The vast world of hair styling products for men is daunting, from wax to pomade, sea salt spray to hair spray, the list is endless.
All of the products essentially do the same thing - keep your hair in the right position for as long as you want it there.
When sifting through the countless options, the main factors you need to consider are hold, shine, texture, and volume, as well as the type of hair that you have.
If you want to add thickness and texture to your short-back-and-sides without added shine, a hair clay is the best option for you. Or if you want to achieve an Elvis-worthy slicked back look (looking at you, Austin Butler), then look no further than a pomade.
There are secondary products, too. A hair oil can tame frizz whilst nourishing your hair, and a hairspray is a great addition for longer-lasting hold.
An added layer of confusion is that some products should be applied to dry hair, whilst others are meant for freshly towel-dried damp locks. Make sure you take note otherwise the outcome could end up far from your desired look.
Take a look at our guide below to help you find the right product for you.
Best for: The perfect all-rounder for versatile styling
Clay products will add texture, volume and choppiness to your hair with a matte finish. The medium hold means it won’t feel as re-workable as paste, and your style should stay in place all day without too much maintenance.
Hanz De Fuko Claymation
This clay-wax hybrid has a higher hold than your average clay whilst maintaining a matte finish. Apply a tiny amount to dry hair for a textured look, or apply to wet hair for a higher shine. Even better, it’s packed with nutrients so it adds nourishment to your hair, too.
Buy now £18.00, Amazon
Larry King Velvet Texture Clay
This clay adds body to any type of hair. The non-greasy, matte finish gives hold without creating that unwanted heavy product build up. Perfect for adding texture to short hair and a more grungy, 90s choppiness to mid-lengths.
Buy now £22.00, Cult Beauty
Leonor Greyl Baume Bois de Rose Modelling and Sculpting Balm
Although named a balm, this product is more like a clay as it has a medium hold with a matte finish. It adds volume and texture, without any hardening, whilst nourishing and protecting the hair. The rosewood fragrance is a great finishing touch.
Buy now £39.00, Selfridges
Sea Salt Spray
Best for: Volume, texture and definition
If you want an effortless beachy look, then sea salt spray is the best product for you. Great for those with wavy medium-long hair to achieve a surfer style, and for adding volume to fine hair. For best results, spritz damp hair before drying and use a clay on top for added hold.
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
With seaweed and kelp extracts, this salt spray is a beach in a bottle. It adds texture and waves to all hair types, even for coarse or curly hair.
Buy now £10.00, lookfantastic
Toni & Guy Sea Salt Texturising Spray
The best option if you’re on a budget, this spray will give you a tousled look without breaking the bank. Toni & Guy’s formula will give you a gentle lift without any stickiness, and can be topped up on dry hair throughout the day.
Buy now £5.50, Boots
Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray
This planet-friendly sea salt spray is made from natural ingredients using renewable energy, and imparts volume (and nourishment) to lifeless hair. You’ll end up with a full-bodied look with a matte finish.
Buy now £19.50, Cult Beauty
Best for: Definition and control of waves and curls, as well as added moisture and nutrients
As you may guess, curl cream is best for those with, well, curls. To keep waves and curls defined, you need to keep them moisturised and nourished, meaning these creams are brimming with proteins and oils, whilst giving you buoyancy and control over any frizzing.
Malin + Goetz Sage Styling Cream
This styling cream synthesizes sage extract and absorbent fatty acids to add shine, definition and texture to hair. It gently conditions and adds flexible hold for easy styling without leaving residue or weighing down hair.
Buy now £8.00, Selfridges
Kevin Murphy Killer Curls Creme
One for coarse hair, Kevin Murphy’s lightweight and fast-absorbing leave-in formula will give you a sleeker, frizz-free finish. Creating a fuller body, the leave-in product provides a solution to tame and texture hair.
Buy now £34.00, Harrods
Best for: Heavier hold for short curly or wavy styles
Another one that’s great for curly hair, hair balm will give a heavier hold and higher shine to curls and waves. It tends to be great for men as it’s better for shorter curly styles, and can even double up as a beard balm.
Aesop Violet Leaf Hair Balm
This balm is enriched with nourishing butters and hydrating nut oil extracts that condition, soften and shape hard-to-manage hair. Use on damp hair to style, or on dry hair to tame fly-aways.
