Man wearing shade and a suit with gel in his hair

How to use hair gel for men: Our top tips

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 that is 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, which was its unique selling point that quickly made it popular. In the ’80s, it was used to achieve super slick ‘dos, and then in the ’90s it became the only way for guys to spike up their boy band-style looks.

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 still holds the answer to fuss-free, long-lasting hairstyles – and it’s well worth having in your bathroom.

Want to know more about how to use this classic styling product? We’ve put together some clever styling tips and how-tos to help you ace using hair gel for men.


Our top tips on how to use hair gel for men

Tip 1: Pick the right product

Man applying gel to his hair
Source: Canva Stock

All hair gel is all the same, right? Well, not exactly. 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.
If you want a super slick finish, you might want to consider opting for a wet look hair gel for men.

The VO5 Wet Look Styling Gel is definitely a winner if you want a controlled swept back look.

And for those that are after a 24-hour hold and great definition, the VO5 Sculpted Firm Hold Styling Gel is a must-try.


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 a 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. 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, because you might habitually take the amount of product you used on your longer length hair. As a guide, we recommend using a small amount for shorter hair. Roughly, the size of a R5 coin, and add a little bit more for medium length hair. If you have long, thick hair, adjust accordingly as you’ll probably need a much bigger dollop to style your ‘do.


Tip 4: Adapt your application

If you’re after an ultra sleek look, don’t be afraid to use a comb with your hair gel. This will make it be far easier to evenly distribute the product, and manipulate the style. However, your fingers may 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 way more effective at evenly coating your curls.



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