20 Best Hair Gels For Men That Hold Well (All Hair Types)We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn More.
However, classic as it may be, hair gel has been making a comeback in recent years.
Not only are the formulas getting better, but men today have a lot to consider when selecting the perfect hair gel for them.
From the different textures, scents, the strength of hold and more, finding the perfect hair gel should balance all of these points perfectly – like the Jack Black Body Building Hair Gel.
In this guide, we not only review all the most popular and highly rated hair gels on the market, but you will understand what sets them apart from the rest.
In addition to our in-depth reviews, we also go over a few tips on how to get the most out of your new hair gel, how it differs from other hair care products, along with a bit deeper look at its ingredient profile.
With that being said, let’s get started:
In A Hurry? Our Top Picks:
Jack Black Body Building Hair Gel
Best Overall Hair Gel
REVITA Styling Gel
Best For Thinning Hair
American Crew Men’s Firm Hold
Best Traditional Hair Gel
Johnny B. Mode Styling Gel
Best Medium Strength Hair Gel
Best Hair Gels for Men Reviewed
Best Overall Hair Gel
There’s a lot to like in this Body Building Hair Gel from Jack Black.
Relying on an alcohol-free ingredient profile, this hair gel gives you the natural and healthy-looking style without the flakes or that “crunchy feeling”.
For the men that are turned off by the strong odor chemicals found in many of the cheaper hair gels, you will be happy to learn that this hair gel is fragrant free.
When it comes to the strength of hold, we found it to be in the light-to-medium strength range.
As is true with many Jack Black products, this hair gel is also absent of colorants and parabens.
For the men who currently use clay or traditional hair cream, you will likely find this hair gel exceptionally good as it provides similar results.
Lastly, the size.
Jack Black smartly designed this bottle to adhere to the strict TSA standards. Should you have a vacation planned, you can pack this one without having to worry about throwing it out at the airport.
- Provides a natural looking and flake-free hold
- No nasty chemical smell after being applied
- Contains several organic ingredients
- May not have a strong enough hold for some men
- Expensive compared to others
Best For Thinning Hair
According to the American Hair Loss Association, 85% of men will start to show the signs of hair loss by the age of 50 (source). If you are a man that has started to show the signs of hair loss or simply come from a family where this is prevalent, you may want to consider this truly unique hair gel by DS Laboratories.
Mixing both their award-winning REVITA hair-stimulating formula (found in one of the best hair loss shampoos we recently reviewed) along with a medium strength styling gel – you have a product that will be a staple in men’s medicine cabinets everywhere.
Relying on their proprietary Nansome Delivery System, the REVITA Styling Gel encapsulates the active ingredients within the gel and penetrates both the hair follicle and scalp deeper and more effectively. This translates to a hair gel that won’t flake, provides a reliable hold, along with adding volume to your hair.
While this styling gel is priced a bit higher than others on our list – we think it’s definitely worth the investment. Not only do you get a hair styling gel, but also a hair loss treatment as well.
Backed by a 30-day money back guarantee, should you be disappointed in the results.
- Unique formula
- Nice medium hold
- Promotes hair growth
Best Traditional Hair Gel
Simply put, American Crew knows a thing or two when it comes to styling products.
This styling gel by American Crew checks the boxes for many men out there. First and foremost, the formula is absent of any alcohol – therefore, prolonged or daily use shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Given that there is no alcohol within the American Crew gel, you shouldn’t have to worry about dried out or frizzy hair follicles either, allowing you to look your very best.
This gel delivers a pleasant shine along with a rather strong hold.
Like the Jack Black gel we also reviewed, this one is also great for travel.
- Traditional hair gel that provides a great shine
- Alcohol-free formula is non-greasy
- Widely available in barber shops everywhere
- Some men may not like the high shine
- The strong hold is only good for certain hairstyles
Best Medium Strength Hair Gel
From the onset, you might initially think of Johnny Bravo – I mean come on, not only did that guy have amazing hair, but the logo emblazoned on the side of this Johnny B. Mode styling gel bears an uncanny, yet dapper, resemblance.
