This article was produced in conjunction with Blu Atlas
Good hair days ahead!
Avoiding bad hair days is an art form that’s easy to master once you have the right tools and tricks of the trade. You might already be familiar with the basics (hello, shampoo and conditioner), but the world of men’s hair care and styling is full of different, diverse products. Knowing the difference between a hair pomade versus a hair clay and what style you’ll get from both is one step you must take to achieve endless good hair days. In addition, understanding what your hair type is and what products are best for you is crucial.
To help you get the best hair of your life and navigate the jungle that is men’s hair care, we’ve gathered our top 12 list of the greatest hair products for men. From the best sea salt spray to the best styling cream, our best hair product picks for men will help you craft your signature hair look. But first, let’s have a quick lesson on what all of these products do for your hair and why you might need them.
Shampoo & Conditioner
This one might sound like a no-brainer, but having your basic hair care products in check allows you to build on an already stable foundation. The purpose of shampoo is to remove dirt, buildup, and excess oil from the scalp and hair shaft. It cleanses the hair and scalp so that you have a clean, fresh-smelling (and looking) base.
Conditioner is the second step in your hair washing process. Because shampoos use surfactants and cleansing agents that can strip the hair and scalp, conditioner is there to put back some of that lost moisture. Conditioner softens the hair and adds a protective coating to prevent damage. That’s why using a conditioner after shampooing is essential for overall hair health. And really, to achieve ultimate hair greatness, you’re going to want to ditch the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. Go for a shampoo and conditioner set or mix and match to fit your hair needs.
Hair clay is another basic men’s hair product that suits most hair types and styles. Clay hair products, as the name suggests, tend to have a base of clay such as bentonite or kaolin clays. Their thick consistency lets you add texture and gives hairstyles an all-day hold. The best hair clays for men will have a matte, natural-looking finish.
Styling cream is typically applied on freshly washed, damp hair to prevent frizz, assist in styling, or give the hair a natural, untouched look. Styling creams tend to have a moisturizing consistency that gives your hair a bit of hold (not much) and a little bit of taming. This hair product is best for men with medium to long hair or those guys who want to add a barely-there product to their hair. You can also use a little bit of styling cream on clean, dry hair to add more hold and shine.
Hair paste is one of those hair products you’ll always find a purpose for. Since they tend to give medium to high hold and can be applied on dry or damp hair, hair paste is truly a versatile hair product that lets you style your hair with ease. Mostly, you can use hair paste to add texture and a relaxed hold. And because it’s texturizing, it’s a great hair product for men with thinning hair who want to add volume and fullness.
No, we don’t mean dietary fiber. Fiber mold hair products are an essential styling product for men with thick hair who want to give their hair hold and texture without any shine. Fiber is great for guys with thick hair but have short, medium styles.
Though it might sound intimidating, a hair putty is a mattifying hair product that easily creates a tousled, textured look. Putty gives hair medium to high hold.
Hair gel is another quintessential men’s hair product. You’ve probably seen your father or grandfather use hair gel to create their signature look, but the truth is that modern men’s hair gels have a much more elevated formula than they used to. With the best men’s hair gels, your hair won’t turn rock hard even if you’ve accidentally added a little too much. Hair gels are made to give you long-lasting hold and incredible shine. You can use gel as your main styling product or use it sparingly for touch-ups or flyaways.
Pomades aren’t new to the hair game—they practically invented the cool guy styles we see today. But they’ve been used since the 19th century when the main ingredient was bear fat (gross, we know). Pomades can be water-based or oil-based, with the former being less sticky and greasy-looking. So, in general, using the less-is-more style of application is helpful when using this hair product. Depending on the pomade, you can expect a medium to high hold that feels more relaxed than a hair gel.
Curl creams are designed to enhance your natural curl pattern. You’ll apply curl creams to damp hair to add much-needed moisture since moisturizing and hydrating hair products are necessary to nourish curls and waves. A curl cream will also give you more control over your tresses, so you can make them more defined but also easier to style or leave natural.
If you want to achieve that effortless, surfer, “I just came from the beach” vibe (minus the actual beach), then you’re looking for a texturizing spray. Texturizing sprays, including sea salt sprays, use ingredients like sea salt and texture-building polymers to add volume, body, and dimension to all hair types. The salt opens up the follicles in your skin, driving the hair strands to swell and create more texture and body. The results are waves that are even wavier and curls that are even curlier. Plus, they give texture and volume to fine, straight hair.
