Michael 84

The Best Men’s Hair Products: Wax, Clay, Putty & Pomade Guide

Tuesday, 24th April, 2018

Men's Hair Product Style Tips And Advice

Should I buy clay or wax? What is hair pomade? What hair product do I need for a low shine look? If you’ve got questions like this, you’re not alone. If you’re wondering what is the best men’s hair products which you should be buying, this guide is for you.

For the vast majority of my life I had my head shaved, and it was only when I was when I was around 25 I decided that I wanted to grow it just a little bit, so it was a style, but not too long, but simple and manageable. It would mean using hair products, but since I spent most of my life never using them, I was thinking what should I use; There were so many on offer, from gel to wax, putty to clay and a whole lot more.

But what type of hair product should you be using? With so many different types to achieve different styles and finishes, not to mention the many different brands, buzzwords and variations of each type.

Whether you’re confused or just looking for some tips or advice, here’s everything you need to know about grooming and men’s hair care products.

Hold vs Shine (The Finish)

There’s two main characteristics when it comes to hair care products. These are the hold, and finish, and are pretty self explanatory. The hold will determine the ‘strength’ of the product, while the finish will be shine or matte. The two properties intersect, so you can have low hold with high shine, high hold with low shine, or any combination. Choosing the right product will give you the desired style you’re going for.

Men’s Hair Product Types

There’s a vast array of different product types, and just to confuse things further, different brands will have different types of compounds, so you can get a wax which could be more creamy from one, and a wax which is more greasy than another. The main product types are:

  • Gel
  • Wax
  • Paste/Putty
  • Styling Fibre
  • Pomade
  • Clay
  • Cream
  • Hair Spray (Variations of hold)

Hair Gel And Cream - Men's Hairstyle Product Guide

Gel (High Hold, High Shine)

Do you want an absolute definitive style which won’t move and be nice and shiny? Gel would be the way to go. If you’re looking to have a wet look, gel is the way to go. Back in the good old days of the 90’s it was the most popular product, but as time has gone, male grooming has evolved. Styles have changed and newer products have been introduced, and it has slide down in the popularity charts. Gel works well in short and medium hair styles.

Key Points

  • High hold, maximum shine. The wet look.
  • Easy to apply
  • Stiff and dry feel
  • Hair becomes dry
  • Gel flakes are inevitable and not a good look.

Hair Wax - Men's Hairstyle Product Guide

Wax (Medium Hold, Medium Shine)

If you want to have a little bit of hold with a little bit of shine, hair wax would be a good choice. Wax is quite a versatile hair product, in that it can achieve a number of different looks, and work with different lengths of hair. If you’re just looking to add some texture, get a messy bed head look and want some definition without a strong shine, this would be a good choice.

Waxes can differ from brand to brand. Some are more ‘waxy’, and can be quite greasy, while others can be more creamy, which gives a duller shine but provides slightly less hold.

Key Points

  • Medium hold, medium shine
  • Easy to apply
  • Hair will have a soft feel
  • Can result in clumps if used in the wrong hair or if used incorrectly.

Paste/Putty (Medium Hold, Medium Shine)

Paste is similar to wax when it comes to shine and finish, but is usually a less greasy compound. It provides a really nice matte finish, and is easy to work into the hair when it’s dry or damp. Great to use if you’re going for a style which needs to stay down, when you want to add a bit of shine to your look.

Key Points

  • Medium hold, medium shine
  • Easy to apply
  • Hair will have a soft finish

Styling Fibre (High Hold, Low Shine)

Styling fibre is my personal favourite product. It’s really easy to use, the compound is flexible with a cream like feel making it easy to work into the hair, however once applied it provides a good strong hold. Good for short and medium hair, it will keep your hair up while also giving you a matte look.

Key Points

  • High hold, low shine
  • Easy to apply
  • Hair has a medium-soft finish.

Pomade, Paste And Putty - Men's Hairstyle Product Guide

Pomade (Medium Hold, Mid to High Shine)

Whereas you could say gel has been on it’s way out for a while in terms of popularity, Pomade has taken it’s place. It doesn’t have as much of a hold and doesn’t usually provide the same wet look, it does usually provide a medium hold and a high shine. They are superior however in that they are better for the hair, looking after it more. Pomade can be oil or water based, with the latter being preferable, and are usually creamy in texture.

