After 32 hours of research evaluating 62 products, we picked American Crew Firm Hold Gel as our top choice.
There's been a lot of innovation with hair products for men lately. Because of these improvements, we at Faveable went on a pursuit to find the best hair gel for men on the planet.
There are a few reasons for these changes. For a start, hair gels have gotten a bad rap in terms of the crunchy hold they provide. As a result, you're less likely to find super stiff and super greasy, or wet, looking products.
Whether you are trying to increase more volume for thinning hair or experiment with a new style like the faux-hawk, our list includes a gel for you.
Every type of grooming product is different. There are hair waxes that do wonders for disheveled, natural looks, and there are pastes that can be worked and reworked throughout the day. Our picks include the best hair gel for the particular goals you are trying to achieve.
You should also check out our guides on the best men's hair creams, pomades, and waxes. There are so many different types of products on the market that you should never have to settle for one that's not suited to your hair type.
The light-weight silicone on the inside makes your hair smoother and offers a terrific shine.
Expect a strong hold that will surprise you slightly. After all, you won't be able to see it holding your hair; it's just not a hardening product. Awesome, right?
Shine level: Gorgeous. No really, this product creates gorgeous looking styles. The reason we like it so much is that it gives you the shine you want from a gel without looking stiff like a gel. And, it's not overpowering...it's just, well, gorgeous.
This very gel-like gel has a wonderfully natural scent that receives very few complaints.
The 2-pack of this best men's hair gel offers value for money. It works out to roughly $1.10 per ounce and comes with Prime shipping. Sure, it's not the cheapest, but it's way more than reasonable.
This alcohol-free formula is enhanced with aloe barbadensis leaf juice as well as cross polymers and gylcols for healthy hair.
Just ignore whatever the bottle says about the hold; it's not extra or anything like it. If they advertised it as a medium-hold gel, we would have moved this gel way up on the list because that's what it is. But, it will hold for quite a long time - like more than a day.
There's nothing overly distinctive about the scent of this hair gel. At best, it's got an undefinable masculine smell, but it could also take on the scent of your shampoo as this Paul Mitchell product really doesn't have an odor that lingers. Still, not everyone loves it.
But, we must warn you that the non-sticky formula has a consistency that's a little more like liquid than gel.
Okay, this is definitely one of the pricier gels on the list, with the price per ounce coming in just under $2.75/oz. But, most users find value for money in this 5.1 oz squeeze container.
And you should know that it's not a Prime product, but it does come with free shipping.
This gel is created for extra strength (though it's not exactly that) - and for men that want to tame their hair without restraining it.
It offers a medium-to-firm hold and a natural shine so it never looks like too much product, even when used to create volume.
Now, you don't need a lot of this product to get the results you need, and that makes it ever so much more valuable for the price.
Plus, it will never make your hair sticky - and it's great for curls.
It's also got a gorgeous scent that will never overpower your other products.
Shine level: Expect a natural shine here. It's definitely a medium - not a powerful tidal wave of wetness. Yay!
Application: Oh baby, you're going to love this if you have thinning hair that needs some lift, and you'll love that you don't need to apply much product.
You're absolutely going to get some volume from this one, especially if you're not afraid of bringing your hair dryer into the mix every now and again.
Flakes and washability: No flakes; how awesome is that? And, it's not tough to get out of your hair either - unless you put too much in to begin with.
This gel doesn't have the best ingredient list (though there are far worse out there - just not on this list) and it does have an alcohol base.
When they say extreme, they mean extreme. Not only does this gel offer a lot of hold, but it's also going to keep hair in place all day. If you have a higher 'do, this is one of those products you should consider.
Shine level: For a gel, this is on the lighter side of shine. No, it's nowhere near-matte, but it offers a medium shine that appears more healthy than wet. Score!
This gel has a crisp, clean scent that you might just fall in love with. It's not overpowering, and it's certainly attractive. It also has a standard gel texture.
This is ouch expensive with a price per ounce at $4. But if you need serious, serious hold, you're going to pay it. Luckily, it comes with Prime shipping though there (sadly) isn't a Subscribe & Save option.
This alcohol-free hair gel for men has one of the shortest ingredient lists out there and includes hydrolyzed wheat protein and hydrogenated castor oil which are good for your hair.
Sadly, there are added fragrances and colors.
You'll get a fairly strong hold with this gel. Many users find it's "just right" - offering strength while avoiding the helmet head. It also seems to last for the entire day - even through perspiration and high winds.
Shine level: For a gel, this isn't terribly shiny. It's more natural than anything, though you can beef the shine with a dab of water during application.
It smells clean, and sort of like an old-fashioned barber-shop - and that's what it's going for. The texture is non-greasy and most men love it.
