Back in the 90s, crispy spikes and slicked down curtains were what it was all about, and an industrial-sized tube of slimy hair gel was all that was required to achieve both. Thankfully, things have moved on since then, but along with the plethora of new men’s hairstyles on the block comes a confusing array of lotions and potions, making it a minefield for many when deciding which one to go for.
If you’re still sheepishly clutching the afore-mentioned tube of gel, and have been continuing to slather it on enthusiastically ever since school, then not only are you doing yourself a great disservice in the style stakes, but you could be doing your barnet more harm than good. The type of product you plump for depends heavily on hair type and the style you hope to achieve, and going for the wrong option could even result in damage to your hair.
Standing in the aisles of your local pharmacy and attempting to make a selection can prove quite the challenge, so to give you a push in the right direction, here’s the low-down on what each type of product has to offer, and which one you should be using now.
A greasy or waxy substance, pomade is the weapon of choice for slick, wet-look styles. While traditional pomades were originally oil-based and a nightmare to wash out of the hair, today’s offerings will often be water-based, providing all of the benefits with none of the consequences. Pomade works well on thinner hair of any length, and is great for taming waves or curls – but if your hair is particularly oily, it might not be the best choice for you. The biggest plus of using pomade over gel? More flexible hold, and no risk of flaking.
Gel is thick in consistency but easy to work with, making it a functional and versatile choice. Good for taming fly-aways, the hold it provides ranges from lighter to maximum, depending on the amount applied. Gel works well on thicker hair and short to medium lengths, and can be used on damp or dry hair. To use, distribute evenly over hands and run through hair to style. The downside? Gel is prone to unattractive flaking. Avoid touching once dried, as breaking the hold can result in a real mess.
Clays, putties and pastes may all fall into this category, offering a dry or matt finish. Matt products provide pliable hold, adding plenty of texture without the shine. Clays are the best for creating effortless, tousled styles, as the hold they offer is invisible, but for something a little stronger you can opt for a paste or putty to much the same effect.
Wax is thicker than pomade, and oil-free, making it ideal for even those with greasier locks. Its density means that it works well on thicker, medium length hair, but if it isn’t applied correctly then clumping may occur. To avoid any mishaps, warm between palms and distribute evenly before applying to the hair.
Hopefully you are now feeling a bit more clued up when it comes to choosing the right hair-styling product. When weighing up the pros and cons, don’t forget to take into consideration the kind of look you are trying to create, as this is an important factor that will influence your choice. Don’t be afraid to experiment either – with the right, versatile cut, you can change it up on a regular basis.