Despite what pop culture might tell you, having a bad-hair-day isn't just for women - seriously. Not using the right products for your hair happens to both genders, but how are you supposed to know which products are right for your hair? When it comes to the best hair styling products for men, don’t worry - they’re not going to be fruity, girly-scented products.
Baxter of California Daily Fortifying Shampoo
V76 by Vaughn Hydrating Shampoo
Rituals Samurai Cool Hair Shampoo
John Allan’s Thick Shampoo
Oribe Rock Hard Gel
Baxter of California Cream Pomade
Olivina Men Conditioning Cream
Billy Jealousy Beard Oil
Baxter of California Clay Pomade
Oribe Fibre Groom
Boldify Thickening Spray
How Do I Know What to Use on my Hair?
I think one of the best men’s hair styling tips is to watch what kind of products your barber uses on your hair. While there are a lot of mens hair styling tips online thanks to YouTube tutorials, who better to ask advice from than your barber? After all, he IS the expert when it comes to the best hair styling products for men. Is he blasting your hair with a blowdryer (check out our favorite hair dryers here!), or letting it air dry? Is he styling your hair so that it's perfectly coiffed, without a strand out of place? Or is your hair more textured, tousled and relaxed - fresh off the beach? Both of these looks are going to use slightly different products to achieve their respective end results. The first look is probably going to rely on a gel and bit of hairspray, while the latter just needs a texturizing pomade and maybe a volumizer. When it comes to men, hair styling doesn’t have to be as intensive as it is for women - you just have to choose the right products!
If I’ve lost you there, don’t worry - every product in this post is going to be described with exactly who and what hair type it’s for. Choosing the right hair styling products for men doesn’t have to be complicated!
Where Do I Start? What are The Best Hair Styling Products for Men?
First things first - to make sure that you’re making the most of any other products you use on your hair, a shampoo that suits your scalp and hair type is key. Stop using your body wash as shampoo and invest in an actual shampoo - your hair will thank you. The right shampoo is going to ensure that your hair doesn't have any product residue left behind, which not only makes it harder to style but can irritate your scalp and lead to premature hair fall - definitely not something anyone wants to happen! You can have the best men’s hair styling products in the world, but that’s not going to be any use if your hair isn’t properly prepped to be styled.
This shampoo from Baxter of California is fantastic for pretty much every single hair type. It’s clarifying enough to get any oils and mens hair styling product out of hair, but without overly stripping the hair and scalp. What I really like about it is the minty tingle it leaves on the scalp - it’s incredibly refreshing and is perfect for maintaining a healthy scalp. The shampoo is also formulated with a few other hair-fortifying ingredients, like Coconut Extract and Vitamin E for clean, nourished hair. The best mens hair styling products will do some double time nourishing and styling hair, so expect that to be a common theme here!
Just because men's hair tends to be short, doesn't mean that it can go without moisture. It's especially important for guys with hair textures prone to dryness or with bleached hair - helping hair grab onto moisture wherever it can makes it easier to style. Hair that's too dry is harder to tame, and could even snap right off if it gets dry enough!This hydrating shampoo is formulated with a potent cocktail of ingredients that moisturize the hair and scalp for softer, more manageable hair.
The only thing worse than hair gel that looks like dandruff might be actual dandruff from an itchy, dry scalp - luckily, it’s pretty easy to keep that in check with the right shampoo. Formulated with a combination of moisture-balancing deep sea minerals and Japanese Mint, this shampoo from Rituals calms down a stressed, and itchy scalp.
Fine hair needs a little more volume and can easily be weighed down with too much moisturizing product. If you’ve tried and tried and tried to style your hair, but end up literally falling flat of what you want, you might be dealing with fine hair and some product buildup. The Thick Shampoo is formulated to clear hair of any lingering residue that weighs your hair down for fuller, easier to style hair. What I really like about this Thick Shampoo is it doesn’t just add volume to hair, it’s formulated with a handful of botanical extracts to support healthy hair growth.
How Do I Know Which Styling Product to Use?
Now that we’ve gone over the best shampoos for men - the fundamental building block of any hair styling routine - let’s move onto gels, pomades, sprays, and everything in between. There are so many men's hair styling products to choose from, and this guide will help you choose the right one for your needs! Hair styling for men doesn’t have to be hard - we promise!
Is Pomade Better than Gel?
They each have their own pros and cons. Gel is water based, so it’s easier to wash out of hair. It also adds more shine to hair. Pomades tend to be more waxy and oily, so they can take a little extra time to wash out. They also lend a more natural finish to hair.
