Best Hair Clays For Men: Flawless Style (All Hair Types)

This Article May Contain Affiliate Links

In A Hurry? Our Top Picks:

  1. General Use: Baxter of California Clay Pomade
  2. For Thick Hair: Layrite Cement Clay
  3. Best Scent: American Crew Molding Clay

Finding the perfect hair clay to match your hair type and style is tough.

The best hair clay should not only have an adequate hold to tame unruly hair, but should also provide a matte finish, be composed of quality and natural ingredients that won’t dry out your hair or scalp, all while giving you the confidence you need in order to look your best.

In today’s review and guide we not only go over some of the most popular hair clay brands that can work with any hair type, but we also explore a few things you should think about before purchasing a new clay, along with a few simple steps on how you can get the most from your new product.

Let’s get started:

RankHair ClayBest For
1Baxter of California Clay PomadeGeneral Use
2Layrite Cement ClayThick Hair
3American Crew Molding ClayBest Scent
4Krieger + Söhne Styling ClayTravel
5Woody’s Matte Finish Clay for MenInexpensive
6V76 by Vaughn Texture ClayLong Hair
7MITCH Matterial Styling Hair ClayStrong Hold
8Jack Black Clay PomadeNatural Base
9Redken Brews ClayFine Hair
1018.21 Man Made Hair ClayMade In USA
11Smooth Viking Hair Styling ClayMost Popular

Before buying hair clay, 6 things to consider

As we reviewed a variety of hair clays, we identified six major factors that you should think about in order to find the perfect hair clay for you:

1. Hair Length & Style

Whether you have short, medium, or longer hair, a hair clay should be able to compliment your hair length without looking greasy or poor.

If you are looking to have a hair style that is a bit looser or on the casual side, the matte and natural look of clay is perfect for styling.

However, if you are looking to add a bit of sheen to your hair style or like a bit shinier appearance, then very few clays will meet your needs.

Instead, you may want to consider a pomade.

Secondly, if you are starting to exhibit the classic signs of male pattern baldness, a hair clay is the perfect styling product for men with thin or fine hair as it can add some much-needed volume.

2. Hold

As you will see in our reviews listed below, hair clays can come in a variety of holds.

When we go over the variety of ‘holds’ we are talking about how well a product can keep your hair in place throughout the day.  For example, a hair clay with a strong hold should be good for all day use.

Whereas a hair clay with a light to medium hold, will give your hair enough structure without feeling too rigid.

Generally speaking, for this product category, most hair clays tend to have a medium hold.

3. Finish or shine

Given that hair clays often contain bentonite clay (more on this in a minute), the finish or shine of your hair will be matte or natural.

The advantage of using hair clay compared to other styling products is that a clay provides enough hold to keep your hair style looking great without drawing much attention to your hair.

4. Ingredients

As we eluded to earlier, many hair clays often rely on bentonite as the primary ingredient that provides the structure or hold.

Used as a binding ingredient in a variety of applications, bentonite is often sourced from clay or volcanic ash (source).

Aside from clay, other ingredients used in hair clay can include beeswax, paraffin, carrier oils, essential oils, and lanolin.

These natural ingredients not only will keep the cuticles on your hair soft and strong but will work to also moisturize and nourish both hair and scalp.

Common ingredients that men often avoid when selecting a hair clay includes parabens and other synthetic ingredients as they may cause irritation with prolonged use.

5. Brands

When researching all the varieties of hair clays available to men, you will find that brands can generally be categorized into three primary buckets:

  • Standard
  • Designer/Salon
  • Premium

Standard hair clays

Often made from startup brands, these hair clays often contain a mixture of both synthetic and natural ingredients.  Due to the inclusion of synthetic ingredients, standard brands may cause flaking if the hair clay is layered on too heavily.

Designer/Salon hair clays

Brands like American Crew, Aveda, Bumble and bumble, etc. are often found in barbershops.  Great for both daily and special occasions, they often command a much higher price point than others.  Like the standard hair clays, they too will often contain some synthetic ingredients.

Premium hair clays

Brands such as Jack Black, Baxter of California, V76, and Kiehl’s are specially formulated with unique ingredients such as Moroccan Lava Clay which can both shape and texturize hair.  Mixed with other natural essential oils such as cedarwood or sandalwood, they smell great as well.

6. Price

During our research we found that most hair clays can cost anywhere between $10 and $30.  Of course, a variety of factors come into play here including the brand name, ingredient composition, etc.

Just because certain hair clay brands cost more, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a better product.

