Hair Styling Products for Men: Difference Between Paste, Pomade and Clay


Hair styling products for men- An ultimate guide: Experimenting with hair products is quite complicated, as the final outcome may be the one you expected or least expected.  It’s always a tedious task to find the apt styling hair products that suit ones personalities. The wide range of hair products available in the market always leaves us in a puzzling state. Commonly people try all textures and types of hair products until they find one that fulfills their taste and purpose of use.

This article is an ultimate guide to not only understand the wide range of hair styling products but also provides an insight to check an individual has chosen the right product for his hair care.

What are the hair styling products available for men?

The below list explains the common hairstyling products of men available at the market place:


Buy Now at Amazon

Pomade is a greasy, waxy, or a water-based hair styling product. It provides the user’s hair a shiny and slick appearance and lasts longer than most hair care products. Pomades are not to seen dry out or leave the hair hard and crunchy which allows an individual to style his hair again and again throughout the day.  A wide range of medium to high shine pomades are available. Predominantly pomades can be classified into two major categories:

1. Oil-based pomades

They are basically the cheaper option of the pomades as they are majorly composed of grease or petroleum. The ingredients of the oil based pomades are water-insoluble, hence practically a lot of time needs to be spent to wash off this hair styling product.

Though the petroleum and grease might give the hair a long-lasting shine and infinite moldability, an important point that one needs to remember is these oil-based pomades are also seen to strip the natural oils out of your hair, potentially leaving an unhealthy hair.  

Another major drawback of this hair styling product is the development of acne, particularly along the forehead and on the scalp. This is due to the clogging of the pores and the hair follicles that fails to completely remove the oil and grease from the pomade and result in the unwanted buildup and undesirable acne.

2. Water-based pomade

Water-based pomades are more user-friendly than the traditional oil-based ones. These hair styling products yield similar outcomes like the oil-based pomades but are more easily washed out with water.  The water-based pomades fail to hold the hair as firmly as the oil based type but are seen to not only maintain flexibility but can also be restyled throughout the day.

Hair paste

Buy Now at Amazon

Hair pastes are a bit thicker in consistency than the pomades. Their consistency and texture range from a thick toothpaste to a tacky glue.  In wet hair, the paste is seen to provide a medium hold with a matte finish, and in dry hair, it’s perfect for messy, textured styles. This factor makes the hair paste the most versatile hair styling product as it is seen to suit all hair lengths, types, and styles…from short to long, fine to thick, messy to neatly combed.  In addition, the hair paste is water-based, so washing them out is super easy. Choosing a product in the hair paste family is quite easy as this product will never disappoint an individual.

Thicker hair pastes require to be warmed up before application.  Rubbing the thicker hair paste between the fingers or palms of an individual will soften the product allowing for an even distribution throughout the hair.  Post the product application and hair styling, the product is seen to re-cool and re-thicken, which helps in providing the hairstyle the hold it needs. Stylist recommends using a blow dryer on medium styles for a lightweight and a durable result.

Hair clay

Hair clay Buy Now at Amazon

A new classification of the men’s styling products includes the hair clay products. They range from very thick to very creamy consistency and a common factor in all clay hair products is the fact that they majorly contain a clay ingredient in their formulations.  The most commonly used clay in hair styling products is the bentonite. This is a natural fine powder obtained from the weathering of volcanic ash. Hence it is almost “velvety” to the touch and is seen to swell up to 6x when it comes in contact with water.

The natural clay makes the hair feel “denser” as it is seen to add body, thickness, and structure to the individual hair strands and ultimately provides a stable hair structure throughout the day.  Hair clays are ideal for application for hairstyles that require immense of volume without the thought of a hair damage.

The wide benefits of using hair clay products include:

1. The clay naturally has a tendency to draw dirt and impurities from the hair without drying the natural oils of the hair.

2. They also promote hair growth and have a natural healing and stimulation of the hair shaft and scalp, making it an ideal hair styling product for men with sensitive skin and scalp.

