys used in the 1960s to slick back their hair into pompadours. Likewise, businessmen and the average American gentleman would also use oil-based pomades to slick their hair back (without a quiff) for a formal look. These pomades were also used to sweep the hair to the side, although hairdressing creams were sometimes preferred over oil-based pomades for the side swept hairstyle.

A picture of a classic oil-based pomade from the Black and White hair product brand

Oil-based pomades provide a strong hold and you should use them if you intend to style your hair flat and with a high shine. Your hair will remain in place throughout the day, so oil-based pomades are great for hairstyles that you want to keep flattened and shiny all day long.

Water-based pomades

Water-based pomades are the newer types of pomades that were manufactured as a result of many men needing to slick their hair back (or to the side) without the oily texture that the oil-based pomades yielded.

A picture of a water soluble pomade from the Layrite brand

In a nutshell, water-based pomades offer the same benefits of oil-based pomades, yet water-based pomades lack the main disadvantages of oil-based pomades such as the tendency to yield oily hair, extremely-shiny hair and hardened hair due to an excess of pomade application.

Water-based pomades are great hair products to style your hair with volume while still maintaining a high shine and a strong hold. Use water-based pomades to give your modern slicked back undercut hairstyle some volume, to style your hair in a cool pompadour or in a quiff, or to side part your hair with some volume too while still keeping it looking formal.

Hair wax

Hair waxes were created as alternative hair styling products to pomades. Hair waxes provide different degrees of holding strength and of shine levels while, at the same time, leaving the hair relatively soft and smooth, which automatically makes hair waxes a superior type of product when compared against pomades. The one thing that hair waxes do not provide is the high sheen (i.e. slicked texture) of pomades, although there are several new “pomade waxes” in the market that have all the properties of a conventional hair wax and also provide a decent sheen.

A barbershop picture of a male with a quiff hairstyle styled with hair wax

Since hair waxes provide different degrees of textures with equally-different degrees of shine and holding strength, manufacturers have come up with product names to group hair waxes into four main categories or types: pomade wax, hair fiber, hair putty and hair clay.

The problem with these categories is that not all manufacturers abide by the same hair-wax names and sometimes mislabel their hair waxes for marketing purposes. However, I’ll post below a reliable consumer reference explaining the main purposes for each type of hair wax.

Pomade wax

Pomade waxes provide a strong hold with a high shine to a very-high shine. The great thing about pomade waxes is that you can use them for the hairstyles suitable for both the oil-based pomades and the water-based pomades. So you can slick your hair flat or you can shape your hair up into a pompadour or brush up hairstyle with a pomade wax.

A photograph of a high-shine hair wax that also acts as a styling pomade

Hair fiber wax

Hair fiber is made to provide a very-strong hold while providing a medium to high shine. If you want to shape your hair o style it vertically (i.e. style it “up”) with a good amount of shine, then go with a hair fiber wax. The holding strength of hair fiber waxes is stronger than that of pomade waxes, but the shine (from hair fiber waxes) is not as high as that of pomade waxes.

A photograph of a good hair wax with a strong hold which is also known as hair putty wax

Hair putty wax

Hair putty provides a medium hold and a low to medium shine. Hair putty is the kind of hair wax that suits just about all modern hairstyles for men. So long as you’re not shaping your hair into complex hairstyles, you will do very well with any men’s hairstyle by using a hair putty wax.

A photograph of a medium-shine hair wax which is also known as a hair putty wax

Hair clay wax

Hair clay provides a matte finish (i.e. no shine whatsoever) while providing a low to medium holding strength. Hair clay waxes are best suited for casual hairstyles and messy hairstyles for which you want your hair to just look informal and to be free-flowing.

A professional photograph of a matte hair wax which is also known as hair clay from the TIGI brandHair clay waxes are used for the “out of bed” hairstyle effect in which your hair looks messy (as if you just got up from bed and didn’t bother to style your hair) albeit in a nice and clean way. Hair clay is also the best men’s hair product to style your hair so that it looks like you didn’t use a product to actually style your tresses (i.e. your hair will look naturally styled).

Hair gel

Hair gel is possibly the most-known type of men’s hair product to date. Just like with hair wax, hair gel provides a wide range of holding strengths and shine levels. Unlike hair wax, however, hair gel leaves the hair with different degrees of hardness, which is not something that everyone likes.

An image of a strong-hold hair styling gel for men

You will find that hair gels are mainly categorized by their holding strength, with these holding strengths being:

  • Low hold
  • Medium or firm hold
  • Strong hold
  • Extra-strong hold

You will also have most hair gels that you buy stating (in the product’s label) their degree of shine level, but it’s the holding strength of the hair gel that matters the most when choosing a styling gel for guys.

Hair gels, independent of holding strength, go very well with most hairstyles for men; in fact, you can use hair gel on the same hairstyles for men that are suited for hair wax. However, the main thing to consider is that hair gel will leave your hair hard to the touch and it will look plastic-like, unlike the naturally-smooth texture that most hair waxes provide.

