The Ultimate Guide to Men's Hair Products (Every Type Explained)

—Urban Beardsman
The Ultimate Guide to Men's Hair Products (Every Type Explained)

No matter what type of hair you have, you’re going to need some help in looking a cut above the rest. Sure, a knowledgeable barber is a must, but using the right products on your hair is similarly important.

Men’s hair products have come a long way and there’s something for everyone – whether your hair is thick, thin, curly, wavy, or whatever. And we want to make choosing the right products for you easier with this men’s hair product guide.

We’ll discuss different types of hair products, what they do, what type of hair you should use them with, and more. There are many types of hair styling products for guys, and it’s helpful to know something about all of them if you truly want your hair look like a million bucks.

Let’s get started.

A quick note

First, a few words about “hold” and “shine.” Both are words commonly used in describing hair products and it’s important to know what they mean as you shop for products that fit your hair type, look, and style.

About Hold

That’s hold as in holding power. Hold refers to how flexible your hair is after you’ve applied the product. A product with a high or stronger hold keeps hair stiffer and in place. Products considered low or medium hold leave hair more pliable. What type of hold you choose is often a matter of preference, but also depends on the hairstyle and look that you’re trying to achieve.

About Shine

Shine refers to the appearance of your hair after you’ve applied a hair product. The shine may be glossy, or wet, while a low shine (a.k.a. a matte finish) may make it seem like you have no product in your hair at all. How much shine you leave in your hair often depends on the type of hairstyle. Some require more shine than others.

Another term worth noting is texture, which refers to how your hair looks and feels after applying product. Textures are important when layering your hair for different hairstyles.

Types of Hair Styling Products

Men's Grooming Products

OK, now let’s take a closer look at different men’s hair products.

Pomade

If you want your hair to have a “slick” look and sport a hairstyle that has a well-combed look, then pomade is for you. One of pomade’s primary characteristics is its high shine, hence the slick appearance, while it provides medium hold. A pomade won’t make your hair hard or crunchy, unlike gels, and allows you to restyle your hair throughout the day.

Pomade is creamier than hair wax making it suitable for thick or curly hair, but you can use pomade on anything from straight to curly hair and still get good results. Still, it’s one of the best men’s hair products for thick hair.

An important point to remember about pomade is that it comes in two basic categories – oil-based and water-based.

Oil-based Pomade

Oil-based pomades come from grease or petroleum products and are cheaper than water-based pomades. You sometimes get what you pay for because oil-based pomades can clog the scalp’s pores, resulting in unwanted buildup. Another disadvantage to oil-based pomades is that they’re often difficult to wash out of hair and can strip your hair of its natural oils when you do rinse them out.

Water-based Pomade

One advantage of water-based pomades is that you can easily wash them out with water (unlike oil-based pomade). While they may not provide the same type of hold as oil-based products, they keep hair in place while providing the flexibility to restyle your hair during the day.

Wax

The term hair “wax” is sometimes confusing because it’s a name that’s often used to describe clay, paste, styling cream, etc. We’ll break down each of those products further along in this post but, wax is its own separate category.

Hair wax typically falls into the medium hold, medium shine category, although it can leave a shinier or matte finish, depending on the product. Most hair experts agree that wax best suits men with straight, short to medium length hair because using it in wavy or curly locks can cause clumping.

Waxes are similar to pomades, although pomades have a higher hold. You can use wax on a variety of hairstyles, especially those that require a comb (side part, pompadour, etc.). Wax is more pliable than gel and allows you to restyle your hair during the day without difficulty.

Common ingredients found in hair wax includes beeswax – the super-strong stuff that holds beehives together – carnauba wax, and lanolin.

Sea Salt Spray

Sea salt spray is a relative newcomer to the world of styling products and has quickly become a go-to product for many men; particularly those with medium to long hair.

As its name suggests, sea salt spray is a spray formula that includes salt and other compounds. Because salt water absorbs the natural oils in your hair, you’re able to get better texture, waves, and volume – which you’ll notice after a day at the beach and a dip in the ocean, for instance.

