After 38 hours of research evaluating 56 products, we picked Mack for Men HydroClay as our top choice.
The best hair clay styling products are the business. Imagine that pomade and putty had a product baby, and you’ve got yourself hair clay. And the baby has incredible hold but still a natural look!
Most have medium to strong hold, though some hold like gel – but without the shine. Clay for hair offers a matte finish (with the odd exception here and there). And, most work into your hair much the way as a wax.
Despite the small number of decent men's hair clay products on the market, there’s diversity. You’ll be able to find the best hair clay for your hair, whether it’s thin or thick and unwieldy.
You may find yourself paying slightly higher prices for a clay hair product than for other styling products. But they last a long time! And don’t worry, we’ve found some affordable products that perform even better than the Claymation David Beckham uses.
You’re sure to find one that fits your budget, and we guarantee that at least one of these will easily become your new favorite hair product.
It gives any hairstyle a no-shine effect but with an excellent texture that holds throughout the day. It separates, molds, and defines every hair strand to achieve an amazing modern look.
Using too much of this product can make your hair look cakey and flaky, so just a dab will do ya!
When it comes to hold, this clay really shows up against the competition. It offers medium to strong-hold that stays pretty much in place all day, without appearing stiff or greasy.
Since this clay has a sticky texture and dries out easily, one way to go is to wet your hands with water before applying it to your hair to make it more pliable. You can also dip the tightened container in hot water until it gets soft prior to the application. Then, you can style your hair in any way you want.
It is much more of a paste or clay; it is thick and tacky so it needs a little effort and practice to get the hand of styling.
It’s a bit challenging to wash it off - doing a deep shampoo and two washes might be necessary if you want to avoid the sticky, flakey look.
The smell is just fine; nothing specialy, but it fades away upon application so you won't smell like you're wearing anything at all.
The Mitch Matterial styling clay contains natural clay, strong fixatives, and thickening ingredients that help in keeping your hair in place and adds extra thickness, volume, and texture. It has no shine properties, which creates a more sophisticated, modern look.
To start with, everyone knows you can never go wrong with Paul Mitchell products. This Mitch Matterial hair clay is made specifically for men who love volume, texture, and thickness without the shiney, wet look; in that regard, it definitely slays.
With the thickening properties and strong fixatives this putty has to offer, you will have a perfect long-lasting hold that maintains the shape and style of your hair - giving you a modern look with a matte-finish. Even if you have straight or curly hair, styling is just as easy. Despite its thick consistency, this product provides excellent hold and finish.
While some users find the product easy to wash off with water, some recommend that you wash your hair twice with shampoo after using this clay or it will leave hair sticky and flakey. However, after several uses, your hair will adjust and this clay will wash off easily without hassle.
For the price ($6/ounce), it is overall a great deal. Aside from that, it will last you a long time - up to several months in fact! Which means lots of great hair days in your future.
This clay will give dull hair the life it needs, while providing a natural, matte finish. It is lightweight, easy to style and control, and has a refreshing finish.
It is expensive for a hair clay but the jar can last up to several months, so it is not too bad of a value.
If you dream of a hair with high definition, then you must give this product a try. Shape your hair to whatever style you want with this clay and it will maintain the same state all day.
It has a non-sticky and non-greasy lightweight texture that easily binds with hair to create any style you may want for the day, providing you the thickness you’ve always wanted.
A small amount of clay is enough to get the job done. Use either your hands or a comb to work it through your locks, or even add a bit of water when styling for added pliability.
This clay is as easy to wash out at the end of the day, but it may require using shampoo to completely get the clay out of your hair.
The minty smell is uplifting and refreshing. It has a rich and spicy aroma of spearmint and organic oils, like lavender, which leaves hair smelling fresh all day. Users find it mild and soothing.
Ingredients include a mix of certified natural essential oils of spearmint and vetiver, great for added thickness and moisture. In addition to the health benefits, these oils combine with citrus extracts and sweet wood for a lovely, subtle fragrance.
