We get it. You weren’t born with movie-star locks. Your hair has always left something to be desired. There’s a secret. The movie stars weren’t born with movie star locks either. They have a secret. No, it’s not just their stylist and movie editing and great lighting.
It’s their styling products.
You may already have a great style. But, if you aren’t rocking great products your hair won’t look the way you want it to.
Men’s hair gel, one of the most common hair styling products available, can be a fantastic tool if you know what to look for. In this guide, we’ll talk about some of the best men’s hair gel, and we’ll also provide a short buying guide and some styling tips to help you get that fantastic movie star look.
|Got2b Glued Ultra Styling Gel 6 Ounce|
|Shine/Hold: High Gloss / High Hold|
|Drying or Conditioning: Mildly Drying|
|Hair Type: All hair except very fine hair|
|Strong enough for vertical hairstyles and ethnic hair types.|
|American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel|
|Shine/Hold: Medium Gloss / High Hold|
|Drying or Conditioning: Neutral|
|Hair Type: All hair types|
|Can adjust the amount of product to get a hair texture you like.|
|Jack Black – Body-Building Hair Gel|
|Shine/Hold: High Gloss / Medium Hold|
|Drying or Conditioning: Conditioning|
|Hair Type: All hair types|
|No artificial fragrance , and good for sensitive skin and hair.|
Things to Consider Before You Buy
While we’re confident in each of the products we’ve listed in this article, there are some things you should consider before you spend money on a new product.
This is one of the most important considerations with hair gel. Gel is a relatively heavy product. Most gels add a lot of gloss to your hair. But they aren’t typically moisturizing. While many of the gels on our list are, you should expect most gels to have a slight to moderate drying effect.
That means that gel is a harsh product for people with very fine, or already dry hair, to use.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, coarse and curly hair types need some extra hold in their gel, but you may not need as much when it comes to building body or volume. Look for gels with firm hold or extreme hold on the label.
For the coarsest curly hair types, you may want to look s for gels that specifically say they were designed for ethnic hair.
Effect on Your Hair
We mentioned in the last section, and are coming back to it now. Hair gel is, usually, drying. That means that a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner is important.
Even the gels we’ve listed as conditioning on our list won’t be if they’re left in your hair for too long.
Before you add a gel to your styling kit, think about your hair and how you already style it. Use heat tools? Look for a gel that has heat damage protection. Have thinning or already fine hair? Look for one with conditioning ingredients and UV protection.
How Firm Does Your Hair Need To Be?
As a general rule you want to use the least amount of product, and the gentlest form of that product, to achieve your desired style.
While hair gel can be a fantastic thing, it isn’t right for everyone or every style. Gels are good for mohawks, spikes, sharply defined edges, and hairstyles that can survive a tornado. They aren’t quite as high hold as sprays, but they build more volume.
If you’re looking for a more natural look, and hair that has more bounce and flexibility, you may be better served by a wax or pomade.
If you don’t need to add a ton of shape or volume to your hair, but do want to tame cowlicks and frizz, a hair and scalp serum may be the best choice.
Looking for hair that’ll touch the sky? Gels can be part of that process, but you may also want to look into hair spray and hair clays for even more hold and thick body.
Don’t try to mimic the look and feel of a firmer hold product simply by piling in more gel. Since gel is usually drying, that’s a recipe for dry hair, split ends, and breakage.
Buy products at the firmness you need, and try to use as little of each product as you can.
Quick Styling Tips
For most men’s hairstyles, you can follow some basic styling rules and get a great look.
Never Apply Product Directly On Your Hair
Okay, there is one exception to this rule. But, for pretty much everything but hairspray, it’s better to put the product on your hands before it goes in your hair. Massage it for a minute and make sure the product is evenly distributed across your palms.
For one thing, doing this warms the product up a little and makes it easier to spread and manipulate. It also helps prevent uneven distribution through your hair. The last thing you want is to find all your hair gel on only half your head.