But alas – as epic as Johnny Bravo was, so too is this gel from Johnny B.
Coming in a sky-blue color, this no-flake and no-buildup gel will provide a medium hold that will make your hair look and feel great.
With the alcohol-free design, it won’t be an astringent on your hair cuticles or scalp further ensuring that this gel will be comfortable with continued use.
Given its water-soluble composition, when you decide to take a shower in the evening or simply after hitting the gym, this product will rinse out with ease.
It’s the perfect styling gel for men looking for a medium hold.
- Provides a flexible medium hold
- Alcohol-free will prevent flakes
- Made in the USA
- Available in a variety of sizes
- Hard to find at brick-and-mortar shops
There are very few products in the men’s hair care world that carry the prestige that Paul Mitchell does. But with such a high mark for admiration, there is also a lot of pressure in living up to that label.
When it comes to hair gels, Paul Mitchell delivers. Their Steady Grip hair gel is perfect for many reasons.
First and foremost, its compact tube size is great for easily accessing the required amount of hair gel with very little in the way of waste.
Unlike some other containers that may be over 10 ounces, the MITCH gel is a stout 5.1-ounce design.
While the side of the label on this Steady Grip gel may claim to be a firm hold, most men when using this product regularly find that it’s just a bit looser than firm.
Like the Jack Black Hair Gel we reviewed, this gel by MITCH will give you a more natural look to your hair, making it perfect for men who like the convenience of gel but not the crunchy or spiky look.
- Medium-to-firm hold that delivers a natural shine
- Designer name that is trusted by barbers everywhere
- Alcohol-free formula resists flaking
- It’s expensive
Among the best hair gels that we reviewed is Majestic Pure, a terrific medium hold hair gel.
Crafted from a unique set of ingredients, including Argan kernel oil, orange fruit extract and pro vitamin B5, this hair gel will pull double duty and provide some great benefits for your hair and scalp when used.
With a 95%+ natural ingredient profile, you won’t have to worry too much about prolonged irritation when using this gel daily.
Secondly, this hair gel is absent of any alcohol.
Therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about flaking after a few days of use.
Now when it comes to the hold, this hair gel will be perfect to achieve a medium hold without any sticky feeling on your hands. The smooth texture of the product should do a good job at keeping moderately unruly hairs in check.
The 8-ounce tub-sized container puts it just a few ounces above the TSA recommended weight, making this not suitable for air travel.
- Made in the USA
- Mostly all-natural ingredients
- Alcohol-free formula
- Won’t cause any flakes
- Large tub is not suitable for travel
Primarily known for their wide array of shaving products, including both aftershave splashes and lotions, Clubman also offers this extremely bright green styling gel.
The Clubman Styling Gel is perfect for men out there of any age looking for an extremely strong hold on their unruly hair follicles.
Men love this product given its versatility. If you want an extremely hard hold, simply apply with your hands and leave in your hair. However, if you want a slightly more flowy hold, apply it to your hair and then use your favorite comb or brush to thin out the formula, leaving a much lighter and more even coating.
While our reviews of hair gels normally concentrate on the company and product performance, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least acknowledge the manly, yet light, scent that this gives off.
Next to boiling your first pot of coffee in the morning, applying the Clubman Styling Gel will be the second most intoxicating scent that you smell in the morning.
Lastly, we need to cover the value.
The Clubman Styling Gel absolutely delivers a knockout punch when it comes to value. It has an incredibly low price tag for the size of the tub.
- Super strong hold
- Terrific manly scent is invigorating
- Extremely affordable
- This is your traditional hair gel
This hard hold and hard shine molding gel by Gentleman Republic is the perfect gel for those men that want a no-nonsense product.
This 24-hour shine and hold professional formula (alcohol-free) will ensure that your hair doesn’t falter under pressure.
Available in either an 8-ounce or 16-ounce container, you should get plenty of use out of this gel before you even think of clicking that re-order button.
Beyond providing a strong hold, this styling gel will work great for men who live in hot and humid climates where keeping their hair in place is a problem given that the formula naturally resists humidity.