One of the many benefits of sea salt spray is that it doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy, sticky, or hard. Moreover, sea salt spray is suitable for a variety of hair types, both for prepping and styling, and provides a light to medium hold that allows your (longer) hair to retain its natural bounce.

While sea salt spray is ideal for summer use, and that’s the season when many men use it, there’s nothing wrong with using it year-round. It comes in a spray bottle in which you dispense the spray with a pump on top of the bottle: pretty simple.

Sea salt spray is, again, best for use on medium to long hair and you can use it as part of your daily styling routine, although you want to use it in moderation during each application because it can dry your hair and scalp. If you do use it daily, make sure to wash and condition your hair, as well.

Applying sea salt spray

Beardbrand Men's Sea Salt Spray

Your first step is to purchase a quality, all-natural spray such as Beardbrand’s Sea Salt Spray. Beardbrand’s spray is unique in that it contains white clay (kaolin) that’s great for sensitive skin and also acts as a natural scalp cleanser. It doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, or other harmful junk.

You can use sea salt spray on damp or dry hair, although it tends to work best on hair that’s at least slightly damp. Shake the bottle vigorously to mix the ingredients, especially the white clay, before you spray it on your hair.

Once you’ve sprayed it on your hair, use your hands and fingers to spread it evenly over your hair while making sure you get it down to the roots. Once you’ve done that, use your hands to shape your hair into the style you want, or you can also use a hair dryer to set it in the style you prefer. If you use a hair dryer, it’s best to set it on medium heat.

You can also use sea salt spray as your “base,” that is, apply it to wet hair before you use any other styling product before drying your hair, and then use a stronger hold product to keep your hair in place, if you so desire.

Another one of sea salt spray’s many benefits is that you can easily re-apply during the day if it starts to wear down a little bit. Check out our full video about applying sea salt spray.

Using Sea Salt Spray to Get Textured Hair

Sea salt spray is an excellent tool for getting the textured look on longer hair. You’ll also need a hair dryer.

First, make sure your hair is damp, but not too damp. You can let it air dry after your shower until it’s 80 to 90 percent dry, but you want to leave in some dampness because you’ll use your hair dryer after you’ve applied the spray.

Don’t be afraid to apply your sea salt spray liberally, but do keep in mind how long or short your hair is, how much texture you prefer, etc. Typically, you’ll apply around 20 to 25 sprays as you work it into your hair and scalp.

It’s best to use a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment, and to start off with a hotter setting and then switching to cooler settings as your hair dries. It’s important to keep your dryer a safe distance from the hair so you can apply heat widely, and also to prevent damage.

Use a crunching motion with your fingers to lock in your desired waves and textures as you dry your hair. It’s going to be a free-flowing type of hold, unlike a high-hold that comes with other products. You want to be able to run your fingers through your hair and not have a look that’s stiff and resembles a helmet off which you could bounce a quarter.

Your hair should be about 95 percent dry when you’ve finished. While there’s a lot of tweaking and adjusting during the process, the textured look is ideal for anyone who wants a natural-looking hairstyle that has plenty of movement.

Our video shows you in detail how to get the textured look.

Gel

One of the most common hair styling products used by men – if not the most common – is hair gel. Most men have used hair gel at some point in their lives, especially as teens when they’re trying to achieve a certain look that sets them apart from others. It doesn’t hurt that gel is affordable, as well.

Hair gel is convenient for a lot of reasons, including that you can – and should - apply it to damp hair, which gives you the luxury of styling your hair on the go instead of waiting for it to dry before you apply your styling product. Hair gel has a high hold and high shine.

You can also use hair gel on a variety of hair lengths, thicknesses and textures while having the ability to shape your hair into the style you want.

But, and there’s always a ‘but’ it seems, hair gel has its share of drawbacks:

  • Most hair gels include alcohols, which make it easier to spread the product over your hair, while also helping the gel to dry faster, but alcohol isn’t always hair-friendly. For one, it contains chemicals that strip needed moisture from the hair and scalp, and reduce your scalp’s production of sebum – an oily substance necessary for skin and scalp health. The result is dry, brittle hair that’s prone to breakage.
  • Stripping moisture from hair can easily lead to dandruff and an itchy, irritated scalp.
  • You don’t have as much flexibility with gel to restyle your hair as you do with other hair products.

