If you don’t know your wax from your gel from your pomade, don’t worry. Men’s hair products have expanded, giving you tons of choice and quite possibly a headache. It can be overwhelming, but we’ve distilled down the basics of hair glop for you.
Wax: Adds shine/control to shorter styles
Terrific for guys with wavy or straight hair, it’s a versatile product that lets you style your hair with out it looking TOO styled. You can find either matte or shiny finishes. Also, it’s malleable throughout the day, perfect for if you want to change things up from office to night out. Look for a water-soluble wax that washes out easily.
Putties/Clay: More disheveled and/or longer hair
These are the hardcore variation on wax, being both strong-holding and matte. Terrific for maximum control, while achieving true bed-head style, and for adding thickness.
Pomade: Sleek, shorter styles
Pomades fuse hold with shine, and are great to go for that slicked-back Mad Men/Great Gatsby pompadour. They tend to work best on straight or wavy thicker hair. Pomades differ from waxes by being shinier and stronger-holding.
Cream: Controls frizz, great for curly hair
Styling cream is quite different from wax/clay/pomade products. It’s a thick liquid rather than a waxy solid, and works great for men with curly hair. While providing practically no hold, it does give shine and controls fly aways and frizz. If you want to smooth out your hair without actually look like you styled your hair, cream is a good choice for you.
Serum: Adds Shine
Similar to a cream, and sometimes called polish or gloss, serums reduce frizz and give shine with silicone and/or a variety of oils. Also like cream, it’s good for longer, curly or dry hair.
Gel: Wet looks, strong hold
Gel gives you maximum control, but use with some care. Cheap variations have a tendency to flake. Good gels will keep your look structured, not crispy. Pick a hold that’s right for you –light hold for thin or fine hair, firm for coarse or thick hair.
Mousse has fallen out of favor since it’s hair band 80s hey day, but it still has its place. A good mousse can do wonders to thicken hair. Ask your stylist how to make it look modern cool Jon Bon Jovi rather than vintage blow-dried Bon Jovi.
A light hold hairspray can help on days when you want to lock a style in place (special occasion, huge meeting) without resorting to a heavy gel if that’s not what you usually use. Use a light hand and all will be well.
Finally, when in doubt, ask your 18|8 stylist. They’ll be able to point you to products that are right for you and show you how to use them correctly to achieve the results you want.