A picture of a male with spiky hair styled with a strong hair gel from Redken

One trick that I’d like to give you in this guide is to use a low-hold hair gel with hair spray to achieve a “wet hair” effect. Style your hair with the low-hold hair gel while all of your hair is quite damp (almost dripping water) and, once you’re happy with the style and shape of your hair achieved with the low-hold gel, you use hair spray to lock in the hairstyle as well as the moisture of the damp hair, which then retains the dampness of the hair all day long.

A barbershop photograph of a young male illustration how the side swept hairstyle is done with a high shine gair gel

If you’ve ever wondered how those male models and celebrities achieve the wet-hair effect, then now you know the trick!

Hairstyling cream

Hairstyling creams provide a natural shine to your hair while providing a low to medium holding strength. Hairstyling creams are also known as styling creams, hairdressing creams or hairdressing lotions, and the current hairstyling creams available are based on the older hairdressing creams that were popular in the 1960s as mentioned earlier.

A picture of a styling cream for men with curly hair and long hair

Modern hairstyling creams are improved versions of these older hairdressing creams, so they (hairstyling creams) provide plenty of natural shine and sheen without giving the hair any oiliness at all. This is a trait that is also shared by water-based pomades, but the main difference between a water-based pomade and a hairstyling cream is that a hairstyling cream has less hold (i.e. holding strength) than a water-based pomade.

A picture of a dapper gentleman with slicked back hair achieved with a hairdressing cream

Since hairstyling creams do not provide a very-strong hold, they’re suitable for men with long hair who want to keep their hair looking glossy and with plenty of fullness. For men with long hair, hairstyling creams can be used with loose dangling hair and they can also be used when styling “updo” hairstyles that required the hair to be braided or tied. An example of a “tied” men’s hairstyle that benefits plentifully from a hairstyling cream is the trendy man bun hairstyle.

A picture of a handsome Latino guy with a man bun hairstyle photographed from behind

Hairstyling creams have an added benefit that most other types of men’s hair products do not provide: hair moisturizing. Styling creams are great at trapping and locking in the moisture of damp hair, a benefit that positions hairstyling creams as the best men’s hair products for frizzy curly hair. Even for frizz-free curly hair, a hairstyling cream will further enhance the shape and body of the curls, and I highly recommend hairstyling creams as the main hair product for men with curly hair.

The natural shine and low hold achieved with hairstyling creams also make this product a great one for casual and loose hairstyles. Think of styling creams as hair-clay waxes with some more shine. If you enjoy the range of slicked back hairstyles, you can also use a hairstyling cream to slick your hair back, but bear in mind that your hair will not be as secured tightly as you’d achieve with an oil-based pomade, a water-based pomade or a strong-hold hair gel.

Lastly, hairstyling creams are great to tame flyaway hairs in male hair, so, if you happen to have lots of annoying flyaway hairs, then a styling cream is the best hair product for you.

Hair mousse

Hair mousse products are designed to augment the natural volume of your hair while providing a medium or firm hold. Hair mousse is dispensed as a foam, but, other than that, you use it on your hair as you’d do with any other hair product in this guide (i.e. use your fingers to coat your hair with the product and then either style your hair with your fingers, a comb or both).

A picture of a hair styling mousse for shaping curls and long hair

Hair mousse was the most popular hair product back in the 1980s with the “big hair” movement in the rock and roll (and pop) scene. If you imagine for a second the guys from Kiss or Jon Bon Jovi, well, those guys practically lived on a diet of hair mousse and hair spray. Nowadays, hair mousse continues to be used to give hair more volume and even to recreate the big-hair styles that were popular in the 1980s, although the hair mousse products available at present are way better than those available in the ’80s.

A photograph of a wavy hair guy with a middle part hairstyle done with hairstyling mousse and a blow dryer

Hair mousse does provide a mild moisturizing effect, which makes hair mousse another great product for curly hair men. However, the mosturizing properties of a hair mousse are not as strong and as marked as those of a hairstyling cream; thus, the texture achieved with a hair mousse differs from that of a hairstyling cream.

A hair mousse will provide a hardened texture similar to that of hair gels. You can, in fact, think of hair mousse products as hairstyling creams that provide a harder and drier look to your hair (the hair-hardening effect of hair mousse is what somewhat impairs its own moisturizing properties). Hair mousse will define, shape and increase the volume of your hair, so, if you want to sport a shapely mane, then hair mousse is a great product to use (especially for men with curly hair).

A picture of a curly hair man with his curls styled with a hairstyling cream

Because of its volume-enhancing properties, hair mousse is also an excellent hair product for balding men and for men with thin hair or thinning hair. A hair mousse will help balding men to look like they have more hair, and the same applies to those guys whose hair is very thin or fine.

Lastly, another trick to give your hair a wet effect is to style your hair with hair mousse when the hair is quite damp (as per the hair gel trick earlier) and then use hair spray to again lock in the dampness of the hair. This wet-hair trick with hair mousse and hairspray works really well for curly haired men, while the wet-hair trick with hair gel and hair mousse works best for men with straight hair and wavy hair. Furthermore, the wet hair effect of hair mousse provides more volume on the hair compared to the wet hair effect of hair gel.

