Your guide to using the top styling products for your mane
So lately I’ve been getting questions on which are the best long hair styling products around for men. No, I’m not talking of men’s hair products in general, but rather I’m talking specifically of hair products to style long hair.
Now, the man bun hairstyle is a long hairstyle and as such, I’ve published a guide on man bun hair products that takes you through the best hair products for both manbuns and topknots. Since these two hairstyles are tied atop one’s head, hair styling products aren’t as definite and crucial as hair-care products like hair conditioners and leave-in conditioners are. On the other hand, go through any of the many long hairstyles for men and you will see that many of these men’s long styles require the hair to be shaped, combed and tousled; and that, my friend, is where hair-styling products (practically) become a necessity.
So in order to answer the questions on hair styling products for long manes that I’ve been getting lately, I’m going to run through all those products that you should be considering whether you have long hair (i.e. hair longer than 6 inches) or whether you’re growing your hair long.
Hair gel for long men’s hair
Most of you will be familiar with hair gel; it’s the kind of product that we’ve all grown with since we were kids. However, not every one knows how to use hair gel properly, much less using it on long hair.
To correctly use hair gel, you should first have your hair damp. Never use hair gel on dry hair’ anybody who tells you otherwise doesn’t know a thing about hair styling (and I’ve heard this being said by hairdressers even). Hair gel requires moisture to yield its maximum effect, so towel dry your hair after wetting it so that it (your hair) is damp. Then apply as little as possible on your hair by using your fingers to style the hair as desired; use a comb (or a wide-tooth comb for you curly hair dudes) and add some more hair gel (in small amounts) as you require for your long mane’s hairstyle.
For long hair, never use extra-strong hair gel. Guys with long straight hair can use both medium-hold hair gel and low-hold hair gel; those with curly hair (i.e. wavy to kinky curly hair) should stick with low-hold hair gel.
Pomade for long men’s hair
Pomade for long hair should be used for those hairstyles that require the hair to be slicked back, middle parted or side swept. Nothing more. Likewise, once your hair is over 10 inches in length, you should move to other hair styling products if your main go-to product has been pomade.
Long-haired guys should always stick to water-soluble pomades. Do not even think about using oil-soluble pomades on your precious lengthy mane as it can get quite freaky up there with those types of (oil-based) pomades.
Hairstyling cream for long men’s hair
Once your hair is too long to be able to use pomade, it’s a hairstyling cream that you should be changing to. Hairstyling products provide extra sheen and natural shine similar to pomades, only that hair styling creams do not have much holding strength, which is OK since just about all long men’s hairstyles are styled down and not up.
Guys with long curly hair should use hairstyling creams as their de facto products. This is because hairstyling creams have an additional benefit of moisturizing the hair; thus, hairstyling creams are awesome at taming frizz and at helping curly hair become more shaped and lustrous.
Hairstyling creams can also be called hairstyling lotions or hairdressing creams. However, it’s the term “styling cream” or “hairstyling cream” that will ensure that you’re getting a good product, since hairstyling lotions and hairdressing creams may contain oil-based ingredients and other funky ingredients that will do your long mane less good and more bad!
Hairstyling mousse for long men’s hair
Hairstyling mousse (aka “hair mousse”) should be used by those looking to enhance the volume of their manes, hence these products work exceptionally well for men with long straight hair (straight hair has the least amount of intrinsic volume), men with fine or thin hair and men who are balding (the latter should also use a hair-thickening shampoo for best hair-volumizing results).
Hairstyling mousse is to be applied on your hair only with your fingers; do not use a comb. Shape, tousle and style as you wish wit your fingers alone when using a hairstyling mousse. Use a hair dryer as you style your mane with the hair mousse to accentuate the acquired follicular volume.
By far, men with long curly hair will benefit the most from hairstyling mousse. In fact, if you have curly hair and you’ve always been a fan of hair gel, then I suggest that you try a good hairstyling mousse if or once your hair is at 6 inches (or more) in length.
Hairstyling wax for long men’s hair
My recommendation for those barbershop clients of ours who come into our barbershop looking to use hairstyling waxes for their growing hair is to completely avoid (hairstyling) waxes once their hair is over 6 inches in length. It’s just unnecessary and it will make a pasty mess on your hair if you’re not careful enough. There are much better products out there as described in this guide to use in the styling of your long mane. Just say “no” to hair wax. Full stop.
Hairstyling clay for long men’s hair
So here’s the deal: hairstyling clay is a type of matte-finish hairstyling wax, and hairstyling clay is the only exception that I’d make to the previous claim of avoiding hairstyling waxes for men’s hair. Said exception would be for those with straight hair who have their hair shorter than 8 inches in length; for such men, I’d recommend using a hairstyling clay to stye their hair down or in a tied updo like a manbun or a ponytail.