This is particularly important with gels since too much gel can leave your hair both greasy and stiff looking. What does greasy stiff hair look like? It looks fake.
Use as Little Product as You Can
Be sparing. Seriously. You can always add a little more product as you go if you can’t quite get your hair to behave. But you can’t take product out of your hair again, short of taking a shower.
It’s like salt when you’re cooking. Add a little. If that’s not enough, add a little more.
Plus, being frugal with your product keeps more dollars in your pocket and less on your head.
Work Back to Front
For most short to mid-length men’s hairstyles, it’s better to work back to front. Why? It helps prevent you from having too much product in front, for one thing.
Working back to front also helps give the back of your hair some texture and body, so you look good all the way around.
Plus, you can see when the hair in front needs a little more product. Harder with the hair in back.
Last, men’s hairstyles with vertical or forward-tilted hair are popular right now. You want your hair to move toward your face, not away from it. If you’re looking for more of a slicked-back look, that’s fine, but you may want a product with less gloss than a gel. Too much shine on slicked-back hair and it’ll start to look greasy.
I mean, there’s a reason the movie is named Grease…
Top 6 Men’s Hair Gels Comparison Table
|Product Name||Shine/Hold||Drying or Conditioning||Hair Type||Price|
|Got2b Glued Ultra Styling Gel 6 Ounce||High Gloss / High Hold||Mildly Drying||All hair except very fine hair||Check Price|
|ORIBE Gel Serum||High Gloss / Medium Hold||Conditioning||Most hair types, not enough hold for thick curls||Check Price|
|American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel||Medium Gloss/High Hold||Neutral||All hair types||Check Price|
|Eco Professional Styling Gel Olive Oil||Medium Gloss/Medium-High Hold||Conditioning||All hair types, but softer hold than most gels||Check Price|
|Jack Black – Body-Building Hair Gel||High Gloss / Medium Hold||Conditioning||All hair types||Check Price|
|Revita Styling Gel for Hair||Medium Gloss / Medium Hold||Neutral / tested for health||Not designed for coarse hair||Check Price|
6 Best Hair Gel for Men: Detailed Reviews
1. Got2b Glued Ultra Invincible Styling Gel 6 Ounce (Best Budget)
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
Got2b invincible styling gel is one of the higher-hold gels on the market. If you’re looking for great vertical looks, well-defined spikes, or to survive a convertible with your style intact, this is a good bet.
Invincible is an affordable gel option but without a lot of the downsides of affordable gels. Not too long ago, hair gel had an awful reputation for white flakes, hair that was both sticky and crunchy all day, and drying your hair out to boot.
Fortunately, those days are mostly done, if you know what to look for. This gel can dry your hair out a little if you use too much product or use hair gel every day. But the effects are minimal and can easily be repaired with a good moisturizing shampoo.
You’ll probably want a moisturizing shampoo if you’re using styling products often, anyway.
This was one of the few affordable gels we found that was designed for vertical hairstyles. Whether you’re rocking a mohawk, a tall pompadour, or an afro, Invincible has you covered. Unlike many high hold gels, it doesn’t take forever to wash out in the shower.
The gel was also designed with a wide variety of hair textures in mind. Thick, kinky, hair, is no problem. We don’t recommend this gel for the finest hair types, mostly because the high gloss finish can make fine hair look greasy instead of giving it a healthy luster.
|Product weight: 6 ox of product per bottle|
|Strong enough for vertical hairstyles and ethnic hair types|
|Wet/dry styling options|
|Only need a small amount of product|
|The gel itself is clear|
|Can be left in hair overnight (although not recommended)|
|Can be mildly drying with prolonged use|
|Does leave hair slightly crunchy feeling|
2. ORIBE Gel Serum
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0
If you’re familiar with hair care product lines, you already know that ORIBE is a luxury brand. This gel is no exception. With flaked gold and some serious conditioning ingredients, ORIBE’s gel serum loses the worst qualities of gel and replaces them with the best qualities of a good serum.
