I hear you and I understand how difficult it is to know what kind of styling product will do that. Should you use a wax, pomade or hair clay?
Depending on what style you are looking for, I will suggest a clay.
You’ll need to read on to see how a clay compares to other products and to understand which one is going to work best depending on your specific needs.
Don’t worry, I am here to help. As a barber, I get these types of questions all the time. So read on for the buyer guide on the best men’s hair clay and then after, try to find the right one for you from my reviews.
Clay vs Pomade vs Wax
What is the difference? Turns out there is a substantial difference between them and they can’t really be swapped out for each other and expect to get the same results.
Let me go through what each one is so you can get a better idea of which one will actually give you the results you are looking for.
When you think of a classic pompadour, you are witnessing the power of pomade.
It is an oil, or lately even water based, jelly that coats your hair and gives you a ton of hold.
If you are looking for a slicked back look or any style with a wet shine to it then chances are you will be looking into a pomade.
Here are some of the negatives when it comes to pomades vs clay, however:
- They are very heavy and can seriously weigh your hair down. This isn’t a problem for certain styles, but when you want some volume like for a quiff, for instance, then this is not going to work.
- It is very thick which can lead to clogged pores and acne for some guys. There are some lighter ones that are water based lately, but they still do go on thick.
- They can be hard to wash out due to the greasiness. Sometimes there is a residue left over after shampooing.
- When it is humid, they tend to cause your hair to wilt and you lose some of the hold.
Wax can be a bit like pomade in that it is high hold. In fact it is sometimes as high a hold as you can get.
Usually it is matte so there isn’t any shine unless you apply it when your hair is wet, in which case it will dry with a shine.
Here are some of the negatives when it comes to waxes when compared to clay:
- These waxes can be very difficult to wash out. Luckily, there are some formulas that address this and brands are using them to wash out easier. But, very often your hair is still tacky even after shampooing.
- Since it is a wax and resists water it can be very difficult to restyle during the course of the day. Even when you wet your hand to try to move it around, it will resist.
- Some of them can also be really sticky. Sort of like how a pomade can leave your hands greasy if you touch your hair, a wax can leave your fingers tacky and sticky.
Now, here is the part where you can determine if a clay is going to be right for you. Again, if you are looking to add volume to your hair, but your hair is fine or thin, then a clay will help to hold it up and not weigh it down.
Usually they are matte and not shiny so you can add texture without it looking wet. In fact, I don’t think there is a better styling product out there that adds texture to your hair better than a clay.
If you are looking for the type of hold a wax can give you minus the negatives I spelled out above then you should be looking into a clay.
You get high hold, but your hair is soft and manageable. If you think you will want to restyle throughout the day then you can maneuver your hair however you want with a clay.
Using a clay also has some health benefits for your skin and hair. The clay used can draw toxins out of your skin and hair so they can more easily be nourished if you’re using a natural shampoo or conditioner.
I would say that a clay is only good for short or medium length hair, however.
What to look for in a men’s hair clay
After reading the last section, you may think that clay is the right product for you. Your hair is not super thick but you want some good volume to style it up. You don’t want anything to clog your pores, and you want to restyle it throughout the day.
This doesn’t mean that you should buy the first one you see, however. Different brands will have different pros and cons so you’ll need to judge which one is best based on a certain set of circumstances.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that go into purchasing the best hair clay for men.
The biggest factor is going to be what your hair is like.
If your hair is thick or really curly, then a clay is not going to work well for you. Your hair itself will weight it down as the clay won’t have the backbone to support it. If you have thick and curly hair your best bet is going to be a wax that will give you a higher hold.
These work best when your hair is fine, thin or normal.
If you are looking to get some lift, then these types of hair will not get weighed down.
Long hair, by which I mean past the neck, will not work well with a clay. These types of styles will require a lot of product, which will then in turn, weigh your hair down.
If your hair is short to medium length then you’ll do well with a hair clay for men.
Styles that work well with clay are quiffs, spikes, the messy look or some undercuts.
Most clays are going to give you medium to high hold. Not quite as high as a wax but similar.
If you need to get your hair gravity defying, then you can do that with most clays. The nice thing is that hold lasts a long time. This does differ from brand to brand so make sure you are paying attention to the label and what the brand says about the hold and how long it may last.
