No matter what the major fashion brands tell you: ‘cool’ is simply something you cannot buy.
Bummer – we know.
But the good news is: we’re here to tell you your hair can certainly a long way in getting you closer to cool. However, if you’ve struggled with your follicle follies for the better part of your adult life, you know it’s easier said than done.
Also Read: Best Hair Clay For Men
Start By Looking at Other Dudes’ Hair
If you’ve ever dreamt of looking as effortlessly smooth as the late James Dean, or as tough and tousled as Chris Hemsworth, then your own hair may have - on more than one occasion - left you pretty disappointed.
The thing is, most dudes consider great hairstyles on men to be natural.
Guys tend to leave all their hair styling to sleep alone; hoping for a bedhead that looks more suave than dumpy.
But here’s the real truth:
If you’ve ever seen a fellow bro with an enviable mane, then they definitely use some sort of styling product.
Chances are, most of those effortlessly stylish guys had hair wax stored away in their bathroom arsenal. But the results are obviously about more than just owning a product. It’s about using it right.
If you’ve ever experienced the ‘post-shower pouf’, then you’ve been stripping your hair of natural oils, and not introducing any other holding agent to reintroduce texture, sheen, and control.
Hair wax will fix all of your puffy, unfashionably limp problems. No joke.
Hair wax is the one size fits all styling product - and as such, is perfect for men who don’t really like bothering with primping and preening, but still want to look good.
Isn’t that all of us?
Anyway, here’s how you do it.
Just apply a little wax to your head to achieve whatever style you want, and you’re done.
Wax can be used to achieve slicked-back styles, or rough, textured, tousled looks. Really, no matter what aesthetic you’re going for, wax is going to be your wingman.
If you’re new to styling with wax, and aren’t sure on how to find the right wax for you, nor how to apply it properly, then this article is for you.
When to use hair wax vs. other styling products
Hair wax has a stronger hold than other conventional styling products, such as hair clay, or messing creme. It’s best for styles that need more hold; or hair that needs stronger definition. (Plus, wax has some benefits to your hair's health.)
For example, with hair wax, you can achieve the slicked back look reminiscent of Boardwalk Empire’s Jimmy, or a mohawk that stands to attention, or defined twists in afro-textured hair.
Hair wax has a high shine to it, so while it can be used to create textured, tousled looks - it’s not going to look like you haven’t used anything at all.
If you’re looking for the gentle hold, and a dull shine - you’re more likely in need of a hair clay than a wax.
The best styles to achieve with hair wax are traditional barbered looks, for e.g. finished, and formal looks, well-kempt pompadours, high sheen undercuts, etc. The kind of stuff you see walking around every Hipster neighborhood in America and Europe.
Basically, if you want to look clean cut, seriously smooth, and ready to drink whiskey and break hearts, then hair wax is for you.
There are limits to the shine and hold of a wax, and if you’re looking for something a bit more dramatic - a hair gel, spray, or hard-hold mousse will help you manipulate your hair in more dramatic ways. But you are going to look like you’ve used a hell of a lot of product, and your hair will end up being crunchy to the touch.
A hair wax is a great in-between. It will help you achieve well-held styles without looking obviously unnatural. It’ll help to show that you’ve put in the effort, but not too much effort that people wonder if you’re selfie-obsessed.
How to use hair wax to achieve specific styles
Using hair wax to slick back your hair, or create a pompadour.
First of all, you’re going to want to make sure your hair is cut in a way that works for this style. Simply let your barber know you’re wanting to slick back your hair, or are going for a pompadour - and they’ll fix you right up.
At home, after showering, towel dry your hair and grab a hairdryer.
You’ll need a hair dryer to dry your hair in an up and back direction, from the front. If you stick with air drying, you might find it harder to achieve a swept back look. With the hairdryer, simply blow from the front towards the back, whilst using your hands to comb your hair in a front to back direction. You get the idea.
Once your hair is dry, use a pea-sized amount of hair wax, and warm it up between your palms. Smooth the wax over the entirety of your hair with light, sweeping motions.
Once the wax is evenly distributed, use a comb to start styling your hair. Comb straight down the top of your head from front to back. On the sides, slick your hair down by combing front to back, as well.
At this point you’ll want to decide if you want a part or not. If you do, use the comb to divide your hair accordingly. It’s a good idea to ask your barber which side your natural part is on – it will always give you a better-looking result.
