The Best Hair Gel for Men

A man applying hair gel in the bathroom.

Buying Guide for Hair Gel for Men

Man pointing to hair with hair gel.

Why buy hair gel for men?

Hair gel is a fantastic product in your grooming arsenal to keep your hair looking its best. It can keep your hair neatly in place to help you look more professional, but it also allows you to experiment with different styles. The best hair gel for men will help you achieve and freeze any style you want. You can use it to smooth your hair into a classic slicked-back look or give your hair volume by creating spikes or waves.

What should you look for in hair gel for men?

  • Level of Hold: Gels are generally available in three hold ranges: light, medium, and firm. This information may be depicted on a scale of 10, with 10 being the maximum hold level. The amount of hold you choose depends on how much control you want over your style. If you’re going for a firm hold that lasts all day, go with a firm gel. If you prefer something more lightweight and flexible, go with a light gel.
  • Application and Removal: You’ll want to choose a product that features hassle-free application and removal so that styling your hair doesn’t feel like a chore. You may want to look for something that comes in a tube or pump for especially easy dispensing when you’re in a hurry. Many gels require shampooing to remove excess residue from the hair shaft, while some water-soluble gels may be rinsed away with water alone.
  • Scent: Fragrances are present in almost all hair gels, but they can differ wildly from one brand to the next. In some formulas, the scent will fade in time after application; other formulas have scents that last throughout the day. Depending on your sensitivity to fragrances or if you wear a cologne, you may want to steer clear of gels indicated as heavily scented.
  • Ingredients: Many gels will include alcohol as a component that helps give the gel its holding power. Look out for potentially drying short-chain alcohols such as SD alcohol, ethanol, propanol, denatured alcohol, propyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol. Glycerin, aloe vera, or moisturizing plant oils or proteins are sometimes added to counteract the drying effect of alcohol.

How should hair gel for men be applied?

If you’re planning on using hair gel, ensure your hair is freshly washed and towel-dried. This will make applying the gel much easier because it won’t stick as much to any product that might already be in your hair. For shorter hair, squeeze or scoop a nickel-sized quantity of gel into your hand; for long hair, use a quarter-sized amount. After rubbing your hands together, apply the gel evenly throughout your hair by scrunching up sections between your fingers or combing your hair back. Your hair can dry naturally, or you can use a hair dryer while styling with your fingers until your hair has the desired hold.

Our Picks for the Best Hair Gel for Men

Pros: Johnny B Mode Styling Gel is a tough gel that gives you the control you need to tame resistant hair. Its alcohol-free formula is highly viscous and works well on medium to thick hair. The hold level is listed as level five out of 10, and the shine level tops at eight out of 10. A little bit of this fresh-smelling gel goes a long way and withstands sports, workouts, and any other activities busy guys might engage in.

Cons: While most enjoy the fresh scent of this gel, more sensitive noses may find it too strong.

Bottom Line: If you have unruly hair that won’t behave, this Johnny B Mode hair gel may be your solution. In addition to the 16-ounce tub featured here, this gel is available in 3.3 and 6.7-ounce tubes and, for serious fans, two and four-pound canisters.

 

Pros: L’Oreal Paris Studio Line Clear Minded Clean Gel is great for medium-length and short haircuts, offering a strong hold to give you a neat style with definition and structure. The gel also provides humidity resistance to stay in place throughout the rigors of even the hottest days. It’s easy to apply, too—dispense from the tube and spread the gel evenly throughout damp hair, then style as usual.

Cons: This gel is a bit thick, so it may not be ideal for those with thin hair.

Bottom Line: Consider this gel from L’Oreal Paris if you have medium to thick textured hair. Its humid-resistant formula will provide a lasting hold with no buildup.

 

Pros: Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree line of products feature unique aromatherapy botanicals that can turn your everyday hair care into a luxury experience. With a formula that locks in style with shine, body, and flexible hold, this medium-hold gel is versatile enough for all hair types. It can be applied on wet or dry hair and offers the calming aroma of lavender, tea tree, and peppermint. You can feel good knowing it’s vegan, paraben-free, and gluten-free.

Cons: This product boasts a high-shine finish. Men who prefer a more natural, matte finish may feel that this gel leaves their hair with a wet look.

Bottom Line: If you’d like a hair gel that gives you the medium hold you need with a refreshing scent of natural botanicals, this one might be a great option for you. Give your hair that boost of shine, wet or dry.

 

Pros: This moisture-rich gel offers a natural look while taming hair, leaving you with a healthy shine and no frizz. It works to revitalize dry hair and get textured definition with a light hold. It’s alcohol-free, so it won’t dry and damage your hair, while ginseng and sage extract condition your scalp.

Cons: With this being a light hold gel, the consistency may seem a bit runny. And since it’s packaged in a tube, dispensing can get messy. It may help to store it upside down, so the product doesn’t collect at the opening and spill out when the tube is opened.

Bottom Line: If you’re concerned about a gel drying your hair, this moisturizing formula may be what you need for an alcohol-free light hold. It provides a healthy definition without damage.

 

Pros: Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Hair Gel is a lightweight, nonflake formula that provides an all-day firm hold. This innovative gel can create and hold pointy spikes or classic slicked-back styles. Despite its strong hold, it’s one of the easiest gels to remove at the end of the day. This value pack comes with three bottles, which should last quite a while before it’s time to replenish your supply.

Cons: Potentially drying denatured alcohol is included in this hair gel’s ingredient list. If you have dry hair or scalp, you may want to be sure to apply this gel sparingly and thoroughly remove it after use.

Bottom Line: This firm hold three-pack is an excellent value for men who want to sculpt dramatic “vertical” hairstyles, as the description explains. A small amount of this gel’s powerful hold will help your hair to stay put throughout each day’s activities.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get a hold of your hair, we’ve got you covered. We’ve considered hair gel for men with various ingredients, holds, and features so that you can find the perfect product for your hair type and style. Whether you’re looking for a product that will help you tame a wild mane, sculpt an exciting new look, or add volume and definition, one of our picks will help you to achieve your hair-grooming goals.

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