This is the MHT Ultimate Guide and it covers just about everything you need to know about men’s hairstyles and haircuts.
Starting with how to talk to your barber and moving on to how to find your face shape and hair type, choosing a hair length, beard grooming, and hair products. This ultimate guide will help you get a haircut and style that looks great.
Part 1: How to talk to your barber or stylist to get a great haircut.
First let’s discuss how to talk with your barber or stylist to make sure you get the cut and style you want and go home happy. Let’s dive right in on how to accomplish this with every barber visit.
Q: How can I ask my barber for the haircut I want?
A: Bringing a picture is the best way to get exactly the haircut you want.
We get a lot of questions asking what specific haircuts are called and while we try to oblige, you really don’t need to know. A picture is worth a thousand words so just show a photo instead. Words don’t convey as much information as an image and there are multiple names for some cuts so avoid any confusion with a photo.
Of course, you’re going to have to start with a hairstyle that works for you. Look for people that have your hair type. If you have have fine hair, don’t show a picture of thick hair. If you have curly hair, don’t show a photo of straight hair. With a really different hair type, the cut won’t look the way you expect it to.
The other thing to look for is face shape. While certain styles can work for everyone (see the undercut), that is not always the case. Notice if the celebrity or model has a similar face to you – is it square, round, long, chiseled? Although a haircut won’t transform you into [insert celebrity here], it will work with your features to make you look your best.
Q: What if I don’t know what kind of haircut will work for me?
A: Talk to your barber.
Men’s hair has experienced a renaissance in the last few years, with more styles and products available than ever before. That’s the good news. The bad news is it can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve had the same haircut for a long time and are uncertain about trying something new. A new cut could be better but it could also be worse.
As stated above, you don’t need to know everything about hair to get a great cut and style. You are seeing a professional. It is their business to not only know the trends but to adapt a style for different hair types and face shapes. So if you want a new haircut but don’t know what to get, the most important thing is working with a barber or stylist you trust (more on that in the next question).
When you’re in the chair, explain that you’re not sure what you want but throw out any ideas you have. Do you like hipster styles? Slick or spiky? Short or longer? Want something trendy or conservative?
Your barber will usually ask but if not, mention any issues you feel you have with your hair like a cowlick that won’t stay down, hair that gets greasy late in the day, or hair that is too fine or thick to stay styled. Let your barber or stylist know how much time you typically spend styling hair. If you want a wash-and-dry cut, that’s going to be a different cut than if you enjoy using products or blow dry hair. Last, how often do you get your hair cut? Intricately shaved cuts require frequent to stay fresh while most cuts can be worn for months between visits.
With all that information, your barber or stylist will have formulated an idea and discuss it with you before starting cutting. If it sounds good, let the cutting begin.
Q: How to find a great barber or stylist?
A: Keep trying until you find someone you trust.
All of this advice depends on having a good barber or stylist. There are so many of them out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. First off, decide if you prefer a barber or salon environment. One isn’t better than the other but they are different. Barbers are usually more masculine environments, provide straight shaves and beard grooming, take less time, and tend to be cheaper. Salons will be unisex, offer appointments for hour long cuts that provide more time to discuss what you want, and provide a more pampered experience. The important distinction isn’t barber vs stylist but who you trust to cut your hair.
Where can you find someone you trust? First, ask your friends, especially if there’s someone with consistently good hair. If you spot a fresh cut on the street, you can always ask them where they got it. It’s a huge compliment so don’t be shy. Online reviews can also be helpful. Look to Yelp, local papers and websites, and annual awards in your city.
Then, check out their websites and social media to see the kinds of cuts they do. There are many quality barbers and stylists out there that might not be for you. Not because they’re not good but because they’re doing classic cuts when you want something trendy or they’re all about hair designs but you wear a suit to work.
Many barbers also show off their cuts on Instagram so it’s a good place to find hairstyles and barbers. Check out @thebarberpost for reposts of the latest and freshest styles. There are plenty of excellent barbershops that don’t have websites or social media so don’t let lack of a web presence scare you off. It means that that barbershop is good enough to advertise by word of mouth alone. Here’s are a few barbers and barbershops that we recommend.
