Mens Hair Product 101. What's in your HAIR guys?
Updated: May 8, 2018
As a barber the first thing that happens when someone sits in my chair is.........
The consultation. That wasn't rhetorical. That was a question that you were supposed to answer out loud even though I can't hear you. After assessing their hair type and the style, my next question is always what products do they use in their hair.
Many men give me a deer in the headlights look, almost as if to ask if they should know. Well yah silly you should know what's in your hair. Basically Im saying half of the time I have to guess by asking leading questions. For example, do you like SHINE or NO SHINE. There are two commonly terms used to describe hair products for men.
Any product labeled shine will reflect light and make your head look glossy or wet. It can have a firm fixed hold, or it can have a light to medium hold. Anything labeled matte will make your hair absorb light and therefore – not shine. Again, this product can have varying degrees of holding power.
The second question I go to regarding product is do they like a strong hold? Pay attention to the holding power because that’s one of the main distinctions between hair products. They are categorized as low, medium, or maximum-hold. Of course there are those that still use the 4oz tub of LA Looks (yes they still make that and people use it), I know I aged myself with that one. I also get gentlemen in my chair who don't know what to use so they use nothing, or whatever their girlfriend or wife has. No No No. I can't stress enough, that men should not use products made for women. Other then you smelling like some wedding bouquet, formulations and ingredients can widely vary. Don't be lazy. Many people ask similar questions:
What's the difference between a hair paste, pomade, or a clay? How about gels, crèmes, or waxes? And should I be using any mousse, heat protectant, oils, or hair spray?
Which one is right for my hair style and hair type?
Below is a list of products and the most common features of them:
Wax – Medium Hold, Medium-High Shine.
Pomade – Low/Medium/High Hold & High Shine.
Clay – Medium/High Hold & Low Shine.
Paste – Medium/High Hold & Low-Medium Shine.
Cream – Low hold & Low-Medium Shine.
Mousse – Blow dry base, Use For Volume.
Hair Serum – Low Hold & High Shine.
Hairspray – Degrees of shine, Fixative, Finishing Touches.
Hair Fibers - Makes hair look Fuller and Thicker.
I am sure there are a few guys reading this and seeing that lightbulb go off in their head, like oh yah duh wax usually indicates shine, or clay would be a matte finish. I know common sense isn't common, and the product world makes it even harder by distinguishing their products with names like Dry Wax or Matte Pomade. That just makes it even harder to compare or suggest products to customers. Sometimes as stylist we have a hard time being product experts on everything out there, let alone a client saying they use a pomade and then they want a look with no shine. The more we can educate our clients, the easier we are making our lives as their hairdressers. Teaching your clients, specifically new ones, is one of the best ways to add value to your service. With so much information available online (like this blog) clients are looking for what extra we provide. If you are the client you want to feel like your stylist has your best interest in mind, that they aren't just referring you the only product they sell. If you have a barber you frequently go to, next time you see them challenge them to answer you a few questions such as:
1. Why do you use ________ in my hair?
2. How wet should my hair be when styling?
3. Why is this brand different from other brands?
Upcoming product trends:
1. Control GX Shampoo does a fantastic job. Easy to apply and wash out.
Even my boyfriend uses this. I first heard about it from a client who refused to dye his hair with color, but I noticed his hair was darker. I asked him what was he doing to his hair for grey coverage and he said he was using this shampoo. It is more color compacted then a color rinse, and gradually gets darker the more you use it. It has the perfect purple based Ash color to give you that natural charcoal. A perfect once or twice a week regimen men can add to keep the grey at bay.
2. Hair Building Fibers are ideal for concealing hair loss, bald spots & thinning hair. Make your hair look thick & full instantly.
I have a growing number of clients using fibers. Especially when it is used very commonly in social media pictures to create perfect hairlines and beard lines. I remember the first time I rinsed it out of one of my clients hair, I gasped, and scared the shit out of him. I thought I did something wrong. He had 100% scalp coverage, and wet hair in hands he had about 50%. The fibers had just come out and weren't an everyday beauty product, nor a special effects tool for barbers.
3. Black Gel Maximum Hold lets you cover the grey in your black hair while giving your style maximum hold. The color is temporary and will wash out with water and shampoo as does the product itself.
How awesome is this. I am seeing more and more clients talking about or using this kind of product. Color can be a sensitive subject for male clients, especially younger ones who are loosing pigment early. I love be able to have non-traditional recommendations for them.