This is what we would call a medium hold gel. It’s not going to leave your hair crunchy, but your style won’t be as rock-solid either. It’s a good option for styles that need occasional combing. Best for men who don’t mind their hair changing slightly throughout the day.
But, it shines in giving body and form to your hair, without sacrificing movement.
The gold flakes basically disappear in your hand. At first, this seems disappointing, since it’s one of the big factors in the price tag on this gel, but don’t worry. When you apply the gel in your hair those flakes come back as a subtle luster.
We say subtle because it looks less like a styling product making your hair shine, and more like your hair has its own natural glow. Perfect for brunettes and redheads, the effect is more intense on blondes.
On most hair, the gold color fades but lets warm light bounce off your hair. On blondes, the gold intensifies honey and gold-toned highlights, making your hair brighter, healthier, and younger-looking.
ORIBE’s products all have a unique scent that was custom formulated for that product. In this case, the scent is lightly floral. But, since its an incredibly subtle fragrance, we don’t think that the scent is any reason to prevent men from using the product.
Pair it with a vanilla and spice aftershave or cologne and you’ll have a delightful combination that’s still very masculine.
|Product weight: 5.3 ounces|
|Includes: Important proteins and amino acids for hair health, heat styling protection, gold pearl flakes|
|Medium hold still lets your hair move some|
|Preserves style without the crunchy feeling|
|Subtle golden glow makes you look younger and healthier|
|Suitable for all hair colors|
|Conditions and moisturizes your hair instead of drying it|
|Slightly floral scent|
|Pricey, even considering gold flakes as an ingredient|
|Not as effective on very coarse or curly hair types|
We would rate this gel higher, but the price tag makes it a rather exclusive item.
3. American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel (Best Value)
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0
If you believe that everything American is bigger, better, and more badass, this American Crew styling gel won’t disappoint.
It comes in an absolutely massive 33.8 fl oz bottle. Yet, somehow, it’s still one of the more affordable gels on our list. That’s a big part of why we gave this gel our Best Value designation. You get so much product for your dollar that it’s hard not to see this as a bargain. Plus, it’s performance is no joke.
One of the more flexible gels on our list, we’d consider this a hard hold gel. It’s very firm once dry. While it doesn’t advertise itself as a vertical styling gel, it’s well up to the challenge.
But, it’s also soft enough to use with more gentle looks. If you don’t need super crisp edges and well-defined strands, simply reduce how much product you’re using. Styling with a comb also helps soften the effects of this product.
It’s not a conditioning formula, but it’s also not drying. If your hair is already in pretty good condition you won’t need to worry about this gel damaging it. But, if your hair is already damaged, we recommend adding gel only if you also add a moisturizing product to help undo that damage.
Bonus Points: it’s completely alcohol-free!
The Firm Hold gel can be applied to wet or dry hair and has slightly different effects either way. Feel free to experiment with different styling routines with this gel. You’ll be surprised by how many different looks you can achieve with one product.
|Product weight: 33.8 fl oz|
|Gel type: Very thick clear gel|
|Need a small amount of product for good hold|
|Comes in a large package|
|Good for a wide variety of styles|
|Suitable for most hair types|
|Can adjust the amount of product to get a hair texture (smooth-crunchy) you like|
|Smell fades quickly after application (not all-day scent)|
|The packaging on this gel tends to leak a little|
|The gel is thick, that means you can use less, but it’s harder to apply|
4. Eco Professional Styling Gel Olive Oil
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0
If your hair is already damaged, this may be the gel for you.
Eco Professional’s Olive Oil gel is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It contains olive oil to boost your hair’s moisture and protein levels. It’s alcohol-free. It’s a firm hold gel that doesn’t get crunchy. It even provides UV protection for your hair!
Alcohol is one of the first ingredients you want to avoid if your hair is dry or damaged. Alcohol draws even more moisture out of your hair and can leave your natural strands feeling crunchy and crinkly like straw.
This gel does the opposite. It adds moisture to your hair, subtly conditioning it, every time you apply. The UV protection also means that your hair is exposed to less damage overall, letting it grow in and stay stronger.