That’s not to say all hair gel is bad, however, and there are natural hair gel products out there. Just make sure you know what you’re getting before you buy.

Clay

Clay is another styling product that has become popular among men in recent years. As its name suggests, it’s made from clay, and has a firmer hold than pomade and most other products, as well as a stickier feel.

As a styling product, clay has a variety of benefits:

  • It adds thickness and body to hair to make it feel fuller
  • It absorbs easily into hair
  • Clay draws out dirt and impurities without drying the hair’s natural oils
  • Clay helps to control and maintain frizzy hair, which is an excellent benefit for men with long or curly hair
  • It helps repair damaged hair

Clay styling products often contain a variety of other natural ingredients and give your hair a matte to low shine finish. Bentonite is a commonly-used clay used in styling products and produced by the weathering of volcanic ash.

While clay has a higher hold factor than many other styling products, it has a low shine with a matte to semi-matte texture. Clay isn’t as easy to restyle as with other products such as paste, but it adds more texture to the hair.

You don’t need a lot of clay to get the style you want: simply rub a small amount between your palms and apply it to slightly damp or dry hair.

Paste

Paste is a good tool to have in your grooming kit. It’s a versatile, all-around styling product and good for almost every hairstyle. Plus, you only need a small amount of paste to get the style and hold that you desire.

Pastes fall under the medium hold-medium shine category and have a consistency that’s typically thicker than pomade. Most pastes are water-based, which makes washing them out easy, and they won’t clump (which makes it easier to restyle your hair during the day). If you choose a paste that’s thicker than others, rubbing it between your palms will soften it and make it easier to distribute it evenly through your hair.

Among the many advantages of paste is that it gives your hair separation and flexibility, but it also adds volume and texture – especially if you apply it before blow drying.

If you want to wear a “messy” hairstyle, the kind that makes it seem like you just rolled out of bed but still have an attractive coif, paste is your friend because it adds texture and necessary volume.

You’ll get a medium shine from paste when its applied to damp hair. And, again, it’s a very versatile product that’s effective for styling all hair lengths and hair types. Furthermore, the ease in washing paste out of your hair – because it’s water soluble – is extremely helpful because if you don’t get your style “right” the first time, you can simply rinse out the paste and start over.

Here are a few tips on using paste, and this video will help, too.

  • Applying paste to your hair, or beard, when it’s damp will help give it a more natural look.
  • Start by applying the paste to the back of your hair first and work forward. This prevents you from having too much product on the front of the hair.
  • Make sure you apply your paste evenly on all of your hair so that it has the same texture and consistency throughout.
  • The more paste you use, the stronger the hold.
  • Paste is also suitable for use on your beard and you apply it to your beard – which is preferably damp when you use the paste – in the same way you apply it to your hair.

Cream

Hair creams come with a variety of benefits, as well, including that they give your hair flexibility and strength, while providing a low hold that doesn’t have the stiffness or greasiness of wax and gel.

Creams have a medium shine, one that’s considered “natural” compared to other styling products, and frequently are used as a pre-styling product because they add shine, separation, and substance to hair.

Perhaps the main purpose of styling cream is to give medium to longer hair a healthier look while maintaining a natural-looking shine that’s not overly intense. But, it’s also good for a variety of hair types and works well with frizzy hair that’s hard to manage. You can use it to guide your hair in a specific style/direction while taming stubborn stray hairs.

For men with thinning or fine hair who don’t like to use pomade or wax, a hair cream is an excellent option. The cream is lightweight enough to make you feel as if you aren’t wearing any product at all, and is easily among the best men’s products for thin hair.

Creams generally consist of oils and amino acids that provide a strong but flexible, natural appearance, while also acting as a conditioner.

Texture-wise, creams range between lightweight lotions and those that have wax-like consistency. And some have a stronger hold as compared to others, so it’s important to define what you want to accomplish by using creams, as well as your preferred hairstyle.

Mousse

Mousse doesn’t have the street cred or popularity that it once had in the 1980s when you’d find it on a wide variety of crunchy, “big hair” styles. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t have merits for today’s style-conscious man.

