Dark haired man with medium quiff

Hair Paste Explained: Why You Need it

Everything you need to know about the versatile hair paste.

A modern gentleman is never fully dressed until his hair is styled — and we couldn’t agree more. But let’s be honest, with a tonne of men’s hair products out there, it’s not always easy to find the right one. Luckily for you, we’re here to make it all much simpler with the addition of one key styling product: hair paste.

Currently unacquainted with this product? Here’s everything you need to know about it, plus tips on how you can use it.

What is hair paste, plus all its uses

Hair paste is a styling product that is usually found in the same group as clays, putty, mud and fibre, all of which give a dry or matt finish with textured definitions, meaning it has little or no shine and gives room to play.

So, instead of that polished wet style, you’ll get that effortless, just-got-out-of-bed look.

brown haired male runway model at fashion week with messy textured bed hair
All hail bed-head styles. Credit: indigitalimages.com

Pastes have a thicker consistency than traditional gels, with textures that can range from the feel of toothpaste to tacky glue, so it’s important for you to find the right one for your hair type.

Editor’s tip: Want to know a secret styling tip? Simply apply your paste onto wet hair for a firm hold, or to damp or dry hair if you want a softer effect.

What makes it different from other styling products?

Unlike most oil-based pomades and stiffening gels, hair paste is water-based. Its solubility means it won’t over-clog your hair follicles, making it easier to wash out.

Another bonus? It works on both short and medium styles, as well as thin to thick hair (the right paste can add volume to fine hair, as well as control unruly types).

The main reason why it differs from other products is because of its lack of shine, which you’re more likely to achieve with a pomade or gel. Remember: using paste is all about looking like you haven’t done anything to your mane — even though you have.

male model with dark blonde pushed back hair with a side parting
Try hair pastes for a natural finish. Credit: indigitalimages.com

Why should you have it in your bathroom?

None of us can deny the comfort and practicality of a rebellious yet organised hairdo. And hair paste is all of that in one tub, making it a great product to have on the go.

Which hair paste is best for you?

We recommend gents with thin hair try the VO5 Lifting Paste to give structure without it looking stiff.

If you’ve got a cut that incorporates shorter sides with longer top layers (e.g. a French crop or an undercut), this product is also great for styling these looks.

If you’re new to styling products, or you just prefer an undetectable matt look, opt for the TONI&GUY Men: Workable Matte Paste. It gives a long-lasting hold while still being flexible enough that you can restyle later in the day if you need to.

Bro flow surfer hair is really on trend right now, so if this is your vibe the (appropriately named) VO5 SurfStyle Paste is the one for you.

Great for adding a wind-swept messiness to the hair without leaving it feeling sticky or unnatural, it’s a great choice for summer styles.

Not all hair pastes are made equal and while most are solid formulas there are exceptions, like the VO5 Matt Styling Paste. This thick cream formula is ideal for giving a light, tousled texture to mid-length hair.


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