3. The clay is composed of minerals and nutrients, this aids in nourishing the scalp and hair.

4. The hair clay products are seen to condition and moisturize the hair which in turn controls and maintains frizzy hair particularly in men with curly or longer hair.

Hair wax:

Buy Now at Amazon

Waxes, in their truest forms, typically do not harden over time and have a shiny finish. They are most comparable to pomades but are seen to have a lighter hold and are seen to have a medium to a high shine.  Like pomades, waxes are ideal for hairstyles that such as a pompadour, slick back, classic side parts, or ducktails that typically require a comb.

Texture-or volumizing powder

Texture-or volumizing powder Buy Now at Amazon

The vast majority of men do not know the existence of texture or volumizing powders. These powders aid to create a natural lightweight and an instant crazy hair volume. The textured powder is primarily a pre-styler and is applied either prior or post a hair blow dry session, most definitely prior to the use of a hair styling product like pomade or paste.

The basic ingredient of all volumizing powders is the rough particulate silica silylate that are not similar to the smooth and shiny silicones. The roughness of the silica silylate sticks to the hair fibers and creates a volume that an individual needs by enhancing the friction between the hair fibers.   In addition, certain chemicals in the textured powder also contribute to the extra boost in volume as they absorb moisture, which in turn alleviates the hair of excess oil. These volumizing powders are generally recommended for the application on the roots of the hair. Use the fingers to mix the powder into the hair aids in giving the much-needed boost. A different effect can be obtained by just applying the textured powder to the ends of the hair, this typically helps in greater separation among the strands.

The drawbacks of using a texture powder are :

1. These fail to leave the hair soft.  

2. The hair feels a bit stiff and isn’t crunchy like a hairspray.  

3. The application is a bit different than the regular hair styling products. As using too much of this product will lead to the retention of the powder at the roots of the hair. Apply it sparingly to ensure it blends well is the most appropriate way to use a volumizing powder.

Hair cream and lotion

Hair cream and lotion Buy Now at Amazon

Based on its application a hairstyling cream is termed as “hair lotion”. In comparison to the solid, pasty-type consistency of pomades and pastes this product has a lotion-type consistency and predominantly help in moisturizing the hair in an effort to control and maintain frizzy hair.  Hair creams offer a light, softer hold when compared to any other hair styling products and are primarily recommended as a pre-styling product as they have the ability to add substance, shine, and separation to the hair. Men who are not only looking to tame unruly hair but also control the frizz of curly are recommended to add hair creams or lotions to their styling regime.

Hair gel

Buy Now at Amazon

Hair gel is the widely known and most commonly used hair styling product for men and every guy would have tried using hair gel at least once in their life. Because this product is cheap and widely available at any local store, it’s typically the “starter” hair product for most guys who begin hair styling in middle or high school. The gel is a great product to opt for if the intention of a guy is to have stiff, non-movable hair with nil problems of the product causing hair damage. The gel perfectly works well with all hair lengths, thicknesses, and textures to mold, sculpt and hold a man’s hair in place.  It tends to coat the hair strands and binds them together to lock them in place.

The gels are water-based styling products that are a composed of harsh alcohols and holding chemicals.  They typically leave the hair shiny and rock hard and never provide the flexibility to style the hair throughout the day.   

The “extreme hold” of using gel on the hair has the following drawbacks:

1. Flaking is caused when the gelled hair is disturbed by running the fingers through the hair.

2. The alcohols present in the gels induce hair damage and excessive drying.

3. Corrosive chemicals strip all moisture from the hair and scalp resulting not only in dandruff but also an itchy and flaky scalp.

4. Hair is prone to breakage.

5. The hair tends to become brittle.

6. Hair is seen to become more frizzy, thereby making it unmanageable, dry, rough, and lusterless.

7. Promotes the formation of dead skin cell build-up and excess sebum or natural hair oil on the scalp which is seen to clog the hair follicles and eventually leading to hair fall and hair loss.

