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 still so popular, we spoke to 14 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
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 Fellow Styling Cream which he recently switched to after using a different cream from Kiehl’s. 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,” Stafford told us, noting that, “compared to other styling creams I’ve tried, this has more hold and shapes my hair better without making it stiff.” He adds that the product leaves him with hair that feels healthy and moisturized, and that, “when I use it, my hair has more overall volume, shape, and control.” The scent doesn’t hurt either, according to Stafford, who describes it as “fresh and invigorating.”
Matt Sebra, the fashion director of men’s and kids at Macy’s, has finer hair. If that sounds like you, he suggests opting for a product that’s lighter and wetter instead of a heavier clay. Sebra’s go-to product — which he actually learned about from a stylist at Fellow Barber — is this “whip” from Australian–based company Evo. “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,” he says.
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 another Fellow Barber stylist. 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.”
Thick-but-fine hair seems a bit like an oxymoron, but it exists, and can be hard to style. Going for natural, touchable texture means that a product with too much hold can result in hair that’s crunchy, but one with not enough can have that thick-but-fine hair falling flat after a few hours. For his head of thicker, finer hair, Esquire style director Jonathan Evans uses this stuff — but in a slightly different way than the brand suggests. “I put it on my towel-dried hair, even though the package says to use it on dry hair,” he told us. “I’m using it more as a styling cream than a pomade, but I find the finished result is softer and more natural looking.”
Longer waves need something with a bit more hold, lest they 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 goes back to where it should with this paste.” Glassman isn’t the only fan of V76 — Stranger Things star and teen Noah Schnapp also swears by it, noting “it smells awesome.”
Best products for textured, piece-y hair
If you have slightly longer hair, you might find that it ends up losing its definition. 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 full-on “styling,” the filmmaker Alex Gorosh recommends this hard pomade, which emulsifies into something more like a cream once rubbed. “It keeps my Jewfro in place,” he says, adding that “the matte finish also maintains the natural texture. I like the fact that people usually can’t 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 he says 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 (say, if you’re interested in really pushing your hair into a messy side part or spikiness or a pompadour) will want something more like a sculpting paste. Richard Dorment, the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, says that for his “thick and loud and rambling” hair, he tried everything until he found this pomade from 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 lightly styling curls or waves
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 keep 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,” Christian says.
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