To select the absolute best and most effective hair gel for you, it’s imperative that you check out this key information before making a purchase.
Below we break down application, key ingredients to be on the look out for to prevent flaking, where to buy a quality hair gel, and lastly, what strength of hold will be the best one for you.
How To Properly Apply Hair Gel
Applying hair gel is incredibly easy – and a reason why this product is found in so young men’s cabinets.
Depending on your hair length their may be a bit of trial and error before you nail down the look you are going for.
But for starters, you will simply want to go ahead and squirt out about a quarter sized amount into the palm of your hand.
Set down the bottle and simply rub your hands together for an even coating.
This is critical so you don’t have a clump of gel in your hair long after you have applied it to your head.
With your hands evenly coated you will want to work the product fully through your hair – make sure that you get all the way down to the base. An even application will ensure that the tips don’t get stuck together ultimately looking like icicles on your head.
For a more natural finish, be sure to comb or brush your hair shortly after gel application.
Some gels, largely depending on the composition of ingredients and the hold that they deliver, can be further worked on throughout the day.
Therefore, if you find that your hair needs to be a bit sharpened up, be sure to check out the reviews below so you find the best hair gel that will fit into your styling preferences.
Tips On Selecting A Hair Gel For You
When it comes to selecting hair gel, are you a man that is looking for a hold that is a bit more stronger or weaker? Or are you looking for a gel that can be worked on throughout the course of the day or one that you want to simply ‘set it and forget it’? No matter your preference, you should be able to find a hair gel that largely checks all the boxes that you are looking for in a product.
Different Types of Gels
When you are looking at the different hair gels in our lofty list below you are going to notice some stand-out ingredients often discussed.
One of the most common ingredients always mentioned on hair blogs is alcohol.
But here’s the deal:
Not to knock any sites in particular, but they often do an incredibly poor job of knocking down alcohol and never explaining the reason why.
More often than not, the harsh criticism is sorely misplaced and leads to some incredibly bad information out there, especially when selecting products.
Here is the 10,000 ft view on what you need to know, and more importantly, why you should care on the type of alcohol that matters in your favorite hair gel:
These are the ones that many people scoff at and normally associate all the horrible things with alcohol. Typically coming in many variants including ethanol, propanol, denatured alcohol and more, this variety of alcohol is incredibly effective at being an anti-bacterial (i.e. remember going to the nurses office and they splash this on a cut – yeah that sucked) and also are incredibly good at being an astringent (i.e. found in aftershave splashes and lotions).
But while these short-chained alcohol are great for cleaning wounds and closing up your pores, there are a lot of downfalls with this simple ingredient when found in hair care products. Namely, its the astringent property is so damn powerful, it will completely ‘close’ up any thing it comes in contact with to an absolute crisp.
This means that when its found in your favorite hair gel, its going to dry can close up your hair cuticles upon application. This is great if you are looking for a quick drying gel, but on the longer term, it may spell disaster not only for the delicate structure of your hair, but also your scalp as well.
The biggest complaint among men, and often the harshest association that comes with hair gels, is that they will cause flaking.
This by and large is mostly misplaced, as you will see many of the best gels don’t contain this single-chained alcohol. In addition, another reason for flaking is due to men not regularly bathing and washing the product fully out of their hair when they do eventually take a shower.
Beyond the short-chained alcohols that we just covered above, you have another alcohol called a ‘fatty alcohol’. Like Rachel in high school, these alcohols spent way too much time at the dessert bar of the Golden Corral porking up and over indulging on molecules.
But in actuality, these alcohols are just a variant on the alcohol chain with some of the more popular ones being lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and more.
Now you may notice that like many things in chemistry, fatty alcohols have a very strict naming convention in that the first word in the alcohol type had a ‘-ly’ at the end. While it might seem logical to associate any fatty alcohol with ‘-ly’ this simply isn’t true. So if you have a question on the alcohol type, a quick search of Google or referencing the Alcohol Wikipedia page will likely lead you in the right direction.
So what’s the deal with fatty alcohols?
Well in short, these alcohols don’t have the astringent property. In fact, its just the opposite.
Fatty alcohols are terrific at being emollients and retaining moisture on the surface of your skin. Therefore, when found in your favorite hair gel, they will make both your hair and scalp feel incredibly smooth and soft to the touch.
When you really look closely at the shaft of your hair follicle, it’s coated in scales (i.e. cuticles). When these cuticles are laying flat on the surface of your hair, it will naturally look shiny.
A top-notch hair gel (or any hair styling product for that manner) that contains this fatty alcohol and will do an effective job at making these cuticles lay flat and give off a great appearance.
Strength of Hold
Strength of hold on your prospective hair gel largely comes down to personal preference.
Are you a man that wants to just simply apply hair gel in the morning and never think about it for the rest of the day, or are you a man that likes to shape up their hair during the lunch hour to ensure that everything is looking on point?
Depending on your preference, you should have no problem selecting a hair gel that fully conforms to what you are looking for.
Differing hold types:
While it may be easily inferred for many men, just to ensure there is no confusion here’s roughly the scale of the strength of hold and firmness:
If you are looking for a product that doesn’t provide any sort of brittle-y feeling or one that is much closer to your natural hair texture, then a light hold hair gel may be the perfect fit for you (see the Jack Black hair gel we reviewed). Keep in mind though, these products aren’t going to retain that look for long – so be sure when you head out the door in the morning that you slide your favorite comb into your back pocket for midday touch ups.
As you may guess, this hold is going to be somewhere in the middle of the hair care strength spectrum. Medium hold is great for men who are looking for some light midday styling, while also providing enough structure to the hair follicle to retain your look throughout the day. Medium holds may be preferred by men who undergo light activity (i.e. office work, midday gym workout, etc).
Products like the Got 2B hair gel will give off an incredibly tight hold. This is perfect if you are looking for a single application at the beginning of the day and that’s it. Of all the hold types, ‘firm’ or ‘strong’ is considered to be the toughest.
Where To Buy Popular Hair Gel Brands
While we largely will link all the products in this post to Amazon, there is of course more than one online retailer in the world (even though the benefits of Amazon Prime are just so darn good).
Here are a few other places that you can find many of the most popular hair gel brands on the market. Oh, and did we mention that many of them do offer incredibly low or free shipping (listed in no particular order)?