Hair spray

Hair sprays are products designed to secure a hairstyle in place, hence hair sprays are, what I call, hairstyling “finishers”. A hair spray by itself isn’t very useful, but, when a hair spray is used in tandem with any other hair product from this guide, then that’s when the magic happens!

A picture of a bottle of hair spray for men

Hair spray amplifies the strong hold of whichever hair product you use to style your hair. Thus, hair spray is an excellent hair product to leave your hair tightly secured in any hairstyle that you shape, whether it is a Gatsby hairstyle or a Mohawk haircut, and all while having you hair locked in your chosen style all day long (and even on to the next day too if you like to party till late!).

A barbershop photograph of a black guy with a frohawk haircut styled with a hair spray for black kinky curls

Hairstyles that seriously benefit from the use of hair sprays are those that stand up vertically or those that are crafted into complex shapes. Overall, hair sprays are great products for all hair types, from straight hair to very curly hair, so it’s always good to have a good hair spray handy if you feel like styling your hair up or giving your hair a cool-yet-crafted shape.

As I mentioned earlier, hair sprays were all the rage back in the 1980s, but the quality of hair sprays back then wasn’t as good as the quality of modern-day hair sprays. A good hair spray for men will lock your hair into your desired hairstyle shape, but it will also leave your hair flexible and not too hard. A bad hair spray will leave your hair rock-hard and as if you had poured cement on it (this was very common with hairsprays for men in the 1980s).

A photograph of a young rockabilly with a brush up quiff hairstyle secured with a hair spray for men

To use any particular hair spray product, you’d use it after styling your hair with any of the other 6 men’s hair products from this guide. So, for example, if you style your hair as a spiky hairstyle with hair gel, you’d first style the hair with the hair gel and, once you’re happy with how the gelled spikes look, you’d then spray your hair with the hair spray so as to lock in the hair gel as well as your hair into that particular spiky hair shape. The only thing to remember is to leave a distance of about a foot (i.e. 30 centimeters) when spraying your hair with the hair spray.

Leave-in conditioner

Last but not least, we have leave-in conditioners as one of the 7 main types of hair products for men. Leave-in conditioners are products that are used to style the hair while giving the hair the most-moisturizing effect of all styling products for men (even more than hairstyling creams). In very basic terms, a leave-in conditioner is a watered-down version of a regular conditioner (i.e. the one that you leave on your hair for 2 minutes while showering).

A picture of a leave in conditioner for men

The holding strength of leave-in conditioners is non existent, so leave-in conditioners are to be used for very loose and casual hairstyles and/or if you have medium-to-long hair and you just want it to hang low and down. While their holding strength is the weakest out of all hair products for men, leave-in conditioners do provide your hair with extra gloss and fullness, instantly giving your hair much-better aesthetics by simply using this type of hair product. Leave-in conditioners do not provide any significant hair shine, so you will end up with very smooth hair that feels and looks natural.

A picture of a handsome male with long wavy hair styled with a leave-in conditioner

Another great thing about leave-in conditioners for men is that they can substitute the use of regular conditioners. A regular conditioner is a hair care product that, as said earlier, you leave on you hair for 2 minutes while in the shower; this may be inconvenient for some guys and thus using a regular conditioner may not sound like an attractive use of one’s own shower time. Thus, you can simply use a leave-in conditioner to style your hair when you’re out of the shower and have dried your hair.

By using a leave-in conditioner to style your hair, you will get the same moisturizing benefits and extra-gloss benefits that are achieved with a regular conditioner (without having to spend 2 minutes waiting for the regular conditioner to take effect). By far, men with curly hair benefit the most from using a leave-in conditioner, and I constantly recommend leave-in conditioners to my hair salon customers who have curly hair (whether it’s a male or a female). If you have curly hair (or wavy hair), then you should (already) have a leave-in conditioner in your bathroom. The same goes for men with long hair and regardless of the hair type. Leave-in conditioners are just too useful to not have one handy.

A picture of a handsome black male with a kinky curly afro hairstyle after using a leave-in conditioner for men

Lastly, leave-in conditioners can be used with any of the remaining 6 hair products for men. So you can use a leave-in conditioner with hair gel, hair wax, hairstyling creams and more. The only rule to follow is to always style your hair with the leave-in conditioner first and then follow the hair styling with your second chosen hair product.

Men’s hair products FAQ

There are some common questions that I am asked constantly at my hair salon by our male customers with regards to men’s hair products. For what is worth, the actual use of these 7 men’s hair products in this guide is very intuitive and straight forward. Still, there are some additional tidbits that you may want to know when it comes to using hair products for men correctly.

Can I use 2 hair products together to style my hair?