Now let’s switch gears and go over our hair clay reviews:

The best hair clays for men 2020

1. Best Hair Clay For General Use: Baxter of California Clay Pomade

Relying on a mixture of beeswax, bentonite, kaolin, and a variety of natural oils, the best hair clay for men is the Baxter of California Clay Pomade.

There is a lot to love about this hair clay, which includes the following:

  • High concentration of natural ingredients
  • Natural matte finish
  • Compatible with most hair types and styles

Here’s a quick look at each:

High Concentration of Natural Ingredients

While the inclusion of ‘pomade’ in its name may infer a slick, shiny and unnatural look, it is actually quite the opposite.

Baxter of California Clay Pomade relies on a mixture of kaolin clay, bentonite, and beeswax, to get the job done.

The result is a hair product that not only retains its structure thorughout the day but one that will clean out easily and not clump.

The paraben-free formula won’t flake and should work to both hydrate and nourish your scalp and hair.

Containing a variety of oils including castor seed oil, sage oil, and others, it should leave your hair looking healthy and not greasy.

Natural matte finish

Men who want their hair style to look effortless and kempt love the finish when using this clay. Able to give your hair both structure and a subtle sheen, it will make your hair look naturally healthy.

Compatible With Most Hair Types And Styles

Whether you have fine or medium-to-thick hair, Baxter of California Clay Pomade adds volume – which can be great for men who might be showing the early signs of male pattern baldness.

If there were any areas that this clay came up short, it would have been for men with really thick hair.

Should you want your thicker hair to stand straight up for hours, then this hair clay probably won’t be the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Works with most hairstyles
  • Gives a natural textured look
  • One of the best clays available

Cons

  • Expensive

What You Need To Know

Overall, this hair product by Baxter of California is nearly a perfect hair clay for men of any hair type. With the high reliance on many natural ingredients, it provides a medium hold and delivers a nice and natural finish.

2. Best For Thick Hair: Layrite Cement Clay

The Layrite Cement Clay is a perfect pick for those men with medium to thick hair.  By relying on four plant, mineral, and animal waxes, you are in complete command when styling your hair daily.

Some noteworthy features of this clay include the following:

  • Holding strength
  • Versatility
  • Made in the USA

Holding Strength

This is the ideal clay when looking for a strong hold and no shine. The versatile, unisex clay will work with ease on even the thickest hair creating a neat style with great strength.

Considered the best hair clay for thick hair, it will keep a hold all day long.

Versatility

The beauty of Layrite is its ease of application and pliability without the sticky, heavy weight feeling of a hair gel.

With the matte and natural-looking finish, this hair product works with you instead of against you.

Therefore, if you want to have a presentable look or one that is a bit more effortless, expect this clay to bend to your needs.

Made in the USA

For men who like to support their local countrymen rather than some far away country will be happy to learn that Layrite Cement Clay is designed and crafted right here in the USA.

Founded in 1999 by barbers, Layrite is based out of Costa Mesa, California (source).

Size

Traveling with hair products can be tough. With strict TSA-enforced size restrictions, you always have to make sure you have to keep things small.

Layrite is packaged in a 4.25oz tub making it tough to travel in your toiletry bag as it excess the TSA limit – so plan accordingly.

Pros

  • Provides a long lasting hold
  • Made in the USA
  • Great styling versatility

Cons

  • Large size isn’t travel friendly.

What You Need To Know

If you have thick hair or need to look presentable for the entire day, then this hair clay by Layrite is the perfect pick. With a strong hold, you don’t have to worry about your hair ever looking bad.

3. Best Smelling Hair Clay: American Crew Molding Clay

We all know the American Crew name by now because their popular products are found in many barbershops and department stores.

Just like their other products, their molding clay is one of the best on the market.

The formula is made from beeswax and bentonite which makes for a medium to strong hold on normal hair types. The scent is a manly blend of oils like orange, lime, peppermint and spearmint that give a cool, clean scent with a citrus touch.

The 3.0oz bottle is fairly hearty for a clay and the price is quite fair for such a popular, highly rated product.

Pros

  • Smells great
  • Gives a natural finish
  • Ingredients act as a natural conditioner

Cons

  • Washing out may be though
  • Not water based

What You Need To Know

Packed with a variety of natural ingredients, this salon quality clay smells amazing upon application. When the scent does subside, expect to get a medium to firm hold that provides a natural finish to your hair. It’s a great hair styling clay from a trusted brand.