Then book a cut. Follow the instructions from the first two questions and you should be happy with your new style. If not, follow the instructions below.
Q: I don’t like my haircut. Now what?
A: Speak up immediately, wait it out, find a new barber or stylist
So you read the reviews, brought a picture, and talked to your barber but still aren’t happy with your cut. What should you do?
First, the earlier you catch it, the better. If you start to notice things going wrong while you’re in the chair, say something. You can ask what’s happening with the cut or say if it seems a bit too short/long. A good stylist will adjust so that you don’t leave unhappy.
If you leave the barbershop and don’t like what you see at home, the best advice is to wait a few days. You’re stylist may have given you a fashion forward cut you’re just not used to yet. Also, try asking trusted friends who will be honest. They might see something you don’t. It’s common to need some time to adjust to a change. Sometimes it’s not the cut that that’s the issue, but the style. Wash hair and skip the product or try out a different style.
If you’re still not happy, call them and let them know you’re not pleased. If you have enough length left, most barbers and stylist will recut hair free of charge.
If hair is very short, there’s only one option – wait for hair to grow. It seems bad at the time but fortunately, hair grows back. In a few weeks, hair will be ready for a new style. And as said above, you might grow to like it. In the time, try to find a recommendation for a new barber or stylist to visit next time.
Q: How can I style my hair at home?
A. Ask your stylist about hair products and styling techniques.
We’ve all been there. You look great leaving the barbershop, soaking up compliments for the evening. Then the next morning you shower, air dry hair, work in some product and it’s just not the same. How to fix the problem? Simple! Just ask.
Make sure that you know what type or brand of product will recreate this style at home before you leave the chair. Most barbers and salons have products for sale. They select the products based on their experience so you can trust these brands. Yes, they cost more than drugstore versions but there’s a reason for that.
In addition to asking how to style your new look, watch how your stylist applies the product to your hair and works it through. It’s your own personal demonstration for free so make the most of it.
You can use the time in the chair talk about your favorite sports teams or soak up information. If you have any issues with hair, just ask about them. Your barber is a wealth of information so make the most of the opportunity. You could be surprised by what you learn.
These are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive. Hope it helps you get a cut you love.
Part 2: Men’s Haircuts and Face Shape
After how to talk to your barber, you really want to know about face shapes and the best haircuts to match. First of all, it is not required to know this. It is part of the training and experience all barbers and stylists have. While you’re asking them for Brad Pitt’s Fury haircut, they are assessing how to make it work for your face shape and hair type. So if you feel concerned about not knowing, don’t. Put that energy into locating someone you trust with your hair and you’re guaranteed to get a great haircut.
Second, there is no relationship between face shape and attractiveness. There are celebrities with every face shape, even round and long. This is only about finding the best hairstyle for you. Last but not least, don’t worry so much about your face shape or looks. Focus on the things that you can change like grooming and attire. On trend clothes that fit and a great haircut (and beard if you like) are more noticeable than anything else.
If you still really want to know, here’s what you need to know about face shapes, which will help determine the most flattering haircuts and what type of glasses look best.
How to find your face shape
Sometimes face shape is obvious but not always. Use the pictures and guidelines below to determine your face shape or try tracing the outline of your face in a mirror with a bar of soap. The key is to focus on the proportions of your face rather than the actual features. If all else fails, ask your barber or stylist at your next cut.
This proportionate face shape has a ratio of about 3 lengths to 2 widths. The defining feature of an oval face is the absence of dominant angles or corners at the forehead, cheeks, and chin. Any hairstyle will work for oval faces so have fun experimenting with a range of looks. Here’s Jake Gyllenhaal in a classic short hairstyle paired with a short beard but you’ve seen him rock everything from a military buzz to long hair worn in a man bun.
If you have a round face, you probably already know. A round face is approximately equal in length and width with full cheeks and no corners in the jaw. While excess weight can soften a face, round faces are more often the result of genetics.
Hairstyles for a round face should add height, an angle, or both. Avoid anything that adds width. Short sides and back with longer hair on top is the way to go.