Key Points

  • Medium hold, mid-to-high shine
  • Easy to apply
  • Usually used to keep the hair down rather than up
  • Soft finish

Hair Clay - Men's Hairstyle Product Guide

Clay (High Hold, Low Shine)

Looking for a high hold for your hair style with a matte finish? Clay is the way to go. Clay can be incredibly thick, which makes it hard to work into your hair, meaning it’s better for shorter hair styles. It provides a dull matte look, and has a high and firm, so will keep your hair up for a long time.

Key Points

  • Firm hold, matte look
  • Harder to apply
  • Soft dry finish
  • Keeps hair up

Cream (Low Hold, Low/Medium Shine)

As the name suggests, cream is a creamy like texture, and has a low hold and low to medium shine. This makes it a good choice if you have longer hair, the creamy solution is easier to work in and through the hair. It will leave the hair soft rather than hard or stiff like a gel or clay, and is a good lightweight option if you want to add some product to your hairstyle, but don’t want anything extreme.

Key Points

  • Low hold, low/medium shine
  • Easy to apply
  • Soft finish
  • Gives longer hairstyles a bit of dimension

Hair Spray (Finishing)

Hair Spray is used commonly by ladies, but can also be used by men to finish off their hairstyle. You can think of this as adding an extra layer of protection to your style, the spray should hold it in place when you’re moving around throughout the day, or just on a particularly windy day. It’s not a necessary tool to have in your armoury, for shorter hair you’ll not need this, but if you have an extreme style you don’t want to move, hair spray should get the job done.

Other Products

There’s plenty of other hair care products you can buy or try to change or maintain your style. From dry shampoos to powders, serum, moose and lotions, and don’t forget caring for your hair by using shampoos and conditioners.

Hair Product Brands – Buyers Guide

What is the best hair product brand? That’s a good question, and it’s one which really doesn’t have an answer. There’s a ton of brands which in turn make a ton of different types of products, which cover the large list above. I will mention a couple of the big name brands as well as the smaller or independent ones, and how I’ve found each brand.

Fish

Fish have been around for a long time, and have a huge range of different products; From wax to clay, creams, pomade and gel – They have it all. I’ve used the clay and cream and think that it’s a really nice product. One of the things I like from the brand is the scent; Their products have a particular fragrance to them which is really light but distinctive, it’s really nice.

Check out more from Fish here.

L’oreal

One of the biggest brands in cosmetics and hair products, L’Oreal have a huge mix of products with cool names from different ranges. You’ll find buzz words like Remix, Indestructible and more. They’re not just words, the products are really nice to use. My favourite from their ranges at the moment has to be the Matt Paste from L’Oreal Studio. It’s nice and easy to use, quite creamy and leaves the hair feeling soft.

You can check more from their studio line here.

Label.M

Professional hair care in your home, Label.M is an official product of London Fashion Week. I’ve used the deconstructor and like the way the product works.

You can view their range here.

Toni & Guy

I really love the Toni and Guy men’s range, and have used it for years, although since I have so many products I’ve never needed to replace the tubs I used to have. My favourites were the styling fibre because of it’s ease of use and hold.

You can check it out here.

Schwarzkopf Professional

My favourite product by far and the best in my opinion, the 3D range from Schwarzkopf Professional. I can’t tell you how much I love the Texture Clay, which is so easy to use and then provides a super strong hold. I also have the molding wax which is another good product. When I want to look my best for going out, there’s only one choice, the texture clay. Unfortunately it’s not so easy to get any more, and was initially a salon product.

You can check out the 3D range here.

Johnny’s Chop Shop

Johnny’s Chop Shop is not a huge worldwide brand in the big world of hair products, but a British barber shop brand with some good products. I’ve used their hair clay, and I really like it. It’s a softer kind of compound rather than a really tough clay, and is really easy for anyone to use. It leaves the hair soft and keeps it’s shape all day.

Check out Johnny’s Chop Shop here.

Jack’s Of London

Another great British Brand, Jack’s Of London has the barber shop heritage and has some good products to match. I’ve been using the strong hold paste for a couple of weeks and really like using it.

Check out Jack’s here.

On That Note

That is everything you need to know about men’s hair styling products, hopefully that shed’s a bit of light into the ever expanding world of men’s hair products. It’s all about your hair type, the kind of style you’re going for and the length of hair you have. The world of male grooming can be a minefield with so many products and different buzzwords, but hopefully this has broken them down.

Now it’s over to you. Which is your favourite type? Do you have a favourite brand?


Michael Adams

Written By: Michael

Founder and editor of Michael 84, A UK men's blogs covering the best of fashion, style, tech, grooming, fragrances and lifestyle.


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