If there’s one question that comes up time and time again from my male clients it is this: Why do us guys have hair products especially designed for us? Whilst most hair products are not gender specific, the answer I would love to give is simply; that we are very special people. Of course this isn’t the real reason – well not quite – but there are many reasons why.
Until recently most mass market male hair products included a anti dandruff/deep cleansing shampoo an oily wax or a sticky gel which had the aroma of floor cleaning detergent. This was a bit of a generalisation don’t you think; assuming that we all have a scalp disorder or have to use the shampoo equivalent of paint stripper to remove a BP size oil slick left by the wax deposited on our hair 3 weeks ago… and we like our hair to smell like a used floor mop – okay rant over. Thankfully there have been huge improvements over the last few years by some very smart companies who have designed a range of products which take into consideration different hair types, condition and that we may like something that smells AND looks good.
Despite their current boom, there have been a few hero products within the male grooming market and Brylcreem is just one great example; it’s been around since the late 1920s, it was the first mass marketed male hair product designed for a specific hair trend and remained very popular until the 1960s, making a brief comeback in the 90s. Love it or hate it, it’s still a successful brand.
So, with an increasing choice out there, selecting the right products for your hair can be a bit hit and miss. However, once you get it right, from the shampoo you use to keep you hair looking great (and yes, using a conditioner really will make a noticeable difference), right the way through to the correct products and tools used to create and enhance your hair style, it makes ALL the difference to your overall look.
In this day and age, if you really care about your hair and want it to look the best it can possibly be, it is not enough to just pick a generic brand “made for everyone”. This may sound a bit daunting but never fear, today I will break down some of the major hair types men have, what common problems are associated with each, and give you some tips in order to help counter act them.
Thick or wavy hair can tend to feel dry and appear coarse, which can make life very difficult – especially if you want a flatter and more defined style. Using a moisture shampoo and conditioner is a good start as it will help your hair to become much more supple, as well as smoothing the surface of each hair, making it more reflective/shinier. This enhances the hairs healthier looking natural colour, and healthier hair always looks more youthful which will be a plus for some of the older men out there.
One tip is don’t use too much conditioner; for short to mid length hair roughly about the size of a ten pence piece maximum. This not only wasteful but will take longer to rinse and the residue left in the hair may make it appear dull. To use correctly, get rid of any excess water from your hair and rub the conditioner between the palms of your hands before applying to hair, comb it through, then rinse thoroughly, any residue left in the hair will leave it looking lank and dull.
Using a leave in conditioner is great for adding weight to very thick wavy hair, helping to make it flatter and less unruly. I would usually only recommend using it on thick wavy hair, whether it is long or short. Apply to towel dried freshly shampooed hair, either leave to dry naturally or gently dry with a hair dryer.
At the opposite end of the scale is finer hair which can be very difficult manage when trying to get texture or lift without looking like product overload. As with thick wavy hair, it is vital to use the correct shampoo and conditioner which will not only give it a healthier, shinier look, but will also strengthen it. If you use a specialist thickening shampoo then it should also thicken and help add volume to each strand, making it easier to style. Use the same method for applying conditioner above (as with thick wavy hair) – except use less – about the size of a penny, or slightly more for longer hair.
With styling products if you want your hair to hold a style or need some lift then its crucial to use a wet styling product, such as a volume spray/lotion, thickening cream or gel. If you want maximum lift and hold, say to achieve a quiff (see earlier article), then a styling gel is your best bet. To achieve slightly fuller thicker hair try a volume spray or thickening cream. These are all classed as wet styling products, meaning they are usually applied to wet hair and blow-dried.
Finally, styling products are slightly more difficult to choose these days, especially with so much choice. So as a basic guide; on thick to medium texture hair, or to obtain definition on shorter textured styles (with or without lift), chose a matte paste or thick pomade as it will mean you have to use less product than if you use a wax, plus you will avoid the oil slick look. If you do want a more slicked down low side parting then a softer paste or modern wax will achieve this.
With finer hair textures try using a matte paste and avoid wax as this will tend to flatten your hair and make the hairs to stick or clump together. Not only will this look like your fine hair is over loaded with product, it will also reveal too much scalp and make your hair look even thinner. Apply all pastes and pomades (finishing products) by rubbing a small amount between the palms of hands and fingers then wipe over all the hair gradually, pushing through the hair with your fingers. ALWAYS use a little to begin with and add more if needed.
If you blow-dry your hair, for a flatter and straighter look try using a smoothing/straightening product and consider using straightening irons for a perfect finish. On the rare occasions that I use irons on male clients, I would usually suggest applying a wet styling product afterwards to take the edge off that “just straightened” look.
Put some of the wet styling product – even if it’s a spray on product I would normally remove the cap and tip about teaspoon (roughly 5ml, slightly less if you use a gel) into the palms of the hands – rub together and run through hair in the same way as paste or finishing product.
Put hair into place and allow a minute or two to dry, then apply a paste or preferred styling product after – this on most hair types gives it an undone look.
Current trends for afro hair still sees the dominance of tight close hair styles and slightly grown out shapes. The difference with shorter styles is the shape and length; wearing the top longer than the sides and back; the top having a taller shape with soft rounded edges, which is a retake on the 50s higher tops and 80s flat top but much softer and less sculpted. The great thing about this look is that it can work with a range of textures, tight to loose and can be worn with most face shapes. The best owner of this look to date is Usher Raymond (see look book below).
Once again it’s really important to use the right shampoo and to take the time to condition your hair, as this will make styling much easier. A soft defining product to give the hair a slight sheen to matt finish will keep this look controlled and on trend, but not overloaded. If you want to go for a bit more length, there are some styles being worn roughly 2-3 inches long all over giving the hair a grown out look which can be styled differently to suit either a looser curl or a relaxed or natural curl.
From the people I have spoken to they have all stressed that manageability is by the biggest issue with afro hair, so I’ve recommended what are said to be the top draw afro hair products around. MIZANI combines technology with fine ingredients to produce a unique product range, established in 1991 by Soft Sheen and one of the most respected names in professional haircare… Redken.
The thing that strikes me about MIZANI is it is a simple product to use and most of their individual product range claim to cover a wide range of hair types – taking away the risk factor when making a selection.
So here we have some products which are suited to afro hair. Remember you need to look for products which will help you maintain your style and keep the hair in great condition, as well as softer styling products which will give great hold and a matte to slight shine finish. If anyone has any personal recommendations then please just drop them in the comments below.
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