Excellent choices include an undercut, slicked up hair, or a peaked faux hawk. If you want to wear hair down, try bangs cut at an angle and definitely a side part. Stephen Rahman-Hughes’slicked up hair with a square edges is an on trend and on point.
This is the traditionally masculine face shape and considered the ideal shape for men (oval is the ideal for women). A chiseled jaw and angular forehead are frequently portrayed in action or military roles such as GI Joe cartoons and every movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has been in.
Any haircut goes so choose a short or slicked back style to highlight your features or soften the hairline with bangs. A peaked spiked up look that reflects the shape of your chin is also an excellent option for men with square faces or go for the straight spiked style like Nick Lachey.
These are the most common face shapes. A heart-shaped face features an angular chin and wider forehead. For a triangle, these features are slightly more pronounced, with a wider forehead and narrower, sometimes pointier chin. The only thing to avoid is adding width above the ears. Other wise, everything goes and you can highlight your face shape with spikes or slick hair or alternatively wear hair forward to soften the hairline. David Boreanaz rocks his signature spiky style that looks as good on Agent Booth as did on Angel.
Another common face shape, long faces are about twice as long as they are wide. Any additional height for this face shape should be balanced with some width. To reduce the appearance of length, choose a cut that wears hair down over the forehead. These longer Johnny Depp styles are the next men’s hair trend.
The general advice is to avoid adding height but the always trend setting Ryan Gosling defies these guidelines and so can you.
Face Shape and Specific Styles
Undercut and Fade – Shaving the sides and back of the head into an undercut or fade is a topmen’s hairstyle trend right now. It can work for every face shape because what you do with the hair on top matters more than the sides. For a long face, avoid adding any height and some hair pushed over the forehead looks best. Everyone else, do as you like. There’s a reason short sides are been such an enduring style – it looks great on all men.
Beards – Facial hair can also be used to enhance or alter your face shape. A beard can be cut into an angular shape to contrast a round face or be worn rounded to soften an angular face. Emphasize an angular chin with a short stubble beard. Zach Galifianakisdemonstrates the dramatic difference a groomed beard can make.
This guide should have helped you identify your face shape and figure out what styles are best to embrace or avoid. If you’re still not sure, just talk to your barber or stylist to get a personalized assessment.
Part 3: Hair Type + Hairstyles For Men
Having great hair is more than the cut and hairstyle. After a visiting a barber or stylist, it’s up to you to care for and style hair. What that entails depends on your hair type because fine and thick, straight and curly hair have different needs. By grooming according to the specific needs of your hair type, you will make the most of your cut and style.
Here’s how to look like you left the barbershop every day.
Hair type is based on several things. The most obvious is it straight, wavy, or curly? Next, is it thick or fine? Thick hair can refer to having a high volume of hair on the head and/or a larger circumference of each hair strand. Fine hair has a smaller circumference while thin hair means having fewer hairs per scalp area. It is possible to have a thick head of fine hair or thin thick hair. When you have combination hair, care for it according to the dominating feature. In the cases above that would be fine and thin hair.
There’s one easy tip that works for all hair types. While shampoo companies tell you to wash hair every day, hair professionals will tell you otherwise. Ever notice that second day hair looks better than the day before? That’s because scalp oils have a chance to moisturize hair and add texture that makes hair easier to style. Try skipping the shampoo every other day and then see if you can go even longer. For most guys, this simple change will improve the appearance of hair and its health too. If you have greasy hair, try it. Removing scalp’s natural conditioner tells your body to increase oil production, just the opposite of what you want. Less shampooing can lead to less oil overall.
Thick hair refers to having a lot of hair and/or individual strands that are wider than other hair types. While having thick hair is enviable, the volume and coarser texture can also be a challenge. Make the most of your thick hair with these easy tips.
- Condition – Too many guys shampoo every day and skip the conditioner. Instead, condition every day and shampoo only as often as necessary for softer, more manageable hair.
- Go very short or longer – For thick hair, short cuts can cause hair to stick up. The solution is to go even shorter or grow it out. Longer hair has more weight to help it lie flat and area for styling product to work with.
