If you haven’t buzzed your hair off this summer, then you’re probably looking for the best lightweight hair styling creams, sprays, and more for your new cut. The best men’s hair products won’t melt down onto your face, but they should let you still run your fingers through your ‘do. The group below offers a range of results depending on your hair type and needs. We picked a favorite in each field, from styling cream to pomade and dry shampoo, to make the purchase as easy as can be this summer.
Best for Light Hold and Taming Strays: Styling Cream
Cream is the quintessential lightweight styler, in that it has a barely-there feel but still helps you style your hair. It allows you to comb or coach your hair into whichever resting place you prefer, or to define curls and natural texture. And, while it’ll still blow in the wind, cream is cooperative and allows the hair to settle back into place. It’s also good for a light dusting over strays. It can even double as a beard tamer. Church California’s is packed with sea- and land-sourced plants, which nourish the hair while maintaining effortless, lightweight control.
Try: Church California cream pomade (pictured above) [$30; churchcalifornia.com]
Best for Touchable Texture: Salt Spray
Salt spray replicates the “surfer” texture you get after a swim in the ocean. (You know the feeling, where your hair is perfect and effortless no matter which way it settles.) Salt spray is terrific for light hold on its own, or as a last-step finishing touch following a cream. It can deliver choppy waves to short styles, or definition to curls and longer lengths. The best ones, like Fellow Barber’s, also nourish hair with ingredients like algae, which is rich in minerals.
Try: Fellow Barber mineral spray[$28; fellowbarber.com]
Best for Curl Hydration and Definition: Leave-in Conditioner
Guys with naturally curly hair will often rely on balms to preserve hydration levels and maintain control over their style. A lighter option is a leave-in conditioner. It borders on being a hair cream, but it’s ultra lightweight and its key purpose is the nourishing and hydrating that helps curls look their best. Longer styles may demand a little balm to follow, but a nutrient-dense leave-in conditioner like Scotch Porter’s will handle the brunt of the taming. It also strengthens hair and works well as an overnight conditioner, for especially dry or damaged hair.
Try: Scotch Porter leave-in hair conditioner[$12; scotchporter.com]
Best for High Hold and Texturized Volume: Dry Shampoo Wax
If what you want is high volume, choppy texture, and a matte finish, there is really just one summer-ready product that fits this bill: Hanz de Fuko’s innovative Quicksand. It’s a curious combination of gritty granules (diatomaceous earth) and hair wax, and it soaks up excess oil at the base of each hair shaft, while also delivering unparalleled texture and volume. Unlike other waxes, it wears lighter, and works well with styles between 1-3 inches. It’s especially great for that second or third day between shampoos, when the hair is lifeless and needs some bounce, but you aren’t ready to fully wash the strands just yet.
Try: Hanz de Fuko ‘Quicksand’ dry shampoo + styling wax[$23; amazon.com]
Best for a Medium Hold Style: Hair Paste
Hair paste is perhaps the most utilitarian product you can own. While it works best applied to towel-dried hair (to provide medium hold and light shine), it also works well for touch-ups and quick, glossy texture upon dry application. However, if you want to style your hair in any specific direction or straighten out some curls, simply comb it through damp hair and let it dry. Then, as it does, break it apart with your fingers to create texture and definition, or dismantle it entirely (without disrupting the direction you combed it) for a medium hold at the roots, while the strands themselves flow a bit more freely. You can blow dry it to maximize the hold, for a buttoned-up look that isn’t as polished as pomade. Oribe’s paste is ahead of the pack, and allows you to re-work the style throughout the day, with a splash of water and your fingertips (or a comb). You’ll be able to run your hands through the finished look, without compromising your intended result.
Try: Oribe molding paste [$39; nordstrom.com]
Best for Definition and Some Shine: Hair Oil
If you want to add shine to any other product, or if you just need a nourishing and frizz-fighting coat over each strand, then hair oil is your pick. Simply apply a few drops of oil to your palms and distribute evenly. Most of them use one or many oils that also neutralize the scalp and prevent bacteria, while delivering hair-strengthening nourishment to the hairs and follicles. And worry not, because they won’t give you an oily finish, so long as you only use a couple drops (or 3-4 in longer styles). You can even mix the oil into your paste or cream if you want to add a pinch of shine and light-catching definition. BluMaan’s vial is great in that it’s twice the size of most options, and it combines oils of sesame, sunflower, coconut, and olive to tame hair and restore or preserve healthy hydration levels.
Try: BluMaan hair oil[$24; amazon.com]
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