Finding the best hair products for men can be a tricky proposition.
Men make up an increasingly bigger portion of the overall grooming and cosmetics industry. While that might represent a step toward gender equality, there's also the consequence of marketing. I remember ads for the best hair products for men from a decade or more ago. Not only were they more relevant before the toll time on my hairline, they were also more basic. You'd have some of the more brazen products promising to hold your extreme hairdo all day. But by and large, the market was defined by a few key products on an aisle designed for women.
Fast forward to today, though, and the marketing is much more targeted. That means a lot of the problems women have long dealt with. Namely, big promises by advertisers selling you a re-labeled bottle of the same thing every other company sells. Of course, this is nothing new. Even the limited hair care marketing geared to men in past generations was filled with hollow lingo. And we certainly see it every day in ads for any number of other products.
But if you're like me, you want to get up in the morning and trust a product to do the heavy lifting for you. Lots of products promise exactly that. But which ones deliver? I did some research to find out and came up with this list of the best hair products for men.
What to look for in the best hair products for men
Though you might be excused for not noticing it in the advertising of decades past, men of all walks of life use hair products. It's not just the spiky-haired teen or slicked back hair of a sleazy salesman. So let's start first with what you're looking for in your hair. Different products, obviously, serve different purposes. But if you're new to selecting the best hair products for men, perhaps a refresher course is in order.
Each of these options have one thing in common. They exist to help you look your best. Beyond that, they all have unique qualities, benefits and limitations. Just like each hairstyle is unique to the man wearing it, so is the product behind it. Below, you'll find a brief description of each type of product I'll be reviewing. I'll choose my favorite from each category from there. But this will let you know which ones you should be considering for your needs.
I'm starting here because it's practically the only option (aside from shampoo) men of a certain generation had. When I had enough hair to make bold statements, gel was the perfect way to cement it into place. Perhaps deservedly, gels earned a reputation for providing an unnaturally artificial appearance.
That was then; this is now. Don't get me wrong, gels will still deliver about the highest shine and hold of anything on the market. Now, however, it doesn't have to be your first resort. By adding some foundation where needed, gels can still be part of any collection of the best hair products for men.
Going back even further in time, here's another classic re-invented for a new generation of guys. This is the product responsible for the classic look of the 1950s in crowd. It provides the shine of a gel without as much hold and can lend its support to a very polished look. Sometimes, it's a little too polished -- so probably best to limit its use to small quantities. And given our modern shift away from a formal finish, this might not be something you grab every morning, or every month.
But if you enjoy luxury and have the opportunity to go out to posh events regularly, make sure you have some. Like any of the best hair products for men, pomade has its place in a fashionable guy's cabinet.
Not looking for the hold or shine associated with the options listed so far? Maybe styling cream is what would suit your style. This is best used with longer hair, typically at least three inches. It doesn't hold your hair in one place as much as it prevents rogue strands.
Without the weight or cement look of a gel, cream lets your hair move naturally. It really doesn't feel like any product is your hair if applied correctly. But along with regular combing, styling cream can keep a longer hairstyle corralled even after a walk in the stiffest of breezes.
You can also keep styling cream on hand in case of minor emergencies. If some of your hair tries to beak away from the rest of the style, grab a dab of cream. Rub it through the trouble area and you're back in business in seconds.
Paste is a pretty special product that I'll admit I was late to the party in fully appreciating. Of all the best hair products for men, paste is perhaps the most versatile. Run it through your dry hair and achieve a light shine with a pretty standard hold. If your hair is damp, though, both the hold and shine are bumped up a notch.
Using paste on thinning or lighter hair can give the impression of more volume, too. It's a lightweight product that won't weigh down thin hair. No matter your hair type, though, you can almost certainly find a use for a good paste.
The main selling point, in my opinion, is that you can decide based on your day how much hold you want. By applying it to dry hair, the result is a looser hold that won't look fake. This will probably be the product your significant other is most likely to run fingers through. And afterward, your hair will still look great!