- Product – Styling products benefit all hair types but arguably do the most for thick hair. Look for strong hold waxes or pomades to control hair and sculpt it into any style you want from slick to spikes.
Fine and Thin Hair
Fine hair strands are smaller in circumference than other hair types. Fine hair can be thick, with a full head of fine strands. Sometimes thin hair (not to be confused with thinning hair), with lower density per square inch, is referred to as fine hair but it is the thickness of the individual strands, not to the quantity of hair, that makes hair fine. While fine hair differs from thin hair, the goal of styling and products is the same – to add volume and boost thickness. Here’s how:
- Thickening Products – Give hair a good foundation by starting with a thickening shampoo (not everyday) and conditioner. Some products made for fine or thin hair also plump up hair strands while providing hold.
- Natural Oils – As mentioned above, one of the best things you can do for hair is cut down on shampooing, which removes the oils your scalp produces to keep skin and hair moisturized. A cheap and easy way to make fine hair thicker is make the most of sebum production by skipping shampoo (but not conditioner) as often as works for you and distributing natural oils by combing hair or massaging the scalp. Don’t be afraid of the hair that comes with brushing or combing. An average of 50-100 hairs are shed a day so these aren’t being ripped from the scalp but lost naturally while more are growing in.
- Hair Dryer – The best way to achieve more volume in hair is using a blow dryer. There is no excuse not to for men because it only takes a few minutes. Work a volumizing mousse into damp hair and the result will be hair with maximum thickness and control. Don’t cheap out on the first on sale drugstore blow dryer you see though. Look for the words ceramic or tourmaline for even heat distribution that won’t damage hair. A cold setting is also in asset. Finish hair with a blast of cold air to set hairstyles all day.
- Hair Products – Stay away from heavy or oil-based products that weigh hair down. Blow drying and mousse will be enough hold for many of the best hairstyles for fine hair. If you need more, look for a lightweight wax or pomade.
- Hairstyles – Just like with clothes, not every hair trend is going to work for you. Pick and choose from popular hairstyles looking for ones that add volume, texture, or both.
Wavy and Curly Hair
The label curly hair refers to any hair that isn’t straight. There is a wide range of curls from looser wavy hair to tight kinky hair. Despite this diversity, there are general rules that apply to keeping waves and curls healthy and looking it’s best.
While you frequently see celebrities with curls rocking hair that has been straightened (we’re looking at you Justin Timberlake), many men like Adrian Grenier, Seth Rogen, and James Franco embrace their waves and curls and we encourage you to do the same.
- No-Poo – The most common problem for all types of curly hair is moisture. Oils from the scalp do not travel from root to tip for curly hair, resulting in dry hair. The first step is eliminating shampoo or switching to a curl-friendly formula.
- Conditioning – Curls require additional moisture to look their best. In addition to using a curl-specific conditioner, some curly men benefit from a monthly deep conditioning treatment with a commercial product or natural oil like coconut.
- Haircuts – Curly hair has fewer styling options than straight. The key to getting the style you want is all in the haircut. To get variety, mix up the cuts. Always make sure that your barber or stylist has experience with curly hair. Not everyone knows how to cut it right.
- Drying Hair – One of the keys to how hair will look is what happens after the shower. Rubbing hair with a regular towel can cause hair damage and frizz. Instead, gently squeeze hair dry with paper towels, on old t-shirt, or microfiber towel. Then work product through hair with fingers and let it dry without touching hair at all. If you blow dry hair, use the diffuser attachment that comes with the dryer, which disperses the air flow to reduce frizz.
- Product – Curly hair looks best with a leave-in conditioner or curl enhancing cream that defines curls and minimizes frizz. Apply product to damp hair. Wet hair dilutes the product and reduces effectiveness while dry hair won’t distribute product evenly and can look clumpy, sticky, or greasy.
Now you should know which hair type you have and how to take care of it. Some small changes in your daily routine can have a big impact on how hair looks and feels.
Part 4: Hair Length
In addition to hair type, a key to finding your best haircut is length. Here’s the lowdown on short, medium and long haircuts and how to choose which is the right choice for you. All hair lengths work with the undercut or faded sides.