As the title suggests, this Aveda Men Hair Clay is a good option if you want to add extra thickness to your hair. But not only that, this clay provides more precise texture and definition for a perfect finish.
Scanning through its ingredients, it’s composed of mostly all natural oils like spearmint, vetiver, and lavender that have antibacterial and calming properties that are good for the hair and scalp. Plus, they add to the soothing smell of the clay that most reviewers can't get enough of.
This clay can maintain a great hold in for any style and will secure the shape in place while giving you the perfect amount of volume.
Though a bit pricey, a jar of this clay can last up to several months because you only need a dab of it to manage your hair. In that sense, it is not too bad for the price especially given that it does such a great job on hair.
This clay washes easily, and goes in just the same. It’s also in the affordable range and adds volume and texture to hair with its awesome blend of ingredients.
The smell isn’t fantastic.
At best, we’d describe this hold as medium. It’s really not a strong hold, and if your hair is on the longer side, you may find this offers a little less than average. That said, it holds up well through some difficult elements, including sweat, which is a real plus.
Many guys find that it lasts a good 14-18 hours. It doesn’t seem to ever last longer than that, but most men don’t expect more than 16 hours from a product. Just a quick word though, there are those that feel 12 hours is pushing it on this. So, you may need to take it with you if you’re planning an extended day out and about.
This is a little more gelatinous than most clays, which can be a little off-putting at first. But it’s also, somehow, quite natural feeling and breaks down easily in your hands, making it rather easy to apply.
When applied to slightly damp hair, you should expect a light sheen to it, making it behave a little like a pomade in that regard. But, overall, most guys find this product goes in easily with no need to alter application methods.
This washes out almost too easily. Some guys find they don’t even need a shampoo to get this water-based product out of their hair. We still recommend it, of course, if you’re trying to avoid build-up, but you can expect this to be an easy wash.
People have a lot to say about the smell of this clay. It’s not for everyone. It mostly smells of clay with, perhaps, another earthy smell like tobacco mixed in. Some feel that it’s really off-putting while others quite like it. Either way, it dissipates quickly and if everything else is in place for you on this product, you shouldn’t let the smell stop you from trying it.
Inside, you’ll find petroleum mixed with bentonite clay. There’s also a fair amount of beeswax and lanolin waxes. We’re fans of the essential, carrot seed, and soybean oils.
Overall, this clay is simply amazing, but it’s maybe not a bad idea to get the negatives out of the way first.
First, the smell is not something everyone can live with. It’s really earthy, but it can come across as a little chemically sometimes. Mostly, it’s just enough aroma to let you know that you’re working with a product, and it goes away quickly. But, if you’re super sensitive, you may want to move along.
Then there is the hold. If you’re after a super strong, super long hold, this is not the clay for you. It lasts reasonably long – and stands up to humidity and moisture (so you can feel secure at the gym), but it’s not a 24-hour hold. And, we can’t say it’s anything more than medium.
So what does this clay do really well?
It allows for a range of styles, usually on the messier side, though it’s also pretty good with short, tamed, combed styles. If you want a low pompadour without the glistening finish you get with gels or pomades, this is an excellent choice.
More importantly, it really does add some thickness to thin hair and allows guys with flat, straight hair to get a bit of texture without weighing down hair in either case. Almost surprisingly, it’s just as valuable to those with wavy hair.
The texture is a little strange for a clay, but given the smooth application and the ease of washing it out, we’re going to forgive it. Plus, the company selling it stands behind their products and seems to enjoy doing what they do; not everyone can make hair care that kind of fun.
Very little of this hair clay is necessary to achieve a strong, lasting hold. It adds plenty of texture and garners rave reviews from guys with all hair types.
It can be a little difficult to work out of the container and it doesn’t always wash out as nicely as we would like. The hold sometimes breaks if you work up a sweat.
The hold on this is surprisingly strong and tends to last the entire day. Hair remains pliable enough to move and bend while still popping back into place. It's little wonder we've given it the strong hold accolades, right?
You can expect this to last the whole day. That’s really not bad for a clay.
The beeswax in this product provides a slightly sticky feeling. This is a rather thick and non-greasy clay.