After application, expect this hair gel to leave a nice and pleasant shine.
Lastly, living up to the name, this hair gel does emit a nice manly scent.
- Has a strong hold and shine that should last 24 hours
- Naturally resists humidity
- Made in the USA
- Contains alcohol, so take a break every few days
From Got 2B comes the Glued Ultra Styling Gel. These guys basically defined the entire hair gel market as we know it today. From their vast lineup of gels at differing strengths, this is going to be the one that keeps your hair intact whether you are at the office or doing heavy cardio.
It fully lives up to the ‘Glued’ name – it’s that strong.
But beyond the incredible strength, you will also find that the Got 2B gel will go on without feeling sticky.
So, if you absolutely loathe that feeling when you apply a hair product and it just sticks between your fingers for all the morning hours, the water-soluble design of this product will make removal a breeze.
If there is a single catch to this product, it would have to be with the ingredients.
One of the core ingredients of this product is denatured alcohol.
So, while this product may dry quickly, it may lead to irritation with prolonged use.
- One of the strongest holds out there
- Great for active men who want their hair to always look great
- Extremely affordable
- Contains alcohol
- Not for everyone
As a replacement to their highly touted Power Trip hair gel, TIGI re-enters the hair gel vertical by offering up their Power Play gel.
The Power Play gel, when compared to their previous Power Trip and other hair gels on the market, is similar in nature and composition. It is a worthy product that belongs on your bathroom counter.
Packed in a sizeable 6.76-ounce tube (note: not travel safe), you should get many days use out of it.
While providing a bit ‘wetter’ of a look on your locks, it’s going to be perfect for men with short-to-medium length hair. Men with overly long hair may not like the ‘wet’ appearance.
But beyond the styling hold and appearance, the Power Play gel is also great for those men looking for an alcohol-free alternative.
With its flake free design, you shouldn’t have any little white flakes appearing on your shoulders at the end of the workday.
- Great for men with medium-to-short hair
- Trusted brand that is a leader in the hair care space
- Gives you a wetter look
- Limited size options
One of the relatively new upshots in the men’s grooming world is going to be Woody’s.
Its incredible price, coupled with an incredibly well-made product, makes it obvious why their product is quickly becoming ever more popular.
Relying on ingredients, such as aloe vera, ginger root extract, rosemary leaf extract, and many more, Woody’s Mega Firm Hair Gel will be a natural anti-fungal that will help to ward off the prevalence of dandruff on your scalp.
But beyond all the great things about the product, you have come here to learn about the styling abilities.
First and foremost, this styling gel by Woody’s will provide a firm hold that is suitable for any hair type and hair length. So, no matter if you have thick, thin, short or long hair, this product should work-in seamlessly.
As far as shine goes, there is a slight shine that will be evident after application.
The alcohol and paraben free design of this product will ensure that your hair won’t feel flaky with prolonged use.
- Smells amazing and works well
- Only a small amount for great results
- Won’t cause flakes after several days of using
- Might be a bit too strong of a hold for some
Other Hair Gels We Reviewed
This is a semi-matte, strong hold hair gel designed for men with all hair types.
An affordable yet effective hair gel. Men have trusted Suave for generations. Their products are predictable.
A hair gel that keeps your hairstyles in place by providing a strong hold that can withstand a ton of activity.
The hair gel that was created for the modern man – with firm hold and a low price. Men will like that it’s both paraben and silicone free.
A hair gel that will provide a natural looking shine while providing a great scent. Compared to others, it’s quite expensive.
This hair gel for men will hold your hair in place without the buildup and flaking you’re used to. It also features an aroma so your hair smells great while you use it.
Known for their shave cream, Taylor of Old Bond Street makes a great light weight hair gel with a firm hold.
Hair gel designed with intense hold in mind, this gel is made for extra-strength-necessary hairstyles.
Not only will this Paul Mitchell’s hair gel hold your hair in place, but adds shine and thickness to fine thin hair.
How to Properly Apply Hair Gel
Applying hair gel is a straightforward process.
