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Although we’re all pretty much familiar with hair gels and how they work, the plethora of different brands and products makes selecting one a doubting task. This is why we decided to clear things out for you and narrow it down to the 12 best hair gels for men for any hair type.
Upon research and testing, we found the Johnny B hair gel to be a solid choice with excellent performance and it won’t leave you broke. Runner up is the top notch men’s hair gel from Paul Mitchell. Finally, the best value for money gel comes from Schwarzkopf that offers insane control, making your hair as hard as it gets. If you want to go for a more natural solution that gives a good hold but allows your hair to move naturally, you should definitely check out Brooklyn Botany.
The 5 Best Hair Gels For Men
Now, there’s no mystery in why hair gel is a great hairstyling product. Actually, there are a few good reasons why it’s so popular:
- It’s cheap: specially when it comes to some products you can get from super markets.
- Easy to use: No matter if you’ve got clean or dirty hair, wet or dry, short of long, it’s going to work just fine.
- It works for all hair types and lengths.
- And finally, it washes off easier than any other hair styling products including pomades, hair clays, waxes, etc.
Before we dig deep into the details of what hair gel is and the criteria to selection, we’ll first talk about the top hair gels for men that you can find out there. After all, this was the reason you started reading this guide in the first place.
Let’s see what we’ve got!
Best hair gels for men to consider
Johnny B is hands down one of the best hair gels for men you can buy.
The particular gel isn’t just another well made hair styling product. It has no alcohol and although it’s got a thick texture, when you apply it to your hair it feels light. And although the texture doesn’t feel too watery, it’s easy to wash off. Needless to say that it doesn’t flake.
When it comes to performance, you only need very little to cover a big part of your hair. You can also mix it in your hands with a bit of water and you’ll be able to cover your entire head with just a pea size amount.
It doesn’t give you that sticky hold but it’s strong enough to keep your hair in place. Because of the texture and hold I think it makes for a great hair gel for men with thin hair.
Price isn’t that bad and a little goes a long way. You won’t have to think about buying a new one even after months of using it, especially if you choose the larger version of 64 fl oz instead of the reviewed 16 fl oz.
Paul Mitchell’s is another brand that has earned its reputation as a great men’s grooming range. It’s no coincidence that the particular brand is found in barbershops and is trusted by men all over the world.
The gel tube of 5 ounces strikes the perfect balance between hold and shine. It’s not overly glossy or too strong and it doesn’t make your hair sticky.
Even though the particular product says that it gives you firm hold, I think it’s more like medium.
It works great for all types of hair. In fact, it gives your hair a natural hold that will stay in place until you finally wash it off. For someone with medium length hair this is perfect.
If you’re interested in buying the best and only the best hair gel for men, you should definitely put Paul Mitchell’s on your radar.
The ultra glued hair styling gel by Schwartzkopf (it took me 30 seconds to correctly type the name) lives up to its name. It works almost as well as glue.
Made by Henkel, the personal care giant, this gel has a superior hold and is perfect for pronounced spiky hairstyles. It’s a great hair gel for thick hair and when you’re looking for some serious sculpting. However, If you go for a natural looking hairstyle, you might want to keep on reading.
The gel includes castor oil, limonene, and a lovely fragrance.
Although it doesn’t make your hair sticky or flaky, it takes some time to wash off. Keep that in mind before you use too much of it. That being said, washing your hands with some soap is necessary to completely wash the gel off.
All in all, it’s a very good hair gel for the price. I know that younger men appreciate the very strong hold. And at the particular price point, this might be one of the best hair gel for men, especially if you’re just starting out with hair styling.
An American Crew product that seems to be flying off the shelves is the Firm Hold Gel, and it prices reasonably for a 3 ounce tube. There are however two bigger sizes with most notable the one with 33.8 fl oz.
American Crew is among the most popular men’s grooming brands and their products are sold all over the world. It’s no coincidence that it’s the go to brand for many barbershops.
Gingseng, sage leaves, and sage extracts round off this gel. Staying true to the brand’s reputation this one provides excellent nourishment. This ingredients combination gives a very nice fragrance to it. It’s got this earthy scent that’s really appealing.
The recipe is devoid of any alcohol, which means the gel won’t become dry and flaky. Also, the tube has an added dose of Vitamin E, which could help keep your hair healthy.