Mousse comes from the French word for foam, which is only fitting considering that’s what mousse resembles. One thing to keep in mind about mousse – a little of it goes a long way. All you need is a small ball to spread evenly over your hair after working it between your palms. A good way to gauge how much you need is to dispense the same amount of foam as you do with your shaving cream. You can always adjust the amount from there.

Chemical compounds called polymers contained in mousse surround the hair strands to provide an overall fuller appearance. You’ll also find some mousses with ingredients such as: rosemary to help treat hair loss. Indeed, giving hair more body is a requisite for men dealing with hair loss.

One of hair mousse’s positives is that it provides both volume and control. It definitely helps to hold your style in place without an oily and stringy look. It also allows you to maintain most hairstyles on a day to day basis without a lot of buildup, and you can do mid-day styling touches that aren’t difficult.

To maximize the volume you get from your mousse, add it primarily to the roots of your hair. Spread the product upward as you tilt your head over.

As with any styling product, make sure you know if a mousse has a specific function, such as treating thin or fine hair.

To apply mousse, start with clean, damp hair. Rub the foam between your palms and then run your hands and fingers over your hair until you distribute all of it. Concentrating on the roots while you distribute your mousse helps ensure that you won’t have any greasiness.

You can either blow dry your hair after you’ve applied mousse – to provide polish and volume - or you can let the product air dry to help give your hair a “messier” look that’s preferred by many men.

Hair Spray

Ah, hair spray. At one time, it was the perhaps the most popular hair styling product in existence – and generally thought of as something only women used (although plenty of men undoubtedly used it in the privacy of their bathrooms).

OK, so maybe hair spray is still marketed mostly to women, but don’t rule out keeping a can of it in your grooming arsenal, fellas. It’s a versatile product that works on a variety of hairstyles.

Among hair spray’s many attributes is that you can use it alone or in conjunction with other hair styling products, such as paste or pomade. And it’s certainly one of the best finishing products you’ll find because of its superior hold. But there’s more:

  • Hair spray provides volume to your hair and helps sustain volume if you have thinning hair.
  • You can apply hair spray on the outer layer of your hair to lock your style in place, or spray it deep into your hair’s roots to help lift them up.
  • Hair spray is a lifesaver in times of high humidity, which can turn your hairstyle limp in a hurry.

Another thing to know about hair spray is that it comes in three types of hold:

Flexible-hold

Flexible-hold sprays provide the least amount of staying power and hold. They’re excellent for longer hair styles in which you want to retain your hair’s natural bounce while still preventing frizziness.

Medium-hold

This type of hair spray is good for hairstyles that need volume, but not too much stiffness. Medium-hold has a slightly stronger hold than flexible-hold, so you should use it sparingly if you want to preserve some of your hair’s natural movement.

Maximum-hold

If you want to keep your hair place throughout the day, give it a few shots of maximum-hold spray. You’ll maintain your style’s definition and texture while keeping it locked in place.

Hair spray is also versatile in that ranges from low to high shine, which allows you to choose accordingly.

Balm

Balm is a styling product used primarily by men that supports the regeneration of hair while helping it maintain its proper level of moisture. A key difference between balms and some other types of styling products is that you don’t massage balm down to your scalp.

Hair balm is sometimes confused with pomade, but balm has a different consistency. Beardbrand’s Styling Balm for Beard & Hair has a marshmallow-like consistency – the kind that helps give your hair a nice bounce.

One of the primary benefits of hair balm is how it tames frizzy hair. Plus, it allows you to style your hair into a wide range of hairstyles, from smooth to spiky. Using balm on a daily basis may make your hair look greasy and clumpy, so it’s a good idea to wash your hair regularly to remove the balm before your next application.

We think you’ll love Beardbrand’s Styling Balm and the positive effects it has on your hair. After you’ve warmed the balm in your hands – you’ll know it’s ready to apply when it becomes clear – use it on damp hair. Use your hands to work it evenly throughout your hair and then use a dryer to set it into your preferred style.