While we would only rate this a medium hold gel, it won’t help your mohawk reach skyscraper proportions, we think that it’s a solid and flexible gel overall.
Avoid gels because you have dandruff or other scalp irritations? This may be a better option than most. The olive oil and other natural ingredients work to soothe your scalp as well.
|Product weight: 16 fl oz package|
|Gel type: Clear, moderately thick, gel|
|Includes: Alcohol-free, Flake-free, UV protection|
|Heavy conditioning power|
|Works to soothe and moisturize your scalp|
|Soft texture doesn’t feel greasy|
|Packaging cracks and damages easily|
|Not as firm a hold as other gels|
5. Jack Black – Body-Building Hair Gel (Top Pick)
Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5.0
Jack Black is one of the rarest of companies in the beauty world, a luxury brand at affordable prices. While you don’t get quite as much product in a single container as some of the other gels on our list, a little goes a long way with this brand.
We chose the body-building gel because it’s one of the more flexible gels in their lineup. Good for people with finer, thinner hair, since it adds body and volume. It’s also a good match for thick ethnic hair types looking for big bright styles and a lot of volume and bounce.
This gel got our Top Pick for a lot of reasons, it’s hard to list them. But, for starters, it’s affordable. It’s effective. It’s alcohol and fragrance-free. It conditions your hair. It includes many botanical ingredients to increase the overall health of your hair and scalp. Those same botanicals can help stimulate healthy hair growth. Etc…
The one weakness we will give this gel is that it’s not great for creating harshly defined spikey looks. Rather than harsh spikes, you’ll usually see something that looks a little featherier and more natural from this gel. That’s great, in its place, but not always what you’re going for.
However, overall, it’s more than worth that small sacrifice. The gel gives fantastic hold, but without the crisp crunchy feeling.
If you need to re-style or change your hair at some point through the day you can. Just use a little (really, just a little) water and your fingers or a comb to adjust the set and style of your hair.
|Product weight: 3.4 fl oz|
|Includes: Botanicals like grapefruit, ginger, and sage, Alcohol-free, Fragrance-free|
|Flexible and soft feeling hair, with good hold|
|Botanicals add strength and health to your hair|
|Seals split ends for a better overall look|
|No artificial fragrance (some scent from botanical ingredients lingers)|
|Good for sensitive skin and hair|
|The new formula is softer than the old version|
|Creates more of a feathered look instead of sharp spikes|
6. Revita Styling Gel for Hair
Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5.0
If you’re seriously concerned about the health of your scalp or are actively working to regrow and thicken your hair with other products, this may be the hair gel for you.
Revita is one of the few hair gels that has gone through extensive testing to guarantee that it doesn’t damage the health of your hair or scalp.
That means that this is one of the safest bets if you’re trying to grow more hair, are concerned about dandruff or other scalp conditions, or have sensitive skin.
That said, it’s not worth using if it doesn’t really work, right?
Fortunately, Revita is a good gel overall. It’s lower gloss than many alternatives, and only about a medium hold. However, if you’re just looking to add some body and shape, not create a vertical spiked masterpiece, it works well.
It’s also a good option if you’re looking for frizz control and shape control in the awkward phases of growing your hair now. It’ll take the unruly strands, and it takes significantly less product to achieve great hair if that’s your primary goal.
That said, if you don’t have any of the above hair concerns, we’d probably recommend one of the other gels on our list over this one since they tend to have more dramatic results.
|Product weight: 5.8 fl oz|
|Great for sensitive skin|
|Proven not to damage scalp or hair|
|Good option when growing in new hair, or while using other hair and scalp treatment|
|Unlikely to aggravate pre-existing scalp conditions|
|Not as strong a hold as other gel types|
|Doesn’t last as long as alternative brands|
- Things to Consider Before You Buy
- Quick Styling Tips
- Top 6 Men’s Hair Gels Comparison Table
- 6 Best Hair Gel for Men: Detailed Reviews