You can find this in a variety of sizes, though the 16-oz container is quite popular. The price per ounce sits around 50 cents, so you're getting a real bargain.
It comes with Prime shipping, but not a Subscribe & Save option (which is fine as this container will last for months and months).
Not only is this alcohol-free, but it also includes anti-oxidants for healthy looking hair.
It's an awesome hold that's neither too strong nor too soft. It's just what many men need to keep their hair in place and keep it that way for the whole day. If that's you, consider this gel.
Shine level: Natural to matte; you won't ever look like you just stepped out of the shower. And, it's not going to make you look at all greasy.
While the texture is a little more smooth and creamy than you might expect, it's easy to work with. However, there are a fair number of users that really don't like the fragrance of this gel. If you're worried about that, move along.
You'll pay about $1.25 per ounce for this product, though you can save a little if you opt for the Subscribe & Save option. That's actually a very reasonable price for hair gel, plus it comes with Prime shipping.
This may have a short no-alcohol-included list of ingredients, but it does have added fragrance and formaldehyde. Consider yourself warned.
So it's not the ultimate, stiff hold, but it is strong enough for thick hair, lasts through the day - even if you've got some height on your style - and it's non-sticky.
Shine level: It offers a very pleasant shine, but it's not overpowering for men that already battle hair on the greasy side. Something about it is just right.
Although it’s quite thick coming out of the tube or tub (both are available), it feels light when you apply it to your hair. And, it's totally non-sticky.
What size do you want? What type of container do you want it in? Okay, it's not that simple, but there are plenty of sizes to choose between.
And, even the middle-of-the-road 16-oz size works out to a little more than 83 cents per oz - and comes with Prime shipping. That's a price most men can work with.
Inside you'll find shine enhancing titanium and lanolin for healthy hair. In case you're wondering where the hold comes from, it's the serious wax base.
You buy this gel for the hold. It's the most extreme hold you can imagine - and lasts through workouts and unhelpful weather. It probably even lasts through tornados and swimming sessions (though we can't say we've tested that). Nonetheless, it's a serious hold that lasts.
Shine level: You should expect some shine with this gel, but it's hardly the high gloss you'd expect with such a high hold.
The texture is surprisingly non-sticky and non-greasy. And, as far as the smell goes, it's got a light, clean scent - if you can smell it at all.
There's a large 16.9 oz size and a tiny travel size. The latter is wildly expensive compared to the former and we'd stay away from it unless you just want a sample.
When you buy the large size, it works out to less than $1.25 per oz, which is perfectly respectable, and it comes with Prime shipping.
The alcohol-free formula has plenty of natural extracts, including vitamin B5, Panama bark, sage and ginseng for nourishment. The dual polymers and propylene gylcol are thickening and nourishing.
You're going to get a gorgeous, somewhat natural scent from the thick, non-greasy gel in this bottle. Everyone loves it; we'll have a hard time understanding if you don't.
It's a firm hold gel and says so on the bottle. If you have exceptionally thick or long hair, you may have some difficulty getting it to stand at attention. But it definitely holds and holds all day long.
Shine level: This doesn't have a heavy shine. Sure, it has some, but not a lot. That means that women still want to touch your hair when you use it.
There are a variety of sizes available - ranging from 3.3 oz to 33.8 oz - so feel free to find the one (or ones) that work for you. Most of them are available with Prime shipping and there are Subscribe & Save options as well.
The standard 8.4 oz bottle works out to less than $1.25 per oz, while the huge one offers the product at just over 50 cents per oz.
Because of its usually low price point, most guys start with gel. But, it’s not the right product for everyone, as it provides more hold and shine than many styles demand. In addition, it really is very drying - which you should seriously consider before making a gel style your go-to look of choice. But, when it’s good, it’s oh so good.
Typically, gels offer about as high a hold as you can get. And, it’s true, you probably won’t find a product that can offer as much as a gel can. But, we want to add a little caveat here; not all gels offer as much hold as others. There are some lighter and medium-hold gels on the market and we totally appreciate them for certain styles on certain hair types.
As you would expect, the highest holds provide stiffer styles; you shouldn’t expect your hair to budge under blustering winds. Guys with thick hair can find some success with super strong formulations, though not everyone with this hair type experiences success with hair gel.
Not everyone needs such extreme levels of hold. Lighter gels are way more appropriate for guys with longer waves - and it’s even better for men with thin hair as it’s not going to collapse your style.
On the other hand, there are some hair gels that go above and beyond. If you have never managed to get or keep your hair under control, we suggest turning this way before you resort to shaving it all off.
That strong hold sounds good for some guys. But, it’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be. You should know now that you’ll need to make some compromises when you opt for a gel rather than a pomade, wax, or clay.