Yes, you can use 2 hair products together for any hairstyle of your choice. However, I only recommend that you do this with either a leave-in conditioner or a hair spray. What this means is that you can use any other hair product with a leave in conditioner or with a hair spray to style your hair. Here are some great hair product combinations to style men’s hair:

  • Hair mousse with hair spray: to achieve a wet hair effect on curly hair.
  • Hair gel with hair spray: to achieve a wet hair effect on straight hair.
  • Leave-in conditioner with styling cream: to tame frizzy curly hair.
  • Leave-in conditioner with hair mousse: to achieve extra hair volume for men who are balding or for men with thin hair or thinning hair.

Should I use a hair product on dry hair or wet hair?

Neither, instead, you should always use a hair product to style your hair when your hair is damp. Styling your hair when it’s dry is a waste of product and the resulting texture achieved will look uneven. Styling your hair when it’s wet will result in your hair continually dripping water and your hair changing shape as the hair dries on its own over the following hours.

For the best men’s hairstyles and aesthetics, you should always style your hair when it is damp. Damp hair is achieved by drying wet hair (e.g. after a shower) with a towel until the hair stops dripping water but the hair still remains humid. This is the perfect scenario to use a men’s hair product to get the best hairstyle possible. Not only that, but you will also maximize your product use and ultimately save money down the road.

Should I use a hair dryer to style my hair?

A hair dryer is an awesome hair styling tool for men. A hair dryer will give your hair a lot of volume (much more than that achieved with hair mousse alone) and the best hair dryers will also reduce any frizz that the hair may have. Regular hair dryers will create more frizz than what the hair already has and they will also progressively damage the hair from the heat of the blown air. A good hair dryer will minimize the damage and frizz, so I highly recommend that you get a good ionic hair dryer for the best men’s hair styling results.

A picture of a hair dryer for men used to style hairstyles with volume

You can use a hair dryer to either dry your hair faster (which makes this tool a very convenient one) or to enhance the volume and shape of your hairstyle. A good hair dryer (i.e. ionic hair dryers) will also enhance the texture and finish that your chosen hair product delivers. So you will get smoother and softer hair with hair mousse or hair wax, while you will get sharper and more defined hair with a strong-hold hair gel or with a pomade.

Can I use a flat iron with the hair products from this guide?

Yes, you can use any of these 7 hair products with a flat iron (i.e. a “hair straightener”). However, you must always use the flat iron first to straighten your hair and then you style your hair with your desired hair product. I also recommend that you get a heat-taming product to apply to your hair prior to straightening your hair, since a heat-taming product (aka “heat tamer”) protects your hair from any damage caused by the high heat of the flat iron.

A photograph of a professional flat iron for men

Do I really have to use any hair products to style my hair?

There’s absolutely no need for you to use hair products to style your hair. Your own hair does a good job at looking aesthetic on its own provided that you have a good diet and that you spread the follicle-secreted sebum across your hair. Sebum is a natural oily substance secreted by your sebaceous glands (attached to your hair follicles) that helps to protect your hair by coating the hair strands, and sebum also makes your hair look glossier, thicker and healthier (while giving some minor hold too). As a matter of fact, you can think of your own hair sebum as a hair clay wax!

An image illustrating the structure of a hair follicle with the sebaceous glands attached which are responsible for the secretion of sebum

If you don’t know anything about using your own hair sebum for better aesthetics, I highly recommend that you read the works of Rogelio Samson, one of the internet’s most famous hair experts. He created a long time ago a method called the Sebum Coating method and the No Shampoo method which make use of your own sebum to kickstart the aesthetics of your own hair. Rogelio Samson has published two excellent hair books for men titled “The Men’s Hair Book” and “The Curly Hair Book” which I also recommend that you own at least one of them. You will be surprised as to how good your hair can look by only using your hair sebum instead of hair products to keep your hair in shape.

I have more questions, how can I ask them?

As with all my guides and articles on this site, you’re free to post comments, so you can ask your hair product questions in this guide by posting a comment below. I will read every comment and will try to help as time allows.

Conclusion to our men’s hair products guide

If you’re serious about being a dapper gentleman, then knowing your hair products is extremely important. With this hair products guide, you can now understand each of the hair products that you can use to style your own hair while clearing out any confusion that you may have had prior to reading this guide.

One thing that I see a lot with the new male clients arriving at our hair salon is that they never get the perfect hairstyle because they fail to use the right hair product in the right way. They will tell us how many hair products they’ve owned and how much money they have spent on products, yet they’ve never achieved a hairstyle look that they were finally happy with.

Some simple hair product advice from either myself or my team of hairdressers and barbers completely changes the situation of said prototypical customers, and, the next time that they come in to our hair salon for another haircut and after having followed our hair product advice, they all always sport a hairstyle look that they are finally satisfied with. All by merely selecting the right type of hair product!

36 Comments

  1. This is a great hair products guide! I have been looking for something like this that laid out all the characteristics of hair products. LIke you said I am confused with what hair product does what so this guide will now be my reference the next time I go shopping for hair products.

    One question that I have is if I can change hair products without having my hair lose its good looks? For example I use hair gel a lot for my main hair product but if I now changed to a hairstyling cream would my hair lose all the training that I achieved by styling the hair with the same hair product month after month? I have curly hair and I want it to not be so curly so I read in a website for curly women that you can train your hair so it is not so curly. But if hair can be trained, would not a change of hair product cause the hair to reset?