By shine I really mean how little shine there is. You usually get a matte finish from these clays to avoid the wet look. For most quiffs or messy looks ala Ethan Hawke, then you don’t want to go for the wet look. And there are other products out there that will give you that look as I mentioned above.
The point is to make it look your hair just looks that great all by itself without the help of a styling product. In other words, it should be undetectable.
One of the problems with some of these clays is that they can leave streaks. Some of them are darker in color and if your hair is light then you may see some dark streaks. If your clay is light then the opposite can happen.
Make sure that you are using the right color according to your hair color.
What kind of clay to look for
There are three predominant types of clays used in a hair clay. Truth be told, though, sometimes the term clay is used fast and loose. Some of the so called hair clays for men on the market don’t even contain any clay!
So, first, make sure there is actually clay in the product so you know it will do what you want it to do.
This is probably the most popular of the clays used in hair clays for men.
This clay was formed millions of years ago by volcanic ash. It is loaded with minerals that your hair and skin will love.
Bentonite clay contains potassium, sodium, and calcium. The calcium acts like a magnet for the toxins in your hair and scalp. If you previously used styling products with too many harsh chemicals, then this clay will help to repair the damage.
It will even strengthen your hair, so while you may be using it for it’s lightweight, yet firm hold you’ll also see some benefits to your hair health.
If you have build up on your hair from inferior products then the clay will also help to strip that from your hair and bring it back to its natural state.
A mostly white clay, kaolin is a little bit different than bentonite. Its chemical composition is much different than the bentonite and doesn’t contain quite as many minerals. That said, it does a lot of the same things as the bentonite. It will absorb any build up on your hair from sweat or dead skin cells as well as from other styling products.
The absorption also includes sebum, or your skin’s natural oil. Which your hair definitely needs, but if you have extra oily hair it will tone that down without drying out your hair.
When you’ve washed it out after, your hair will feel soft and clean without feeling brittle in the slightest.
This clay is a bit different than the other two although it does many of the same things. It is highly absorbent and will remove impurities from your hair and skin.
It is slightly heavier so you don’t see this one in as many hair styling clays as the other two clays.
Be very mindful about what color the product is when you see Brazilian clay listed as an ingredient. They come in some very dark colors like red and green so if your hair is light it may streak or even add some darkness.
Here’s our list for the best men’s hair clay
7 Potions Hair Styling Clay For Men
The ingredients are all well thought out as you would expect from a company that takes the small details seriously. First, it uses a combination of bentonite and kaolin clay. That way where one’s benefits ends the others picks right where it left off. This combination will separate the hairs beautifully for exceptional texture for whichever type of style you are going for. Two kinds of wax help to add to the hold so it does provide great hold, it just may need to be recharged at some point in the day.
The essential oils it has are there to provide tons of nourishment to the hair. Castor oil is loaded with nutrients that are great at strengthening your hair and will add volume as the follicles thicken. Coconut, cocoa and avocado oil all add a ton of moisture to the hair to leave it soft.
It is water based so it washes out very easily. You won’t feel any tackiness on your hair after. In fact your hair will feel much better after using this than before.
In addition to great hold, it is truly matte so you will have a look that doesn’t bely the over use of a product. And a little goes a long way so you’ll get quite a bit of use out of the tin.
18.21 Man Made Hair Clay Pomade with Matte Finish
The first thing I want to mention is the scent. Even though what it smells like has nothing to do with how it works, I am just addicted to the smell.
It is a smoky, leathery, tobacco scent with a sweetness on the back end. It smells exactly like walking into a smoke shop from a hundred years ago.
Ok with the intoxicating fragrance out of the way, let’s talk about how it works.
Oh wait, there is one more thing I want to mention before I get into how it performs. I hate that they call this a pomade. It isn’t even close to what a pomade is. I think they labeled this way to make sure people understand that it gives some hold. It is medium hold, though anyway so not even as strong as what you would get with a pomade.
Ok, now that your expectations should be more or less in line with what it actually is, it works really well.
You only need a tiny bit to get your style working. Which is good since the jar is really small. It will definitely last you longer than you think it should.
