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Though men used to have just a few choices when it came to styling products—pretty much gel, mousse and hairspray—times have changed for the better. Read on to find out which products will help you get the look you want.

Hair Styling Products

The sheer number and type of products can be overwhelming. Sometimes a company will use terms such as “pomade” rather liberally—it can mean either a gel product or a wax. The key to pinning down the nature of the styling product is knowing the definitions of some key words when reading product descriptions. Know these basic terms:

  • Hold has to do with how strong the product is for keeping your hair in place once it’s styled.
  • Shine usually refers to a product that will give your hair a wet look.
  • When a product promises a matte finish, it means the hair will look dry or natural once styled.
  • Texturing hair means layering the hair to create a multi-dimensional look.
  • If the product promises to make hair pliable, it usually means the hair can be remolded once styled.


Gel is the modern-day version of hair grease, providing that slicker, wet look with stronger holds for many men with thicker, short to medium-length hair. Spread it evenly on your fingers and the top of the palm and run your fingers through damp or dry hair to style. Avoid touching your hair once it dries as it may break the hold and/or cause flaking.


Pomade is a greasy or waxy substance used to style hair with a wet, shiny, slick look. True pomade is a blend of wax and oil, while true hair waxes will be just wax or almost all wax. Pomade can range from a light shine to a high shine, but its biggest advantage is that it’ll create a more natural, wet look without drying out or flaking like gel. Rub a little bit on your palm and apply to damp or close-to-dry hair. Pomade works well on thin hair and wavy or curly hair, and it is good for all hair lengths. If you have oily hair, avoid pomade as it will make your hair greasier.


If you’re looking for hold, wax is the way to go. Since true waxes don’t contain the oils found in pomade, they usually won’t provide that “wet” look that’s characteristic of pomade, but will generally have a stronger hold instead. If you have oily hair, wax is usually a better option. To avoid clumping, be sure to warm up and evenly distribute the wax on your palms before using. Wax can be used on wet or dry hair, but it is easier to apply on wet hair. Wax works best on thicker hair of medium length.


(Clay, Putty, Paste, Mud, Fiber, etc.)

If you’re looking for the “I just got out of bed” look, matte products are what you’re after. Matte products have one defining characteristic: a dry or “matte” finish as the name suggests. Matte products provide a pliable hold while adding texture to your hair without that wet shine. This makes it the perfect candidate for those messy, tousled hairstyles. To apply, rub a small amount on your palm and apply to damp to close-to-dry hair. These products work well on thick or thin hair, wavy hair, and all hair lengths.


Styling creams are usually a soft, opaque substance. They are less clumpy than wax and generally much lighter when it comes to hold. So it’s a great option for those wanting subtle control while looking like you have nothing in your hair. Rub a small amount on your hands and apply. It works best on wavy/curly hair and all hair lengths.


Hair mousse is an effective option for those looking to add volume to their hair. Shake the bottle and dispense a small amount in one hand and apply with both hands to damp or dry hair. Blow dry after application for maximum hold. Mousse is especially helpful for thin or fine hair.


While hair spray has many competitors, it is by no means extinct. In fact, many grooming experts tout hair spray as one of the best ways to finish any style, as long as it’s used in moderation. Applying a fine mist of hair spray from 8-12 inches away from your hair after you’re done styling can lock in your look nicely for the day. Spray is especially good for thinner hair that’s likely to be weighed down by heavier products.

Here at Cut Rate Barber Shop, we offer products by Paul Mitchell, Crew and Mizani for our customers. We’ll be happy to give you suggestions for the ones that will work best for your hair type. Call for an appointment or stop in today!