Short Men’s Haircuts
There are two main reasons to get short hair. One is for ease of care and styling. Short hair is just less work and so it makes sense for guys with busy and active lifestyles. If you need to go the gym at lunch, you can shower and have hair dry before you get back to work. The second reason for wearing hair short is to deal with hard to manage hair. For ultra coarse or curly hair, many guys choose to go short instead of spending time styling hair. This is especially true for black hair.
Short haircuts for men start with the short buzz and slightly longer crew cut but there are plenty of cuts with more shape and definition. For a stylish short haircut, it’s all about longer on top, short sides and back. There are a wide range of cool short cuts and styles that are easy to wear and look great. A few styling options include the comb over, messy texture, or a cool spiked peak at the hairline.
Check out all our short hairstyles.
Medium Hair for Men
For more style and styling options, it’s all about medium hair. In terms of maintenance, longer hair takes somewhat longer to dry and definitely requires conditioning. Longer hair for guys can be shaggy chin length cuts or just medium length on top. Longer on top styles are very popular right now because they are the basis of most slick styles, especially ones with plenty of height like the pomp.
Check out all our medium length hairstyles.
Long Hair for Men
Wearing hair long for men is the ultimate statement. Whether your look is hipster, metal or hippy, long hair is always a symbol of going against the norm. With the recent popularity of the man bun and now the half ponytail, more guys are growing hair long.
Here are all our long hairstyles for men.
Short Sides: The Undercut and Fade
Longer on top, short sides and back haircuts are available for every length of hair. In addition to a shorter cut, current men’s hair trends shave the sides into an undercut or fade. The undercut is a one length all over shave that produces a disconnect hairstyle, names for the abrupt transition between hair lengths. In contrast, a fade is a smooth transition from short hair to shorter or all the way down to the skin.
Part 5: Men’s Grooming and Beards Tips
Men’s grooming is a polite way of talking about cleansing, hair removal, and managing facial hair. While your body requires grooming from head to toe, this is about facial hair, shaving, and skin care. Follow these simple men’s grooming tips and you’ll know you look good. That combination of grooming and confidence will make you unstoppable in anything you do.
Whether you have a beard, go clean-shaven, or somewhere in-between, you need to take care of the rest of your face too. Here are key areas that need grooming:
Men and women differ in many ways and one measurable area is skin. Men’s skin is 25% thicker and produces more oil. Therefore, it is advisable to choose unisex or men’s products.
Do not use the same bar of soap to wash the face as the rest of your body. You’ll notice that skin feels tight or itchy afterwards, which means it is too dry. Facial skin has specific needs like managing oil, preventing aging, or sensitivity so choose a face wash and moisturizer to match your concerns. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
If you’re concerned about aging, the best thing you can do is prevent wrinkles by using a moisturizer with 30 SPF on a daily basis and something stronger plus a hat for longer sun exposure. There are also numerous anti-aging products for men available. Combat wrinkles before they start by using an anti-aging moisturizer and eye cream. If you have already have some fine lines and wrinkles, look for anti-aging products that contain retinol, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), or beta hydroxy acid (BHA). These increase sun sensitivity so be sure to use a sunscreen as well.
Minimizing wrinkles is about lifestyle more than purchasing products. Some preventative measures to take are to drink lots of water, eat plenty of vegetables and meat, watch alcohol and caffeine consumption, and manage stress in healthy ways like with exercise, meditation, and socializing.
Blackheads and Large Pores
Blackheads and/or visible pores on the nose are a common issue. They are a result of excess oil production and clogged pores. To combat blackheads, try using a face wash salicylic acid, AHA, or BHA, which chemically exfoliate the skin. You can also exfoliate further with a facial scrub.
Some old-fashioned squeezing right after the shower will also help. While there is no overnight fix for blackheads and large pores, you will notice a difference from washing, exfoliating, and extracting.
Lips need special attention in winter and summer. Dry cracked lips are common due to dry cold and hot air so replace some of that lost moisture with lip balm, preferably a petroleum-produce free. Also try to avoid formulas that include camphor, phenol, and menthol, which make for a pleasant tingle but ultimately dry out lips.