4. Krieger + Söhne Styling Clay

Krieger + Sohne’s Styling Clay is a thick blend of rich hair clay that boasts to be “warrior grade” for its lasting holds and sleek styling. The product is infused with beeswax and clay creating a non-greasy clay that goes in easy, mold and holds, and won’t leave you with embarrassing flakes.

You won’t need heaps of this clay as the nutrient rich formula can create solid holds with little product and won’t be too heavy either.

Of course, if you are looking for a little extra holding strength, you can simply add some more clay without the fear of having it flake or look greasy.

Krieger + Sohne comes as one of the best hair clays out there and, as such, they back their trusted product with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Despite it’s German name, Krieger + Sohne is made in the USA.

Pros

  • Water based formula easy to wash out
  • Works with all hair styles
  • Nice textured look

Cons

  • May lose hold by end of day

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for a salon quality styling clay, then this one by K+S is worth considering. The light weight formula goes on easily and works thin or fine hair really well. Easy to clean out at the end of the day, its a perfect general use hair clay.

5. Best Cheap Clay: Woody’s Matte Finish Clay for Men

Woody’s Matte Finish Clay is one of the best clays for men with normal hair type because it gives a very strong hold and is made from great natural products like Hemp Seed Oil and Beeswax.

Men with fine hair should be cautious with this one because it tends to be somewhat oily on lighter, fine styles (it is suggested to use a very small amount and work it into the palms if you are going to use this clay on fine hair).

Outside of that, it creates a fantastic hold without giving you helmet head or leaving the hair feeling crunchy.

The 3.4oz bottle is big and priced modestly for such a large jar.

Pros

  • Incredibly affordable given the size
  • Does provide some natural shine
  • Works with most hairstyles

Cons

  • Not suited for men with long hair

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for an affordable hair clay, then Woody’s delivers the best value out there. Able to work with shorter hair types, applying this clay does result in some added volume.

6. Best For Long Hair: V76 by Vaughn Texture Clay

V76 by Vaughn Texture Clay is sought after for its versatility and ability to deliver a strong hold to the most active men. By relying on key ingredients including beeswax, bentonite, and lanolin to name a few – expect to get a picture-perfect hairstyle every single time you apply it.

Able to work on both short and long hair, it doesn’t weigh you down.

Additionally, V76 by Vaughn Texture Clay won’t alter the color of grey hair like some products. The hold is based on water so it works in easy, keeps a dry, low-shine finish, and can withstand a dousing of sweat from your evening jog.

The 1.7oz jar is travel friendly and one of the best reviewed clays out there.

Beyond the travel-friendly nature, men with longer hair loved this clay as it didn’t clump nor feel heavy after application.

Pros

  • Great for men with long hair
  • Strong hold keeps hair looking great all day long
  • Low shine finish looks natural

Cons

  • Needs frequent restocking

What You Need To Know

If you have longer hair or simply want strong control in your hair clay, then this product by V76 is a great choice. The strong hold will keep your hair looking great with the low shine finish.

7. MITCH Matterial Styling Hair Clay

MITCH Matterial Styling Hair Clay is a luxury clay that has reviews glowing just like your hair will be. The water-based clay provides a matte finish that is ideal for even thicker hair types and it shouldn’t flake. The formula is a bit heavier than most and so it gets in your hair for awesome shaping, polished off with a really pleasant scent.

Because of the rich texture, the clay will lock in a long-lasting hold for the perfect hairstyle.

While the price of this clay is a little higher (it is a larger jar at 3oz so it’ll last a while), you pay for quality as this is one of the highest-rated, best clays available.

Lastly, the clay is travel-friendly.

Pros

  • Natural matte finish
  • Nice smell
  • Provides texture
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Light hold

What You Need To Know

If you are looking to try something new that doesn’t flake and great for thicker hair types, then MITCH Matterial Styling Hair Clay is for you. The nice smell coupled with the textured look performs well.

8. Jack Black Clay Pomade

Jack Black is back with a clay pomade that is packed with ingredients for healthy hair and a super clean hold. This clay gives a light to medium hold that carries a really fresh scent because it is developed with a cornucopia of essential oils and is alcohol-free.

Besides a fresh scent, the essential oils have great benefits to your scalp; Tea Tree reduces itch and dryness, Sage Leaf fights bacteria, and Lavender Oil softens brittle ends for a great styling finish.

Jack Black’s Clay Pomade is not cheap, but it is one of the best clays for its neat styling and awesome hair health benefits.