The biggest, most important thing you should realize is that most gels are brimming with alcohol. (There are a few alcohol-free formulas, but we’re not sure we love them as much as the others. They don’t offer the same hold generally which means that a high-shine pomade would likely be a better choice.)
All that alcohol is going to damage your hair. Sure, using it every now and again isn’t going to leave you with noticeable results. But, if you use gel to style your hair every day, you will pay the price. You can counteract the damage (to some extent) with a good conditioner. If that’s not something you have in your shower, you shouldn’t buy a hair gel without getting a great conditioner too.
When you use gel regularly, you will find it becoming brittle as the alcohol strips the moisture from your hair. This, in turn, is likely to make your hair a little unmanageable without using product. And, you may also find your scalp becoming itchy, which will prompt you to give your head a good scratch - and you don’t want to do this; you’ll experience tell-tale gel flakes when you do. Nobody wants that.
You’ll search for ages to find a gel that doesn’t impart high shine on your hair. It will be obvious that you have product in your hair. If that’s not your style, we will quickly direct you to a hair clay or perhaps some mousse.
Gels create strong, slick styles. But, that doesn’t mean you need to look like you’re an extra on Mad Men the whole day. You’ll certainly get the wet look, but diverse styles benefit from hair gel styling. Think mohawks and spiky dos alongside those 80s power office looks. (Michael Douglas in Wall Street pretty much nails it.)
But, you can also achieve messier styles with gel. For bed head looks, you’ll need a lighter hold and longer hair, but you should be able to reach a style that Robert Pattinson and Orlando Bloom (or at least their stylist) would approve of.
Gel can add plenty of volume, but it won’t do much in the way of adding texture or making your hair appear fuller. But, you will have an all-day hold that you don’t need to mess with.
Hair gels offer benefits that outweigh the drawbacks for certain hair types.
There are some guys that should just turn away now. However, this list isn’t completely black and white. You may find yourself to be the odd one that still loves gel despite the drawbacks.
Most hair gel has that strange gel appearance it gets its name from. But, there are spray gels and a few hybrids offer something that’s a little harder - like a wax but creamier. Generally speaking, however, the name speaks for itself.
There aren’t many of these out there, but we’re big fans of Imperial Barber’s Gel Pomade. We think the combination is superb, but it’s one of the few.
Compared to waxes and pomades, you’ll use a lot more gel to style your hair. But, don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a sloppy mess. Instead of the fingernail scratching you would use for wax, you’ll need about a nickel-sized dollop. Some guys, especially those with extreme styles or longer hair, might use as much as a quarter-sized blob - but never start with this much (especially if you’ve just had a haircut).
And, before you panic about the cost, remember that most gels sell for significantly less than other styling products.
Gel is usually applied to wet hair, but we’re not talking about dripping wet hair. Please don’t make that mistake. You should be working with clean and towel-dried hair. The damper it is, the easier it will be to spread and style. Most men aren’t going to enjoy applying hair gel to dry hair, though it can help the odd spike or two, though you may need to pull out the hair dryer to finish your styling process.
Just because you will probably use more gel than other products, be sure to start with a small amount. (You’ll thank yourself for the caution later.) Although it’s quite malleable, it’s best to work it between your palms as you would with harder products; it will make the gel much easier to distribute throughout your hair. (And, warmth activates the hold.)
Work gel through your hair, almost as if you were washing it - working from roots to ends. Many find that an up and down motion works best for them.
If you’re after a spiky look, you probably won’t need to pull out a comb - your fingers will get the job done. Just work your hair into the pieces you want.
However, slick styles definitely require a comb once the gel is evenly distributed throughout the hair. And, you will need to work rather quickly; gel dries faster than you would think.
Once everything is in place, get out the hair dryer and finish off the job to ensure the hold stays all day.
There are a few exceptions to these general rules. For a start, guys with curlier hair may find it easier to scrunch the gel into place - if they decide to use it at all. And, if you’re looking for some height, don’t save the hair dryer for last; hold hair where you want it with your comb while setting it with the dryer.
If you happen to notice something is out of place when your hair is dry, keep in mind that you’ll need to re-wet your hair in order to work with it.
Um yes, it can be difficult to get gel out of your hair unless you’ve found a formula that has a little more water in it. That said, it shouldn’t take you half a day to scrub it out unless you went totally 70s punk. You probably will find gel doesn’t require that much of a change from other products.
But we have to reiterate how important conditioner is when you use gels. The alcohol is so drying that you will need to do anything you can to retain the moisture in your hair. Please take this seriously and get yourself a moisturizing shampoo as well.
Remember, gel is a compromise simply because of the alcohol used to make it. But, you should expect a fair amount of positives to go with the flakes. Yes, flakes.