Buy now £23.00, lookfantastic
Rahua Smoothing Hair Balm
Smoothing frizz and flyaways isn’t the only way Rahua’s hair balm improves your locks - it also nourishes, strengthens and enhances the shine and color of each strand. It locks in moisture, conditions the scalp, and even prevents damage from UV rays.
Buy now £25.00, Net-a-porter
Best for: medium to strong hold on shorter styles or for taming flyaways
The best product to use if you’re growing out a buzzcut, wax controls very short hair texture where a clay or a paste couldn’t, and offers strong hold on shorter styles. For strands that are 1-2 inches in length, apply it at the root or it will be too heavy for your hair.
Johnny’s Chop Shop Dragon Wax
Delivering medium hold, shine, and longevity, this wax offers high definition and shape with a slightly polished finish. Great for use on shorter hair, just make sure you use it sparingly to avoid a greasy looking finish.
Buy now £7.00, Amazon
Daimon Barber Remedy Wax
Vegan and made using natural plant wax, Daimon Barber’s remedy wax adds texture, control and shine when used on wet hair. It contains soya wax, carnauba wax and argan oil which deeply penetrates the hair, repairing dry and damaged hair whilst improving elasticity and strength. Also great for styling dry, thick, or drizzy hair.
Buy now £22.00, Humanery
Best for: the Elvis-esque slicked-back hair look. Good to reserve for special occasions.
Perhaps one of the harder products to master, pomade will give you medium-to-high hold and high shine, perfect for a 50s-inspired quiff or pompadour. Apply to wet hair to deliver the high-shine look, or to dry hair for more defined texture. You’ll look like Danny Zuko in no time.
Triumph & Disaster Ponsonby Pomade
This nutrient-rich, water-based pomade is a medium-hold styling tool with a high-shine finish, and its non-greasy texture treats split ends and promotes hair growth thanks to a dose of argan oil. Good for short to medium hair lengths, and featuring a bespoke T&D fragrance, it’s like a moisturiser that lets you style with ease while protecting strands from future damage.
Buy now £19.95, lookfantastic
Murdock London Vintage Pomade
Murdock’s pomade gives a classic, ultra-slick finish with a strong hold. Perfect for quiffs and pompadours, it’s water-soluble meaning it washed out easily unlike oil-based pomades. The brand recommend using a comb when styling for a defined finish.
Buy now £14.00, lookfantastic
Best for: Adding shine, taming frizz, and nourishing hair
A great addition to other styling products, hair oil adds a healthy shine whilst nourishing the hair and scalp. Mix a drop in with your clay, cream, or after using sea salt spray, for a textured and fuller look. Particularly good if you suffer with dry hair, and make sure you get an oil specifically targeted to your hair type or concern for best results.
Tabitha James Kraan Scented Organic Hair Oil
With a blend of sea buckthorn, safflower, rosehip, goji berry and argan oil, as well as essential oils of rose, neroli and lemon, this hair oil has all the best ingredients to strengthen and protect the hair. It is all-natural and has an addictive aroma that will keep you coming back for more.
Buy now £43.00, Wolf and Badger
Bread Beauty Supply Hair Oil Everyday Gloss
This oil is designed to enhance shine without leaving a sticky residue. A multi-purpose, silicone-free formula, it’s enriched with Kakadu plum that aims to soften, smooth and moisturise strands. It also contains safflower oil that helps to strengthen your hair follicle to prevent hair from breaking and shedding.
Buy now £22.00, Browns Fashion
Best for: Holding your style in place, especially when it’s hot
If you want your hair to stay in place, hairspray is a necessary addition to your routine. For those with a messy style, a spray with lightweight hold will prevent strays and add just enough control that you don’t have to touch your hair all day, especially if it’s hot and humid. If you’d got a more rigid style, then a high hold would work best.
John Frieda Volume Lift Lightweight Hairspray
For long-lasting hold and fullness, this ultra-fine mist holds your volume in place without the heavy or crunchy feel. For the purse-friendly price, get one for your bathroom cabinet, your gym bag and your travel washbag.
Buy now £5.99, Boots
Hawkins & Brimble Clay Effect Hairspray
This hairspray can be used solo as a styling product to deliver workable texture, lightweight definition, and lasting hold. The formula will keep your perfectly coiffed style in place all day long.
Buy now £9.60, Hawkins & Brimble