Pros

  • Packed with natural oils
  • Matte finish
  • Strong and natural looking hold

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Technically not a clay

What You Need To Know

Like most Jack Black products, the ingredients within this clay pomade are uncompromising. Expect this clay to sculpt your hair into place effortlessly. The formula is both alcohol-free and fragrance-free.

9. Redken Brews Clay

Designed specifically for fine or thinning hair, the Redken Brews Clay is a great way to get full control over your hair while adding a nice bit of volume.

By relying on a water-based formula in combination with kaolin clay, this hair clay is easy to apply and equally easy to wash out.  As for the texture, you can expect to get a nice matte finish that looks completely natural.

Additionally, Redken notes that this does have a strong hold that will keep your hair locked in place throughout the day.

Lastly, the small 3.4oz container size makes this a TSA-compliant travel companion.

Pros

  • Designed for thin hair
  • Adds volume
  • Nice gritty texture finish

Cons

  • Not the cleanest ingredient label

What You Need To Know

If you are looking for a hair clay that can add a bit of volume to thin or fine hair, then you need to add this to the top of your consideration list. 

10. 18.21 Man Made Hair Clay

Designed, developed, and made in the USA (Texas), 18.21 should be a top consideration if you are looking for a styling clay that has unmatched quality craftsmanship.

Being that 18.21 makes their product here in the USA, you can rest assured that it adheres to the more stringent manufacturing and labeling requirements when compared to other countries.  Therefore, you never have to worry if the product your applying to your hair is actually safe to use.

Additionally, when inspecting the contents of this styling clay, you will find that 18.21 relies on a blend of several natural ingredients as its base including beeswax, bentonite, and candelilla. 

When worked into your hair, you can expect it to provide a medium to strong hold without weighing your hair down.

As far as texture, you can expect this styling product to give you a matte finish.

Perhaps the most notable feature of this clay, is the scent.  Drawing on an old sweet tobacco scent, this styling clay provides an intoxicating scent that you won’t be able to get enough of.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Perfect hold
  • Awesome scent

Cons

  • It’s pricey (but worth it)

What You Need To Know

If you require a well-made product and like to support your local countrymen, then you can’t go wrong with the 18.21 Man Made Hair Clay that has been meticulously crafted right here in the USA. 

11. Smooth Viking Hair Styling Clay

One of the most popular styling clays is also one of the best hair clays for men – Smooth Viking Hair Styling Clay.  

By providing a strong hold and a matte finish, this styling product allows you to have picture-perfect hair every single time.

Smooth Viking is able to achieve this reliable and good texture through the reliance on several all-natural and safe ingredients including tocopherol, bentonite, carrot seed oil, lanolin wax, and castor seed oil to just name a few.

Safe to use on all hair types, this mineral oil free clay won’t make your hair look greasy and will be easy to wash out after a long day of work.

Priced aggressively, it is easy to see why this styling product is so popular among men.

If there were any drawbacks it would be the size.  At 2oz, it will require frequent refills – so double up when ordering.

Pros

  • Provides a nice, strong hold
  • Matte finish
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Small size

What You Need To Know

It’s easy to see why this hair clay is so popular among men.  It’s cheap, well made, and it gives you great looking hair.

How to use hair clay

Whether it’s your first-time using hair clay, or you are already comfortable with the product, we wanted to share a comprehensive guide on how to apply hair clay in order to achieve the best results:

1. Damp hair for starters

Before hair clay is applied to your hair, its important that you get your hair moderately damp.  Damp hair allows for better product distribution and will prevent clumping.

Too wet of hair will dilute the hair clay too much and will make the product less effective.

Too dry of hair will cause the hair clay to clump and make for poor results.

2. Scoop out hair clay

When using hair clay, a little can go a very long way.

Depending on your hair length and thickness, you will want to only start with about a pea sized amount and adjust accordingly.

The intended result when using a hair clay is that it should provide a natural and textured look – never shiny or greasy looking.

3. Add water and mix

Before applying hair clay to your hair and scalp, you will first want to sprinkle a little bit of warm water into the palms of your hands.

This allows the hair clay to fully melt and allow for a more even distribution.

4. Massage into hair

Once you have your hair clay fully distributed onto your hands, its now time to massage the hair clay into your scalp.

When applying, its important that you get all the way to the root of the hair follicle and scalp and work your way outwards.

This deep penetration will allow the hair clay to provide better results by giving the hair shaft more structure.

5. Get full coverage

In order to make your hair look great, you will want to make sure that you fully distribute hair clay on your entire head – this means both sides and back as well as the top of your head.