    Sorry if my question sounds weird but I have not found an answer to this and I have high hopes that you can answer this since you know so much about hair products.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    1. pomade hairstyles August 11, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Eric,

      It’s a myth that men’s hair can be trained, or women’s hair, for that matter! Your hair will do whatever you want it to do, provided that you have the right products as per this hair products guide and provided that your hair type allows for the hairstyle. There are four hair types for men: straight hair, wavy hair, curly coiled hair and kinky curly hair. If you want to know more about hair types for men then I suggest that you read the book by Rogelio Samson titled “The Men’s Hair Book”.

      You can go from styling your hair with a hair gel to styling your hair with any other product. Just bear in mind that the texture, holding strength and shine will depend upon what the new hair product that you buy does have. In my hair products guide above, I’ve given you the different textures, strengths and shine levels that you are to expect from the 7 main hair products for men. So simply choose your new hair product based on the guidelines on this product guide.

      A hairstyling cream is a great men’s hair product for curly hair. So if you like what a hairstyling yields as a product (i.e. natural shine, some slick and more shapely curls), then go ahead and buy it as a hairstyling cream will be a very handy product in different occasions, even if you use other hair products on some other days. Since you’re a curly guy I do also recommend that you buy a leave-in conditioner.

      Again, please forget about all this hairdressing myth of being able to train hair as if you were training a puppy. That’s a big lie that I have seen being used to milk hair salon customers out of their money.

      If you have more questions, I will follow up.

      Cheers.

      Bryan

      Reply

  2. Awesome guide, have been looking for something like this to explain different products. I have the wavy hair and have been growing it longer in hopes of doing like a slick back look but the longer it gets the more wavy it gets and when I use my extra strong hold gel by the time it dries it is wavy. I want it to be a straight hair look slicked back. Is this possible with any of these products? Thank you

    Reply

    1. This is probably the best men’s hair products guide I’ve seen for a while. Great job, awesome details and almost every aspect on each product are discussed.

      Right now, I’m trying to grow out my hair, targeting that Johnny Depp/Taylor Kitsch look with medium length hair. I was thinking of using pomade, but the thing against it is that they have a strong hold… Which for long hair men are almost a no-no. Also the problem is that I have very thick hair, and without any hair styling products applied, my head looks very big. I just want to achieve a wet look but with my hair still loose. Aside from leave-in conditioners, what other men’s hair products would you recommend?

      Reply

      1. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

        Use a hair-mousse product with hair spray to achieve a wet-hair look. You will also get some extra volume on your hair as hair-mousse products fall under the category of volumizing products, so you may want to give this product combination a second thought.

        Alternatively, you can also use a hair-styling cream on very-damp hair to achieve a wet-hair look. You can use a hair spray as the icing on the cake for your hairstyle once you’ve finished styling it with your hair-styling cream.

        Considering that you’re a long-haired male, I would strongly suggest that you buy the book from Rogelio Samson called “The Men’s Hair Book”. I recently reviewed the book in another article and it’s a great book for anyone. Since long hair requires a bit more care than short hair and medium-length, then you’d benefit from absorbing as much knowledge on men’s hair as possible, and “The Men’s Hair Book” is a book filled with knowledge treasures. Barber recommended!

        Reply

  3. Great guide, been waiting for one of these forever!! I am a male, and my hair is pretty thin and very straight. I’m looking to slick it back with the slicked back undercut but I’m not sure yet if i want to do a classic or modern look (already got the haircut). So i decided to try both, but first I would love your opinion on what pomade brand i should buy for the oil based pomade for the classic look and the water based pomade for the modern look. Don’t want to start slicking before i read your advice so please let me know. Thank you very very much!!

    Reply

  4. Awesome guide, always been so confused by all the different types of hair styling products, now I feel like I got a decent understanding of what the heck I’m buying.

    However, I have one question. What would a modern-day equivalent be for a product like Vitalis? I like it’s super light hold but the ingredients are not so great (Butane, etc), so I’m trying to find a substitute. Hair-styling cream seems the closest, but I’m not sure if they provide a light enough strength or not (I have long hair), or perhaps a leave-in conditioner would be best.

    Reply

  5. What’s the best hairstyle and product for thick, wavy hair?

    Reply

  6. There are still some well-dressed men with classic hairstyles out there. It’s just that the majority of women publicly favor and select threatening-looking dog-men and publicly avert non-threatening, kind, well-dressed, styled men. This cannot be denied to not be taking place everyday. It’s likely an internalization of misogyny by women with probably some false belief that dog-men can provide and fulfill them. Women, get those good men!

    Reply

  7. Hello, great guide! I wanted to ask you about pre-styling sprays. What are your thoughts on them? I often see hairstylists using these in their hair-cutting videos.

    Reply

  8. I have very fine hair and that stops me from experimenting with my hair as my hair eventually settles down. Haircuts for square-shaped faces like mine do look really bad. What I’m looking for is a hairstyle that will increase my hair’s vertical volume. Can you suggest a few hairstyling products and recommend one or two hair products for men?

