The Shakespearean adage of “clothes maketh the man” has withstood the test of time, from Elizabethan doublets, breeches and codpieces to the sleeker, arguably less questionable fashion trends of today. Careful dressing conveys self-confidence and an enticing magnetism that can be easily eradicated by a wearer with an unruly ‘do topping his crown. The famed quote from the English wordsmith wasn’t inspired by a scraggly bed head and divorced hair ends.
Going for a proper hair cut presents itself as the first step, but styling products are the key to maintenance. An array of categories may overwhelm with uncertainty, but we’ve broken them down into products that complement certain hairstyles, as well as usage recommendations to complete the ensemble of the dapper gentleman.
Clothes do make the man, but well-groomed hair doth maketh the man better.
The resurgence of bespoke barbering has begotten an increase in popularity for slick pompadours, quiffs and undercuts, naturally followed by a need for pomade. Usually based in petrolatum, beeswax, or water this heavy product doesn’t dry out or flake, giving the hairstyle a darker, shinier appearance a la David Beckham. Don’t pile on the pomade thinking you’d achieve the Danny Zuko look after one application. Gradually add pomade on damp hair over multiple uses and washes to avoid your hairdo from looking, or worse, becoming greasy.
Best for: Sleek, shorter and texturised hairstyles, maintaining wavy or curly hair as well as enhancing thinner hair. If you have a naturally oily scalp, avoid pomade as the oil build-up may accelerate.
A long-standing staple for male grooming, gel is a functional hair product that can be incredibly versatile with its ability to provide hold and control. Similar to pomade, there’s a wet finish, but gel dries to harden the hair, keeping the style intact with greater lasting power. It may be tempting to slather on more gel when the product hasn’t solidified, but unless you’re planning to get a garish fake tan to go with the potentially Jersey Shore-esque hair, refrain. After drying, try not to touch your hair as it may break the gel’s hold.
Best for: Thick hair from short to medium length; optimal for spiked hairstyles.
If hold is what you require, wax is the way to go. Without the oil that is characteristic for pomade, wax is a slightly more matte alternative for adding control to shorter hairstyles. Wax is more pliable, welcome to molding hair into a range of styles from the tousled bed-head to a neat side comb. Rub the wax through your palms to warm it up before even application. This helps avoid unsightly clumps that will look rather odd. We’ll let your imagination take over on this one.
Best for: Thick, shorter hair. Curly manes are more prone to clumps, so stay away if your hair is on the frizzy end.
Matte Products – Clay, Mud, Paste, Fibre
Rarely do the most nonchalant looking bed-heads occur with rolling out of bed. Orlando Bloom’s shaggy red carpet mop doesn’t have an “I woke up like this” label attached to it. The secret to achieving that manageably messy look is simple – matte products. This category usually has drier, paste-like products that are highly pliable and have a matte finish. They are especially suitable for lighter hair colours that may appear weighed down by heavier styling options.
Best for: Finer hair; to achieve a disheveled look.
80s nostalgia returns in a can of mousse, reminiscent of regrettable mullets and heavier ‘dos. Let the mistakes of the past not deter you from this product’s diminishing popularity though, particularly if your foliage is starting to thin. Mousse coats hair strands with polymers that will result in a fuller, voluminous head of hair that allows you to cheat the hands of ageing in the eyes of the public. It also has conditioning elements to help soften the hair, working well with natural curls to tame frizz.
Best for: Thinning hair, both long and short.