Scalp treatments aren’t a hair styling product. Rather, they nourish the scalp to promote a healthy, balanced environment that’s less prone to things like irritation and dandruff—aka, the stuff that ruins your good hair days. Scalp treatments can be used to target different concerns but are most commonly used for issues like dandruff, dryness, and flaking. A good scalp treatment should also have calming, nourishing ingredients that treat hair and scalp.
Best Hair Products for Men
1. The Best Overall Hair Product for Men: Blu Atlas Shampoo
Shampoo is the ultimate men’s hair essential. And if you had to choose just one product to elevate your hair care game, this is where you should start. A good shampoo (like this 99% naturally-sourced one by Blu Atlas) will be gentle enough for daily use but powerful enough to get the job done.
This shampoo strengthens hair, prevents oil buildup, and promotes a healthy scalp environment with nutrient-rich ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice, jojoba protein, saw palmetto, and vegan biotin. It also uses creamy coconut-derived surfactants to provide hair and scalp with a deep clean and create that rich, foaming lather that you love in a shampoo. All things considered, Blu Atlas is our #1 choice for the best shampoo for men in 2022.
[$25; bluatlas.com]Get it
2. The Best Shampoo & Conditioner for Men: Huron Shampoo and Conditioner Duo
Shampoo and conditioner are hair products you use multiple times a week every week, so why not make it great? Huron’s Hair Duo includes a hydrating shampoo that effectively cleanses your hair and scalp with its rich, creamy lather while it nourishes with argan oil, vitamin E, and vitamin B5.
Their award-winning conditioner is moisturizing but also lightweight so that it won’t weigh down your hair. It’s packed with nourishing vitamins and oils like argan oil, shea butter, and vitamin B5, as well as hair strengthening ingredients like biotin and wheat protein. And, because it’s so nourishing, you can use the conditioner as a hair wash on days when your hair just needs a refresh. This hair duo has an invigorating smell of menthol, citrus, and fresh greens, transforming each hair washing day into a spa-like experience.
[$28; usehuron.com]Get it
3. The Best Hair Clay: Aveda Men Pure-Formance Grooming Clay
This hair clay by Aveda is designed to give your locks texture and a strong hold. Like true hair clays, this formula has zero shine, so your style will have that natural, matte look. Its lightweight formula is strong enough to provide an all-day hold but pliable enough that you can use your fingers or a comb to control and craft your style. This clay works best when you warm a small amount between your palms and then apply evenly through damp or dry hair. Like all other Aveda products, this formula is cruelty-, paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free. Plus, it’s great for all hair types.
[$28; aveda.com]Get it
4. The Best Styling Cream for Men: Fellow Styling Cream
Styling creams can transform clean, freshly washed locks into hair that feels lived-in and, honestly, just looks better. Fellow Barber’s Styling Cream is designed to give you “that two day dirty” hair, which they view as mid-length and longer hair that looks natural and properly cared for. It lets your natural, casual look shine through because you don’t need to try hard to look great.
This styling cream is water-soluble (so it’s easy to rinse out) and paraben- and sulfate-free. To give that natural, lived-in look, the cream relies on natural ingredients like shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil to moisturize, fatty acids to provide some natural shine, cacao seed oil to soften hair, and vitamins to protect and nourish. This styling cream for men also boasts the natural fragrance of petitgrain, with notes of citrus and wood.
[$25; fellowbarber.com]Get it
5. The Best Hair Paste for Men: Hanz De Fuko Gravity Paste
Gravity Paste is an award-winning hair paste that uses “Super-Grip” technology that activates once the product is worked in the palm of the hands and then applied to the hair. This styling innovation lets you sculpt your style and ensures it stays all day.
Gravity paste has a high-hold, low gloss shine and can be used for nearly any hairstyle. Plus, it uses natural, cruelty-free ingredients to promote hair health. You’ll find castor seed oil which strengthens hair follicles and promotes hair growth, beeswax to stimulate hair growth, and spearmint extract to reduce dryness, itchiness, and dandruff.
[$23; amazon.com]Get it
6. The Best Fiber Mold for Men: American Crew Fiber
In addition to providing a strong, all-day hold and matte finish, hair fibers add thickness, fullness, and texture to men’s hair. American Crew’s Fiber mold uses lanolin, a waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool, as a humectant and emollient that gives hair an unbelievable hold.
