There’s a vast difference between the best hair gels for men and whatever generic brand you find on the discount aisle at Wal-Mart. While you might save a few bucks by opting for the cheap route, you should also expect everyone – from passersby to that cute girl across the bar – to notice your flagrant frugality. Take our advice and splurge every so often.
Of course, you’re probably now left wondering which hair gel is the best for men. It turns out that this isn’t a straightforward answer. When considering hair type and desired style, what works well for one guy might not be ideal for another. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide to help you find the best men’s hair gel that works for you.
Benefits of Using Hair Gel
Before delving into the best hair gels for men, it’s important to know the benefits you’ll get from doing so. Let’s go ahead and nip this in the bud: no, you can’t use it as a lube replacement. Even asking will probably send your ‘lady friend’ packing. Other than that horrible idea, though, here are some of the main benefits of hair gel:
- Varying strengths: Hair gel can provide holds ranging from light to unbreakable.
- Different types: Different brands of hair gel can do anything from adding color to providing a thicker appearance.
- All-day hold: As long as you don’t mess with your style, hair gel can typically last all day.
- Shine: For guys who want a high shine on their hairdo, gel easily gets the job done.
You’ll also find that hair gel can cover imperfections. It won’t help you start growing hair if you’re bald, but it can hold thicker hair in place over thin spots. Of course, just about any styling aid with sufficient hold can pull this off. If you’re opting for hair gel, your decision should be based on the other offered benefits.
Disadvantages of Hair Gel
No list of benefits in this world comes without potential drawbacks. You’ve probably learned this thanks to most of your exes landing somewhere on the ‘Hot-Crazy Matrix.’ Before you go down the rabbit hole of researching the best hair gels for men, it’s important to know how the product could actually crimp your style.
- Excessive drying: Hair gels contain alcohol – and not the good kind. This can easily dry out your style.
- Pronounced thinning: While gel may help hide small bald patches, it also clumps together. This means you’ll look even balder if you have significant thinning.
- Future hair loss: Even if you can temporarily hide thinning, hair gels can make your hair prone to breakage.
- Stiffness: No matter how great your first date ideas are, the stiffness of hair gel means any girl running her hands through your hair will have an unpleasant experience.
- No flexibility: Hair gel doesn’t provide the option of reshaping your hair throughout the day.
- Dandruff: Alcohol combined with other gel chemicals can strip your hair and cause irritation and dandruff.
If we’re being completely honest, there are several other disadvantages that come along with using this product. Since this guide is on how to find the best hair gel for men, though, we’ll cut this section short. If your goal was an attempt to hide thinning hair, though, do yourself a favor and check out the Clinical Grooming Services at Barber Surgeons Guild.
5 Best Hair Gels for Men
Now that we’ve thoroughly turned you off on hair gel, it’s worth noting that some manufacturers take their brands seriously. This has resulted in a variety of changes that attempt to combat the most common side effects of hair gel. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t experience issues over time, but the following products are your best bet for a healthy and stellar hairstyle.
Baxter of California’s Thickening Style Gel
While it’s not great for guy’s seeking the matte appearance, Baxter of California’s Thickening Style Gel still provides high hold. Its ingredients include birch juice, vitamin B5 and ginger. These are meant to counteract many of the problems that come standard with traditional hair gels.
This styling gel is also great for just about any hairstyle when you want a high shine finish. You’ll also notice that it has a very pleasant smell. The company says that their gel results in no residue, crunch or flakes. While claims such as these in hair gels aren’t typically fully true, Baxter’s does come close.
Revita Styling Gel
While it doesn’t provide the level of hold offered by some of the other best hair gels for men, Revita Styling Gel still stands out among its contemporaries. This clinically tested formula is geared towards restoring some of the essential nutrients in your hair. Their Nanosome delivery system was created to get these supplements directly to the scalp.
You’ll also find that this product allows you to reshape your hair throughout the day without losing its effectiveness. Your Tinder date will probably love it as well since it’s not stiff. This leaves them open to run their beautiful hands through your hair, and it leaves you open to worry about other stiffness issues.
Johnny B. Mode Styling Gel
When you squeeze this product into your palm, you’ll immediately notice its blue color. Don’t worry – it won’t dye your hair. You’ll also likely notice the cologne-like fragrance that’s not too overpowering. Johnny B. Mode’s Styling Gel was created with guys who visit the barber in mind. It’s a great product for dudes who like to dress like gentlemen wherever they go.
You’ll typically only need a small amount of this product to pull off most styles. It lasts all day and remains firm but not stiff. Its hold factor is even enough to keep thick hair shaped without any crunchy appearance. The best part of Johnny B.’s is that it’s water-soluble. This makes it easy to wash out and minimizes the chance of flakes.
American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel
There is no shortage of online praise for American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel. Thanks to the ‘firm’ aspect of the product, you won’t have to worry about losing your style during the day. This is especially the case for guys with short to medium length hair. This hold is also provided without looking overly stiff.
Maybe the greatest aspect of this product is that is contains no alcohol. This minimizes the drying damage that usually occurs. And with ingredients like sage, ginseng, vitamin B5 and Panama bark, you know that your hair is getting a massive dosage of all-natural ingredients.
The biggest drawback of this American Crew product is the size of its bottle. Good luck trying to hide over 33 ounces of hair gel when the ladies come over.
Bluebeards Revenge Hair Gel
The skull and crossbones on the packaging of Bluebeards Revenge Hair Gel is often enough to warrant at least one purchase. Because against all logical advice, most guys will still judge a book by its cover. Fortunately, it just so happens that doing so is the right move in this situation. This awesome styling gel provides a firm hold without being too sticky.