The hold is fantastic and never gets too heavy on the head. Overall, it’s a smooth hair styling product that actually nourishes the hair follicles.
Although its performance is great, the selection of total ingredients can’t be characterised as natural. However, this is also why the price isn’t as high as natural hair gels.
Taking into account the price and performance, this product is a top hair gel for men who have either thin or thick hair due to its very strong hold and thin enough texture. Guys with short hairstyles will also appreciate this.
TIGI Bed Head is a fun name for a seriously good product. I’ve previously used their molding paste that has very good performance and it comes at a decent price, just like this gel.
This product got a smooth creaminess and it gives you a strong hold without being overly strong and flaky. But if you apply it on wet hair and blow-dry it, it will dry to a crisp. If that’s what you’re aiming for, by all means, go for it.
The ingredients don’t include alcohol, which I think is a great way to make the gel stay wet and moist for longer. The scent seems to be a bit strong but once you apply it on your hair, you won’t feel it anymore.
It gives your hair a fairly glossy look and it stays on all day. I guess that this is something that you either aim for or expect when you use a hair gel. It’s also pretty easy to wash off.
Price to value is fairly decent and it’s worth trying out if you’re looking for strong hold without making your hair looking unnaturally styled.
It’s not the first time that we review a product from Krieger + Sohne. I particularly like their body wash for men that we reviewed some time ago.
Now this hair gel, is set to give you the ultimate ‘warrior’ look, this fantastic hair gel has all the right ingredients.
The list includes natural wonders like Aloe vera, rosa canina fruit extract, sage, and witch hazel. Compared to many other hair gels for men reviewed here, it’s one of the few natural hair gels with excellent natural ingredients. All packed with a brilliantly masculine fragrance.
It offers great hold and it works better on damp hair rather than dry. It’s also very easy to wash it off of your hair.
For all it’s worth, the company produces their products by following ethical manufacturing practices (no animal testing) which I consider very important.
When it comes to the price department, you get a very good value for the 8 fl oz bottle. It’s not the cheapest you can find but it’s certainly towards the lower end when it comes to top-notch men’s hair gels that contain natural ingredients.
The particular hair gel by TRESemme isn’t something that is targeted solely to men. Advertised as unisex product, this gel gives your hair a very strong hold without the frizz.
Wheat protein and jojoba seed extract make this one of the healthiest gels you could use. Apart from that, the formula doesn’t contain any alcohol and your hair won’t dry out after using it.
One good thing about this hair gel is the fact that your hair won’t look wet the way it happens with most hair gels. It’s also great hair gel for longer hair. That being said, If you apply a moderate amount, you’ll be able to sport that out of bed look while enjoying the strong hold this product has to offer.
Now, this gel comes in pack of 6 and it’s totally worth it. Image that some hair gels cost each as much as 6 of TRESemme.
Overall, it’s a great mix of natural ingredients, attractive packaging, and a reasonable price. Highly recommended!
Woody’s hair products are natural and very simple to use. It’s one of the few comsumer hair gels -as opposed to barber sized containers, that have a convenient pump to dispense as much product as you want without making a mess. However, this isn’t very convenient when it comes to travelling with it as you might mess everything up in your dopp kit.
Advertised as a hair gel for normal hair, this product gives a light to minimum hold. Because of its light texture, I think this would also make it great for fine hair as well.
This is more like a gel to keep your hair in place rather than for sculpting purposes. It feels light to the hair which means that it won’t feel sticky even after hours since application. In addition, it doesn’t flake like dandruff.
Although this isn’t the cheapest product, it’s definitely one of the top gels for a man’s hair you can get. Nice mix of ingredients and excellent performance. The smooth texture and great smell are just added bonuses.
A sample of tough and hard gel that will hold your hair in place no matter what, the Redken Gel is priced at a reasonable price and it’s made for the style-conscious man.
Redken is a brand that many hairstylists and barbers use when they want to create hairstyles with strong hold. And Redken doesn’t let them down.
Although there’s a lack of natural ingredients here and the base is alcohol, this is really one of the best choice for complicated hairstyles where control is all that matters.
This hair gel from Brooklyn Botany is one of the few all natural products on this guide.