    Reply

  9. Fantastic guide, though I am torn between a pomade or a styling cream. I’m looking to get a hairstyle like the modern slicked-back hairstyles in your other men’s hair guides. What are your thoughts on using either a pomade or a styling cream for a modern slicked-back hairstyle?

    Reply

  10. I have thick hair and I’m gonna get a classic taper fade haircut. I don’t want it to go straight across the back but more to the side and to the back. I’m wondering which hair product to use and what brand. I was thinking of a clay wax because I don’t want the product to be noticeable on my hair. I don’t need a bunch of hold but just enough to keep its form throughout the day. Awesome guide and thank you!!!

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Yes, a hair-clay wax will be very suitable for the hairstyle that you’re interested in. A hair-fiber wax will also work really well. If you want a matte finish on your hair, get a hair-clay wax; if you want to augment your hair’s natural shine without making it look too shiny, then a hair fiber is the product that you should be using.

      Reply

  11. Yes! Finally someone writes about men’s hair products and offers tons of advice instead of plugging in affiliate links left and right like other junk websites I’ve come across. I’ve already decided on using a hair mousse and a hairstyling cream for my medium wavy hair. And all thanks to this guide!

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you for your words. I put a lot of work into this hair-product guide to make it an online resource for those of you needing relevant advice on hair products. I’m glad that it has been of such great use to you.

      Reply

  12. Such a useful guide! I am really looking for the Leonardo DiCaprio haircut that he has in “The Wolf of Wall Street”. What hair product do you think he used?

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Leonardo DiCaprio’s hairstyle in the movie “The Wold of Wall Street” was achieved with an oil-based pomade. Basically, he used an old-school pomade like the ones that have been used since the 1930s. Oil-based pomades are somewhat yucky but they work extremely well to slick your hair back with some good shine. If you get a petrolatum-free pomade (oil-based pomade), then that would be even better.

      Reply

  13. Hey first let me say that this is the best website for mens hair products! So I am having trouble understanding what products to use to get the results that I want.

    Honestly I have always struggled to find the right hairstyling products to get my hair the way I want it to look and without it coming down to luck or taking way too long. I have straight hair but it can get somewhat wavy although that’s semi-inconsistent if that makes sense. I want to get a modern swept-back undercut, and I have tried to achieve these results with the American Crew hair fiber but I find my hair ends up being too dry and tacky, or too flat and lifeless. I’m not sure on what hair products to use or how to use them to achieve the hairstyle that I want. I’ll leave two pictures to show you what I’m going for and if you had the time to respond, I would be extremely grateful.

    A photograph of a cool slicked back hairstyle for men

    A photograph of a young man with a slicked back undercut hairstyle for his wavy hair

    Reply

    1. These undercut dapper hairstyles look great and they’re the big hairstyle trend right now. You might need quite a strong product to keep this perfected the whole day (especially for the first picture). Sometimes a water based wax or a strong matte clay can do the trick better than pomade but the hold should be quite long lasting. I can think of a few products I use in my hair. Let me know if you want me to mention them… The key is for a product that has a good hold without looking too shiny like gel.

      Reply

    2. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      If you’re looking for a modern slicked-back undercut hairstyle, then use a hair-styling cream to style your hair. That’s the best product (along with water-based pomades) for the modern version of the side-swept hairstyle. I take it that you have been browsing the Men’s Hair Forum website for modern-hairstyle ideas, correct? The barbers in that forum were the first to adapt the classic hairstyles into modern up-to-date versions of their classic counterparts. Plenty of hairstyle guides in that forum, although I’m not as much of a fun of modern hairstyles as I am of classic hairstyles.

      Buy a hair-styling cream and style your modern slicked-back hairstyle. If the hair-styling cream that you buy isn’t holding your hair as tightly as you’d wish, then get a strong water-based pomade to slick you hair back.

      Lastly, be careful with your hairstyle definitions. The gentlemen in the two pictures have hair-clipper taper haircuts on the sides and back of their heads; they do not have an undercut haircut.

      Reply

  14. Hey, thanks for this great guide! I found a lot of good tips, especially the one on damp hair and using a hairdryer. I wonder if you can help me out though. I have wavy, long-ish hair and I want to get the slicked back look, sort of like Chris Pine in the “Hell or High Water” movie. His hair stays in place, but mine flops to the side or forward. It’s really annoying. Do you recommend any particular product or type of hair product that I should use to get my hair to stay in place? I use the Aveda hair wax, which I understand is probably best suited for shorter hair. I was recommended the Aussie hair gel and also Aveda’s Confixor, but they’re hard to come across where I live. Many thanks for your help.

    Reply

    1. pomade hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      If you take a good look at the movie “Hell Or High Water”, you will find that Chris Pine’s hair is tousled and messy throughout a good potion of the movie. Yes, he has his hair slicked back (at an angle, I should note) and it looks great, but his hair was easily tousled by simply walking around.