There are a few users that find this is a little too thick for what they’re looking for; they have a little difficulty with the application. However, most users rave about the ease of application (not to mention the desired result), which is made easier by the fact that you really only need a small amount (as little as a fingernail-sized blob). When applied to wet hair, you’ll maintain a little of the wet look. Application to dry and damp hair results in a smooth and natural appearance.
If there’s one point where this hair clay falls down, it’s with the ease of washing it out. The petroleum base mixed with beeswax makes it a little more difficult than we would like for a clay. Don’t skip the shampoo or you’ll get a few crunchy flakes after toweling off.
Like most styling products, the aroma of this hair clay is a little difficult to peg. It’s definitely earthy with hints of lemon, sage, and something like tobacco.
Inside, you’ll find bentonite clay and beeswax (no surprise there), and plenty of natural ingredients like lemon peel, fennel, and sage oils. It’s also paraben-free.
Despite the relatively small number of hair clays on the market, the competition is fierce. And yet, this Baxter of California Clay Pomade easily made its way to the top of our list. Okay, it is a hybrid clay, but it performs so stunningly well that we had no choice but to give it serious honors.
As with most clays, this provides a natural, matte finish to your do. More than that, it adds serious texture and definition. No really, expect to add some volume if you apply this to damp hair and style with a hair dryer. At the same time, it’s absolutely perfect for a slicked back look. Your hair will feel and appear smooth and frizz-free, whatever your actual hair is like.
We’d like to add that there are many reports of users moving from brands like American Crew over to Baxter of California with great success. Their glowing reviews are echoed in the awards given by reputable sources such as Men’s Health and Details magazines. You’ll find similar raves from sources such as Ask Men and Huffington Post.
There are very few drawbacks which are almost negligible. For example, the price is high – but the product lasts a truly long time. The biggest setback is the trouble that some users have in washing it out. However, we still think it’s worth it.
This lightweight hair clay comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. It offers some volume and is super easy to style.
Some guys can’t get over the texture of this hair clay and it doesn’t offer enough hold for guys with thick hair.
The hold is remarkably strong, given the somewhat unorthodox texture of this clay. It’s better than medium, but it’s far from the strongest.
Don’t expect miracles on duration. You’ll only achieve about 12 to 14 hours of control with this hair clay. That should get you through the day though, right?
The texture is a little unusual for a hair clay. It’s more like a liquid paste or a cream. Still, it’s quite thick in consistency. Strange, right? And totally worth the try.
This goes on super easy – both on your hands and your hair. And, it doesn’t leave any greasy or waxy residue on your hands the way some products do. It’s easy to style in any direction you want, though if you’re looking for something with a lot of height, you’ll need to add in a wax or a hairspray. If you want a little more volume, use a hair dryer on the cool setting.
This is surprisingly easy to wash out. With plenty of beeswax, it’s almost amazing how easily it works out.
Some users find the scent to be way too strong. And, let’s be honest, it’s not the most masculine. Some think it smells a little like jasmine, others peg it closer to coconut or pineapple. Either way, it doesn’t have the earthy smell you would associate with a good clay.
Inside the confusing list of ingredients, you’ll find bentonite clay and beeswax (as you should expect). It’s also paraben free.
Love the hold and natural appearance of a hair clay, but can’t stand the difficult to work with texture? You totally just found your game-changer product. Seriously. This doesn’t feel like a clay, but it sure works like a clay. It’s a little difficult to describe the texture until you try it, and we certainly advise that you do. With a satisfaction guarantee and good customer service, there’s little reason not to.
And it manages to tame waves and curls without any hassle. You've got to love that!
Of course, there’s a lot more to a hair product than the texture and you’re likely to be concerned with the hold and appearance more than the way it feels in your hands. Here, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised. Despite being lightweight, you should expect a strong hold – unless you have very thick hair (in which case, you’ll need something with a much stronger hold). And yet, you’ll have a gorgeous matte finish that looks so enticingly natural.