Too often men only apply a styling product to the top of their head and skip the sides – so make sure you get full coverage here.

6. Brush or comb for distribution

While you can use your hands to work the product into your scalp and hair, we have found that a brush or comb is much more effective at distributing hair clay.

A quality hair comb will pull the product along the entire length of the hair shaft.

Even if you are going for a more natural look, this little trick will still get better performance from the hair clay.

7. Use a hair dryer (optional)

In order to keep your hair in place throughout the day, many men like to use a hair dryer either when working the product through with their comb or brush, or once they are finished.

This can help ‘lock in’ the holding properties of the hair clay and give your hair more structure and better results.

Again, if you are going for a more natural look in your hair style this step can be skipped, but for the men who want to remain presentable throughout the day, this extra step can make all the difference.

Hair clay vs. other hair styling products (wax, fiber, gel, paste, etc.)

Hair clays are unlike many of the other products in the hair styling world.  Not only do they typically provide a natural and matte look, hair clays also rely on a wide variety of natural ingredients.

In order to help understand how this product is truly unique compared to other popular hair care products, we wanted to give just a brief overview on each:

Hair wax

The closest comparison to hair clay will be hair wax.  Instead of relying on bentonite clay as the primary binding and structure agent, hair wax will depend on paraffin wax.  Paraffin wax is a soft and colorless solid that is derived from petroleum (source), making it fundamentally different from hair clay.

But like hair clay, when using hair wax, you can expect to get a matte finish.

Men with short or medium hair prefer hair wax as it can also give a slightly stronger hold – especially when compared to a hair clay.

Hair pomade

Popularized in the 1950s and 60s with the greaser look, historians have traced the origins of pomade all the way back to the times of ancient Egyptians.

Unlike hair clay, pomade provides a much stronger and shiny hold.

Coming in either a water or oil-based compound, this can dictate both the hold and appearance of the product on your hair.  Water-based pomades will have a lighter and more matte finish whereas an oil-based pomade will have a stronger hold and shiny finish.

Like hair wax, oil-based pomades rely on petroleum as a primary ingredient.

It’s generally advised that men who sweat profusely or have acne should avoid pomades as the ingredients within can clog your pores.

Hair putty

Designed to be reworked throughout the day, hair putty is often confused with other hair care products including both hair clay and hair paste.

Made for men with fine or thin hair, a hair putty provides a light to medium hold.

Relying on ingredients like lanolin and beeswax, it is a water-soluble formula that can be washed out easily at the end of the day.

The primary difference between both a hair putty vs. hair clay will usually be around shine.  Giving your hair just a bit more shine, hair putty is great for men who want to gently get away from the natural or textured look, yet don’t want a heavy-duty product like pomade.

Hair fiber

Primarily found in high end hair care brands, hair fiber is a mix between both a hair putty and hair clay.

While still a water-soluble formula that can be easily washed out, a hair fiber relies on beeswax as the primarily binding and holding agent.

Perfect for men with thinning hair, a hair fiber adds volume to give your hair a much thicker look.  Like the hair clay, hair fiber has very little (or oftentimes no) shine when applied.

The other difference between a hair fiber vs. hair clay is that a hair fiber doesn’t contain any bentonite clay.

Hair gel

Often relying on a mix of synthetic ingredients, although more natural hair gels are quickly becoming popular, this product is fundamentally different from hair clay.

Available in a variety of different holding strengths and shine, hair gels are suited best for men with shorter hair who crave structure.

Unlike a hair clay that can be worked effortlessly into longer hair, hair gels may be more prone to clumping and flaking – particularly the cheaper brands.

Hair paste

Although lacking any bentonite clay, hair paste is like hair clay in that the final look is more of a matte finish.

Both a more natural look along with a water-soluble formula, this is another great alternative to a hair clay.

The biggest difference between a hair paste and hair clay is often around the holding strength.  Hair pastes will provide more of a medium to strong hold which can be good for those men who want to have a low effort hair style.

Our criteria for choosing the best hair clay

Texture, volume, and holding strength are just some of the key qualities to look out for when choosing the best hair clay for you.

With so many options available for men today, there never has been a better time to choose between some great hair clay brands.

While we couldn’t review every single hair clay currently made, we do feel confident that our list above contains the best hair clay brands available today.

We hope that this review and guide proved helpful in finding your next hair clay.

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

If You Thought This Was Good, Then Join Our Newsletter

When you sign up for our email list, you will receive actionable advice on how make your grooming and style regimen even better.