Best Hair Gel for Your Hair Type

Get out of sticky style situations with the right products.

Shopping for the best hair gel in the drugstore hair aisle is enough to leave most people running for the hills. With at least 500 different products at any given time (we’re kinda exaggerating… but also, not really), we’re lucky if we even have half an hour free to peruse this overwhelming selection at our leisure. It helps to know what you want the moment you step inside a store, especially with common products like hair gel.

Keeping your specific needs in mind helps narrow the field down and facilitate your decision.

Picking the hair gel isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. We all have different hair types, so it makes sense to have different products to address each need. Even just one person can have a slew of hair products for their various needs at any given time!

Read on to learn more about the best kinds of hair gels for every hair type. Knowing, after all, is half the battle!

The Best Hair Gel for Each Hair Type

best hair gel blonde shag
Gel helps define the details on medium-length styles like the shag, while also helping retain its shape throughout the day. Photo credit:

Straight and fine hair

Thinner locks crave volume, so make sure to use products that don’t weigh your hair down or leave them prone to going limp midday. Lightweight styling gels, such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Diametress Lavish Body Gel Spray, are a fun, useful innovation, since most of these coat hair strands evenly while providing some bounce.

Straight and thick hair

Thicker hair is fortunate enough to be able to withstand more styling wear and tear, but then can also be prone to dullness and unmanageability. Take control of your hair type’s density with a gel that adds lightweight shine and smoothness, like TRESemmé TRES Two Mega Firm Control Gel, which also gives you the super-firm control you’ll need without sacrificing body.

Wavy hair

Frizz is public enemy number one for ladies who have naturally wavy hair. The best hair gel for this type is one that both shields from humidity and enhances your natural texture—this is your golden unicorn of hair products. An alcohol-free formulation that locks out frizz, such as TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Gel, is ideal for giving moveable but long-lasting hold, a.k.a. the best control for wavy looks.


best hair gel
Tame cowlicks and frizzies on curly or natural-textured hair with some medium-hold gel. Photo credit:

Curly and thick or texturized

Products that have moisturizing or conditioning properties, beat frizz and keep your coils soft without flattening them out are your best bet. A hair gel that provides medium-to-firm control in a serum-gel formulation, such as Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Curl Defining Soft & Defined Curls Gel Serum, will distribute more evenly through your tresses than a paste or wax. Unless you’re able to coat your entire head of hair perfectly and evenly, avoid hair sprays—they can dry you out and aerate strands further, encouraging frizz.

Curly and fine hair

If you have curly hair without an afro texture or kink, your main concern should be enhancing those ringlets and maintaining shine and body throughout the day. A hair gel in a cream formulation that also imparts some gleam without heavy silicones is imperative. Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound, a curl recall cream, reforms and springs curls back into shape with just one crunch.


best hair gel
Edgy mohawks require maximum-hold hair gel.

Bonus: Short

Short hair in need of an edge, whether via a fauxhawk, piecey texture or just all-around gritty definition, can get away with extra-hold hair gel. Before resorting to the men’s aisle for products, look for a fast-drying gel that can hold the spikiest of looks, but also be tailored to any other look you choose. Bed Head by TIGI Hard Head Mohawk Gel keeps the boldest of mohawks budge-free, but can also be cocktailed with other putties and waxes for a creamier, more diluted hold.

Which hair gel is best for your needs?