In the summer, lips frequently get sunburned so find for a lip balm with added SPF to apply when you will be spending time outdoors.
The best time to shave is right after the shower when heat, steam, and face wash have softened the proteins in hair, allowing for a smoother, closer shave. Lather up with a sensitive skin shaving cream, no matter what your skin type is. They will be fragrance free, resulting in less irritation. Using a shaving brush instead of fingers also helps get a closer shave because the bristles lift hair up off the skin.
Now it’s time to start shaving. While shaving, always go with the direction of hair rather than against. If you need to go over an area again, apply more shaving cream first. Follow the shave with a cold water and gently pat the chin dry. Finally, look for aftershave that prevents irritation and has moisturizer. The high alcohol content in some aftershaves can dry out skin. Look for formulas with tea tree oil or witch hazel to get the same antiseptic properties and burning sensation. An alcohol-free formulas can be harder to find so make sure it’s further down the ingredients, which are listed in descending order from most to least.
Last but not least, try a straight razor shave with hot towel treatment from a barber some time.
Men with sensitive skin should consider switching to an electric razor. While the shave is not quite as close as with a blade, it is easier to shave and more gentle on skin. Otherwise, change your blade frequently. You can extend the life of expensive razors by wiping it dry after every use to minimize rust and oxidation.
Razor burn isn’t the only cause of bumps from shaving. There are also ingrown hairs that curl back under or grow sideways. Prevent them by using an exfoliating face scrub with salicylic acid. You can also soothe irritation and prevent ingrown hairs with a dedicated product like Tend Skin.
Growing a Beard
What could be easier? Just put down the razor. Let the beard grow. Done. If your beard feels itchy, it is the skin below adjusting to the change of having hair instead of being shaved and the presence of facial oils instead of regular exfoliation. Wash the area with your facial cleanser and gently pat it dry. Alternatively, try a beard oil or balm to soothe skin and soften facial hair.
Not all beard hair is the same color or texture and will appear scraggly after time. Grow beard a few days beyond the desired growth and then get out the clippers. While some say that 10 days growth is the ideal length, big bushy beards are the current coveted trend. For shorter beards, simply select a clipper length and shave all over. For longer beards, shaping will also be required. Whatever length you go with, clean up the neck area every week or so.
Let’s face it, may men embrace beards because they are less work than shaving (and because they help your hockey team). A slew of beard products has emerged alongside the beard trend. Use them to address specific issues that arise but skip them if your beard looks and feels fine.
Some barbers will introduce you to the art of brow trimming with a quick sweep of the comb and snip of the scissors. The goal for men is to reduce length so there aren’t any hairs sticking out of the brow at strange angles. It’s easy to do at home, just guide brow hairs up at an angle with fingers or a comb and cut straight across a few millimeters above the brow line.
If you just have a few errant hairs or growth between the brows, pluck them or give the unibrow or a shave. If you have more brow going on than you can manage, see a professional. While brows are a small part of they face, they can be very distracting when left to grow wild and have a significant impact when done right. Getting brows waxed or threaded is a good investment in your appearance.
Nose and Ear Hair
Nose and ear hair need to be managed at a younger age than you would expect. Nose hairs are the most uncomfortable to yank out so instead use nose scissors with rounded tips to trim any hairs that see the light of the day.
Ears are obviously more difficult. Don’t blindly stick scissors in your ear. If you’re going to DIY, use a dedicated ear trimmer or find a trusted person to help you out.
Follow these men’s grooming tips and all aspects of your face will be fresh, clean, and ready for anything.
Do I need to use hair product?
9 times out of 10, perhaps even 99 times out of a 100, the answer is yes. Why? Even short hair needs some hold to look it’s best. The shortest buzzcuts are exempt but anything longer will benefit from the shaping, texture, and finish that hair products provide.
That’s just for basic hairstyles. Products also allow you to create any style you can come up with from the hottest slick styles to gravity-defying spikes to coveted messy hair. Hair products also make the most of your hair type, controlling thick hair, adding volume and fullness to fine hair, and defining curls.
Aren’t drugstore hair products good enough?
