Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/16/2021
Managing and caring for your hair shouldn’t be difficult, but it seems like a lot of men fight an ongoing battle with it.
One of the main reasons for this is that up until the last decade, most guys didn’t spend very much time learning proper grooming techniques.
They never learned how to work with the hair they had, which meant that anyone with slightly wild hair had a difficult time keeping it under control.
Fortunately, we now have access to more information than ever before about men’s hair care, as well as a larger, more diverse range of hair care and styling products to make almost every head of hair look and feel its best.
So if you struggle to style your hair, keep it looking healthy or just keep it under control during the day, you may consider using some of the top men’s hair products listed below.
Best for: Short, straight hair, or wavy hair that’s prone to developing flyaways
Use for: Hairstyles that need a medium hold without looking shiny or wet
Always a useful option for styling your hair without making things look too deliberate, hair wax helps to hold your hair in place without giving it a wet, shiny or unnatural appearance.
Wax works best for short or medium-length hair. It has a moderately strong hold, meaning it’s great for keeping your hair in place if you style it up or away from your forehead. It’s also fairly discrete -- a lot of the time, it’s often barely noticeable that you’re using wax at all.
And best of all, using it is really simple. All you do to apply hair wax is put a dab on your palms, then smooth it over your hair. Try to apply most of your wax to your roots, as this provides more support and holds your hair in place for longer.
Wax also doubles as a great tool for controlling flyaways if you have longer hair -- just apply a bit to your fingertips, then use it to stick strays to the rest of your hair.
Best for: Straight, medium-length hair that suits lots of shine
Use for: Classic slicked-back hair, side part or a modern undercut
Pomade is a classic men’s hair product that’s made from grease, wax or water. It’s a timeless styling product that broke out into the mainstream during the early 20th century, fuelled by the popularity of classic, Golden Age Hollywood movies.
More recently, pomade has made a huge comeback thanks to the increasing popularity of the undercut and other mid-20th century hairstyles.
Pomade provides lots of hold and plenty of shine, making it perfect for hairstyles that require a clean, precise look. Think of Al Pacino’s mafioso hair in The Godfather, or Johnny Depp’s short, slicked-back hair in Donnie Brasco.
To make things simple, think of pomade as your styling product of choice for any hairstyle that requires a comb. Just don’t expect your hair to move around a lot throughout the day.
By the way, since pomade is oil-based, it can clog your pores and cause scalp pimples. If you often get acne on your scalp, look for a water-based pomade, which is less likely to clog pores and much better for applying to damp hair.
Best for: Medium and long hair, or short hair that doesn’t need much styling
Use for: Discreet, textured hairstyles that only require a light hold
Styling cream offers a light hold and relatively little shine, making it a good option for when you want to style your hair without drawing too much attention to yourself.
Because cream offers a light hold, it’s a great choice for hair that only needs minimal styling to look good. Think of it as an all-purpose tool for controlling curly or coarse hair that turns into a shapeless mess on its own.
In addition to giving your hair some shape, a good quality styling cream will also help to keep it moisturized. And even though it doesn’t offer that much hold, hair cream will also give your hair better-looking waves and curls.
Best for: Long and curly hair, as well as hair that’s thinning and lacking volume
Use for: Getting that just-got-back-from-the-beach look whenever a beach isn’t available
Have you ever noticed that going to the beach completely changes the texture of your hair? As a result of exposure to salty water, even a guy with nearly straight hair will start developing curls and waves after a couple of days in the ocean.
A lot of people try to replicate this look with gel, wax and other hair products, but nothing is quite as effective as real salt water.
Enter salt spray. Designed to provide the same effects as a day at the beach, salt spray lets you maintain that curly, wavy, just-got-back-from-the-beach hair texture every day, even if you live in Kansas.
Simply spray a little into your hair and watch as your hair gets a boost in volume and changes in texture, developing more refined curls and waves.
Best for: Medium-length hair that needs a little extra texture
Use for: Styling your hair without locking it into one style
Hair paste is similar to pomade, although it has a thicker consistency and is usually made from water, making it less likely to clog your pores and easier to wash out.
Paste is great if you’re looking for a versatile styling product that can do just about anything. It’s easy to apply to the entirety of your hair thanks to its soft texture. Since it offers a medium hold, it’s an extremely versatile product that’s suitable for almost every hairstyle.
One advantage of paste is that it softens in your hands, allowing you to restyle your hair during the day without ever locking it into a single style. Since it only has a mild level of shine, it won’t ever make it too obvious that you’re using product.