I’m sure that everyone has tried old-school Brylcreem in their hair - to both good and bad results. This Oribe styling gel for men's hair is the grown-up version of Brylcreem. I totally admit that gel can be hard to master, but this gel from Oribe makes it a piece of cake. It has a super strong hold for ‘architectural styling', as the Oribe team describe it, but is formulated with nourishing Shea Butter and Argan Oil to keep hair healthy.
‘Rock Hard’ is definitely an apt way to describe this gel - once you’ve styled your hair with it, it will stay that way! A little goes a long way, too. But like most modern gels, the Rock Hard Gel is designed to rinse out easily with a well-formulated shampoo - no more helmet head situations here!
Compared to the Clay Pomade, the Cream Pomade is a men hair styling product with a softer, more gentle hold. It makes mens hair styling a total breeze. It's incredibly lightweight but doesn't leave hair too stiff and without natural movement. This is key to adding volume and keeping fine hair styled, without any heaviness - fine hair that's coated with way too stiff of a product looks very unnatural, very quickly. It has a natural finish that lends itself incredibly well to an undone, relaxed look - perfect for a tousled, bedhead look.
There’s nothing I dig more than a multi-purpose product (body wash as shampoo does not count, FYI!) but this Olivina Conditioning cream is an absolute gem. You can use it in the shower and rinse it out like a traditional conditioner, or use it as a mens hair styling cream. That’s right, you can actually leave it in your hair, so that it styles and nourishes your hair at the same time - talk about a win-win situation!
It can be used to prep hair for a styling product with stronger hold, or gently hold the hair in place for a less structured hairstyle. It's a top contender for the title of "best hair styling cream for men", for sure!
When it comes to men's hair styling, it just wouldn't do to leave out beard care - it is hair that needs to be styled, after all. Luckily, beards are pretty low maintenance and at the most, just need to be smoothed down with a nurturing oil like this one from Billy Jealousy. Good beard oil does more than just smooth down whiskers - while it's definitely less stiff than putting pomade or gel through your beard, it also moisturizes the skin underneath it.
You know that telltale beard itch? Well, in truth it's caused by dry skin under the beard hairs - not from beard hair itself. When you comb oil through your beard, you moisturize the skin underneath - relieving any itchy, dry skin that might be hiding underneath.
A clay-based pomade, like this one from Baxter of California is perfect for guys that want a natural-finish hairstyle but with crazy strong hold. It’s the perfect hair styling product for men - it gives you a lot of options in a single jar!
What I really like about clay based pomades is how much texture they can create in hair, without weighing it down. Unlike a lot of old-school oil-based pomades, clay pomades are practically weightless in comparison - which makes them perfect for creating volume and lift in thick hair that tends to fall because of its own weight.
Oribe is a hair product household name for good reason - all of their products are pretty amazing, IMO, and the Fibre Groom paste is no exception. It's the only paste I've seen with fibers added to it for enhanced volume and style that lasts quite literally all day.
It promises no build-up thanks to its water-based formula - so it rinses away easily - but also leaves hair with bounce and movement. If you want your hair to look effortless and still have movement, this is the styling product for you - hair doesn't look too stiff and crafted, but still keeps shape after you've styled it.
For fine hair that needs help in the volume department, Boldify's Thickening Spray is the answer. It's great for boosting thin hair on its own or used as just one step in a styling routine. Volume can be hard to achieve without leaving behind a sticky residue or unnatural stiffness, but the chemists at Boldify are geniuses (if I say so myself) for creating this thickening spray!
The best way to use it is to spray a superfine misting of it over damp hair and let dry. Whether that’s with heat or air dry, it’s up to you - but the end result is exactly what’s promised - full, thicker-looking hair.
Okay, but Which one is the BEST?
As in, which one should you bring on a deserted island? Do you want to know what is the best of the best men hair styling products I’ve listed here?
I would have to go with the Baxter of California Clay Pomade. It’s an insanely versatile product that lends itself incredibly well to all kinds of looks - combed pompadours, tousled hair, a retro slicked back style - there’s nothing this pomade can’t do!
But wait - I know the next question you have for me - how to use pomade...
How Do I Use Pomade?
Pomade should always be applied to towel-dried hair. Start with a dime-sized dollop of pomade rubbed between your fingertips to melt the product for easiest styling. Work it into your hair, concentrating it at the roots before working your way down to the ends. Voila! Your hair is styled - you can run a comb through or leave it as is!
Cheers to good hair days ahead!
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About the author Stephanie Morin
NYC-based beauty and skin care blogger, Stephanie delivers a healthy dose of practical beauty tips for some serious skin care inspiration!