It doesn’t just have clay in it as an active ingredient. It also contains elastic fibers so it works like a molding cream. The texture is very creamy. It’s rather thick in consistency, though. I suspect the clay is Brazlian since it doesn’t specify the kind that it is.
If you aren’t looking for anything too gravity defying then you should get the style you are looking for. It isn’t as lightweight as some other clays are.
None of this is a knock against the product. It performs well as long as you know what it does and doesn’t do. This is exactly what I meant when I said earlier that they aren’t all the same.
Anchors Hair Company Courage Clay
Before I get into the meat of the review, however, be warned that the color is slightly blue. If your hair is very blond and you use too much of it then you may find it colored slightly. So, don’t use too much! You only need a little bit anyway.
In fact, you can easily style it a couple of times after using it. It lasts a bit even after washing so the next day, all you need to do is style it once your hair is dry and it will stay put.
Another thing to be aware of is that it does leave a shiny finish somewhat. Not like a pomade, but it definitely is not matte. If you are going to use it with a hair dryer, then it will end up leaving a matte finish though.
The texture is slightly firm, so you definitely get high hold from it.
With both bentonite and kaolin clay and rice powder, it will protect your hair and absorb any of the toxins present. Your hair will feel soft once you wash it out completely.
This has a very similar, many scent to it like the 18.21 has with a sweet tobacco with a hint of vanilla to it. Not too sweet, but sweet enough to take the rough edges off of the tobacco scent.
This may not be for everybody but those that like a little bit of shine with the other benefits of a clay will love this as a nice alternative to a wax.
Seattle Pomade Co. Grooming Clay
This clay is all natural and contains kaolin clay for a nice lightweight hold. Though the hold is something between medium and firm. It lasts a while thanks to the addition of beeswax to add to the strength of the hold.
The beeswax also helps keep moisture in the hair protecting it from the elements like dry air or too much sun.
It is excellent as separating the hair for a nice texture. If you aren’t wearing your hair in a neat style and like a bit of a messier look then you will love how this keeps the hair apart. This adds an airiness to whatever style you go for from quiffs to spikes.
It is very easy to wash out since beeswax doesn’t harden as much as other waxes like paraffin. In fact, since it does absorb a bit of water, you can easily restyle it throughout the day by getting your hands slightly damp and then reworking your hair with your fingers.
If you often suffer from acne because your pores get clogged easily from your styling product then this is exactly the clay you should be looking into. The kaolin clay will help to clear your pores, but the addition of rosemary oil will disinfect your scalp. You won’t have your scalp left with any residue to give you acne after using this even if it’s every day.
The scent is woody and herbal thanks to the rosemary with the addition of cedar oil.
VOGARTE Hair Styling Clay Wax for Men
It still feels soft, though. It isn’t stiff or crunchy like some straight up waxes can be.
Applying it does take a little more effort than with a typical clay. You’ll need to scoop a little out and rub it in your hands to get it slightly melted, or at least malleable to be able to even spread it throughout your hand.
A tiny bit is more than enough to last literally the entire day. Don’t worry that it won’t wash out, though. It does wash with regular shampoo and doesn’t leave your hair feeling tacky afterward.
It does apply slightly easier when your hair is wet but it will give a bit of shine if you do that.
If your hair is slightly longer then I am not sure I would recommend this. It highly depends on the style you are going for. But, longish hair requires too much of the product and it won’t look right. If your hair is medium and you are looking for a really high quiff then this is the right clay for you.
The scent is hit or miss. It has a slightly baby powder smell to it that some guys love and some guys hate. It almost has an old timey shaving cream smell.
I will say, though, that if you are looking for texture and not just height, then one of the other clays may be the right one for you. This doesn’t separate the hair to give you a refined texture.
Not only is there a hair styling product for every person and hair type, but within that are also different types of the same product to really zero in on the perfect product. Whatever your needs and circumstances you are going to find the exact right product for you.
If you have been trying to find the right hair clay for men and felt like it wasn’t for you then maybe you just didn’t find the right one.
Try one of the ones from this list of reviews and see how it goes.
If you have thin hair, and by that I don’t mean that you’re balding, just that your hair is finely textured, then you owe it to your style to try a good men’s hair clay.
If you have any questions about any of these products or wonder if another type of styling product is better for you then let me know by adding a comment to the box below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
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