For what is worth, hairstyling clay is not the same as hairstyling fiber, which is a common mistake that average folks make due to most men’s hair companies not being sure themselves of what is what and using fancy terms for their products to keep consumers confused and dazed with magic words. Hairstyling clay is a type of low-hold matte hair wax, while hairstyling fiber is a type of strong-hold medium-shine hair wax. Both products are, for the most part, water soluble, and despite hairstyling clay having a minor role in the styling of long men’s hair, hairstyling fiber does not play any role and is best left for short to medium-length hairstyles.
Hair spray for long hair
Hair spray is, what I call, an ancillary hairstyling product; what this means is that hair spray is useful to lock and secure an already-shaped hairstyle. So, use any of the previously-described 6 hairstyling products for your long hair and then, if you’re looking to keep the same hairstyle that you’ve given yourself for the whole day, then use the hair spray to secure it all down to the last hair strand of your mane.
Hair spray should be used about one foot (or 30 centimeters) away from your hair. Your hair should already be shaped and styled; you do not continue to style your hair as you spay your hair (which is the reverse of what you’d instead do with a hair dryer as described earlier for hair mousse).
Leave-in conditioner for long hair
Last but not least, leave-in conditioners have much to say when it comes to long men’s hair. The best way to describe a leave-in conditioner would be as described by Rogelio Samson of “The Men’s Hair Book”: a leave-in conditioner is a watered-down version of a regular rinse-out conditioner. And, if you aren’t aware of what a rinse-out then you’ve been a bad boy and haven’t gone through my previously-linked guide on hair products for the man bun and top knot hairstyles.
Conditioners (both leave-in conditioners and rinse-out conditioners) are hair-care products to make your long hair look better, glossier and moisturized. Conditioners also protect your hair and lubricate it, for which the latter helps to avoid hair tangles and matted locks. The main difference between a leave-in conditioner and a rinse-out conditioner is that a leave-in conditioner is meant to be left in the hair (i.e. not rinsed out) while a rinse-out conditioner is meant to be rinsed out after 2 minutes (once you apply it on your hair).
The great news for long-haired dudes is that a leave-in conditioner is an excellent hair styling tool for hairstyles with which the hair is left to dangle and hang loose with no hold. Furthermore, the even-greater news for those dudes with manbuns and topknots is that leave-in conditioners are awesome hair styling products to with your buns and knots: you simply apply the leave-in conditioner on your hair so as to coat it and then proceed to tie your bro-bun or dude-knot.
I highly recommend to any long-haired guy who cares about his mane to own a decent leave-in conditioner. The reason for this is that, if you’re not wanting or willing to use a rinse-out conditioner (because it eats up 2 minutes of your time), you can simply use a leave-in conditioner to style your mane with while getting the great conditioning and moisturizing effects of a regular rinse-out conditioner. I do still recommend that you use a rinse-out conditioner at least once a week (come on, dude, it’s only 2 minutes once a week for a great man-bun mane).
Can I use more than one hair styling product on my long hair?
Yes, you can indeed. My advice is that you first find out the best products that work on your hair individually, and then you can proceed to mix and match different products.
The best men’s hair-products combinations to try with long hair are:
- Leave-in conditioner with any other hair styling product (the leave-in conditioner goes first).
- Hair spray with any other hair styling product (the hair spray is the last product to be applied/used).
- Hair mousse with a blow dryer for the best volume-increasing effect.
- Hairstyling cream with hair spray for a wet look.
- Hair mousse with hair spray for a wet look with a dry effect.
If you follow the above combinations and get creative with the combining of your leave-in conditioner and hair spray, you will gradually work out the best combination of products for your long mane.
Are hair styling products for long men’s hair (e.g. hair gel) more important than hair care products (e.g. conditioners)?
No! Do not make the common mistake of thinking of hair styling products as your silver bullets to enter the holy kingdom of lustrous long manes. In fact, hair care products like shampoos and conditioners are more important than hair styling in keeping a healthy and aesthetic long mane over the years; I just cannot emphasize this enough (and I tell our clients this every single time that they ask the above question).
Hair care products should be the foundation of your mane’s aesthetics; hair styling products are the icing on the cream (and leave it at that). If you want to know more about all the types of long hair products and how they are used, then I recommend that you read this awesome guide on products for long hair men which details everything from how conditioners work for men’s hair to how to style long men’s hair with a blend of different products. You can (or, better said, should) read my man bun products guide too for more information on the range of long-hair products that are of use to you and that are easy to get so as to start styling your long mane the right way as soon as possible.
Style that mane with the right hair products!
To round it all off, I’ve got to say that you will only find out the best long hair product for you by trial and error through trying one or two products from each of the hair products that I’ve described in this guide. Yes, I’ve given you enough information on long-hair styling products to make an informed decision, but you should still, in your interest and as you budget allows, give each product a good try so that you can eventually find out the best hair products to give your long mane the royal treatment that it absolutely deserves.
Keep rocking and styling those long tresses, gents!