Over the decades, there have been many products created to style hair. From oils, to creams to waxes and so on. The variety of products and brands does make it hard to consumers to choose. Short of snazzy advertisements and eye-catching shop displays, consumers usually get good advice from barbers and salons who also sell the styling products. Most importantly, consumers should know the differences between a hair paste, pomade, clay, gel, hairspray, mousse and waxes. What the product does and does it even suit their hair type and the style that they want to achieve. The thing is to try to understand and then simplify the choice and try the product.
Pomades can be broken down into two major categories:
Oil-based (the more traditional version)
Water-based (the more popular and newer option)
They are primarily designed to showcase your hair in a slick, composed and neat manner while usually providing a shiny finish (ie pompadours, ducktails, or classic side parts). Basically, pomades work extremely well for hairstyles that are formed using a comb. Unlike gels, pomades do not dry out or leave your hair stiff and crispy allowing you to re-style your hair again and again throughout the day(depends on the formulation). Options for medium to high strength pomades are widely available in many brands and scents. They make look the same once the cap is off. But performance can vary from 2-12 hours of hold, some acting like a gel(one time styling) to those that are like a workhorse, lasting hours and able to adjust with some addition of water. Some dry out your hair and scalp, some are wonderful to use, feels like a dream to style(similar to oil-based), forming nice curved segments and pomps, yet easily washable at the end of the day with no residue.
Oil-based pomades are basically made of grease or petroleum, which makes it a very cheap to manufacture option compared to water-based pomades. It is easier to make and have a much longer shelf-life. It is so easy to make that, it is highly possible to do it from your own kitchen/home, hence the word "home-brew" In the 1950s, the term “greaser” appeared to describe the greased-back hairstyles that use this type of product. Their ingredients are water insoluble which makes them practically impossible to wash out in the shower (buyer beware!). Multiple shampoo and condition runs/ strong degreasers are needed to remove the product from the hair. By then, many innocent strands of hair have fallen, not forgetting the scalp which had to undergo so much chemical stress and the natural oils(necessary for healthy scalp) have been forcefully removed, making the body pump extra oil from the scalp, creating a frail and weak and oily scalp, where hair drops easily. While the petroleum and grease might give your hair long lasting shine and infinite mold ability, it does come at a cost. One final thing worth mentioning is the oil-based pomades may leave you more acne prone, particularly along your forehead and on your scalp. If you don’t give your hair and scalp a proper wash, then pore and hair follicles can be clogged resulting in unwanted buildup and undesirable acne. To sum it up, alot of damage to hair and scalp, too much sacrifice.
Water-based pomades on the other hand are much more user-friendly and not as damaging and stressful to scalp and hair. They are designed to allow you to achieve similar looks and holds to oil-based pomades, but they wash out easily with water. Leaving little or no residue.The scalp is healthier and cleaner, less hair fall. Some water-based pomades can hold as firmly as the oil based type, they can also maintain flexibility and can be restyled throughout the day. Some even feature essential oils like lanolin oil, lavender oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil ...etc which are actually beneficial for hair and scalp, promoting natural shine, growth and bounce.
Pastes are like a thicker version of toothpaste, they normally are easy to apply and can be made water-based. In general hair pastes are thicker in consistency than pomades and are opaque. They normally give a low to medium shine. Pastes when applied to semi-wet hair, usually is combable. A hair paste usually gives your hair a medium to very firm hold and they can be restyled, just like a water-based pomade, hence the versatility of this type of product and can be recommended for practically any hairstyle. Hair pastes are ideal for all hair lengths, types and styles…from short to long, fine to thick, messy to combed. And they are generally water-based, so washing them out is not difficult. However, do becareful in choosing some pastes, as they could contain too much oil /wax, hence still washable but more shampoo/ or more forceful rubbing is needed. This factor might create some stress for some users' scalps.
Now typically, thicker hair pastes require them to be warmed up before application. Rubbing thicker hair paste between your fingers or palms will soften the product allowing you evenly distribute it throughout your hair. Once the product is applied and your hair is styled, the product will begin to cool again and re-thicken, which helps give your hairstyle the hold it needs.
Clay hair products typically look very hard and dry in the container. The one thing in common with all clay hair products is the fact that they actually contain a clay ingredient in their formulations. The most commonly used clay is bentonite, which is completely natural and usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash. It’s incredibly fine and powdery making it almost “velvety” to the touch, and can swell when contacting water. Clay however requires the user to apply a small layer by layer, thus more time consuming and takes more patience and practice. Taking too much into the palm at a time, makes it impossible to apply on hair, forcing clumps to form in the hair. Normally, just take a bit, rub quickly into palms, creating some heat before spreading into hair. Because of the fast hardening nature of clay, sometimes it hardens too quickly during styling, causing tugs and pulls, which in turn, pulls hair out. Clay in hair is also pretty much uncombable, you have to use your hands and fingers to style.
Waxes look like stiffy and less creamy versions of pastes. They contain higher content of oil/wax components. Wax in hair is pratically impossible to comb and much hairfall is expected if you do that. Restyling is difficult as wax generally stiffens and dries up quickly. The hold of waxes are not as strong as pomades. Multiple scoops are required to be placed into the hair, clumps, flakes are easily formed. Looking like dandruff when dried up in the day. The stronger waxes are brutal to hair and scalp as they are very dry and hard minutes after application. Be prepared to lose hair during removal like the same way you would do to remove an oil-based pomade. There is a lot of residue and clogs the hair follicles. Waxes usually are very cheap to produce and also are sold cheaply. Waxes are typically a teenager's first styling product.