MousseMousse Buy Now at Amazon

Mousse is probably the most recognizable men hair styling product. This hair product is solely based on its unique foamy texture and most of the guys tend to shy away from using this hair styler. The possible reason for the less mousse application is attributed to its ability to make the hair feel crunchy and sticky or maybe the fragrance of a metal aerosol can turn men away.  Either way, the mousse is a hairstyling product that is designed to add body, light hold, and shine to the mane.

The mousse is an effective hair styling product for men looking to achieve hairstyles that require volume. The major key to achieve a massive volume is by applying mousse at the hair roots and blow drying from the roots outward.  Using mousse with the method mentioned above works well for all hair types – thick, fine, short, medium, long, curly, wavy, and everything in between. The mousse application doesn’t cause flakes and residue unlike the hair gel on disturbance of the crunchy hair.

Predominantly the mousse surrounds the hair strand with synthetic resins called polymers and assists the hair in holding its shape when it dries.  It also gives the hair a certain amount of lift at the root level, which makes it a perfect candidate for a pre-styler. Some mousses are specifically formulated to thicken fine hair hence these mousses are recommended for use on fine hair types in general.

Hair spraysHair sprays

Buy Now at Amazon

The hair styling market is filled with all types of hairspray that can aid an individual to set his hairstyle, enhance shine, reduce frizz, and even promote volume.  Hairspray can be used by itself or in conjunction with any hair paste or pomade. They are also sprayed on the outer layer of hair to lock the hairstyle in place or are sprayed deep into the roots to coat and lift the hair.

Typically, a hairspray is packaged in an aerosol can or bottle with a pump sprayer and can be used by both the genders. Based on the holding capacity the hairspray products are categorized as below:

1. Flexible-hold hairsprays

These offer the least amount of staying power and work well for longer hairstyles.  They only provide enough control to alleviate frizzing, but still, allow some natural hair movement.  

2. Medium-hold hairsprays

These hairsprays have a slightly stronger hold than the flexible types and should be used sparingly if a movement is still desired. Medium-sprays are ideal for the hairstyles that require a volume but don’t necessarily need to be stiff.

3. Maximum-hold sprays

These are the strongest of the hairspray bunch and work to keep every strand in the same place throughout the day.  If your styling product fails to give enough hold throughout the day, then use a few shots of maximum-hold sprays to solve the issue. The definition and texture of the hairstyle will not be changed, but it’ll now be locked in place.

Note: Some types of hairspray product require washing with a clarifying shampoo to remove all residues.

Sea salt spray
Sea salt spray

Buy Now at Amazon

The sea salt helps to absorb oils in the hair and in turn, provide an added volume, definition, and texture. They are effective against long, curly, thinning, or textured hairstyles. Avoid spraying more than a few sprites as these salt sprays are seen to weigh the hair down.

Natural hair oils

Predominantly hair oils are necessarily not classified as a styling product but rather fall in the hair repairing category.Natural hair oils Buy Now at Amazon

These oils are recommended to be used during bedtime or overnight as when styling the hair these oils leave hair looking extremely greasy/oily and provide no hold.  Their main purpose of the natural hair oil application is to hydrate the hair when the scalp is insufficiently producing enough natural hair oils (sebum) or when the sebum fails to travel from the roots of the hair to the top to effectively protect the hair.  Depending on the requirements of an individual’s hair, he will need to choose the apt product for the job.

The commonly used natural hair oils include:

Argan oil –  This oil protects the hair and makes the hair smoother, softer, and less frizzy.

Coconut oil – Improves the overall hair health by penetrating deep in the hair shaft and strengthen the weak spots.

Almond oil – This oil is composed of vitamins A, B, and E. These vitamins not only improves hair health but also adds shine and body.

Olive oil – Olive oil application help to revives dry hair and are sparingly used for fine hair types.


Buy Now at Amazon

For men with longer hair, a serum is predominantly recommended to control frizz, moisturizes the hair and provides a silky hair. A serum application is preferred after a guy towel dries his hair as this is seen to add a quick shiny finish.

Final thoughts

Many pointers need to be considered when choosing the right product for a perfect hairstyle. This article is equipped with this valuable information that aids not only the beginners but also the older folks to choose the right hair products to look smart.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here