Once you’ve got it in your hair, which is wonderfully easy to do, you won’t experience any of that nasty stickiness on your hands – and it’s wonderfully easy to wash out too. That’s a plus for any product, but especially for a clay.
But, you will need to trade something for the combination of easy in and easy out hair clay – and that’s the length of the hold. You shouldn’t expect it to last for weeks; it won’t. It probably won’t even give you 24 hours. But, it will give you a solid 12-14 hours of sheer bliss. And, despite the not-so-masculine aroma, there’s something about it that many guys seem to love.
All in, that makes it an almost perfect clay for guys that use it day in and day out. Give it a shot, you’re likely to find the same.
This easy-to-wash cement clay from Layrite is perfect for every hairstyle. It provides an excellent hold for both dry or damp hair (though more so on dry hair) and finishes matte while controlling frizz and flakes. It also produces a gentle and mild scent.
This hair clay is too strong for those who have thinning and short hair.
This product offers incredibly strong hold - on both dry and damp hair - and lasts all day and night.
This product is thicker and denser than most on our list, which requires some effort to work in and out of your hair. Although it is great for both dry and damp hair, applying it to dry hair may be difficult to manage - so a towel-dried hair may be the way to go. You can either use your fingers or a comb to tame it in place.
This clay has a thick consistency, but without the gritty texture that most clays have - more like a wax. While that's great for the hold, it is difficult to work out of the container. So we advise putting it under hot water while sealed to soften the product a bit before application.
Before applying this clay, rub it thoroughly on your palms to soften the consistency. You can shape any hairstyle you like. If you want to restyle, simply run your fingers through it; no need to add water.
This amazing hair clay is surprisingly easy to wash out despite the mix of its ingredients. Just water is okay, which is what you can't always expect from a Layrite.
The aroma is not strong, it's a subtle vanilla scent that smells good on hair.
Ingredients include a combination of castor oil, earth wax, beeswax, lanolin, and petrolatum. While not super common for ingredients cound in hair clay, they combine to create a waxy texture that is great for hair and provides an excellent all day hold.
In addition to the great price, this smells amazing, and it’s easy to apply across a variety of styles. It’s even easier to wash out.
You won’t get a super strong or super long hold with this clay.
Don't opt for this product if you’re after a strong, all day hold. It’s not that type of clay. But if you want a light to medium hold that gets you through the day, this is brilliant.
It’s definitely not going to make it from sun-up to sun-down. You’ll get between 6-8 hours with it. But, you can reactivate it with water, so you’ll make it through the work day without hassle.
This product definitely has more of a clay consistency, but at the same time, it’s also a bit creamier than other clays. Somehow that makes it feel more luxurious than the price would suggest.
You’ll need a dime-sized amount for most styles and lengths and it does tend to work best with mostly dry hair (though between dry and damp is often a matter of preference). You can use your fingers (and no hairdryer) to get a loose pomp, which is rather impressive.
It’s wonderfully easily to wash this out. Mostly it will come out with just water. But, it probably demands a shampoo every couple of days as it does ask for some soap to come off hands.
The manufacturer says it smells like tobacco – and this appears to be one case where they’re not lying. The scent is natural, hardly overpowering, and just about everyone loves it.
Inside is a mix of microcrystalline and carnauba waxes as well as kaolin clay. In addition, there aren’t any parabens inside and these products aren’t tested on animals. (But, it’s not what you’d call a natural product.)
Clays are almost ridiculously expensive. And, while there are other products that offer a matte finish, there aren’t any that add texture and volume as well as a decent hold. Clays really take the cake for that combination.
If you want to pay a little less for a clay than the average (which is about $8/ounce), you will need to compromise. You’ll need to do the same here, but nowhere near as much as with other “budget” options.
Sure, the hold is a little weaker than other clays, and the expected duration is definitely shorter, but most guys find the hold is more than enough, especially if their hair is on the thinner side. Guys with really thick hair will probably do better to look for a product expressly designed for a stronger hold.
