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Men’s Hair: The complete guide to men’s hairstyling products

By LLM Reporters on 8th April 2018

What’s the difference between gel, pomade, wax, clay, putty, paste, cream, mousse and hairspray?

We’ve asked the male grooming experts at The Bluebeards Revenge for a simple guide to hair products to explain what they do, how you should use them and if they’ll suit your hair type. Here is what they said.

Clay – medium to high hold/low shine

Hair clays add thickness and texture to lifeless locks in a way that preserves the natural look of your hair. If your hair is particularly thin, they are a great go-to product.

The lightweight formulas of these products will add volume to each strand of hair if applied properly, without leaving behind too much of a sticky residue or shine. Good hair clays also allow you to rework your hair throughout the day, meaning you’re ready for anything.

hair products for men
There are hundreds of men’s hair styling products out there

Gel – high hold/medium to high shine

Most men have a nostalgic relationship with hair gel; it’s usually the first product they ever use, and this usually happens during childhood. But gels offer so much more than just wet, messy looks.

If you’re looking to create startling spikes or mohawks, then a hair gel is your best bet. Unlike clays, pastes and pomades, gels harden the hair and keep it locked in place throughout the day. This means they are also perfect when applied in small amounts to tamer styles that might otherwise fall flat.

Paste – medium hold/medium shine

Hair pastes are some of the best multi-purpose products on the market. They’re perfect for men that are new to the world of hairstyling as they are so versatile. Similarly to clay, they offer a hold that can be manipulated throughout the day. Thanks to their water base they are easily washed out too.

The finished effect you receive from paste depends on its application. If applied to wet hair and dried with a hairdryer, paste acts as a brilliant pre-styling base that offers a natural look with medium hold and reduced shine. If ruffled through dry hair, paste often looks a little glossier.

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Hair clays add thickness and texture to lifeless locks in a way that preserves the natural look of your hair

Wax – medium hold/medium shine

Hair wax is known for its ability to create messy bed-head hairdos, but it can also be used alongside a comb to manage calmer styles. Typically, waxes have a lighter hold than gels and pomades, and offer a somewhat shiny finish. They are better applied to dry hair.

If not worked hard enough between the hands before application, waxes can sometimes be known to clump together in the hair and create a finish that is more homeless than flawless. This is particularly common in wavy and curly hair types.

Pomade – medium to high hold/very high shine

Traditionally, oil-based pomades were used to create the super shiny, slicked-back styles made famous by the likes of John Travolta, as Danny Zuko, in films like Grease. They are perfect for tight, clean hairstyles that are designed to look slick and soave.

Pomades carry the consistency of a hard gel, but unlike gels they leave the hair soft and free to be restyled slightly throughout the day.

the ultimate water based pomade for men’s hair from the bluebeards revenge

Modern pomades often feature a water base to make them easier to wash out. This also reduces the already greasy appearance they produce.

the-bluebeards-revenge-pomade-tub
Traditionally, oil-based pomades were used to create the super shiny, slicked-back styles made famous by the likes of John Travolta, as Danny Zuko, in films like Grease

Hairspray – high hold/high shine

These wonder sprays are primarily used post-styling to bolster the lasting effects of less gripping products like pastes, clays and pomades. They can also be used to add volume and lift to longer hair when applied to the roots.

Sea salt spray – light to medium hold/low shine

Sea salt sprays add massive amounts of texture to limp hair and produce a natural finish that can be touched up throughout the day. A good spray should add volume, hold and texture, without leaving a visibly sticky residue. These products work best in medium to long hair and are super effective as a pre-styling agent.

What really sets a sea salt spray apart from any other gel spray or volumizing spray is the inclusion of salt minerals. The salt helps to bind individual strands of hair together for added texture – something that is becoming increasingly popular for men as wet looks become a thing of the past. The added texture supplied by a sea salt spray means it has become a product often associated with wavy beach looks too.

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Sea salt sprays add massive amounts of texture to limp hair and produce a natural finish that can be touched up throughout the day

Volume powder – light hold/low shine

As a relatively new product to be marketed at men, volume powder is a magical dust that turns flat and thin hair into lusciously textured locks. The fine powder features a soft stickiness that creates friction between the hair fibres to give the effect of volume. For extremely choppy styles, combine a volume powder with a sea salt spray.

Apply a small dusting of volume powder to the roots of your hair and ruffle it through with your fingertips.

Foams and mousses – medium hold/medium shine

Foams and mousses expand upon application, so naturally they help to boost the volume of flat hair. A good foam/mousse feels silky to the touch and isn’t too heavy in the hair. These products work perfectly as pre-styling products, especially when heat is applied in the form of a hair dryer.