In addition to lanolin, this fiber formula uses cetyl palmitate to give hair a smooth feel, ceteareth-20 to condition locks, and beeswax to protect against moisture loss and provide you with control over your styling. Fiber works best when applied to dry or damp hair that’s about one to three inches in length.
[$18.50; americancrew.com]Get it
7. The Best Hair Putty for Men: Fatboy Hair Perfect Putty
Hair putty is designed to give you texture, volume, and a moldable hold. Fatboy Hair’s Perfect Putty embodies all of the qualities you love and want in a hair putty. This non-greasy, non-shiny formula gives hair a matte finish, texture for days, a medium hold, flexibility for endless styles, and a soft-to-the-touch feel.
Perfect Putty uses natural ingredients like kaolin clay to provide texture and hold and stays clear from the nasty ingredients that are better avoided than put all in your hair. Applying Perfect Putty is simple, just take a small, dime-sized amount and warm it between your hands until the putty feels smooth. Then apply to towel-dried hair and style accordingly.
[$21; amazon.com]Get it
8. The Best Hair Gel for Men: R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Gel
For that effortlessly cool guy look that offers support, control, and flexibility, this is the best hair gel for you. Forget the old-school hair gels you’re used to. R+Co’s Motorcycle Flexible Gel gives you the strong hold of a gel with the flexibility and shine of a hair wax. Thanks to its versatility, you can apply this hair gel to wet hair for a controlled hold or use it on dry hair to add texture and separation.
This hair gel is also fantastic for men who want to give their waves and curls definition without the hard, heavy buildup. Made with coconut oil, sunflower seed extract, keratin, and a heat styling complex, this flexible hair gel for men also repairs and protects hair from oxidation and thermal damage.
[$28; amazon.com]Get it
9. The Best Hair Pomade for Men: Blind Barber 90-Proof Hair Pomade
This water-based pomade by Blind Barber gives hair a strong, all-day hold while remaining malleable. It has a matte finish, so it’s not for those who want some shine. To get the most out of this hair pomade, you’ll warm a dime-sized amount between your hands and then work through towel-dried hair.
In addition to being water-soluble (meaning it’s super easy to wash out), it’s also cruelty-, sulfate-, and paraben-free. Hops (yes, the beer hops) tones the scalp to prevent dandruff and hair loss, while sweet almond protein supports healthy hair growth, and tonka bean gives the pomade a sweet yet spicy scent.
[$17; blindbarber.com]Get it
10. The Best Curl Cream for Men: Bevel Curl Creme
Curl cream is made for those guys with wavy or curly hair who want to give curls the moisture they very much need. This Curl Creme by Bevel uses moisture-rich ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, and macadamia seed oil to tame frizz and leave curls soft, shiny, and bouncy. This curl cream defines curls and gives an all-day hold that doesn’t feel crisp or crunchy. To clarify those curls, you’ll warm a nickel-sized amount between your palms before applying to wet, damp, or dry hair.
[$9.56; amazon.com]Get it
11. The Best Texturizing Spray for Men: Murdock of London Sea Salt Spray
Texturizing sprays give you that casual, beachy vibe in just a few spritzes (no vacation booking necessary). This Sea Salt Spray by Murdock of London uses—you guessed it—sea salt plus natural oils and extracts to give hair instant volume and a matte, lived-in texture. It’s ideal for those who want to revive flat tresses, freshen up hair, or are going for that effortless California guy look.
And because it’s easier to use than other men’s hair products like pomades, fibers, and clays, there’s less of a learning curve. To get the best results with this spray, apply to wet or dry hair, then leave as is or style as desired.
[$24; amazon.com]Get it
12. The Best Scalp Treatment for Men: Jupiter Restoring Serum
Not all hair products are about achieving the perfect style. Sometimes, all your hair really needs is a balancing treatment that will restore lost nutrients and get your scalp back to looking (and feeling) healthy. Jupiter’s Restoring Serum is ideal for those with oily scalps, who wash their hair less often, or experience dandruff and flaking.
This medicated scalp serum uses the active ingredient zinc pyrithione to target redness, itching, flaking, and irritation. The formula also uses key ingredients like niacinamide to control oil production, pea protein to restore damaged hair, and aloe vera juice to soothe the scalp and prevent greasiness. This scalp treatment is safe for all hair types (straight, wavy, or curly) as well as color-treated hair.
