It’s time to freshen up your quarantine-driven mane with one of the best hair gels for men. That’s right — you’d do very well to pick up some styling gel as you refresh your mug and your hairdo these days, and there are options for both wet and dry hair, plus price points either more affordable or a bit more spendy for every budget.
Hair gels tend to work best if you’ve already got naturally thick, straight hair (think how good David Beckham’s hair cleans up, after all), but hair gel can also offer a boost to thinner or more coarse hair. Some hair gels are made to either straighten curls or naturally enhance a curly head of hair, too.
And if you want a higher, longer-lasting hold and more shine, you’re going to want to reach for a hair gel that works well with wet hair (think a slicked-back, retro look). For more texture or a natural finish, reach for a hair gel made for dry hair.
That being said, some of the options below work for both wet and dry hair, so you might say the world of hair care is your oyster when it comes to finding the best men’s hair gel. You’ll also recognize that plenty of brands already in your medicine cabinet and your grooming rotation make high-quality hair gel. Find the one that’s right for you, then get back in the groove as you head back to the office or sharpen up for your next Zoom call.
Best Hair Gels for Wet Hair
Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Styling Gel
Made from nearly 100% naturally derived ingredients, Garnier Fructis delivers this clean styling gel with a 24-hour hold in mind — the extra-strong hold should deliver a natural shine and finish when applied to wet hair. This is perhaps best for hair that can use an extra boost and a thicker look.
Aveda Confixor Liquid Gel
For applying to damp hair, it’s hard to go wrong with this innovative Aveda liquid gel, made to deliver a more natural medium hold. It’s made to fortify hair with additional protein, too.
Get an outstanding deal on one of the best men’s hair gels, one designed to deliver a strong hold, a smooth finish, and a sleek “wet” look for dressy occasions.
Fatboy Hair Tough Guy Water Wax
The versatility behind this excellent styling tool is pretty remarkable. Apply Fatboy’s Tough Guy Water Wax to wet hair, damaged hair, coarse hair, or atop the brand’s Sea Salt Pomade, all designed to lock in moisture and provide a wet-look finish while taming flyaways.
L’Oreal for Men Paris Studio Line Clean Gel
For just a “hair” under $5, this incredibly affordable men’s hair gel delivers what the brand calls “clean definition” — that means you should apply it to damp hair for classic styles (think a pompadour or a clean-cut side part), then work through with your fingers or a comb.
Saturdays NYC Wet Wax
The brand that makes your favorite menswear is now branching out into the grooming game. Originally introduced last year, Saturdays NYC delivers a seriously cool wet wax made for use on wet or dry hair. For best results, we recommend working through wet hair for a slicked-back, high shine, and high hold look.
Best Hair Gels for Dry Hair
American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel — $32
Invest in one of the best hair gels for men and reap the benefits when it comes to a sharply coiffed ‘do. Apply this product to towel-dried hair for a thicker, natural-but-strong look.
Old Spice Hair Gel
Made for use on damp or dry hair, Old Spice’s Swagger Hair Gel works best for those who want an edgier, spikier look with a matte finish and high hold.
Johnny B. Mode Styling Gel
With a solid hold and relatively high shine, this old-school styling gel works on wet or dry hair, aiming to provide control and all-day versatility. We like the idea of using it to tame your hair into a classic side part for dressy occasions and outfits.
AXE Messy Look Hair Gel
The AXE brand that you thought you knew is no more, now that the brand is focused on delivering more mature styles, products, and scents, including this hair gel for that coveted messy look (think how cool celebs like Robert Pattinson look with “bedhead,” right?). Mess up dry hair with a small amount — AXE says it should go a long way.
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