Cheaper hair products rely on alcohol, sulfates, and other ingredients that dry out and damage hair. Higher quality products work to condition, strengthen hair, and fight hair loss, all while looking good. So, for the health of your hair and sake of style, the answer is no.
So are products in the double digits worth it?
There are plenty of $5 and under drugstore products out there. Are they really a bargain? First, you have to use more of the cheap product so it has to be replaced more frequently. It’s still cheaper, just not as cheap. Unless you’re using a lot of product, a jar of wax or pomade will last 3-6 months.
Second, the price of quality hair products are comparable to a new t-shirt. How often do you wear that shirt? Once a week at the most. Hair is on display for the world to see every single day. In fact, good hair can elevate a casual outfit just like bad hair can make a suit seem sloppy. Spending money on regular barber visits and the best hair products is a worthwhile investment. If it’s not in the budget, skip buying that next t-shirt or two.
What are the types of men’s hair products?
There are more men’s hair products on the market than ever before with a wide range of formulas suited for every hair type and hairstyle. Here are is list of terms to help you find the right product for your specific needs.
1. The Basics
The entire point of men’s hair products is to hold hair into place. Products are rated on a spectrum from light to maximum hold. Light and medium hold products are best suited for thin, thinning, fine, to normal hair types as well medium length hair worn down. The cool textured style combines Baxter of California’s Cream Pomade and Hard Cream Pomade.
Sculpt normal to thick or coarse hair types into any hairstyle imaginable with strong or maximum hold products. Some formulas are better for spikes, like Billy Jealousy Clutch Play Texturizing Gunk, while others work best for slick styles. For products that wash out easily, stick to water-based formulas.
It is also possible to combine multiple products for a unique formula. You’ll notice that barbers don’t always use one product on your hair. Talk to him or her about recommendations for your hair type and hairstyle, as well as styling and application tips.
In addition to different levels of hold, men’s hair products are available in low, medium, and high shine formulas. High shine products are perfect for that greaser pompadour look and work really well for thick, coarse hair. In the past, these products were wax or grease-based and difficult to wash out but there are many water-soluble formulas available today. Shine can weigh down lighter hair and make light-colored or fine hair look greasy.
Hair Type: Normal to thick hair
Hairstyles: Slick styles, pompadours, side parts, anything vintage
Try: American Pomade Original Sin or Billy Jealousy Lunatic Fringe Water-Based Pomade
Pomades, waxes, and pastes are available in matte to high shine formulas. Matte versions absorb rather than reflect light. This is both a personal preference and dependent on your hair type. Some matte formulas contain clay or mud, which absorb grease in addition to providing a textured, matte finish.
Hair Type: All. Light hair colors as well as fine, thin, and thinning hair should stick with matte and low shine formulas.
Hair Styles: All, especially any styles with texture like spikes or messy looks
Try: Imperial Barber Matte Pomade Paste is a lightweight product with light to medium hold and a low shine finish. Use it for fine to normal hair, medium length hair, and all those messy, textured, and groomed styles.
2. Types of Men’s Hair Products
Pomade is a generic product term and formulas range from light to strong hold and matte to a high shine finish so the key is finding the combination that works for you. Old school pomades put the grease in greaser. Many of the original vintage pomades are still available and popular but there are many modern versions that wash out easily and can be used to create a wide range of men’s hairstyles.
Hair Type: All, depending on the specific product.
Hairstyles: All especially slick styles.
Try: Imperial Barber Classic Pomade
For strong hold plus shine, look to a hair wax. Waxes can sculpt hair into any shape, last all day, and provide flexible hold but can be easily be re-shaped. This men’s hair product is versatile, easy to use, and a good choice if you’re just starting out using hair products. Waxes are available in a range of strength and shine levels.
Hair Type: Straight to wavy, thick, oily, short to medium length hair
Hairstyles: Spikes, slick styles, textured looks
Fibers are among our favorite products because they have a strong pliable hold. Use a fiber for spiky, textures, and messy styles especially if you have thick, coarse hair. It also works well do hold and define wavy hair. If helmet head is an issue, choose this re-workable product to look good before and after your ride.