This hair gel has the perfect blend of natural ingredients and moisturizing properties. The ingredients include fantastic hair nourishing ingredients such as organic aloe vera and witch hazel. Witch hazel is expensive and as far as I know the effects on hair are tremendous.
The texture isn’t too thick and it allows you to use as much as you need. It spreads nicely on your hands and hair.
When it comes to hold, it’s very good without being too strong and it doesn’t leave any residue. It’s a very good hair gel for men with thick hair but it also works for fine hair as well.
This isn’t exactly a cheap hair gel, but the quality of the product makes up for it. I think the price is just right, although I know most men would disagree with me.
If you want a brand that focuses on natural exotic ingredients, Amazology got you covered.
Their exquisite hair gel has ingredients that sound like they’re from some distant wonderland where men have perfect wavy hair – Aloe, Açaí Oil, Ucuúba Oil & Passion Fruit Seed Oil. Each of the ingredients adds to the scent and texture of the gel.
Speaking of which, this is fairly thick that can get pretty sticky. For this reason, I think this is a hair gel best suited for thick hair. It’s fairly strong and sticky and I think that guys with thin hair might want to get something lighter.
In contrast to the thickness of this hair gel, it’s really easy to wash off.
Pricewise, I wouldn’t call this 3 fl oz a bargain but if you have normal to thick hair and appreciate the natural ingredients a hair gel has, this would make a great addition to your grooming kit.
Last but definitely not least, we’ve got a product from Jack Black. I’m not hiding my admiration to this company and I must say, that I really like all their products either this is shaving cream, beard oil, lip balm or even bar soap.
The major advantage of this hair gel isn’t its price. I wouldn’t call any product of Jack Black a steal but their products is the definition of getting what you pay for.
Now, the particular hair gel for men comes with great, natural ingredients that give you a very strong hold.
Even though the hold is strong, it doesn’t feel heavy, greasy or sticky, giving your hair a very natural hold and shine. It’s a good hair gel for men with thin hair -which automatically makes it good for any other hair type. It also washes off fairly easily even when you simply rinse your head with water.
All in all, the Jack Black hair gel is a product that you won’t regret trying out -just like the majority of their product range.
What is a hair gel
As the name suggests, hair gel is a gel-like substance that helps you style your hair. It’s usually wet and light, but it hardens after application to hold the hair follicles perfectly in place throughout the day.
It’s been used, perhaps, for millennia to help men get that classy, well-groomed look.
Going through the history of hair gel briefly, we’ll see that it’s not so recent invention after all.
Hair gel dates back, believe it or not, to ancient Egypt. A fat-based gel was used to preserve the hair of ancient mummies.
Admittedly, that’s a bleak and morbid beginning for a product now associated with good looks.
Natalie McCreesh, a researcher and avid archeologist from the University of Manchester, took hair samples from a number of mummies discovered around the pyramids. They found traces of what can only be described as ancient hair gel in the mummy’s’ hair. The oldest of the eighteen mummies studied was 3,500 years old, which means hair gel has been with us for a really long time.
Ancient hair gel has also been uncovered in parts of France, Spain and Ireland over the years. It seems styling our hair is part of our tradition and DNA as a species.
What’s now known as modern hair gel dates back to the early and mid-1900’s.
British company Brylcreem helped bring hair gel to the market back at the start of the century. It popularized hair gel alongside other male grooming products throughout Europe.
Soon, Dep Corp brought the product to the United States. The first American hair gel was called Dep and was a non-greasy version of the British hair gel developed by inventor Luis Montoya.
What is it made of
Traditionally made of animal fat, the commercial modern versions of hair gel contain styling polymers, generally vinyl monomers such as PVP (Polyvinyl Pyrolidone) or VP (Vinyl Pyrolidone).
Here is a list of some of the other ingredients you would normally find in a pack of off-the-shelf hair gel:
Water, Carbomer(Thickener), Disodium EDTA(Adjustment Agent), Glycerin(Humectant), Benzophenone-4(Stabilizer),Diazolidinyl urea, or iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (Preservative), Water(Solvent), PVP K-90(Styling Polymer) PVP/ dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate copolymer(Styling gel), Oleth-20(Solubilizer), Fragrance, and Aminomethylpropanol (Neutralizer).
What’s the difference with other hair styling products?
Of course, hair gel isn’t the only hair styling product for men. There’s also hair clay, pomade, wax and a few other variations that tend to be a blend of the previously mentioned.
