For the last decade hair clays have reigned supreme as the go-to styling product for men. Versatile, and suited to a huge range of hair styles and hair types, clays are bound together by the common thread of a matte finish, but come in a number of varieties that suit different hair types and styles to different degrees. In this post, we take you through what a hair clay is, and give you the rundown of our top 12 favourite hair clays for men.
In summary hair clays are, typically speaking, the most matte hair products. They get their name because many, although not all, include some form of clay or mud to create the matte effect.
Clays such as Bentonite and Kaolin, as well as the muds employed by similar products, work by absorbing the sebum emitted from the scalp that clings to hair shafts. You can find examples of this in Hanz De Fuko Claymation and the Baxter of California Clay Pomade. Through this, it reduces shine and absorbs light, giving the impression of fullness, body, and thickness in the majority of cases.
Many newer products such as the Lock Stock & Barrel 85 Karats Grooming Clay or the American Crew Fiber sidestep the need to include a clay or mud while creating similar effects. This usually involves compromising slightly on the matte effect, but allows for much greater ease of application and remouldability.
Clays come with a variety of levels of hold, ease of application, and textures. We’ll cover this in more detail below.
Recommended for: creating truly ambitious styles.
Hanz De Fuko is a pioneering brand that specialise in hair styling products to allow you to express your creativity. Claymation is a hybrid clay product that creates volume and immense hold. It combines both natural oils and polymers for optimal lift and hold with a pinch of Quicksand, the Bentonite-Clay rich matte styling product.
Scentless and packed with conditioning agents, you can apply in greater quantities without adverse effects to create ambitious styles that require huge lift to pull off.
Recommended for: anyone looking to take their daily style up a notch.
The Baxter of California Clay Hair Pomade is a dense clay that when warmed up applies easily to create a strong hold that is impressively long lasting. Aside from its exceptional hold, its luxurious scent, combining Lemon Peel Oil, Fennel Oil, and Sage Oil, really sets it apart from its competitors.
Use a little more to create bigger, more ambitious looks, or warm up a small amount and apply lightly to give shape and hold to a more relaxed style.
Recommended for: those with fine or thinning hair.
The House 99 Change It Up Texturizing Clay is another hybrid product. Its matte finish is indistinguishable from a clay, its cream like texture before applying maximises ease of styling. Its Spirulina and Quinoa-Protein rich formulation builds body and thickness while avoiding clumping, as well as absorbing light. This combines together to create an exceptional finish, the appearance of thickness, and a medium hold that lasts throughout the day. In addition, its water-based formulation is easily washed out.
Recommended For: the bed-head/re-styling addict
The Coltrane Clay from Triumph & Disaster is a medium hold clay that is versatile, but due to its remouldability, is particularly good for those who like to go for the messy look, or for those who can’t help but re-style throughout the day.
Its blend of natural oils such as Beeswax and Pracaxi Oil and White Clay mean that it has a slight shine that is often preferable for those with darker blonde or mousy hair by comparison to true matte products.
Recommended for: guys with hair on the thicker side
The more abundant your hair, the more you should be concerned about overly sticky products causing clumping. We covered hair type in a little more detail in this blog, for those who are unsure. A product like the Recipe for Men Desert Clay Wax is perfect for avoiding this without sacrificing too much hold.
Imparting a semi-matte finish, remouldability, and firm hold while conditioning the hair, it also makes a great backup product for when you’re looking to switch up your look.
Recommended for: the second or third day after washing
If Claymation is Matte, then Quicksand from Hanz De Fuko is ultra-matte. Not only does it not impart additional shine, but its absorbent Diatomaceous Earth granules actively mop up sebum to ensure your hair stays shine free all day.
Not only does Quicksand function like a dry shampoo, breathing life into a bedhead, but gives a strong hold, allowing you to create big, impactful looks that you can expect to stay in place.
Recommended for: multipurpose, everyday wear
American Crew Fiber is an iconic styling product that can be used for a wide variety of styles. With a texture and application that veers more towards to the Hair Wax edge of the spectrum, its matte finish means it functions admirably as a pure Clay as well. Fantastic for a creating a naturally swept back look, a quiff, or modern pompadour, it’s a catch-all product that it pays to have at your disposal.
Recommended for: guys who like the natural look, but need a little help getting there
The Lock Stock & Barrel 85 Karats Grooming Clay is a water based product with a medium, flexible hold. With a very slight, but natural appearing shine, it’s the perfect product for adding a little shape and structure without swamping the hair.
Recommended for: those with coarse hair
The Aveda Pure-Formance Grooming Clay applies exactly like a hair cream, making it extremely easy to use to style. While its hold isn’t especially strong, what’s really remarkable about it is its finish, which is so natural and matte that it appears as though there’s no product at all, even in those with fairer and thinner hair.
Its blend of botanicals is uniquely scented and rich with conditioning agents, meaning your hair looks, feels, and smells fantastic for the whole day after use.
Recommended for: those with shorter hair
Stickier products not only risk swamping fine hair, but causing shorter hair to become spiky or clump together. The Recipe for Men Army Clay Wax is flexible, non-sticky and remouldable with a perfectly matte finish. Easily applied, this lightweight hair clay can be worked through the hair without being warmed up
Recommended for: those with difficult to style hair
The Fudge Matte Hed Extra is an unusual hybrid product. A liquid based product with a matte finish, when its water content evaporates, it sets hard in a manner that resembles a gel, without creating the appearance of stickiness or a wet look.
For this reason, if you have difficult to tame hair, it’s a fantastic way to create and maintain shape, adding texture that appears totally natural. Its inflexible, dry finish means your look will stick around for the whole day, but does mean you will have to wash and reapply to re-style.
Recommended for: those with dry or dull hair
The Murdock London Matt Mud is a a matte product with a firm hold that makes use of thoroughly conditioning Vitamin E to nourish the hair, alongside Kaolin clay that keeps excessive oil and shine under control.
Its water-based formulation allows for extremely easy application, drying to leave a natural finish that is suitable for all hair types.
If you like this content, read more of our haircare related blogs. Read about choosing a styling product based on hair type here, read about the best hair wax for men, hair gels, pre-styling products, and hair clippers. Check out our complete guide to haircare here, and for more male grooming expertise, keep up to speed with the Mankind blog.
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