How to use hair gel for men: Our top tips

After long-lasting hold? Hair gel could be the answer. 

For die hard wax and clay fans that have never encountered hair gel for men, here’s the lowdown. Hair gel is a traditional styling product used to achieve extreme hold and high-shine gloss. Unsurprisingly, its name comes from its gel-like appearance, and it’s typically applied to wet hair, leaving a distinctive, wet-look finish.

Like its distant cousin, the pomade, hair gel for men has a long and rich history as one of the earliest hair styling products. Invented in the ’60s, it was marketed as a non-greasy alternative to traditional pomades. It’s this unique selling point that quickly made it a popular hair styling product with the Teddy Boys. In the ’80s, it was used to achieve super slick, Wall Street-style ‘dos, and then in the ’90s and noughties, it became the only way for guys to spike up their boy band-style quiffs.

However, with the emergence of newer, multi-functional styling products like clays, putties and pastes, its popularity has significantly dropped in recent years. But what you modern gents may not realise, is that hair gel is still holds the answer to fuss-free, long-lasting hairstyles – and it’s one well worth having in your bathroom cabinet. So, want to know more about how to use this classic styling product? Ahead, we put together some clever styling tips and how-tos to help you ace using hair gel for men. Step aside, Michael Douglas…

Our top tips on how to use hair gel for men


Tip 1: Pick the right product

All hair gel is all the same, right? Well, not exactly. So selecting the right one is important when it comes to styling your hair. The first two things to consider are: how much hold you want and the finish you’d like to achieve. Although most gels naturally promote a strong hold, there are extra strong formulations available for even longer-lasting results or for use on stubborn hair.

If you want a super slick finish, you might want to consider opting for a wet look hair gel for men. For those who battle with dry hair, there are new product innovations without alcohol, like the TIGI Bed Head For Men Power Play Firm Finish Gel (£11.50*). And for those that like the idea of a gel but aren’t too keen on its texture, there are now also gel sprays available for easy, even application. Check out the VO5 Extreme Style Sculpted Hold Mega Hold Gel Spray (£2.99*) for proof!

how to use hair gel for men
Remember to use hair gel sparingly and only apply to clean hair.

Tip 2: Apply to clean hair

For best results, we suggest using hair gel on clean, towel-dried hair, and letting it dry naturally (although you can use a hairdryer if you’re feeling impatient). You might think it won’t make a difference, but excess grease and dirt can make nailing your desired style just that little bit more difficult and even leave your hair feeling a little crunchy.

Tip 3: Use sparingly

We know, it’s all too easy to get heavy-handed with styling products. But when it comes to gel, it’s best to start with a small amount (it’s always easier to add more than to restart by washing your hair!). This is something to bear in mind, particularly if you’ve just had a haircut, as you might habitually take the amount of product you used to use on longer length hair. As a guide, we recommend a using a small amount for shorter hair (roughly, the size of 5 pence-piece) and a little bit more for medium length hair (about, the size of 10 pence-piece). If you have long, or really thick hair, you’ll probably need a dollop the size of 50 pence-piece to style your ‘do.

Tip 4: Adapt your application accordingly

If you’re after an ultra sleek, slick look, don’t be afraid to use a comb with your hair gel as it’ll be far easier to evenly distribute the product and manipulate the style than by using just your hands. However, your fingers may well be better if a rougher, messier look is what you’re after. That said, if you have naturally curly hair, try scrunching the product in: it’ll be more effective at evenly coating your curls than hand-raking.

*RRPs are Unilever suggested retail prices only, it is at the discretion of the individual retailers to set the actual price. 

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