You’ll get more of a matte finish if you combine our Styling Balm with our Beardbrand Sea Salt Spray. Use the sea salt spray as your foundation before applying styling balm to hold your style in place. Massage the balm down to the roots of your hair to get more volume.

An important point to remember about styling balm is: a little of it goes a long way. So, apply a small amount at first and only add more if you still need to cover all of your hair.

Beardbrand Styling Balm

Texture Powder

Texture powder? Say, what?

While many men may not know about texture powder, it’s an excellent styling product for two reasons, 1) it adds volume to your hair and, 2) it provides hold, albeit a lightweight hold.

Texture powders contain a silicone-like material called silica silylate that sticks to hair fibers. In turn, it creates volume by causing friction between the fibers. Texture powders also absorb excess oil from hair, which also helps boost volume.

There are a few other things you should know about texture powder:

  • It doesn’t leave your hair soft like some other styling products but creates a slightly stiff feel and a light hold.
  • Texture powder works best as a pre-style product. Apply your texture powder first before applying another product such as pomade or paste.
  • You’ll get the most volume from texture powder when you apply it to the roots of your hair.
  • You only need a small amount of texture powder for it to be effective, and because it does leave your hair feeling slightly stiff.
  • Rub a small amount of the powder between your palms and then apply it from the back of your head forward. Never apply it directly to your hair or scalp.

Hair Putty/Mud

Hair putty and mud are one in the same; it just depends on what each brand calls it. It’s often confused with hair paste because it has a similar consistency, but putty is softer with a similar hold – although it allows for some movement of your hair and you can use it to restyle during the day, if needed.

Putty is ideal for men looking to get a casual look, such as a “messy” style. Unlike pomade, it adds texture and some movement. The more putty you add, the more of a messy, disheveled look you can create.

You can also use putty to lock in slicked back styles, and it’s good for a variety of hair lengths and type of hair, i.e., wavy, curly, etc. To use it, squeeze a small amount on your fingertips and work it into place. You can apply before or after your dry your hair and, again, it remains workable throughout the day and evening.

Fiber

Fiber isn’t pomade, paste, or putty. But it is fiber which, come to think of it, doesn’t say a whole helluva lot. You could even say fiber is more like hair wax, considering that it usually contains beeswax and lanolin, but it’s in a category by itself.

If nothing else, know that fiber is strong and pliable. It’s thick and kind of resembles a dried-out wax, and has an overall dryness that adds volume to your hair. It’s also good for creating the bedhead kind of look many men prefer because it has a matte finish, but not so good for creating the sleek, wet looks that pomade delivers (and fiber provides no shine).

The best time to apply fiber is when your hair is dry. It’s great for use on thick hair but if you’re looking for a product that’s more combable, you may want to try styling clay instead.

Know this about fiber: it’s a no-nonsense styling product for men who have a clear understanding of the hairstyle they want to achieve and who don’t want their hair to budge even a little bit during the day. Put it this way – your hold remains locked in until you wash the fiber out. You even have to be careful running your fingers through your fiber-held hair because you may pull some strands out (since the fiber binds them so tightly together).

Types of Hair Care Products

Shampoo

Now, back to the basics. Shampoo is something you probably already have in your shower, but do you know what to look for when picking out the right one for your hair type? First, let’s briefly sum up the purpose of shampoo. Shampoo is essentially a soap that lathers in the hair to capture excess sebum, dirt, and other hair products. When the shampoo is rinsed from the hair, it takes all of the stuff that makes hair greasy with it.

There are a ton of shampoos out there: so how do you know which one is best for you? Well, good question. Let’s discuss what you will want to avoid when choosing a shampoo.

Most shampoos have the trifecta of harsh ingredients: sulfates, parabens, and silicones. These are ingredients that we suggest avoiding in your hair care products, or any products for that matter, and for good reason.

Sulfates are a cleaning agent that are a little too good at their job. They strip the hair and your scalp of natural oils that keep the skin and hair healthy, and can even strip color from the hair. Basically, sulfates are very harsh on your hair, making your hair brittle and prone to breakage.