Best for: Short or medium-length hair that’s starting to thin
Use for: Giving your hair extra volume, thickness and texture
Hair fibers are a little different from most hair styling products. Instead of holding your hair into a certain style, they attach to your hair and provide extra thickness and density to make thin spots look, well, less thin.
Most hair fibers are made from keratin protein -- the same fiber that makes up human hair. They come in a variety of colors to match just about every person’s hair and can be used by men and women alike to cover up issues such as androgenetic alopecia.
Since they work by adding volume and thickness rather than by holding your hair, hair fibers are suitable for every hair type.
If you use fibers, make sure that you apply them correctly. Most fibers are designed to attach to your existing strands of hair without any issues, but you may need to experiment with the order in which you apply them if you use multiple styling products at once.
Best for: Medium-length or long dry hair, or frizzy hair of any length
Use for: Giving your hair some extra moisture and shine
Moisturizing serum -- or smoothing fluid, as it’s occasionally called -- is designed to provide your hair with a smooth texture, extra hydration and less of the frizz that can appear due to other hair styling products.
You can also use serum to control stray hairs. Just apply a small amount to your fingertips, then gently run it down the flyaway hair strands to moisten them and stop them from sticking out.
Most moisturizing serums are infused with oils to keep your hair hydrated and healthy. This is a great thing for your hair’s texture and appearance, but it may be an issue if you’re prone to acne that affects your forehead and hairline.
To get the best look from moisturizing serum, try applying a small amount to your hair after you finish drying it in the morning.
We discuss the best hair growth serums in our blog.
Best for: Medium-length or long hair that’s difficult to tame
Use for: Hydrating your hair, adding texture and controlling strays
Hair oil is ideal for hydrating hair that’s dry, frizzy or damaged as a result of using too much gel or going a little overboard on chemical-based hair treatments.
Most hair oils contain one or several natural oils to moisturize and strengthen your hair. Popular oils include castor oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil and even CBD-infused oils that claim to soothe your scalp.
While oil can be a helpful addition to your hair care routine if you have dry hair, it’s best avoided if you’re prone to acne, or if your hair gets oily naturally.
It’s also best avoided if you already use oil-based styling products, such as pomade. Trust us -- one source of oil is more than enough to moisturize, protect and style just about every type of hair.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
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“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
Best for: Thinner hair, especially hair that’s frizzy or in need of moisture
Use for: Hydrating your hair and giving it a glossy look
Hair balm is kind of like moisturizer for your hair -- you apply it once a day and it keeps your hair feeling smooth, hydrated and healthy until your evening shower.
You’ll want to consider balm if you have hair that’s naturally thin, frizzy or just tough to control. It doesn’t offer much in the way of hold, but it does help to reduce flyaway hairs and give your hair a smooth, glossy look.
Since most balms are nice and light, they’re a good option if you want to give your hair a classic glossy look without dealing with the oiliness of pomade.
For best results, look for a balm that contains natural moisturizing ingredients. Start with a small amount of balm, then adjust based on how your hair responds. You can also combine balm with stronger styling products for a combination of shine, moisture and hold.
Best for: Straight or wavy hair of any length
Use for: Sculpting your hair into styles that require plenty of hold
Think of hair gel and there’s a good chance you’ll visualize yourself in your teen years, complete with hair so hard and locked in place there’s a good chance you’d fracture your finger attempting to touch it.
Gel has definitely been through its ups and downs, but it remains a popular styling product for a reason: it works.
Thanks to its very strong hold, hair gel is always a good option if you like your hair to stay in one style throughout the day, without having to worry about a light breeze ruining your fauxhawk.
However, gel’s extremely strong hold has several disadvantages. Because it’s often made using alcohol, it can dry out your hair. There’s also a risk of strong hold gel pulling on your hair follicles and causing a form of hair loss called traction alopecia.
To avoid these issues, try to look for a moderate hold gel that uses an alcohol-free formula. Pick a gel that’s water-based and you’ll also have an easy time rinsing it out of wet hair at the end of the day.
By knowing your options, you’ll find it easier to purchase hair products that match both your hair type and the style you’re aiming for.
If you’re unsure about buying a bottle of a new type of hair product, ask your barber or stylist for a sample the next time that you get a haircut. You may also want to ask them about what they’d recommend for your type of hair as well.
By the way, all styling products work best when your hair is thick, healthy and growing to its full potential.
Our full guide to the best treatments for thinning hair goes into more detail about how these and other dermatologist recommended hair products work, as well as how you can use them to grow thick, healthy hair even if you’re prone to male pattern baldness.