Wander down the hair care aisle of the shop and you’ll see a huge array of hair styling products for sale. The big questions are what are they all? What do they do? How are the used? Will they work for me?
In this article we’re going to look at a list of the more popular hair styling products on the market, their uses and applications. At the end of it you’ll understand the main hair styling product categories, what they are used for and how to use them.
Hair wax is a soft, dense substance made from a variety of different products. It has grown more popular over the last 20 years as hair style fashion has changed. It’s a versatile product, supporting many different hair styles. It’s often called pomade, but there are a number of different types of wax.
Wax remains soft, leaving the hair more pliable and easy to restyle throughout the day. This is different to gels and sprays which quickly harden upon application, setting the hair style in place.
If hair gets wet, the wax can lose its ability to maintain a hair style.
How to use hair wax:
Hair wax is best used on short hair, when dry or slightly damp. It can make longer hair look very flat and greasy because it is a heavy substance. If used on wet hair it is significantly more difficult to style and offers a lot less hold.
Mix a small amount between the palms and apply all over the hair. Style the hair using the finger tips.
Although a hair fixative has been around for many years, hair gel was very popular up until the 1990’s. It holds hair stiff, which makes it ideal for styles that require the hair to remain fixed in place. It’s more useful for longer hair as it holds the hair firmer in place than a wax.
Hair gel comes in a variety of ‘holds’ numbered 1-5 which represent the fixative nature of the product. The higher the number, the firmer the hold is on the hair. There are a variety of gel products, such as ‘firm hold’, ‘wet look’ and ‘ethnic’.
Once the hair is styled using gel, it’s likely to stay fixed in place until the hair gets wet.
How to use hair gel:
Gel is typically applied to the hair using the palms, then styled into shape with a comb or brush. It is sometimes then fixed in place using a hair drier which speeds the setting time of the gel. It’s ideal on damp hair.
Hair clay (sometimes called putty) is a dense hair styling product that is used to hold shorter hair in a more natural style. Many men use clay and putty over wax as it is less greasy, lighter and washes out easily. It’s not a product that holds hair firm, instead it’s a much more natural look.
Thanks to the fact that clay is typically lighter, less greasy and easier to wash out than wax, many men use it instead of wax now. It’s also more suitable for slightly longer hair styles, although still isn’t ideal on long hair.
Hair clay and putty doesn’t offer much in the way of ‘shine’ to the hair, so a lot of men use it in conjunction with another product such as a spray gel. This combination allows a natural style to be held firmly in place with a more rigid gel.
How to use hair clay/putty:
Use on dry hair. Mix the product between the palms and apply to the hair. Style using finger tips and if you require a style to be held firm, use a hair spray on top of the clay to hold it in place.
For years hair spray was seen as something old ladies used, but more and more men are using hair spray. Hair spray is basically hair gel in a can, offering a much lighter distribution across the hair. This means you get the hold of a gel without the gel ‘look’.
Hair spray is often used in conjunction with a product like clay, allowing a natural style to be held in place easily and without drowning the hair in rock-hard, heavy gel.
Just like hair gel, hair spray comes in a variety of holds, 1-5, ranging from natural look to firm hold. It’s often used on long hair because it provides a lot of hold without the need to use a lot of the product.
How to use hair spray:
Hair spray is best used on dry hair so it can take hold more effectively. Keep the can a good distance away from the hair to achieve an even distribution of the gel and keep it moving – if it’s left in one place for too long you’ll end up with patches of very firmly-held hair!
Hair Styling Product Advice
These 4 product categories cover the main bases of hair styling products. There are substances such as pastes etc, but these are subgroups of clays, putties, waxes and so on. There is a lot of variety in the market, so the best advice is to experiment with a series of products and combinations until you find the one you like. When you’ve found the product or product combination for you, stick with it!