Pomades are usually water-based, so they’re much easier to wash out. If you have dry hair, pomade is a good option and it gives your hair some shine. For men who need a matte finish, the best option is probably wax. Clay has a similarly matte look.
Gel is usually ideal for men who have longer, thicker hair and want to go for the stylish ‘wet look’. However, there are a lot of gels that offer different hold and they can work with any hair type.
When should a man consider using one and for what type of hair and hairstyles?
Pomades and wax are usually the only substitutes for men’s hairstyling products if you don’t consider hair gel. Gel has a different sort of chemical makeup which has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Hair gel is best for the old-school wet look that holds your hair firmly in place. It’s not greasy and is usually cool on the head, so you can use it in humid and hot climates.
The only problem with some hair gels is the way they dry up and leave white flakes all over your head.
This is the case with hair gels that contain alcohol so you might want to keep that in mind during your search. If the hair gel for men that you select has alcohol, you need to wash the hair thoroughly to get rid of any gel before the end of day.
How do you use hair gel?
Depending on the strength of the gel, the look you want to sport and they type and style of hair, there are several different ways to use hair gel.
There are however a few general rules that apply to all hair gel.
First of all, it’s best applied to washed and dried hair. If you want to go for a shiny and wet look, it’s best to towel dry your hair or even apply a bit of water on your hair before you style with gel.
You need to keep a little bit of moisture on the hair to help the gel work and distribute the gel evenly throughout your hair as you set it up.
There are however the cases of men that wish a bit of strong hold on certain part of their hair, especially if your hair is difficult to tame. For this reason, many would use it on dry hair and only just enough for control rather than for a wet look with hair that dry to a crisp.
How to choose a hair gel?
Choosing the perfect hair gel, again, comes down to preference. You need to consider the quality, price, and ingredients of any product before trying it out for the first time.
Type of gel
Gel is usually high shine and strong hold. Most of the gels you will see in the supermarket will fall into this category.
They give your hair a shiny look and can stay put for most of the day. Some of them even harden after you leave it in for a while.
You’ll find most of them in tubes or containers, which usually depends on how thick the hair gel is.
Strength of hold
The two factors you need to account for are the strength of hold and the level of gloss in the gels.
Unfortunately, in most cases the only way to judge whether a hair gel is right for you is by trying it out.
Depending on the look you want to go for, you can choose among from light to super strong hold.
Luckily, we’ve reviewed some of the best hair gels for men earlier to help you on your search.
The reviews can only go so far, since they’re all written from our perspective. For you to find your ideal hair gel you need to start by analysing your hair type.
Speaking of which…
Type of your hair
If the hair is curly or thick, hair gel may not be the best idea because it will make the hair add volume and look thicker. On the other hand, normal, fine and wavy hair will suit gel well.
If you’ve got fine hair, you might want to go for a gel that isn’t too thick and too strong. Otherwise, your hair strands will be stuck with each other, making your head look like a cropped field. Same goes for very short hair.
Although there are many popular brands that carry hair gels, there are some that you can’t go wrong with them.
The best brands, in terms of quality and recognition reviewed in this article, are American Crew, Johnny B., Tresemme, and Paul Mitchell.
This doesn’t mean that other brands won’t do a great job or have inferior products. Rather the opposite I might add.
There are smaller brands that produce excellent products. And the best way for a smaller company to compete with a larger one is not on price but more like on the ingredients and performance.
And this brings us to our next selection criteria.
Finding a hair gel for men with all natural ingredients isn’t the easiest task.
There are however many companies that include natural ingredients as a big part of their formula.
No matter if you get a hair gel that has all natural ingredients or not, it’s good to keep in mind a couple of things.
First, gels that contain alcohol might (and most of them will), dry up your hair. This can be a bit annoying as your hair will flake once the gel settles on your head and you start touching your hair.
The next thing that you want to remember is to prefer products that contain no parabens.
Although there is no strong evidence (or at least there’s a lot of debating about it) that they are harmful to our health, there are so many brands that produce products without parabens. They are actually so many that makes no sense choosing a product that contains parabens after all.
Therefore, everytime you see on the ingredients something like methylparaben, propylparaben etc, it’s highly advisable to keep on searching for a different product.