Parabens are preservatives found in many hair and body care products. While they work to keep products stable, they can wreak havoc on your body’s hormonal rhythms. They are considered possible endocrine (the body’s chemical messaging system) disruptors, meaning they can cause a disruption in growth, brain function, and reproduction. Needless to say, it’s probably best to avoid these.

Silicones are essentially an emollient that causes slippage between hairs, aiding in detangling and making hair shiny. This sounds great, but the truth is, the silky shine is actually the sheen of the plastic-like polymers that make up silicone. Silicones themselves aren't inherently bad for hair, but the downside is the build up it creates that can cause dullness (especially if you don't wash regularly) or the need to use harsh shampoos with sulfates to strip away the very sticky silicones. This starts a frustrating cycle of dull-looking hair and the need to use silicones to keep it look nice. Avoiding the used of silicone shampoos in the first place allows you to use a more gentle wash.

After finding a shampoo that does not possess these harsh ingredients, next you’ll want to consider your hair type: oily, fine, coarse and curly, or normal? Is your hair dry, damaged, or chemically treated? Luckily, there are a ton of options for just about every hair type out there.

With the plethora of options out there, it is easy to pick out a shampoo for your hair type. Thankfully it’s pretty self explanatory. If you have fine hair, go for a thickening shampoo. Dry hair? Reach for a moisturizing shampoo. Oily hair? Try a clarifying shampoo. See? It’s pretty simple!

Conditioner

Shampoo and conditioner are like bread and butter. Sure, you can have one without the other, but it’s better when they’re together. Though it is a personal choice if you use the two in tandem, for most people, we suggest using both of these products one after another, especially if you have long hair.

Hair is made from cells that are layered on top of each other, similar to scales. When these ‘scales’ fray or break, hair starts to look dull, damaged, or frizzy. Conditioner is used to condition and smooth the hair shaft, restoring a healthy appearance and stopping split ends.

Conditioner does not cleanse the hair like shampoo does. However, the smoothing effects seal in moisture and protect the hair from outside aggressors like UV rays and pollution. When the scale-like cells behave, they do not catch on each other and cause tangling. If tangles do occur, conditioner creates slippage between individual hairs, making it great for untangling those stubborn knots.

Much like shampoo, there are many varieties of conditioner out there. Choose a conditioner based on your hair’s needs. The same goes for frequency of use. If you have long hair that is dry and tends to tangle, use conditioner every time you shampoo. On the other hand, if your hair is very short, fine, or thin, and tends to feel greasy day to day, condition less frequently.

Leave In Conditioner

Leave in conditioner is just that: a conditioner that you leave in your hair until it’s time to wash it again. It is great for people who need a little extra kick from their conditioner. If you have dry hair, frizzy hair, or hair that is hard to manage, leave in conditioner is a great option for you.

You will want to use leave in conditioner on damp hair after you have washed and conditioned with regular rinse out conditioner. Leave in conditioner tends to be less thick than its wash out counterpart and has a multitude of benefits:

  • Moisturizing: Leave in conditioner has the time to really penetrate the hair follicle and load it up with moisture. This extra moisture will also help combat dry, frizzy hair by making it smooth, shiny, and healthier.
  • Detangles hair: By providing extra ‘slip’ between hair strands, leave in conditioner aids in detangling the hair post shower.
  • Makes hair easier to style: When your hair is moisturized and healthy, it is more manageable during the styling process. So, whether you are doing a quick blow dry, or using other products to achieve a certain look, leave in conditioner will help you achieve a your style goals.
  • Protects from environmental and heat damage: Leave in conditioner provides an extra layer of protection for the hair. This extra layer helps protect against environmental factors like UV rays that can make the hair appear dull or chlorine from swimming that will dry your hair out. It also protects against heat damage from your blow dryer and other hot styling tools, like a hair straightener.

 

This is another product that can pretty much be used with common sense. If you have greasy hair, focus a lighter leave in conditioner on the ends of your hair. If you have a dry scalp or all of your hair tends to be dry, use a super moisturizing leave in conditioner and work it all the way through the hair.

Detangler

Detanglers are sprays or creams that are made to help detangle the hair of knots. Most leave in conditioners can work double duty as a detangler, as well, but there are specifically formulated detanglers out there that are made for those pesky knots.

