Waxes and pomades and gels, oh my. But how to choose?
We hate our hair, and so should you. Really. It doesn’t do anything, doesn’t spike up or slick back by itself—unless we’re talking cowlicks and oil problems, in which case you have bigger fish to fry. In fact, without any outside help, hair would suffer a limp and dreary existence, with nothing but a periodic scissoring to spice up its pitiful life. That’s why a huge hair-care market exists in those salons and drugstore aisles: to liven things up. But how can we be expected to wade through all the stuff that’s out there? Waxes, gels, mousses, pomades…it’s enough to make us want to switch to dreadlocks and stop washing altogether. But help is on the way. We broke down the ABCs of hair glop for you. Now go forth and style. Carefully.
The workhorse of the bunch, with a utilitarian purpose: keeping hair stationary. Applied to wet hair, it holds shape and leaves hair shiny, and it comes in varying hold strengths from light to strong. Go with a strong-hold gel if you want stiffness; to make your hair more manageable or emphasize waviness, a lighter gel is a better option. Take heed: Some gels produce white flakes if you brush or comb your hair after the gel has dried, so don’t be too hands-on.
To add extra shine and control without sacrificing your hair’s natural look, creams are the way to go. Ideal for thick, coarse or curly hair, they may contain moisturizing ingredients like silk amino acids, olive oil or chamomile. The uni-named Pirkko, artistic director of New York City’s Paul Labrecque Gentlemen’s Salon, uses creams on dry or damp hair to give flexibility and strength and to tame flyaway hair without greasiness or stiffness.
One of the newest products to hit the scene. It’s extremely versatile, good for everything from messier bed-head looks to more structured styles. It can have a matte or shiny finish and is applied to hair that’s dry or slightly damp to define and control select pieces or areas. I use wax for almost everything, says Burton Machen, a Los Angeles haircutter. It’s perfect for anything spiky, or it can be skimmed over the top of the hair for a neatly groomed style. He recommends wax for straight or slightly wavy hair, as it tends to clump in curly hair. Wax is more pliable than gel, allowing hair to be restyled ad infinitum—perfect for indecisive types or for someone who needs to go right from the office to the bar.
According to David W. Cannell, senior vice president of research and development at Redken Laboratories, pomade was originally made from mineral oil and was used to groom hair and impart shine. Today many types of pomade have a water base for easier distribution and removal. Water-based pomade is one of my favorite products, says Pirkko. It’s softer, it’s not greasy, and it gives the hair definition and smoothness. Pomade is creamier than wax, so it may be the way to go if you have curly or thick hair.
Not a popular choice for men; there’s a reason mousse is associated with the mall-rat Valley Girl look of the ’80s. It’s foamy and surrounds the hair strand with chemical compounds called polymers, resulting in a fuller appearance. Even though men may not be chasing that thick look, some mousses are specifically formulated to thicken fine hair with agents like rice protein and rosemary—making it perfect for foliage that’s starting to thin up top.
Also called gloss, polish or smoothing fluid, it has a slick consistency and is used to reduce frizz and impart silkiness and sheen with silicone and various oils. Machen leans toward using serum on long, curly or brittle hair—its coating mechanism can soften the hair. For a quick shine fix, put a few drops on wet shampooed hair and then rinse it out.
Above all, always keep in mind Cannell’s advice: The type of product you choose should be determined by your hair’s length and texture. If you have short, fine hair and want it to stand up, use waxes or strong gels. Longer hair gives you more options, depending on how full you want it to look. For thinning hair, avoid heavier products, like creams and non-water-based pomades, as they’ll weigh down your hair. Never just slap product onto the hair; put some in your palm and rub your hands together, then apply from the back of the head forward. And if you screw up your work of art, don’t sweat it—it’s a washable canvas.
text taken from : www.gq.com