One thing we really like about this clay is the smooth, workable texture of the product. It’s a little softer than you might expect and that means it’s easier to apply to dry and almost dry hair. It washes out even easier than that. And it smells incredible. Truly. You could ask for a lot less at this price, but with this clay, you don’t have to.
This isn’t only a vegan product that smells delicious; it’s a great value for money, easy to wash out, and offers a matte finish despite the pomade in the name.
Some users find this doesn’t offer the level of hold – or the length of hold – they expected. Otherwise, negatives are few.
It’s got a medium to strong hold, depending on the amount and length of hair that you’re starting with. We can’t say that we’re supremely blown away when working with hair that needs a high hold, but this product also wasn’t designed for that.
Don’t expect more than a day’s duration out of this. Indeed, we’d probably cap it at 14-16 hours. That’s, of course, usually more than enough for most men on most days.
It’s got a creamier texture than other clays, but it’s actually a pomade blend.
Men are split on this front, and it may have to do with their expectations of straightforward clays or pomades. Overall, it’s fairly easy if you’re working with damp hair and you take the time to work it in your hands properly before placing on your hair. And, it’s definitely clump-free.
It’s rather easy to wash this product out; no complaints here.
The clean, natural smell comes from the essential oils in the mix and it goes away quickly. For as nice as it smells, we wouldn’t mind it lasting longer, but hey, we’re all about the natural with this product.
Let’s just point out that this is marketed as a clay pomade before you start to lament the overwhelming lack of clay ingredients here.
It’s also more important to note that there are a lot of good things in this vegan product, the essential oils list is stunning (tea tree, sage, lavender, basil, just to start). And, it’s paraben, alcohol, added fragrance and colorant – free. Plus, these products aren’t tested on animals.
If you’re after a vegan styling clay for men, this is the one you want. Besides the natural ingredients and its animal-friendly status, the smell of this clay is simply divine.
It also offers a medium to strong hold that should get you through the day without any hassles. Afterwards, you can wash it out super easily. Indeed, you may be able to get away without using a shampoo. (But, unless you’re a strict no-poo guy, we recommend using shampoo at least once a week to ensure there’s no residue left behind.)
Now, on to the big question, with pomade in the product name, should you expect some shine? No.
That said, you shouldn’t expect this to mattify greasy locks. It’s formulated like a pomade, with the finish of a clay. Whether you add it to damp or dry hair, you should expect a natural finish on your hair – that’s somewhere between matte and glisten. But, it definitely isn’t shiny. (If you’re looking for a natural/vegan product with some shine to it, we suggest other Jack Black products.)
All in, this is a clay we’d consider even if the natural aspects weren’t important. If you’ve got hair that you describe as average all the way around (or just a little in one direction or another), give it a go.
It’s a strong, long hold with a perfect matte finish. There’s almost no smell and it washes out easily.
It’s rather on the expensive side. Otherwise, there’s hardly anything here to take away from this product.
Expect a strong hold. They’re not messing about here. It could be a little too much for fine hair, but most other men are going to fall head over heels for this clay.
It'll hold all day. No really, you shouldn’t worry that your hair is going to flop when you make a last minute decision to go out dancing (after the drinks or dinner you also didn’t think you’d say yes to).
It’s a thick whitish-grayish putty. And, we do mean thick, but it is pliable.
You will definitely need to work this clay in your hands before you place it in your hair. If you try to shortcut here, you will be disappointed in the results. Once you’ve worked it in your hands, however, it’s super easy to apply.
It’s on the easy side, but you can’t expect to get it out of your hair without shampoo. It’s a little too strong for just water.
Most users won’t even notice the smell. There, kind of, isn’t one. But, it smells like a mix of wax and clay; you know, sort of like you’d imagine this product to smell like.
It’s a mix of beeswax, as well as bentonite and kaolin clays. You will find nourishing castor oil inside, but you won’t find any parabens. Basically, it’s an amazing formulation (though not an all-natural one).
There is almost no reason not to give this product full marks; it’s a rather amazing hair clay. Yes, it does have some beeswax in the mix, but there are also plenty of ingredients that you would find in any real hair clay.
