Hair trends come and go, but even the least vain among us want their hair to look great. Whether you have a short, spiky cut that needs a bit of matte texture, a more polished side part, or the longer tousled look that’s so popular right now, we spoke to 12 men with great heads of (very different) hair to find out what they’re using to achieve that perfect look.
Best products for flexible, wavy, tousled hair
If you have finer hair, the choice should be something lighter and wetter rather than a heavier clay. Matt Sebra, deputy fashion director at GQ, learned about his from Hung at Fellow Barber. “It’s the only one I’ve tried that sits at that Goldilocks-level middle ground of hold and flexibility and doesn’t build up to the point where I can’t run my hands through my hair after two days.”
Guys with straight and short hair that doesn’t have a lot of volume might take the advice of Men’s Health fashion director Ted Stafford, who recommends this Kiehl’s stuff. He likes that it adds moisture to his drier hair but doesn’t create a wet look. “Pastes and gels tend to make my dry, straight hair very stiff. This makes my hair silky enough that you can run your hands through it, but it still takes shape. It gives it a natural style without stiffness. When I use it, my hair has more overall volume, shape, and control.”
For something a little bit thicker, this medium-hold cream is a good way to go. Lawyer Jeremy Buchalski tells us “it provides good hold, but never makes me look like I’m going clubbing at the Jersey Shore.” Buchalski likes that it creates more of a natural and messier look. “I try to only wash my hair once or twice a week, but it never makes my hair feel greasy even if I use it every day.”
Those with thinner hair need something more akin to a leave-in conditioner than a heavy wax. Film publicist David Ninh found his favorite thanks to a barber at Fellow Barber in Williamsburg — it has a citrusy scent he loves, but also a not-too-strong hold: “I have thin, flat hair and this cream gives it a slight hold while whomping up my hair to give it shape.”
Longer waves need something with a bit more hold, lest it start looking a little wet and flat. Adam Glassman of O, the Oprah Magazine tipped us off to this paste (you can see how his hair looks in the photo): “I’ll come out of the shower, dry my hair, and throw in this paste, and it doesn’t give my hair a wet look or crunchiness, but makes it perfectly tousled and touchable. I’ll run my hands through my hair throughout the day, and it always go back to where it should go with this paste.”
Best products for textured, piece-y hair
If you have slightly longer hair, you might find that it ends up losing its definition. Exposure fashion publicist Scott Harvin found that after he started growing his hair out, it was harder to make it look the way he wanted to, until he discovered this texturizer. “I put it in my wet hair after a shower and let it air dry,” he said. “It gives my hair a naturally tousled, beachy vibe.”
If you have coarse-textured hair that needs just a bit of taming rather than a full-on “styling,” the filmmaker Alex Gorosh recommends this hard pomade, which emulsifies into something more like a cream once rubbed: “It keeps my Jew-fro in place, but the matte finish also maintains the natural texture. I like the fact that people can’t usually tell that I’m wearing any product.”
If you have shorter, curly hair that needs some texture, consider a fiber paste that’s a little grittier. Brian Underwood, the beauty director at O, the Oprah Magazine, likes the beeswax-based cream from Kevin Murphy that still leaves his hair moldable. “I worried that a product that adds volume would be the enemy when my hair is slightly too long, but it texturizes nicely and gives some definition. A serious lifesaver.”
Those seeking something with a bit more hold and style (if you’re interested in really pushing your hair into a messy side part or spikiness or a pompadour), you want something more like a sculpting paste. Richard Dorment, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health says that for his “thick and loud and rambling” hair, he tried everything until he found the Shu Uemura: “It gives me a matte finish and a little bit of texture and hold, and it’s never sticky or stiff or shiny. (It’s also got a nice earthy whiff to it.)”
Best products for lightly styled curls
Curly-haired guys need something that’ll help set the curl without matting it down. Social media consultant Ian Crumm has tried a lot of creams that leave his hair too greasy, but he likes the Color Wow Dream Coat “because it’s lightweight and helps my hair from getting puffy and frizzy in the humidity.”
For longer hair that barely needs anything but a little bit of zhuzh, try something between a cream and a paste. HVAC technician Jon Hensel, who has something of a Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born vibe, swears by Mitch’s Clean Cut: “It needs to have a bit of a dirty look, so I’ve tried a lot of styling creams, but always go back to this. It gives my hair a slightly gritty, textured look, I guess what they call day-old, but still enough natural movement and no stiffness.”
Curly-hair types who are looking for some extra moisture without the frizz should consider ingredients like shea butter for added hydration. Art director and stylist Reginald Christian swears by Taliah Waajid, which he likes because it absorbs without crustiness: “It’s super lightweight and doesn’t leave you with flaky hair a few hours later.”
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