However, we wanted to share a few steps with you in order to ensure that when you go to apply your hair gel, you will not only look your absolute best, but you won’t have any embarrassing flakes showing up on your shoulders hours later:
1. Give Your Hair A Good Cleaning
Whether you wore hair gel the previous day, or it’s just been a few days, a long shower with a deep washing on your hair will help to prevent any buildup of left-over oil or gel from the previous day.
This will not only allow the hair gel to penetrate deeper into your hair follicles, but it will also make your hair much easier to style.
2. Use the Right Amount
Depending on your hair length, there 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.
Of course, if you have shorter hair you may want to go a bit more conservative (remember – you can always add more).
3. Evenly Coat Your Hands Before Applying
Once you settled on the amount, you will want to make sure that you evenly coat your hands.
This is critical as it will prevent the gel from clumping at the root of your hair which may cause general irritation or flaking.
4. Work It into Your Hair
With your hands evenly coated, you will want to work the product fully throughout your hair – make sure that you get all the way down to the scalp. An even application will ensure that the tips don’t clump and that your hair looks better.
5. Style with The Right Tool
A comb is the preferred tool when styling your hair after the gel has been applied.
The uniformed teeth allow for an even distribution that should provide enough structure throughout the day.
Now for the men who want a bit more of a natural look, a brush will be better for you (particularly those made from animal fibers).
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 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.
Do the Ingredients in Your Hair Gel Matter? Yes!
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 by barbers is alcohol.
But here’s the deal:
Not to call out any barbers, but they often do an incredibly poor job of knocking down alcohol and never explaining the reason why.
Often, the harsh criticism is sorely misplaced and leads to some incredibly bad information out there, especially when selecting products.
Here is the 10,000-foot view on what you need to know, and more importantly, why you should care on the type of alcohol that is in your favorite hair gel:
These are the types of alcohol that many people scoff at and normally associate all the horrible things with. Typically coming in many variants, including ethanol, propanol, denatured alcohol and more, this variety of alcohol is incredibly effective at being an anti-bacterial and an astringent (i.e. found in aftershave splashes and lotions).
But while these short-chained alcohols are great for cleaning wounds, there are a lot of downfalls with this simple ingredient when found in hair care products.
The biggest problem with the inclusion of this type of alcohol is that it dries things out.
While this may seem good if you are looking for a quick drying gel, it will inevitably cause flakes over the long run.
Therefore, when shopping for a new hair gel, make sure to get one that is absent of any short-chained alcohols.
Fatty (Long-Chain) Alcohols
Beyond the short-chained alcohols that we just covered above, you have another alcohol called a ‘fatty alcohol’.
These alcohols are just a variant on the alcohol chain and are fine to use on your hair as they aren’t fast drying, nor do they have that astringent property we were just discussing.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Fatty alcohols are emollients and help to retain moisture, which can be great for hair health.
Some of the more popular fatty alcohols include:
- Lauryl alcohol
- Cetyl alcohol
- Stearyl alcohol
Of course, most people aren’t going to remember all of this.
If in doubt, a quick search of Google or referencing the Alcohol Wikipedia page will likely lead you in the right direction.
With the explosion in recent years of naturally derived products, the selection available has grown exponentially.
On the side of hair gels, now you will find ingredients such as:
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
- Panama Bark
- Witch Hazel
- Tea Tree Oil
…and countless others.
However, with such a wide selection comes a lot of misinformation – especially around natural ingredients.
While the science is still out on their overall benefits, especially when it comes to hair health, we recommend that you proceed with caution.
Now we aren’t saying that paying for naturally derived products is a waste of money — it’s not. We are simply advising that you don’t select a hair gel based on one natural ingredient that is exclaimed to thicken and regrow hair.
Think of it as a nice benefit to the gel rather than a requirement.
Hair Gel Strength of Hold
Strength of hold on your prospective hair gel largely comes down to personal preference.
Are you someone 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 one 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.
During our research, we found that hair gels have the following holding strengths:
Light or Natural Hold
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).
These gels provide overall shape to your hair without looking like you are wearing anything.
Men who like the more natural or textured appearance should check out these types of gels.