So, it’s authentic, which is always a good start…but it gets even better. The hold is strong to super strong. We kind of love that, because you actually want a clay with some hold otherwise it just thickens your hair. After all, clays – this one included – have a matte finish. It more or less should look like you have nothing in your hair, and this one is exemplary.
The smell, if you notice it at all, is pleasant and earthy (like wax and clay should be). But, most people don’t even notice it. That’s probably a great thing for most guys as you want something that’s not going to interfere with your other products.
It washes out easily, though you will need shampoo to get this clay out of your hair (it does an amazing job of really clinging to the hair to make it appear thicker). And, for the most part, it also goes on smoothly, though you will need to work with it in your hands first.
If they could bring the price down on this, it would be 100% perfect. But, considering it has everything else in exactly the right place, we had to give it the top spot on our list.
This will definitely make your hair appear denser and it’s also got a medium hold that is certainly stronger for guys with fine hair. Plus, it smells so. very. good.
It’s on the expensive side and it’s not going to work wonders for guys with longer hair, or thicker hair either.
Considering this is especially for guys with fine and thinning hair, you shouldn’t expect it to be super strong. That said, it’s definitely more than a medium, and you still get plenty of flexibility with it. If you are working with truly fine hair, then expect a strong hold, but not a weighted one.
when used by guys with fine and thinning hair, you’ll get a full 18 hours hold out of it. For the guys with denser or thicker hair, you shouldn’t expect more than 12-14, which is still more than enough for most guys.
It’s a light, non-gritty clay-like texture.
The formula makes it really easy to apply a dime-sized amount to damp or dry hair. You won’t get any clumps, even if you don’t work it too hard in your hands beforehand. Nice, right?
Easy peasy, you shouldn’t expect it to take any effort at all.
The smell is a little difficult to put your finger on, the manufacturers say it smells like a “freshly bathed TIGER.” What we can say is that it mostly smells clean and manly – and darn good at that.
The primary clay in here is bentonite. There’s also mineral oil, beeswax, and lanolin. Sadly, you will find a little alcohol in here, but it is paraben-free.
If your hair is naturally fine or you’re beginning to experience thinning, you need to take a serious look at this product. Like right now. It’s amazing.
For a start, it will definitely make your hair look, well, fatter. You’ll be able to work with it in ways you didn’t expect, as you can achieve some piecing, without exposing your scalp in that horrifying way you may be experiencing with other products.
It’s a medium to strong, all day hold and it smells exactly like you want your men’s hair products to smell. Basically, it’s all things that are good, with a matte finish that doesn’t frighten you or anyone else.
While it is on the pricier side, it’s absolutely the right clay for this hair type, and therefore, usually worth it. More than that, it goes in easily and comes out in a snap.
If you're looking for a strong hold to go with all the benefits you'd expect from a styling clay for men, you're in the right place.
Seriously, we were floored by the control and lasting control you get with Mack for Men HydroClay. We're actually not certain why you'd look anywhere else for an amazing hold.
You can tell the folks at Mack for Men put a lot of thought into this part of the product. It's creamy smooth but with just enough firmness that you can get a flexible grip when scooping a little out with your finger.
Ah-maz-ing. Not only does this feel like a guilty pleasure when you scoop it out of the container, but you can work it through your hands and into your hair without effort. Really; it takes more effort to flip on the light switch to the bathroom than to apply this pomade for men.
As a water-soluble hair clay for men, you need the faintest amount of energy to get this out of your hair. A moment or two of lathering and rinsing is all it takes.
There isn't anything more incredible than the way this hair clay smells. Okay, there are a few things, but we can't talk about them here.
It smells a little like forest with the sandalwood and cedar. And the blend of jasmine and patchouli add fresh, manly tones to it.
If they would bottle it as a cologne, we'd be happier still.
If you were searching for a hair clay that's literally brimming with the best ingredients, you've found it. If you wanted one that specifically included all the nasties you find in other products, you've won again.
So, what's on the inside?
You get organic beeswax, organic green tea extract, organic argan oil, organic coconut oil and organic jojoba seed oil. Plus, there's lemon peel extract, burdock root extract, and horsetail extract.