      Here’s a picture of Chris Pine with his hair in a slicked back hairstyle:

      A photograph of Chris Pine hair with a slicked back hairstyle and a taper haircut while acting in the movie Hell Or High Water

      Now, here’s a picture of Chris Pine with his long hair tousled and shaggy:

      A photograph of Chris Pine with long hair slicked as an undercut for the movie Hell Or High Water

      For his role in the “Hell Or High Water” movie, Chris Pine used a hair-styling cream to keep his hair slicked back. However, styling creams are the correct type of product for fixed slicked back hairstyles. Instead, you want to use a hair-fiber wax, a hair-clay wax or an oil-based pomade to slick your hair back and keep it in place throughout the day.

      – Use a hair-fiber wax to keep your hair with a natural shine.

      – Use a hair-clay wax to give your hair a matte look.

      – Use an oil-soluble and high-shine pomade to give your hair a big extra-shine oomph.

      These three men’s hair products give you plenty of hair-styling choices to achieve for Chris Pine’s hairstyle in that movie.

      As I mentioned to another guy in one of my previous answers, I’ve explained all about these three hair products in this guide; I would not use oil-based pomades daily, however. This is because oil pomades leave a lot of residue on the scalp and hair, which can be a nuisance especially if you’re following the No-Shampoo method in “The Men’s Hair Book”. Hair-fiber waxes and hair-clay waxes are much more forgiving when it comes to product buildup (i.e. residue) on your hair and scalp.

      Hair gel won’t get you the hair of Chris Pine in “Hell or High Water”. Only a hair-fiber wax, a hair-clay wax or an oil-based pomade will do that.

      Reply

  15. I am an African American male with curly hair (think of Lenny Kravitz) and for a show I am doing, I need a classic side swept hairstyle like in your article on this website titled “5 Slicked Side Part Hairstyle Ideas for Men”. What would I need to do and what products would I need to use to keep it for at least 3 hours swept to the side in a class hairstyle?

    Reply

    1. pomade hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Sorry, I didn’t see your question earlier. I’ll answer it anyway in case that you’re still interested in having your kinky curls styled into a side-swept hairstyle.

      If you truly do have kinky-curly hair (which is a common hair type for African American men), then you should use a texturizer to make your hair less curly. A texturizer will allow you to soften up your kinky curls and turn them into wavy curls, which is the way to go so as to slick and sweep your hair to the side. You can damage your naturally-kinky curls by trying to comb them into a side-swept hairstyle; wavy curls are easier to comb and sweep, and thus the reason for recommending a texturizer. You can order a texturizer online or your can buy it from beauty stores, hair salons and/or some supermarkets here in the United States.

      Don’t forget to slick your hair to the side (i.e. a side-swept hairstyle) with a wide-tooth and not with a fine-tooth comb.

      Reply

  16. As a black American male with thick kinky hair, how could I get a 1930s-esque side swept hairstyle? I need it for a theater production I am in.

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I answered your question in another comment of yours in this guide. Basically, use a hair texturizer to make your kinky curls less curly and then you slick and comb your hair with a water-based pomade by using a wide-tooth comb. Here’s to hoping that you get the results that you’ve been longing for!

      Reply

  17. All of this is great, thank you! However I have tried most things on this list and none of them lead to the results that I’m looking for.

    My hair is very thick and at the moment it is maybe 3 inches in length. I’ve been doing a combover hairstyle for a long time. However I’d like to grow it out and instead get a slicked-back hairstyle look, but I have to cut it so often that it never gets long enough to do that, which leads to my problem. I’ve used all kinds of men’s hair products and they’ll give me the hairstyle look that I’m after, but an hour later my hair is back to being puffy and the product becomes pointless. Any suggestions as to what I can use to get a good slick-back hairstyle look that will last all day long?

    Reply

    1. pomade hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Have you tried some of the better water-based pomades like Layrite’s water pomade? How about oil-based pomades? If not being able to hold your hair in the same place (and thus hairstyle) throughout the day is your issue, then you’re going to need a moisturizing product with a strong hold. To do this, first use a leave-in conditioner to coat your hair and then slick back your hair with an oil-based pomade.

      Also, you haven’t mentioned what’s your hair type. Knowing one’s hair type is very important; I cannot emphasize this enough. So, what’s you hair type? And, no, “thick” hair is not a hair type!

      Reply

  18. Hey, Brian! Great article. I’ve been reading and chewing on this all day. I just had a quick question for you. I currently have long, thick, and frizzy hair. It’s curly on the bottom and wavy on the top. However, I’m planning on cutting it and going for a somewhat modern quiff. I don’t particularly enjoy my extremely hard and brittle hair, though. With my hair consistency (i.e. curly, wavy, thick and frizzy), what products and brands would you recommend to get that hairstyle?

    Reply

    1. pomade hairstyles December 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Get a pomade wax or a hair-fiber wax for your type of hair. I’ve explained both of these products in this guide and they suit wavy and coiled-curly hair very well when it comes to up-do hairstyles like the quiff hairstyle or the brush-up hairstyle (the latter hairstyle is a relatively-new hairstyle invented by Rogelio Samson).