Hair Type: Straight, thick, coarse, wavy, medium length
Try: Imperial Barber Fiber Pomade
Clay, Mud, Putty
Clays, muds, and putties add hold, definition, and texture with a light-absorbing matte finish. This type of product adds thickness to fine hair hair but have enough hold for thick hair too. If you have greasy hair, clays and muds will soak up excess oil.
Hair Types: Fine, straight, thick, oily
Hairstyles: Textured, spiky, messy and slick styles. This cool look combines Baxter of California Clay Pomade with Soft Water Pomade to add a natural sheen.
This matte hair product is somewhere in between a pomade or wax and cream in texture. Results are similar to hair clay, putty, or mud formula.
Hair Types: Fine or thin hair, straight hair, wavy hair.
Hairstyles: Messy, texture
Try: Imperial Barber Matte Pomade Paste, Billy Jealousy Sculpt Friction Fiber Paste
How To Use Men’s Hair Products
The same application method works for all men’s hair products. Rub a small amount of product between hands to warm it up and work it thoroughly into damp or dry hair. Apply the product from the inside to the outside of hair for even distribution that won’t weigh hair down.
How much product you need depends on hair type, length, and style. Start with a pea-sized amount and gradually add more as required. You can always add more product but removing it will require starting over. You can customize hold and finish by mixing and matching products. When combining products before application, stick to the same brand. Otherwise, apply one product and then another to style and set hair.
Whether product works better for you with wet or dry hair depends on your hair type and hairstyle. In general, applying pomade to damp hair will result in a shinier finish while applying it to dry hair will be more matte. Some products are stronger when applied wet as well. Try it both ways to see what works for you.
3. Other Men’s Hair Products
Styling creams are the most lightweight product available. Instead of styling, they make hair more manageable, tame frizz, and add moisture. It is best suited for fine or thinning hair that is easily weighed down as well as curly hair that benefits from added definition.
Hair Types: Fine, thin, thinning or wavy, curly, and long hair
Try: Billy Jealousy Forming Cream, winner Grooming Lounge Best Styling Aid and Esquire Grooming Awards Best Hair Cream
Hair gel works by hardening on the hair for a stiff finish that has a shiny, almost wet, look. Stick to alcohol-free formulas to avoid the flakes that some gels leave behind. To get extra hold, try apply gel to wet hair as a foundation and then use your favorite pomade on dry hair.
Hair Types: All
Hairstyles: Spiky, slick styles, the wet look
Try: Billy Jealousy Cool Medium Finishing Gel – This modern hair gel hydrates hair and helps prevent hair loss without ever getting flaky or crusty.
Creams and serums are basically for finishing touches or hair protection. Contain little to no hold but make the hair more manageable. Used to add brilliant shine, smooth and lock down frizz. Some can be applied to the hair while it’s wet to help protect against heat tools, such as the blow dryer or a flat iron. You then apply it once your style is complete for the finishing touch. Creams and serums can also be added to wax or pomade for a customized product which adds more shine and control
Mousse is not the most popular hair product for men out there but it is very useful for some hair types, especially guys looking to thicken up thin or thinning hair. Especially when used in combination with a blow dryer, mousse can lend extra volume.
Hair Type: Fine, thin, thinning, balding
Once a must have weapon in the arsenal of every hair band, the use of hair spray for men peaked in the 90s followed by a steep decline. It is still be a useful product, adding strong yet lightweight protective layer. This is especially useful for fine or thin or hair types. Look for flexible or men’s formula to prevent hair from becoming stiff or crusty.
Washing does have its loopholes—turns out you don’t have to wet your head in order to get your hair clean. Not with this powder usually made from clay or cornstarch. A few sprinkles upon your noggin and it sops up all of those malodorous oils that make your hair look and smell dirty. And hark, because it dries up your hair, it can also be used as a styling agent to give you that perfect, post-all-day-at-the-beach look.
And that’s almost all of the men’s hair products out there. Men’s hair is a growing industry so there is more selection everyday. If you’re still not sure what you need, talk to your barber and stylist. Even if you don’t want to pay salon prices, you can an idea of what works for your hair type and style.
We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Please read our disclosure.