If you’re wanting a pompadour, you’ll need to add some volume to the front of your hair. To do this, place your hand flat across the middle of the top of your head. Then shift the hand forward, towards your forehead, whilst brushing the hair in front of it, straight up. This will add volume. Once you’re happy with the look, you can go about your daily business. If you’re wanting to fix your hair in place, you can give it do a once over with a hairspray.
Using hair wax for tousled, bed head looks
After washing your hair, give your hair a quick towel dry. Your hair should be slightly damp to get the best bedhead results.
- Take a pea-sized amount of hair wax, and rub it between your fingertips. Evenly distribute it across all your fingers (avoid getting wax on your palms, or the rest of your hands).
- Apply wax to sections of your hair, starting from the back and working to the front.
- Work with the natural movement of your hair.
- Try twirling chunks of hair between your fingertips to create defined texture. Mess your hair around and play with it.
Once you’re happy with the look of your hair, you can either stop there, or add extra volume, by bending over and hanging your head upside down. With clean hands, shake your hair at the scalp and roots. Flip your head back upright, and you should have a lot more volume, and shape.
Using hair wax for defined curls
If you’re a curly headed guy, then hair wax can help bring the best out of your natural texture.
Why fight against those beautiful natural curls when you can use wax to accentuate them?
You should allow your hair to completely air dry before styling it. It’s also best, as a curly dude, to avoid towels and hairdryers - as they create frizz (which we’re sure you know).
Once your hair is dry, warm up a pea-sized amount of wax between your fingertips. Apply the wax to individual curls (spirals, or twists). Focus on the end of the curl, and sort of twist or twirl the curl in the direction it’s growing in.
Repeat this curl defining technique all around your head. Then flip your head over, and shake it out at the roots to make sure you’ve got lots of volume.
If your curls are looking a little weighed down, try spritzing them with a fine mist of water. This should tighten them back up again as they dry. This amount of water won’t undo your wax styling.
Did you know that you can use hair wax to style your facial hair?
That’s right. If you like killing two birds with one stone, then hair wax is a must have grooming product.
You can use small amounts of hair wax to tidy up your brows (or make them appear thicker), style your mustache, and give a healthy shine to your beard.
Using hair wax to tame wild brows
If you have a brow brush, comb your brow hairs so that they’re all facing the same direction. Put the teeniest amount of wax on your index finger, and lightly smooth your eyebrows, making sure all stray hairs fall in line.
If your eyebrows are looking a little too smooth, simply brush them out a bit.
Using hair wax to perfect your ‘stache whether you want to look old-timey or straight out of a fashion mag.
Apply a small amount of wax to your fingers, and lightly stroke it into your mustache. If you want to go for a fancier style (e.g. handlebar), use a bit more wax to twist the ends, or make whatever shape you desire.
Use a hair dryer on high heat, and blow out your ‘stache a bit. This is to blend the wax in so it doesn’t look obvious.
What is the best hair wax for men?
So now that you know how and why to use hair wax, the big question remains: which is the best hair wax for men? Don’t worry – we’ve done the digging for you!
When choosing the best hair wax, you want to look out for a few things:
- Strong hold
- Bright shine
- Good texture
- Nice scent
- Ease of cleansing
Your hair wax needs to get the job done, so it needs to have a decent hold – after all, that is the whole point of this product.
But you don’t want too strong of a hold that the styling product leaves your hair looking anything but natural.
If you’re into hair that’s crunchy and spikey to the touch, and are aiming for a Backstreet Boys throwback look, then all the more power to you - but a decent quality wax is not going to produce that kind of texture (thank god).
A high-quality wax will leave your hair supple; leaving it workable throughout the day.
As for shine, hair wax should leave a smooth, bright finish. If you’re wanting more of a dull, or matte finish, look into hair clay instead.
When it comes to styling products for your hair, fragrance matters.
Your hair is porous, meaning it absorbs scent like a sponge. Think about how many times you’ve walked by someone and you can smell the shampoo they used, or worse yet, the onions or fried food they just ate. Yuck city.
For this reason, if you don’t want to generally smell like your Great Aunt, or the public bathroom at the mall, you’ll want to sniff out your hair wax of choice before making a purchase decision.
The last criteria you should be concerned with, is how easy the wax is dissolved when you cleanse your hair.
Some waxes are hard to wash out, leaving your hair still feeling tacky after a shower. You want a wax that is as water soluble as possible, so that you can properly clean your hair between stylings.
Note as well, that the more that wax builds up in your hair, the more health - and even skin - problems you’ll end up facing.
Really, if wax builds up in your hair, it attracts a bunch of dirt, toxins and pollutants with it, which can affect the health of your scalp, and even cause breakouts on your face.
