Don’t know your gels from your waxes? The selection can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry. You really only need one of three products depending on your hair type.
1. Hair wax (Eg. Putty, glue, clay, moulding crème, styling paste)
For guys with straight or wavy hair, wax is the perfect product to use on a daily basis. It makes hair look effortlessly styled with a medium hold and the lowest shine of all hair products.
Another benefit comes from the heaps of texture it adds to all types of hair. It’s good for a “messy look” that actually doesn’t look messy at all.
Though it comes in many variations, most are made with different waxes like beeswax. They’re also water soluble and will easily wash out of your hair.
Pomades are hair wax’s classic cousin. They combine a lot of hold with a lot of shine and are the best product to use for a slicked-back pompadour look or “Mad Men”-style side part. Again, pomades work best for men with straight or wavy hair, especially if it’s on the long side.
The shiny finish and superior hold of pomades are what really separates them from hair waxes. Pomades are ideal for hair styles that don’t need a lot of movement since they can sometimes feel waxy or greasy to the touch.
3. Styling cream
While hair wax and pomades can be similar, styling cream is a different beast altogether. Instead of a waxy solid like our first two products, styling cream is more of a thick liquid and is suitable for curly-haired men. It offers a light shine with no hold at all, and it takes care of the frizz and unruliness in your hair.
In short, styling cream will leave your hair manageable without drying it out.
Which product should you use?
For most hair types, hair wax is your best bet to get your ‘do to do what you want it to. The matte finish provides the perfect texture and weight without making your hair greasy or unpleasant to the touch.
It’s also easy to maintain throughout the day, with just a quick brush or swoop to fix it up, and washes out easily and cleanly. It’s our pick for daily hair product.
If you’re looking for shine, however, the traditional pomade is your best bet. And if you just want to get your hair’s frizz under control and make your hair more manageable (without any hold), styling cream is your stuff.
As for hair products that were previously in vogue — like gel and mousse — don’t bother. These products are best left remembered as fads in their respective heydays.
A final word of warning: Watch out for the labels on hair products. Heavier pomades are starting to contain waxes such as beeswax when they traditionally didn’t, and sometimes hair waxes are being labelled incorrectly as “pomades,” a term that has become a synonym for “men’s hair product.” When in doubt, just read the description and make sure the product delivers the high hold and low shine (matte finish) of a hair wax.