And you get all that without any DMDM, parabens or other ingredients that you don't really want anywhere near your hair or scalp.
How brilliant is that?
HydroClay isn't your typical styling clay for men; it's truly the best styling product to hit the market... maybe ever. We're not overselling it; we actually can't say enough positive things about it.
The first thing you're going to notice is the truly phenomenal scent. It's manly and fresh and slightly intoxicating. While you'll find other clays (and, for that matter, styling products in general) that have a pleasant smell to them, you won't find many, if any that make the cut like this one does. It's that good.
Then, there's the texture which is rather decadent and easy to work into your hair. It's nearly as easy to clean it out too, which is always a bonus. In between application and washing, you're going to get the hold you've always wanted. It's strong, but it's flexible with the control any man demands from a clay.
The natural matte finish doesn't dull your hair, nor does it make you glisten in the sunshine. Your hair will look and feel healthy.
But, it's the stuff you can't see that really makes all of this happen. Mack for Men packed HydroClay full of top-notch, good-for-you ingredients. There aren't any hormone-altering parabens or formaldehyde-leeching DMDM. There's nothing here that would put even the staunchest natural product users off.
Put all of this together with a fair price, free shipping and brilliant customer service and you can see why we couldn't be overstating the brilliance of Mack for Men HydroClay. It's easier still to understand why it's at the top of this list and why you shouldn't hesitate to give it a try.
It’s the new guy on the block, but hair clay is soon going to be the hair product of choice for many men. It offers hold, volume, and a matte finish. When you’ve been jealous of the natural good style of celebs that clearly don’t have any product in their hair, you’ve been coveting their little tub of hair clay. It creates perfectly messy styles with ease… and did we mention the volume?
Yes, it really is clay. Well, most products are made with actual clay - usually bentonite, kaolin, or a combination of the two. But, there are a few that make the most of ground wax ingredients. These behave like clay, but don’t offer the benefits of working with an ingredient like bentonite, which is derived from volcanic ash. Bentonite swells with water, making your hair appear fuller when it binds to the hair shaft. And, it does this without drying your hair or scalp.
As with many men’s styling products, hair clays offer a range of holds. Some provide a high hold similar to strong pomades and approaching gels.
But, it’s more common to find hair clays that have a medium hold - it’s enough to get your hair into place, but guys in windy cities won’t find it holds up throughout the day.
And, there are also a few clays that are so light that you may need to use a hairspray to keep your do in place. These clays are more often used as a pre-styler that thickens your hair while adding a fair amount of texture. Good, right?
You’re not going to find any discussion regarding the finish of styling clays - they’re totally matte. No, really. If you want to make it look like there is nothing in your hair whatsoever, this is the product to turn to. That said, you can add a little water into the mix when applying it to your hair for a slight shine, but if you end up with a serious sheen, there’s something wrong with the product.
If you want a slick, sleek look, you’re in the wrong place. You would never use a hair clay for a formal style. For a start, it doesn’t have the shine you would want. More importantly, it adds volume to your hair as the clay attaches to the hair shaft and expands. You will get volume, whether you want it or not. Even guys with thinning hair will agree that makes it difficult to work into a suitable style for a traditional black-tie event. (May we suggest a wax for these types of styles?)
But, hair clay is a champion when it comes to everyday, messy styles. If you want to make it look like you’re naturally blessed with amazing hair, you need this product. We’re serious about the volume it adds - and it usually does it without weighing down your hair, which makes it an appropriate choice for guys with long or thick hair.
In general, you would reach for your clay when you want a messy bed head style or a brush-up style. It doesn’t do bad with low pompadours (though you may not find the level of hold or shine you want - at least not one that lasts throughout the day). Waxes are better for serious pompadours if that’s what you want.
Guys with slightly longer hair will achieve amazing shaggy styles with hair clay. They’re not bad at controlling the frizz, which makes it a great choice for men that fight that battle every day.