It is important to properly, and gently, detangle the hair. This is because knotted hair is susceptible to damage and breakage, which leads to split ends, frizzy hair, and if severe enough, even hair loss.

You want to start detangling hair from the bottom, slowly working towards the top of your head. Trying to yank out the tangle from the top down will just make the knot tighter, harder to get out, and damage your hair.

This is where detangler comes in to save the day. Well, at least help save the day. Detanglers contain ingredients that either help lubricate the hairs in the knot, or ingredients that temporarily shrink the hair shaft. When the hairs are lubricated, they can slip past each other more easily, making it easier to slip out of the knot. If the hair shrinks down a little, a similar effect takes place and the hairs have more room to untangle.

Besides the obvious effect of detanglers, they can help in other areas, too. As previously mentioned, many detanglers are also leave in conditioners, providing the hair with more moisture, which should aid in stopping tangles in the future. Additionally, detanglers help provide hair with more shine, and can help stop environmental and heat elements from damaging hair by providing an extra layer on the shaft.

Heat Protectant

We now know that heat can play a big role in hair damage. It strips the hair of moisture and can cause cracking to the outer layer of hair, making it that much more susceptible to damage. So, when using heating elements in your style routine, it is important to use a heat protectant product to reduce harm done to your hair.

Heat protectants often come in the form of a spray, cream, or serum that is applied to dry or damp hair before styling. They coat the hairs and provide an extra layer to help protect the hair against the heat of whatever tool you’re using. It is important to note that they help protect, they do not prevent damage.

It may seem like you only need to use a heat protectant if you are using a flat iron or curling iron, but even your blow dryer can cause hair damage. Your best bet to avoid heat damage is to use any styling tools on a lower setting after using a heat protectant.

If you would like to reduce the amount of steps you take while styling in the morning, look for a product that can work double duty. Like the detanglers and leave in conditioners we discussed, you can find leave in conditioners, styling balms, and other products that protect against heat as well, making it one easy step.

Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is not unlike texture powder in that it comes in a powder form. But it’s also used as an aerosol spray. No matter how you use it, dry shampoo is an excellent product for absorbing excess oil from the hair and scalp.

One of the beauties of dry shampoo is that you can use it in place of your regular shampoo, which can dry out and damage your hair when used daily. Many hair care experts say you should shampoo your hair every two days or so while using dry shampoo on the other days. Others say that dry shampoo isn’t technically a replacement for regular shampoo because you still need to clean the scalp deeply to remove all excess oils and residues.

Most dry shampoos include alcohol and a fine powder, which can be anything from clay, to starches, to volcanic ash. Besides removing excess oil from your hair, it also adds volume and eliminates odors such as cigarette smoke.

Never apply dry shampoo to wet hair – hence the name.

Hair Serum

Most men, and women, use hair serum as a styling product rather than as something to add volume and texture. Like some of the other styling products on our list, it has gained popularity in recent years to become a go-to option for many folks.

What is hair serum? Well, its main characteristic is that it’s silicone-based and coats the surface of your hair. That makes it different from hair oil, which penetrates hair follicles and cuticles and causes changes to hair structure.

There are many benefits to hair serum, not the least of which is that it keeps hair from becoming tangled. But it also provides softness and shine, while a high-quality serum protects your hair against sun exposure and pollutants such as dust and grime, as well as humidity.

Hair serum also reflects light, which helps to give your hair a shinier – and often healthier – appearance. Many people also choose hair serum because it helps treat dry and damaged hair, and that it helps make hair smooth and silky.

For men with longer hair, a serum is excellent for controlling frizziness and stubborn stray hairs that seem to always fly out of place randomly.

You can use hair serum at any time, but especially when you notice your hair becoming overly dry, dull, or tangled. But it’s always effective as a protectant against environmental stressors such as heat, the sun’s rays, and pollutants that can damage hair.

It’s best to apply hair serum on wet hair after you’ve washed it with your favorite shampoo. In most cases, you’ll only need to use a few drops (at most) to cover your hair. Once you’ve applied it, comb or brush your hair in a downward motion to get rid of any tangles. Finally, blow dry your hair to set it into your preferred style; leaving your hair damp may cause grime and dust to stick to your hair or scalp.