You wouldn’t think that the light texture of the product would allow for certain awesome hairstyles. Surprisingly enough, though, you can pull off anything from spikes to large pompadours with this gel. The one drawback is that it takes a little longer to set than most of the other best hair gels for men. This is due to the light texture, but what’s a couple extra minutes when it means an awesome style?
Choosing a Men’s Hair Gel
Naming the best hair gels for men is a subjective exercise. While the ones on our list might be some of the most popular and provide several benefits, the truth is that every guy’s hair is different. I’d like to think that explains why I don’t look like Brad Pitt or Jared Leto whenever I’m sporting a man bun.
For whatever reason, the products on the preceding list might not be your favorites. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find the best hair gel for men in relation to your unique hair. When shopping around, though, you need to take the following considerations into account.
Organic vs Synthetic
You might not know it, but hair gel has been around for thousands of years. Egyptians literally rubbed it in the hair of mummies to ensure they stayed ‘on point’ even in the afterlife. Back then, most styling aids were organic. As the need for better hold increased, though, synthetic products made an appearance.
Most organic men’s hair gels include nutrients that their synthetic counterparts don’t have. This means some of the negative side effects of the product will be minimized. If you go this route, though, you’re giving up the strong hold provided by many synthetic styling aids. Your decision is all about personal taste.
Avoid These Ingredients!
Most hair gels contain ingredients that would never be recommended for use on your hair. That’s a fact. Just accept it and move on. There are some substances, however, that should be automatic deal breakers when looking for the best hair gel for men.
Sulfates were long included in most hair products, but their use has decreased over the years. Even so, it’s best to check the ingredient label since these substances can damage hair. You’ll also want to avoid parabens and phthalates – which have been shown to cause a decrease in male fertility.
Don’t get too excited about that fact if you’re intent on never having kids. Any doctor that hears you’re using hair gel as a contraceptive measure will likely slap you across the face. And if we’re being honest, you’ll deserve it.
What’s Your Desired Style?
Regardless of what your deal breakers are when it comes to choosing the best hair gel for men, you’ll likely find several products that meet your personal criteria. In these instances, it all comes down to your desired hairstyle. Not every gel is going to be ideal for the look you’re trying to achieve.
If you’ve opted to go all out with your style – such as with mohawks or high pompadours – you’ll need a hair gel with strong hold. Hairdos that are more down to earth (literally) can utilize lighter hold products. Keep in mind, though, that stronger holds typically result in more flaking.
Dodge Animal Testing
A company could make the undisputed best hair gel for men in the world, but if the brand utilizes animal testing, you should opt for the second best in every instance. Not all brands that utilize animal testing, though, do the deed themselves. Products made in China, for instance, require animal testing by law.
Here’s a quick list of hair gel brands that have animal testing at some point in their production line – helpfully provided by Cruelty Free Kitty.
There are several other companies listed by the adorably-named Cruelty Free Kitty, but not all of them offer hair gel. It still wouldn’t hurt to take a gander at the list so you can avoid other styling products tested on animals.
How to Use Hair Gel
Properly applying hair gel can minimize the chance of the dreaded sticky, crunchy or flaky textures while simultaneously giving you the style you’re looking for. The first step in doing this correctly is starting with a clean head of hair. If your hair is greasy or dirty, the gel won’t be as effective and you’re likely to have a crunchy appearance.
When washing your mane beforehand, make sure you utilize a great moisturizing conditioner. Gel typically strips much of your hair’s natural moisture, so proper conditioning is essential to restore some of this. Once your dome is clean, you’ll want to towel dry your locks. Avoid using a blow dryer since gel adheres better to damp hair.
Go by the following steps and your choice of best hair gel for men will work on any hair type.
- Scoop gel into your palm. Use about a nickel-sized dollop for short hair and more for longer and thicker hair.
- Rub your palms together until the gel becomes slightly warm.
- Apply the gel moving from the front of your head to the back. Ensure even distribution by applying as if you’re shampooing your hair.
- Style your hair with your hands or a comb, dependent on your desired look.
- Allow gel to dry and set. This is a fast process, and once it dries, you’re committed to the look.
Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to go about your day. Take care to avoid getting your hair wet, or you’ll have goo running down your face. Men aren’t really capable of pulling off that look.
Hair Gel Alternatives
If you’ve decided against utilizing hair gel – which we highly recommend doing so – you’re likely left wondering what you can use. Fortunately, there are a variety of alternatives out there. Even if you opt for an inexpensive version of these products, they’re typically preferred over even the best hair gels for men.
- Hair Putty: Those aiming for a textured, tousled and conditioned look can use hair putty.
- Pomade: If you want to choose your level of shine and hold, a good pomade is an excellent choice.
- Wax: Guys with naturally oily hair can get a medium shine and pliable style with wax.
- Texture Liniment: For medium hold in a texturizing cream formula, texture liniment is ideal.
Any of these alternatives to hair gel – even the ones that don’t provide maximum hold – would be a superior choice. Your hair can only take so much damage. And while the ladies may love your style with the gel, their tune will quickly change if your hair starts thinning out thanks to the chemicals.
Take a look at the full product line at BSG for hair care options that aren’t detrimental to your mane.
Get Your Shine On
While there is a large assortment of men’s hair products available, some dudes just swear by their gel. If you’re one of them, we’d suggest at least trying one of the other styling aids available to you. If you’re going to stick with what you know, though, it’s important that you at least choose from the best hair gels for men. Doing so will minimize some of the disadvantages of the product.
Attaining hair perfection can be difficult. If you’re ready to let an expert help you achieve that goal, reach out to Barber Surgeons Guild today.