You’ve seen hair clays at work on Daniel Radcliffe in recent days (and perhaps his informal style should define the clay ideal), but it’s also a George Clooney sort of a look, and we’ve seen Colin Farrell make the most of hair clays as well. Basically - the go-to when you want to appear approachable and carefree.
There are a lot of men that really will benefit from working with a hair clay. Though it dries to a matte finish, it’s not a drying product (which is more or less opposite of hair gel).
Take the below with a grain of salt; because it can be quite moisturizing, most men should experiment with clay before moving onto products that can damage hair.
Some hair clays are almost as hard as wax - a little like the modeling clay you played with as a child. But, there is a lot of variation, and thick pastes are perhaps a little more normal. And, yes, some are creamier.
Generally speaking, clays are a little stickier than pomades, but it won’t stick to your hands or create little globs in your hair (as long as you apply it appropriately); you shouldn’t see any residue on your hair or scalp.
Hair clays are still a new entrant in men’s styling products. As such, you’re probably not going to find that many hybrids on the market yet. But, when blended with pomades, you get a little more shine and a little more hold while still getting all the volume you want from a clay.
And, some hair clays aren’t made with bentonite or kaolin, which many would say disqualify them from being actual clays - forcing them into a pseudo-clay category. But, when it behaves like a clay - and provides that matte finish while increasing volume, we’re happy enough to keep them in the clay category.
You don’t need much at all. Most men are going to get the look they want with a pea or dime-sized amount of product. A little does go a long way, and you don’t want to end up with super poofy hair. (Okay, if you want super poofy hair, and we’re not judging, we would suggest an actual volumizer - they exist.)
As with any styling product, it’s much easier to add a little more if you need it to complete your look than it is to claw it out of your hair.
Damp hair is usually the best starting point. We’re talking towel-dried, so there’s still a little moisture to help you spread the product through your hair. But, you can work with hair that’s nearly dry if you add a little water to the product in your hand when applying it.
We’d advise you to stay away from totally wet or totally dry hair because you’ll end up with zero hold or nasty clumps in your hair. Whether you work with clean hair or you add a little more product to yesterday’s clay style, you’re alright. But, don’t try to layer clay on top of another product you used yesterday; you’ll get no benefit from it - if you can work it into a style at all.
If you’ve worked with pomade before, you shouldn’t experience any difficulty working with clay. As with most products, it’s more about the quantity and patience you exercise than there being an actual trick to it. Plus, clay works the way you would expect it to, which makes it rather intuitive to use.
Take the tiny amount indicated and rub between your palms and fingers to heat it. If you prefer, you can add a smattering of water to your hands before mixing it together. This will take away some of the matte finish - though you shouldn’t expect the results to be shiny. Depending on the composition of the product, it may slightly reduce the hold, however - which helps achieve the messy, natural style you’re after with this product.
Work until it’s evenly distributed, and there aren’t any chunky bits. (If you start with clumps, you will end with clumps.) Work product through your hair from roots to tips, trying to disperse it evenly. Then, all you need to do is push it into the style you prefer.
If you want a side part, grab your comb instead of using your fingers. But, you may need to use your palms to push flyaways into place. The same goes for pompadours.
Remember that finishing or styling with a hairdryer will increase the volume you get using a clay - and it will increase the hold slightly.
For guys that love the volume clay provides but want a stronger hold or a shine, use clay as a pre-style product, smoothing over a pomade or spraying with hairspray when you’re happy with the style.
Nope. Not at all. Indeed, we think you’ll appreciate how effortless it is to get hair clay off your hands and out of your hair.
And, one of the nice things about hair clay is that it doesn’t damage your hair. As long as you’ve chosen a product with bentonite or kaolin clay, the natural ingredients will provide your hair with some vitamins and minerals. And, because it doesn’t strip the natural oils, you can leave it in for a few days. If you’re anti-shampoo, you can get by with a conditioner only - though the number of days you can go between washes reduces the damage shampoos do.
We’re not going to lie about the price of most clays. And, typically, the better products are going to cost more. Luckily, you don’t need that much product, so you can expect a small tub to last for some time.