Here's a unique product specially designed to use natural elements to add more body to your hairstyle. By replicating the effect of salt air, this mist will add volume. And it maximizes curls, too, if your hair already tends to be curly.
Another good choice for guys with thinning hair, salt spray won't replace any of the products meant to keep your style in place. But it will give you the definition you're looking before you lock it in with something like a paste or gel.
The hair accessory that dominated the '80s is still around, of course. And the properties that made it popular back then are still in demand. These days, though, the application is often subtler. A good hair spray gives you the hold you'd expect without the shine of a pomade or other product.
But the familiar spray might not be enough as a standalone product to meet the demands of your style. In that case, you can always use a small amount of another option to get the look you want. At that point, a glaze of hair spray could be exactly the final touch you need. It is also an especially helpful addition in humid weather, combating the ruinous reputation of sweat on an otherwise great looking mane.
Finding the best hair product for you
I hope you now feel you have a better understanding of your options. Maybe you're already using the best product for your situation. Or you might have seen an option above that piqued your interest. My suggestion is to try a few before deciding. Many of these products accomplish the same ultimate goal, but each has subtle and unique qualities. Finding the one that suits your personality and look is vital.
Even then, though, the work is not over. Each product has tons of competing brands, each with their own claims to verify. Below, I've included my picks from each of the categories described in the list. Feel free to take my advice and order some today. Or you can use these suggestions as a starting point to finding your own best style.
Gel - Johnny B Mode
Johnny B made the list because Mode is a great product that doesn't try to do too much. It's hold is somewhat less fixed than other gels, but it will give you the resilience you are looking for. It's a thick gel, too, so you can feel it starting to work as soon as you apply it. This is a formula that will bring your unruly hair under control.
Pomade - Imperial Barber Grade Products
Imperial makes the claim that its products are barber grade. I won't argue that point. This formula provides an impenetrable hold on the perfect style. The resulting shine is reasonable and certainly not too much. Plus, since its a water based product it rinses out of your hair much easier than some of its competitors.
Styling cream - Challenger Blue
Challenger Blue made it on the list of the best hair products for men because of its versatility. This will give you hold without shine and could feasibly replace several other products. You might find you still want a paste or even more specialized item like a wax or fiber in your cabinet. Even still, you might not use them as often if you have a container of Challenger Blue in the midst. This styling cream leaves your hair with a pleasant aroma and natural look. And at the end of the day, it's incredibly easy to wash out clean.
Paste - Man Made
Man Made Paste lives up to its name. This is definitely a product made for guys and deserves a spot on the list of best hair products for men. It gives you what you want in a paste: medium hold, added moisture, and frizz control. But this is a product great for any hair type or style. It also offers the pleasant -- and masculine -- scent with mild notes of tobacco.
Salt Spray - Blind Barber
Salt spray is more of a specialty product, but Blind Barber stands out for its entry in the segment. It delivers that unique look and feel of a day at the beach. The 40 proof solution is a great addition to volume and style at the same time. And since it is water based, it won't leave any residue after a thorough rinsing. An undertone of vanilla leaves a lasting pleasant aroma for you and those in close contact.
Hair spray - Rodante Beverly Hills
There are many choices in the hair spray sector. Not all of them are gender specific and many perform the task expected admirably. Rodante's Pro-V B5 formula, though, is truly one of the best hair products for men. This spray dries right away and immediately starts working hard. The result is a reliable hold that allows your hair to move naturally and look great all day.
The best hair products for men offer a variety of uses for any hair type.
It's refreshing that men are no longer treated as a hegemony when it comes to hair products. Guys have different needs, different styles, and a lot of choices. Finding the right product for your situation is an important first step. In the end, you'll likely find that you want a combination of the benefits each of these products provide.
I hope you found my list of recommendations helpful, and here's hoping your hair stays effortlessly stylish for years to come! If you want the same for your well coiffed friends, please share this article. Let us know what your favorite hair product is in the comments section below!
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