If you want to steer clear of dandruff, and even potential hair loss, then you need to be able to clean off wax build up, easily.
It’s easy to get confused with so many different products on the market, but based on all of the above, the clear winner and our contender for the best hair wax for men is:
The Cardinal Brand’s MAXIMUS - Maximum hold pomade
Order your hair wax here.
Maximus is a high shine, hard hold, water-soluble wax pomade perfect for achieving strong styled looks that last all day, and are easily washed out by night.
The formula of this wax pomade is strong enough to provide hold for even the unruliest of hair, but is still completely water soluble; so you don’t have to deal with waxy build up on your scalp and roots.
Maximus boasts maximum hold and shine, making it a high-quality wax that can easily help you achieve barbered looks, from pompadours, and slicked back undercuts, to defined afro-textured twists, and classic ‘sex hair’ looks.
Other News: Cardinal Brand is Now Shipping!
This wax will make every day a good hair day – especially if you follow our techniques described above.
It’s never too late to start looking your best. So if your hair’s been a little lackluster in the past, don’t settle.
Grab some of The Cardinal Brand’s Maximus wax pomade, and start sculpting your perfect aesthetic.
Every smooth looking dude has a tin of high-quality wax in his pocket, or bathroom cupboard, guaranteed. So what in the world are you waiting for?
The Waxy Do’s and Don’ts
DO get fully dressed and ready before styling your hair. (If you’ve achieved the perfect pompadour, but then need to take off your t-shirt to put on a sweater, all your efforts will go to waste.)
DON’T use too much wax. Always start with a tiny amount. You can add wax, but you sure as heck can’t take it out.
DO pay attention to the way your barber styles your hair, and use those techniques at home. Don’t be afraid to ask him questions – hair is his business.
DON’T apply wax to your hair without having washed the previous day’s wax out, first. (Unless you love looking greasy.)
DO consider using a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos are designed to remove product build up on your scalp and roots - something you will want to tackle head on if you use wax often.
DON’T use hair wax every single day. First of all, washing your hair daily may dry it out, resulting in dandruff and possible hair loss. Secondly, your hair needs intermittent breaks from product to remain healthy, and strong.
DO change your pillowcase if you’ve slept with wax on. We get it. Sometimes you’ve just got to hit the hay. If you sleep with your hair still styled, make sure to change and wash your pillowcase the next day. You don’t want the wax and dirt to cause a breakout.
DON’T assume you can achieve all waxed looks with the same technique. Make sure your hair is cut for the look you’re going for, and that you use the right technique (as listed above in our ‘How to use hair wax’ section)
DO bring your hair wax tin out with you on long days. You can smooth flyaways on the go, and give your hair a reshape and touch up - especially after hair-mussing activities such as going to the gym, or ‘Netflix-and-chilling’.
DON’T dip into your wax tin with dirty fingers. You want your wax to stay clean, and use-able for as long as possible. One way of ensuring this is to wash your hands before you style.
DO invest in a brush, or comb - especially if you have longer hair up top - so that you can get better styling results.
DON’T leave your hair wax out on a hot day. You want to maintain the integrity of your hair wax’s texture; which means melting it is a big no no. If it’s a super hot day, make sure to store your hair wax away in a cool, dark space - like a bathroom drawer.
DO consider adding a hair clay to your styling product stash, as well. For those days you’re looking for a more dull, casual, finish.
The Final Word
Why do we write so passionately about hair wax, you might ask? Because it’s truthfully one of the best and most universally applicable products for men’s hair on the market. Few products can help give so many different looks to so many types of hair – so why wouldn’t we shout it from the rooftops?
In our minds, hair wax is the difference between looking like a stud, or dud. If you sculpt your body, why not your hair?
And we get it. Hair care is a bother, and when you’re a busy dude - using a styling product probably falls low on your list of priorities.
But it’s weird that as guys, who often take care of our bodies, we somehow end up neglecting everything above the neck. In the world of Instagram and Tinder, you simply can’t afford to look the mess any long.
If your hair looks like a floppy, frizzy mess - it doesn’t really matter how the rest of you looks, your mane sets a precedent.
So, think about it:
What could looking your best do for your everyday life?
Can you realistically reach your goals while looking like a used mop?
Look - you don’t have to go all out. All it takes is a small bit of hair wax, after all.
It’s time that you take control of your head. Take just a couple minutes out of your day to give some shape and shine to your hair. Wax is your best weapon, and your constant ally in this fight against hair mediocrity.
Plus, well-waxed hair will help you look, and feel, like the classy dude you really are. What more could you want from a product?