[$28; amazon.com]Get it
What to Look for in a Men’s Hair Product
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Shopping for the right men’s hair product first comes down to your hair and what you’re looking for in a styling product or treatment. Questions you may want to ask yourself are: What do I need in a hair product? Would this product fit in with my lifestyle? What kind of hold do I need? What is my hair type? Do I want a matte or shiny finish? Do I need a product for everyday use or just the occasional styling?
There are obviously no right or wrong answers—everything is personal! The goal is to find out what you need or want in a hair product. From there, you can more easily tell whether or not a hair product will suit you, your lifestyle, and your hair preferences.
Ingredients, Ingredients, Ingredients
A good hair product is made out of good ingredients. Therefore, the best hair products for men will utilize the best ingredients and have innovative formulations. Nourishing ingredients like shea butter and natural plant oils are always great for protecting the hair and scalp and locking in moisture. Plant extracts are another great ingredient to look for, especially in more innovative formulations where brands use ingredients like hops, plant proteins, and other botanicals that add vitamins, antioxidants or support hair health and growth. Ingredients you want to avoid include alcohols, parabens, and other sensitizing ingredients that can leave your scalp and hair feeling overly stripped or too oily.
We all have preferences when it comes to how our hair looks, so knowing what your dos and don’ts are before purchasing a product will help ensure you don’t waste your money on a hair product you hate.
Shine VS Matte: For all of the styling products on our list, you’ll notice that a product is either labeled shiny (or glossy) or matte. Shine refers to how much light that product reflects, which in turn makes your hair look shiny, glossy, or even wet looking. Matte, on the other hand, is the opposite of shine. A matte product will absorb light rather than reflect it, so your hair will have a more natural finish, often looking like it has no product in it at all.
Flexibility and Hold: Most men’s hair styling products will either have hold (low, medium, or high) or be labeled flexible or malleable. Hold refers to how well the product holds your hair in place after applying the product and styling it. A hair product with a higher hold will keep your hair locked in place for longer. Whereas a product with a lower hold will still keep your hair how you styled it, but it’s less stiff and a little more natural-looking.
Flexibility or malleability refers to how much you can adjust your hair after you’ve applied the product and styled it. A styling cream, for example, is more malleable than a hair gel because you’re still able to move and restyle your hair throughout the day.
Hair Type and Length
Knowing your hair type (straight, wavy, curly) and paying attention to what hair lengths a product is recommended for is one of the easiest ways to see if a product will work for you. For example, if you have fine, straight hair, you won’t want a hair product that’s best for those with thick, curly hair since it will likely be too thick and weigh your hair down.
Men’s Hair Styling Tips and Tricks
Less is More
Use too much hair product, and you’ll start to feel like Ross from Friends when Rachel told him he wore too much gel in his hair. When it comes to applying hair products, less is more. Here’s why. Most products are concentrated, so you really only need a little bit of product to get the effect you’re wanting. But starting with less product also means you can go back and add more if you need, rather than adding too much to start and having to wash it all out once you realize you’ve gone overboard.
Don’t Settle for a Cheap Shampoo
Cheap shampoo (especially drugstore 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners) are, well, cheap. While there are great affordable shampoos on the market, you want to avoid the ones formulated with harsh ingredients and often, lots of ’em. Instead of picking up any shampoo at the store, be more selective and go for the one that fits your hair type and concerns. If you have dry or curly hair, go for a moisturizing shampoo. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a gentle formula that uses calming ingredients that won’t irritate your scalp or hair.
Use Products When Your Hair is Wet, Just Not Too Wet
Using certain men’s hair products on damp hair is great for styling and getting the most out of that product. But you don’t want to apply it when your hair is sopping wet. This is especially true for those with longer or thicker hair since the more saturated your hair is, the more water dilutes the product and makes it more difficult to use. If a styling product says to use on damp or towel-dried hair, make sure hair is still damp (around 60% dry) but not dripping.
Work the Product Between Your Hands
For most men’s hair products, you’ll want to warm and soften the product between your palms before applying it to your hair. This simple act helps to activate certain ingredients and hair-gripping technologies, as well as ensure that the product is evenly distributed throughout your hair. While this is the norm for products like pomades, putties, and oils, it isn’t the case for styling products like texturizing spray or hairspray.
Don’t Be Afraid of Hair and Scalp Treatments
For hair that has more good days than not good days, you want to nourish both locks and scalp. Scalp treatments and scrubs can be great regular hair treatments that encourage hair growth and remove flakes. Likewise, nourishing hair masks can be a fantastic hair care addition for those with dry or curly hair types looking to add back some necessary hydration and moisturization.
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