Waxes have a low to medium shine. Better for layered and short hair styles.
Hairstyling cream has a lotion-type consistency (versus the solid, pasty-type consistency of pomades and pastes) and they work great for moisturizing your hair in an effort to control and maintain fry/frizzy hair. Hair creams offer a light, softer hold compared to any other hair styling products, and they are recommended primarily as a pre-styling product as they add substance, shine and separation to the hair. After which, the user can choose to blow-dry the hair to style and prior to applying a styling product, whcih could be a pomade or a paste. They can also be used as and when the user needs to give their hair a boost of moisture and nourishment.
So if you’re looking to tame unruly hair and control the frizz on curly haired guys, then adding a cream to your styling regime would be recommended. Some high-end creams have complex formulas that nourish hair and skin at the same time, pampering the user. Some creams have such great ingredients that they can be used on beards, giving nourishment for at least a day. Creams work better for longer hair and some men like the relaxed and flowy look, applyin some cream would be optimum.
Hair gel is a very common hair styling product for men. Like wax, it is readily available at even petrol stations and drugstores. It’s typically the “starter” hair product for most guys who begin styling their hair in middle school or high school. A survey once found gel or wax in 8 out of 10 school boy bags. Only the lazy ones did not bother to style their hair. Unfortunately, gel is mainly made of water and a lot of oil compounds. It is a very basic hair product and has very limited functions.
Gel is great product if your intention is to have stiff, non-movable hair and if you don’t care if products damage your hair. It does work well with all hair lengths, thicknesses, and textures to mold, sculpt, and hold your hair in place. Gel tends to coat the hair strands and binds them together to lock them in place. Gels are water-based styling products but they have a concoction of harsh alcohols and holding chemicals. They typically leave your hair shiny and rock hard and don't have the flexibility to style your hair throughout the day. Gel users often experience oily scalps, forehead, face and back of neck. Once you perspire, the gel literally melts and covers your face and neck, real gross situation.
The “extreme hold” of using gel in your hair does come as a cost:
Flaking or residue when gelled hair is disturbed by running your fingers through your hair
Hair damage and excessive drying due to the type of alcohols that are used to help the gel dry
Corrosive chemicals strip all moisture from the hair and scalp resulting in itchy and flaky scalp and dandruff
Hair becomes brittle and prone to breakage
Hair becomes more frizzy, thereby making it unmanageable, dry, rough, limp and lusterless
Promotes dead skin cell build up and excess sebum on the scalp which clogs the hair follicles and eventually causes hair to fall out and hair loss
Mousse is basically a lot of harmful, sticky chemicals including oil in an aerosol can. Mousse is a hairstyling product that is designed to add body, light hold and shine to hair. The result is crispy and oily hair which can not be restyled. Normally used by ladies to create volume for curls. Mousse pumped out of the can normally melts into a liquid very quickly once in the hand, making it spread like water both into hair and scalp. Unless you are careful, it is difficult to spready evenly into a men's hair, without touching the scalp. It makes a good prestyler if you are careful with application and if you have the intention to use a brush and blower to create volume.
For men with thick and longer hair, a serum is used to control frizz and fly-aways by moisturizing the hair and providing a silky smoothness. Most guys will never use a serum due to the application, but can be used to add a quick shiny finish by applying a little bit after your hair is towel dried.
Hair oil is not really a styling product, but rather a hair repairing product. Its recommended use is overnight or when styling your hair isn’t needed because hair oils will likely leave hair looking extremely greasy/oily and provide no hold whatsoever. Their main purpose it to hydrate the hair when the scalp is insufficiently producing enough sebum (natural hair oil) or when the sebum isn’t traveling from the root to the top to effectively protect the hair. Depending on the needs of your hair, you’ll need to choose the product right for the job:
Argan Oil – Protects the hair and makes it feel smoother, softer, and less frizzy
Coconut Oil – Improves overall hair health by penetrating deep in the hair shaft and strengthening weak spots
Almond Oil – Contains a Vitamin A, B and E which improves hair health and adds shine and body
Olive Oil – Revives dry hair (*use sparingly for fine hair types)
While Quincy does not offer a stand-alone hair oil product, we do include oils within our products to help condition, strengthen, and improve overall hair health. Take Quincy Freakout Special Edition Pomade for example – its ingredients include argan oil to condition and soften the hair throughout the day and even during washing out.
The hair product marketplace is filled with all types of hair spray products that can set your hairstyle, enhance shine, reduce frizz, and even promote volume. Hair spray can be used by itself, or used in conjunction with any hair paste or pomade. They are normally sprayed on the outer layer of hair to lock in the hairstyle in place.
Typically, hair spray is packaged in an aerosol can or bottle with a pump sprayer, and is primarily geared towards women – this does not mean that men can’t and shouldn’t use them as well. Some hair sprays are matte, some are shiny, some have shimmer even. Some cheaper sprays are very heavy and oily, if too much is used, a lot of residue builds on scalp and hence is harmful. Some hairsprays may precipitate when reacting with other hair styling products, so some experimentation is needed.
If you use a hair styling that is strong enough, it is actually redundant to use a hairspray. Why? Hair spray locks the style and you can not restyle since it is crispy and hard. If your styling product is strong enough to hold and yet still have the ability to restyle and easy to remove, without creating residue on scalp that may require multiple shampoo runs, we believe it is better to just skip the hairspray unless really mission critical.
In summary, most men would like to have a hair product that is easy to use, strong, adjustable, water-soluble, leaves no residue, hence healthier for their scalp. We would recommend a good water-based pomade(shiny) or matte paste.