There are tons of hair products for men that can be used in plenty of different ways. When picking a hair styling product, some men look for something they can use to create the perfect style, whereas some men will be looking for simplicity. Whatever the case, by not taking advantage of the full range of men’s hair products out there, you’re only selling yourself short. For this reason, we’ve put together a guide to the types of hair products out there, and how you can easily incorporate them in your routine.
These products can be divided into pre-stylers, styling products, and in hairspray we have an example of a finishing or holding product.
Pre-stylers as the name suggests should be applied before a styling product. They offer a range of additional benefits, but what each has in common is that they make your hair more pliable and easier to shape into the desired style. For this reason, they’re some of the most useful hair products for men on the market, yet they remain relatively unknown and underused.
Volumising powders should be applied at the roots, while volumising sprays can be applied throughout the hair. They give your hair a fuller, thicker look, but their main function is to create lift, allowing bigger styles to be created more easily.
A thickening tonic performs in much the same way, but with a focus on creating a fuller look by binding at the roots. Thickening pastes and creams fulfil a similar purpose. Some thickening pastes, such as the Aveda Thickening Paste, offer a degree of hold that means it can be used either as a pre-styler or a styling product in itself, giving a lightly textured and natural finish.
Sea-salt sprays act similarly to other pre-stylers, but are specifically created to give a natural, textured look, as well as enhancing the granularity of colour in your hair. It does this by recreating the effect of salt water on the hair while counterbalancing any damaging effects – typically with natural oils like coconut or olive oil.
Pre-stylers are a truly versatile product and can form part of a low-effort, no-nonsense hair care routine as well as being a crucial step in creating a labour intensive look. Spraying one on damp or dry hair that needs a boost before styling takes no more than a few seconds and if anything, speeds up the process of styling. Applying to wet hair before blow drying and brushing, will allow you to maximise volume, thickness, and pliability before applying a styling product.
The hair products for men which fall under the styling category can be divided up according to 3 key factors:
The hair products for men with the highest shine are pomades and gels. These products reflect light to a higher degree, in some cases giving a ‘wet look’. They typically look better on those with darker hair, but can also be extremely useful if you’re trying to create a classic look, or you’re going for the ‘modern greaser’ approach which has seen something of a resurgence in recent years.
Matte products absorb light, giving the impression of a fuller head of hair with a more natural finish (read: no shine). Clays tend to be the products with the lowest degree of shine. Many waxes, putties and some clays such as Lock Stock and Barrel’s 85 Karat Clay are matte products, but include a slight shine. This can be beneficial for those with fair hair who want a product which highlights their natural colour without darkening it.
Products with a higher degree of hold will allow you to create bigger, more voluminous and adventurous styles such as the modern quiff or pompadour. Products like Hanz De Fuko Claymation or Lock Stock and Barrel Ruck Matte Putty are perfect examples of this.
Photography credit: Hanz De Fuko
Products with a lower level of hold, such as creams and pomades, can be used to create natural, subtle looks such as a brushed side parting. Or, using a greater quantity of product, you can create a slicked back look.
The mouldability of a product is the ability of a product to be re-shaped. Products like gels, for example, or some paste products like Fudge Matte Hed, will set hard when they dry, preventing re-styling without application of more product. This is great if you’re looking for the style to stay in shape throughout the day. With low-hold products such as pomades and creams, you’ll virtually always be able to restyle when needed. Other products such as the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Shape Paste will offer a good amount of hold while being reworkable, allowing you to reshape your hair throughout the day to create additional volume and ensure your style is on point.
While technically hair sprays can be used as a styling product in and of themselves, they’re best put to use as a finishing product. Once you’ve achieved the look you want with a hair product, use hairspray to hold the finished article in place, boosting the longevity of the haircut.
This can be done either with a big, voluminous hairstyle achieved with a high hold product, or to keep a classier, slicker look achieved with a cream, pomade, or other low hold product in place.
Like this content? Check out our top hair thickening shampoos, Master Barber Sam Otway taking on some common hair care concerns, and stay up to date with the Mankind blog for more haircare content.