Hair Oil

There’s nothing new about hair oil, not when you consider that it dates to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and other long-ago cultures. While they’re not, technically, a styling tool, hair oils have several benefits and, in many cases, are used in products to promote hair growth while slowing hair loss.

That said, however, hair oil works superbly in helping to detangle hair while making your hair stronger, softer, and shinier. It also works to protect your hair against damage from the sun and other environmental factors. As you’d expect, hair oil provides natural lubrication that helps to fortify the natural oils of your scalp and hair (sebum).

Another major benefit of hair oil is that it contains a ton of fatty acids, which replace lipids in your hair when it starts to become really fine and prone to breakage. Your hair splits when lipids become depleted.

There’s no right or wrong time to apply hair oil. You can apply it to damp or wet hair after you’ve showered, or when your hair feels dry and needs a bit of lubrication. Like serum, you don’t need a lot of oil to get the job done, although the thicker the hair, the more oil you’ll need.

Like with other styling products, make sure you distribute your hair oil evenly through your hair before combing it through. You don’t need to apply the oil on or the near the scalp because of the presence of your scalp’s natural oils. Start applying near the scalp and work your way down to the ends of your hair.

You can even apply the oil to your hair before going to bed and leave it in overnight. Just make sure to protect your pillow with a towel or other covering so you don’t stain it with oil.

A Quick Primer: The Best Products For Each Hair Type

Randy Hake for Beardbrand

We’ve talked about different styling products and touched on their uses and benefits. We also talked a bit about what types of products work best with certain types of hair, but let’s take a little closer look.

Wavy Hair

Pomade and creams work well for men with wavy hair because they’re high in moisture and provide a slightly wet finish. You can also use a high-moisture hair spray that holds your style in place. On the flip side, you’ll want to avoid products that can dry your hair out, such as gels, clays, and waxes.

Straight Hair

One of the advantages of having straight hair is that almost any styling product will work for you. Which one you choose depends on your hairstyle. However, straight hair may look a bit thin and flat, so it doesn’t hurt to choose a product that adds some volume. Pomades and gels give you a wet-look finish, while hair putty, clay, and wax provide a natural-looking matte finish with more volume. You can also use hairspray to hold your style in place.

Curly Hair

Curly hair looks great just as it is, but certain products will give it some hold without stripping too much moisture from the hair and scalp. Pomade and styling cream will do just that, while mousse gives curly hair a healthy textured look. Meanwhile, gel, clay, and wax are too dry for curly hair.

Note: Kinky hair is like curly hair except that the curls are smaller and tighter. It can easily dry out, so use products that add moisture. It’s wise to use cream for styling and oils to keep hair nourished and healthy.

Thin Hair

Thinning hair can cause plenty of anxiety for men because it may be a sign of balding. While it might not be time to panic – because the rate of balding varies from person to person – you should focus on volume and texture if you have thin hair. Water-based products work best because they’re not too heavy and won’t weigh hair down, therefore hair gels, mousse, and creams are typically a solid choice. Wax, pomade, and clay are often too heavy for thin hair.

Thick Hair

In many ways, men with thick hair have won the hair lottery – primarily because they’re more likely to have a full head of hair longer than men with thin or thinning hair. But, if you’re so blessed, you’ll need a product with a stronger hold to keep those luscious locks in place. Pomades, clays, and waxes provide the kind of hold you need, while a few spritzes of sea salt spray provides additional hold and maintains texture.

Short Hair

By short hair, we don’t mean thinning hair but rather hair that’s kept in a shorter hairstyle. Most styling products work for men with shorter haircuts, but you should focus on products that provide texture.

Conclusion

Well, that wraps up our men’s hair products guide. As you can see, there’s no shortage of products from which to choose and picking the right one for you depends on several variables – hair length, hairstyle, and more. But, we hope this guide helps you find the products that best fit your needs.

What are your favorite hair products? How often do you use styling products and why do you like them? We’d love to hear from you and we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Keep on Growing!

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