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Pomade may get most of the attention in the men’s hairstyling world, but there are plenty of reasons to use hair wax. You wake up with an especially extreme bed head and you need to wrangle your ‘do into place quickly, for instance. Or say you’re going to, like, a wedding and you need your hair to stay locked in place all day. Maybe you favor a more artfully disheveled hairstyle that needs a textured, piecey look. It could also be as simple as taming a cowlick or keeping your hair out of your face. In all those scenarios, a wax is going to do a much better job than pomade or any other hair product for that matter.
Hair wax should always be in your hairstyling arsenal, especially if you have short hair. Just like the name suggests, these products generally include actual wax, like beeswax, that locks onto hair and helps it keep its shape. Traditionally, hair waxes are oil-based, which means they do their job for longer than similar water-based products. “Hair wax is best used when doing tightly styled looks when you’re not really leaving much room for error,” says celebrity men’s groomer Melissa DeZarate. “While it’s definitely restyleable compared to a gel, it’s meant to lock in the look for a long time.”
Most traditional waxes are best for short, medium-weight hair. Think classic side parts, says DeZarate, or to create definition and texture in messier styles. Old school waxes are thick and, well, waxy—and there is still a use for those depending on the look you’re going for—but new versions of hair wax have upgraded to make them more versatile. Some incorporate moisturizing ingredients and a little less hold to make them more appropriate for longer, more natural-looking styles. Others, like spray wax, have addressed user error. “Spray waxes can be especially helpful when creating definition without overusing the product and completely weighing hair down,” she advises. These lightweight hair waxes are not only easier to apply but are appropriate for a larger variety of hair textures and weights. A good rule of thumb: the longer your hair, the lighter wax you want to use. And one word of caution: start with a little bit and gradually work your way up. If you put too much in, you can’t do much to remove it except getting back in the shower.
So, is hair wax right for you? Probably. But how do you pick the best hair wax for your hair? Consider what kind of hair you have, what style you’re going for, and read this list. There’s a hair wax here for everyone.
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This wax might give you a legitimate all-day hold, but it’s not the sticky, goopy wax you’re used to. Moisturizing ingredients like shea butter combined with beeswax keep your hair from getting dry or greasy while still taming frizz and keeping your hair in place.
Old Spice Fiber Wax
For a more natural finish, turn to this medium-hold, low-shine wax. It has the feel of a styling cream that won’t leave your hair looking gooped up with product but has the firmer hold of wax so you don’t have to worry about your ‘do deflating by lunch.
TIGI Bed Head Workable Wax
If you’re the type who is constantly running your hands through your hair, this wax can keep up. It’s designed to be reworked, meaning if you mess up your hair, it’s easy to wrangle it back in shape without adding more product.
American Crew Liquid Wax
A little goes a long way with wax—if you’ve ever accidentally put in too much, you know how annoying (and sticky) it can be. This liquid wax solves that problem. It’s easier to apply evenly through your hair but still gives you the hold and styling options you want from a more traditional wax product.
Bumble and bumble Sumo Liquid Wax+ Finishing Spray
Hair pros know that one of the best uses for wax is a finisher—taming cowlicks, adding texture, locking it all in place. This spray wax can be used like a hairspray at the end or as a standalone product to add texture and hold without weighing down your hair.
Sachajuan Hair Wax
We’re not sure what exactly makes this wax so magical, but somehow it gives you the hold and control you look for in a wax without any greasiness or stickiness whatsoever. Apparently, there are moisturizing ingredients in there too, so your hair stays healthy as well as stylish.
Church California Sun Wax Pomade
No bees (or any other animals for that matter) were harmed in the making of this vegan wax. The botanical waxes and oils nourish your hair—and since it’s water-based, it washes out without a trace.
Gatsby Moving Rubber Spiky Edge Hair Wax
If you want your hair to stay in place through hurricane winds, this is the wax for you. The extra-strong hold will keep hair in place all day (and probably longer) and is perfect for shorter hair and spiky styles.
Hanz De Fuko Sponge Wax
The lightweight texture of this wax makes it perfect for thick or especially unmanageable hair. It smooths through your strands easily and holds them in place with a flexible hold that you can rework easily throughout the day as needed.
Kiehl’s Creative Cream Wax
The creamy base of this wax is what gives your hair a natural “no product” finish, but what we love about it most is how easy it is to use. It’s perfect to use all over for a shaped and secure look or on specific parts of your hair (like cowlicks) to keep it in place.
Davines This Is A Strong Dry Wax
They’re not kidding when they say “strong”—this wax is pretty much bulletproof. It’s one of the most traditional waxes on this list, which means it keeps your hair in place for as long as you need it to, but somehow doesn’t leave you looking greasy.
Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax
There’s an ever-so-subtle shine to this wax, which makes it great for sleek classic looks as well as messy, bed head vibes. Start with a little bit and gradually add in more until you get the look you want.
Jack Black Wax Pomade
The natural finish and flexible hold of this wax make it a contender for the perfect all-around product, no matter what kind of haircut or style you have. And the fact that it can double as a beard balm? Well, that’s just showing off.
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