Styling is probably just as important as washing your hair. Although a regular trip to the barbers will keep your hair looking smart and tidy, taking control of your hair and achieving the style you want is going to require the use of styling products.
Gone are the days when the only thing a man could purchase was a pot of slimy hair gel. With men’s grooming market booming, there are many products out there. But which product should you choose?
Your choice of product will depend on what style you’re after. Each styling product can be placed into one of two categories; fixatives and pliables. Fixatives are products that dry hard (gels, hair sprays). Pliables are products that remain flexible (waxes, creams).
Gels – These are normally water based and are good for men who want that traditional slick look. Make sure you buy a premium salon brand. Cheap gels tend to break and flake off in the hair. You’ll usually gels in firm or light hold. Use light hold gel for thin hair and firm hold gel for thick hair; this will avoid weighing down your hair whilst providing enough hold.
If the gel looks too hard and clumpy, wait until it dries and then comb your hair lightly. Also, a gel can be reactivated by adding a splash of water if the gel isn’t quite strong or glossy enough.
Hair Sprays – Used as a finishing product, hair sprays come in two varieties; dry and wet. Dry hair spray is the more common of the two and comes in an aerosol can, offering a strong hold to fix the hair in place. Wet hair spray comes in an atomizer bottle and uses synthetic polymers to give hold that can easily be brushed out. For fine hair, a light spray can be used to give the hair hold without weighing it down too much. Whatever you do, don’t use too much hair spray otherwise you’ll be left with dry crusty hair.
Pomades – These products can be either water or wax based and are used to make the hair look ultra slick and shiny while maintaining a pliable hold. Unlike gel and hair spray, pomade doesn’t dry out. This product is great for men with short to medium length hair and is excellent at creating messed up looks. Most pomades are too aggressive for fine hair as it tends to make the hair look greasy and limp. To use pomade, apply a small pea sized amount to the palm of your hand and rub them together until your hands get warm. Work the pomade through slightly damp to dry hair. Ensure that you wash your hair regularly as excessive build up can clog pores and harm the scalp.
Waxes – This product is great for strong, defined styles. Although it provides a natural looking hold, waxes are only really suitable for men with short haircuts. Waxes are also good for managing very thick hair. Application is the same with pomade; however it should never be applied to wet hair, only dry. Waxes are extremely difficult to wash out unless you use a specially formulated shampoo.
Mud, clays and fibres – Similar in application to both pomades and waxes, but are used when maximum control is needed. All are great for giving texture to short hair, creating bed head type styles due to their matte finish and for adding separation for longer hair.
Creams – These products are lighter and are great if you want control without the shine and hardness associated with waxes and pomades. If used correctly, it’ll look like you have nothing in your hair. If you have fine hair, use a very small amount to avoid a greasy look.
Mattes – These products provide a strong matte finish and are less sticky compared to other gels.
Mousses – A high quality mousse can create a wide variety of hairstyles. Applied to wet hair, mousse will produce a slick shine. If applied to dry hair, mousse will provide good hold and shape. It adds volume to thin hair; however it lacks the control of stronger styling products.
Hair Styling Tips
One of the biggest mistakes men make when styling their hair is incorrectly applying the product. So, to get it right first time, remember these three tips:
- Combine well before use – Always mix your product before application. Your product has been clumped in a pot for several weeks, even months and will probably require emollition before use. Rub the product between the palms of your hands. This will relax the product allowing you to apply it evenly without leaving clumps in your hair.
- Apply the product to damp or dry hair – If your hair is really wet, it can ruin the products strength, and wax simply won’t entertain wet hair – it won’t stick. Unless it says so on the instructions, always assume that application is on either damp or dry hair.
- Less is always more – Most problems associated with hair care products is overuse. Unless you have long or really thick hair, a pea-sized amount is usually all you’ll need. If you do need more you can always apply a little extra until you’re happy with your look. Remember that it’s easier to add more than remove it.