Finding The Right Goo: Haircare Products We Like

September 29, 2016

Finding The Right Goo: Haircare Products We Like

Most men have simple haircare routines. You have your shampoo, conditioner, and some kind of styling product. If you’re extra fancy, maybe you also blowdry.

Getting your hair to look the way you want at the end of that process, however, depends on you having the right products on hand. Ones that works for your specific hair type and styling needs. Unfortunately, online guides for haircare products often feel like thinly veiled advertorials, so we thought we’d put together a list of haircare products we personally use (and endorse). If you’re up for trying something new with your hair this year, maybe you’ll find something here that works for you.

Kiehl’s Sulfate-Free Shampoo

There’s been a debate in recent years about the use of sulfates in shampoos. Sulfates are a compound that’s added in order to make cleaning agents lather, giving you those satisfying suds that make you think something is really getting clean. Some claim, however, that sulfates are too harsh, stripping hair of its natural oils. Others say this is baloney. 

I don’t claim to know the truth, but last year, I switched from Bumble & Bumble’s Creme de Coco (which is made with sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, a sulfate alternative) to Kiehl’s sulfate-free shampoos (specifically the ones for frizzy, dry hair). The difference has been huge. My hair is a lot less dry and much easier to manage. I still recommend Bumble & Bumble over your more common drugstore shampoos, but Kiehl’s sulfate-free formulas are worth a look if your hair sometimes feels too dry. -DEREK

Argan Oil

Another great product if you have thick, dry hair. Argan oil is a natural plant oil used to give hair sheen, as well as control frizz and flyaways. I use it when my hair is getting a little too long in-between haircuts, and find it makes things easier to manage. Just apply a tiny, tiny amount to damp hair after you get out of the shower. Kiehl’s sells a nice version, but Pura D’or is also good (and a bit more affordable). Be wary of overly cheap versions, as they can have weird additives that make the oil a little gooey over time. Also worth a look: Kiehl’s Silk Groom. -DEREK

Bumble & Bumble’s SemiSumo

What I used for years before finding Kevin Murphy. SemiSumo is a high-shine, low-hold pomade (although the shine isn’t too high, I promise). I still like it if I’m using a blowdryer, as the two together are good for adding volume. If you find the pomade too thick, just add a little water and rub the two together in your palms. You can then start at the back of your hair and work your way to the front (that way, there will be a little less on your hands by the time you run your fingers straight through). For guys who have shorter hair and want a firmer hold, there’s SumoTech and SumoWax. -DEREK

Kevin Murphy’s Free Hold

A godsend. Just discovered this last month ago and it does everything I want – a firmer hold than SemiSumo, but also adds texture and a little volume without me needing to blowdry. It smells great, adds a subtle shine, and is easy to wash out at the end of the day. Good for guys who want a more relaxed, slightly messy look, and perhaps have slightly longer hair. The company also has firmer- and lighter-hold products, depending on what you need. I’m thinking about trying a few of the other products out, given how great this one has been. -DEREK

Byrd’s Classic Pomade

My current go-to styling product. It works really well for my hair – relatively thick, short on the sides, and longer on top, and I usually wear it combed or otherwise pushed back off my face (although never a true pompadour). Byrd’s is a wax-based pomade, so it doesn’t wash out easily, which takes some getting used to if you usually use water soluble products; I like though that I can wear a hat or get a little sweaty and just re-shape it afterward. Negatives are that it’s not cheap (a $15 tin doesn’t last me more than a month or two)
and until recently wasn’t that easy to find. They now sell larger tins,
and you can get them at Amazon or Urban Outfitters. -PETE

Uppercut’s Deluxe Pomade

When I want a product that will wash out quickly, I’ll get Uppercut, which is closer to a gel in consistency than a wax pomade, with stronger/stiffer hold and a little more shine. I’ve also used Layrite’s original, which was fine – I prefer Uppercut’s hold (a little lighter than Layrite) and fragrance, which is a little coconutty. Like Byrd, Uppercut’s tins aren’t too big, and you can go through it pretty quickly if you use a lot. I tend to need to use more product when I’m using water based products. -PETE

Dope x Notorious Pomade

I have thin, fine hair, so it’s tough to find something that’s both versatile and strong. On a lark, I picked up Dope x Notorious pomade from the ostentatious Montreal-based barbershop Notorious (seriously, they offer gold-flecked shaving cream) and it’s been exactly what I needed. It’s pliable on damp hair, but sets quickly to hold my locks without being overly firm. It can be a little goopy, however, so I’m hesitant to recommend it to those with voluminous hair. However, for guys with hair as wispy as mine, I dare say it’s dope. -DAN