As you may guess, this hold is going to be somewhere in the middle of the hair care strength spectrum.
Medium strength gels are great for men who are looking for some light midday styling, while also providing enough structure to the hair to look great when you start your day.
Medium holds may be preferred by men who undergo light activity (i.e. office work, midday gym workout, etc.).
For those men who want a tough structure to their hair, look for gels labeled as strong hold or extra strength.
These gels typically will give your hair structure for 24 hours and will be extremely rigid.
Now with these types of gels, they will make your hair feel spiky, which is largely a personal preference.
Secondly, extra strength or firm holds are perfect for those men who are into heavy activity (i.e. soccer, football, etc.) and don’t want to worry about their hair getting in the way.
Men who are looking for this type of hair gel should be aware of the possibility of buildup when used for several days.
Therefore, you will want to make sure you scrub deeply with your shampoo after applying it.
Does Hair Gel Scent Matter?
When it comes to selecting hair gel, scent isn’t all that important.
However, with masculine brands like Clubman Pinaud offering a masculine and clean scent, it can be pleasant to smell first thing in the morning.
Our advice – don’t worry too much on the scent.
Not only will it largely dissipate within the first hour, but if you plan on wearing a cologne or body spray, the smell of your hair gel won’t conflict with other fragrances you may be planning to wear.
Hair Gel Textures Differ from One Brand to Another
Like strength of hold, hair gels also come in a variety of finishes.
Here’s a bit of an explanation on each to help you decide the perfect one for you.
Matte texture is as close to natural as you can get.
If you are hesitating on buying a hair gel due to it being too shiny or spiky, get one with a matte texture. It will provide your hair with structure without looking like you are wearing any product at all.
The next step up on the hair gel shine scale will be semi-matte. Providing just a touch of shine, this gel is great to wear to the office.
It won’t draw attention to your hair while also subtly demonstrating that you care about your looks.
When you think about hair gel, you likely are thinking about those that provide a medium shine.
A perfect balance between both ends of the spectrum, a medium shine hair gel presents well without drawing a ton of attention.
Lastly, the high shine is great for men who are all-in on their hairstyle.
Whether you are wearing your hair slicked back or as spikes, a high shine gel is great for those men that want their hair to look wet and presentable throughout the day.
How Hair Gel is Different from the Rest
Now that you know all about hair gel, we wanted to take a minute to cover how this hair styling product differs from all the other major options that exist.
Gel vs. Hair Wax
When compared to hair gel, hair wax is perfect for those men who prefer a strong hold while still having a textured look to their hair.
Commonly derived from beeswax and other ingredients, this mostly natural hair product is a terrific alternative to hair gel, especially for those who don’t want much of a shine.
However, unlike hair gel, waxes have a hard time washing out given their tight composition.
Gel vs. Pomade
A step up from the traditional hair wax and hair gel, pomades provide a medium hold and shine.
Unlike gels that may get rather stiff, especially those labeled as ‘extra strength’, pomades won’t go rock hard on you.
In addition to their reliable hold and shine, pomades are often affordable, making them a preferred choice for men who are watching their back pocket.
Given that some pomades are oil-based, like the hair wax, you will need to make sure that you wash thoroughly as buildup can occur.
Gel vs. Hair Cream
Hair creams are a completely unique product in that their definition can vary from one company to the next.
However, hair creams are water-based formulas that will provide a rigid, yet matte hold for your hair.
Hair creams are often substituted for hair wax as their properties are very similar.
Gel vs. Sea Salt Spray
Relatively new in the grooming world and quickly replacing the traditional hair spray, you have sea salt spray.
Sea salt sprays are perfect for men who love a light and textured look to their hair without much structure.
Often relying on many natural ingredients, the sea salt spray is perfect for men who want the natural and kempt look.
There you have it gents — the best hair gels for men in 2020.
We hope that our in-depth reviews and tips provide you will all that you need to know in order to find the perfect hair gel for you.
Whether you are looking for one that has a bit more shine or one that gives a matte finish, we think you will be happy with many of the picks we outlined for you above!