Over the last few years, the market for men’s hair styling products has really expanded and there are now many new products available, in addition to a wide selection of brands to choose from. Trying to choose the right hair styling product can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for and can also end in a lot of frustration if you buy products you wind up not liking. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of styling products available and what types of hair and hair styles they work best for.

  • GEL

One of the most commonly used hair styling products is gel. A gel provides a maximum hold and a very high shine. Although gel is one of the most well-known and used products, it probably shouldn’t be. Gel tends to flake and leave a residue when touched. However, if you are aiming for a wet and sleek look that will last throughout the day, gel is probably the best option for you. If you do decide you want to use a gel as your hair styling product it is important to buy a higher quality gel than the drug store brands, as these are usually the gels that are going to break and flake most easily.

  • POMADE

Pomades are a classic men’s styling product that is a mix of oil and wax. Pomades are best for a slick and wet look that you will still be able to restyle throughout the day. Pomades work similar to gel and offer a medium hold with high shine but are more pliable and don’t have the disadvantages of breaking and flaking throughout the day. A pomade is great product for a hair style that is achieved using a comb. Oil-based pomades are generally less expensive and offer a stronger hold than water-based pomades, but water-based pomades can be healthier for your hair and are easier to wash out.

  • WAX

Wax hair styling products are also similar to pomades as they are great for hairstyles that require a comb and will provide a medium hold that is pliable and will still be able to be restyled throughout the day. The main difference between a wax and a pomade is that wax products will leave a low to medium shine. Wax hair styling products can be used for a variety of men’s hairstyles, but it tends to work best for those with straight or slightly wavy hair, and shorter cuts or longer but disheveled hair styles.

  • CREAM

Creams are the hair styling product to use if you want it to look like you haven’t used any hair styling product at all. Creams will leave your hair with its most natural look as they are light weight, have a low hold, and a low shine. Creams are also one of the healthiest hair styling products as they typically contain a conditioning and moisturizing element.

  • PASTE

Paste hair styling products are the most versatile styling products as they provide a medium hold and a medium shine. A paste is thicker than a pomade and gives your hair texture without compromising the hair flexibility or creating build up.

  • CLAY & FIBER

Clay and Fiber hair styling products are very similar. Clay and Fiber hair styling products both provide a high hold with a low shine. Clay products are healthy for your hair because they draw out impurities and nourish the scalp. Clay products also control frizzy hair and are a good choice for men with curly or longer hair. Fiber hair styling products are made from keratin, which is the same natural protein that is found in your actual hair. Fiber will help you achiever a fuller and thicker look. Fiber products are a great choice for men with short or medium length hair styles that are textured and give off the “bedhead” look.