      Avoid oil-based pomades for your hair type; they’re just an accident waiting to happen for curly-haired men.

      Reply

  19. This is exactly what I was needing as I’m going to b buying a new batch of men’s hair products for Christmas. My previous batch of hair products wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. My mistake was that I bought products from what I heard through the grapevine and I didn’t base my purchase on objective points like in this guide.
    Thankfully I now know what I have to buy and I’m placing my order for my new batch of hair products as we speak. Best wishes to you – Kyle.

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

      It makes my day to know that my online advice has helped folks like you with their purchasing decisions. So thanks for your comment and for visiting my site!

      Reply

  20. Eric Michael Martin December 21, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Thank you for taking the time to publish such a detailed guide on mens hair products. I’m a barber too and I came across this guide as one of our customers told us about the guide. He came in for an executive contour haircut and then asked one of my staff about the differences between hairstyling waxes and hairstyling pomades. It turns out that he had read this guide and he wanted to also confirm what he read with our knowledge.

    I’ve got to say that this guide is spot on and right on point. We have no website yet (we’re working on that!) so I’ll be recommending this guide to customers who want to know more about hair products for men. I actually learned a thing or two from this guide and I’ve been in the profession for almost ten years. I can tell that you too have been deep in our awesome profession and that you know your stuff. Walk the walk, as they say.

    Congratulations on your online efforts to educate the public. My two cents from a fellow barber to another barber.

    Reply

    1. Pomade Hairstyles December 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

      It’s great to hear from other barbers. Feel free to recommend my guide to your barbershop’s customers. If they happen to ask any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply

  21. Samuel at Harvard December 21, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Hello there! I have a question about hair products that I’d like to ask you for help with. My question is a bit long, so please bear with me.

    I’m a first year student at Harvard. Before coming here, I got a short buzzcut haircut since I didn’t know what other hairstyles would be OK at Harvard University. I was surprised to see that they’ve toned down their strict rules about men’s hairstyles to be worn on campus. Classic hairstyles and conservative hairstyles are still a big thing at Harvard, so I’m looking to grow out my boring buzzcut and get something like an Ivy League hairstyle with a medium haircut. I’ve seen pictures of this haircut and similar haircuts on your website and these haircuts look really good.

    I’ve never been interested in hair products until now. A good friend of mine who’s studying at New York University visited me last weekend. He’s a bit of a geek as I am too, so I was astonished when I saw him with a really cool slicked back hairstyle. He has always had frizzy curly hair and he always kept it short because it was a nightmare to style his curls. I hadn’t seen him in 4 months and he looked so different — in a really good way — with his new hairstyle. I’ll admit that I was a bit jealous since we have both had very bad hair through the years and ever since we were kids.

    I asked him about his hairstyle and how his hair looked so much better. He told me that it came down to 2 things, which you have also written here and which is why I’m posting my comment to ask you for help.

    The first thing that he mentioned is the book that you recommend — The Men’s Hair Book — which he swears by it and he also says that it’s the best resource to learn about men’s hair like he has done. The second thing is the use of products that match his hair type. It turns out that hairstyling creams work very well on his hair. He has never tried to use any hair products on his curls except for those cheap store hair-gels. He started using a hairstyling cream and a leave-in conditioner as soon as he finished reading the book and that’s where things changed for the better. He did many more things that were in the book, but as far as hair products go, he swears by those two products too. He didn’t even know what these two products were prior to buying the book. I hope that puts in perspective how much of a newbie he was, as I am too.

    He was only here for the weekend, but he brought the book and I was able to browse the book for a while. I really liked the book so I’m certainly going to buy it. But here comes my question: my budget for personal purchases is very low due to my student loan which I’m paying back as fast as possible so as to avoid interests on the loan. What should I buy first then for my hair?

    Now that you know this, I’m undecided as to which should I buy first, the book or the hair products. I’m not even kidding when I say that I’ve only got something like twenty bucks to spend on stuff for my hair this month. So it’s either the book or get new hair products.

    I’m looking to start as soon as possible. My friend told me that the book is essential for the best progress on hair aesthetics. I see that you use that word a lot because it’s so important, but it’s also just as important to know what you’re doing with your hair, and I don’t know anything yet.

    In a perfect world I’d buy the book AND the hair products, but I can only get one of these two options. My head tells me that I should first get the book, read it and take my time consolidating everything that I learn. But my heart is really desperate to start using good hair products to improve my hair just like my friend has done.

    If I buy hair products now, I may get the wrong ones for my hair type, so I’d be wasting the little money that I have. My common sense tells me that I buy the book first as the book will give me all the knowledge required to buy the correct hair products. But I’m going to wait for your reply to see if I should indeed be getting the book first or if there is any possibility of getting the products immediately and buy the book in January or February.

    What do you think?

    Samuel at Harvard (I hope it is OK that I only post my name and not my surname. I’ve posted my email too if you want to email me your reply. Thanks).

    Reply

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