Guide to Hair Gels & Waxes

With our hair gels & waxes guide, you can find out everything you need to know before buying or using the product including what is hair gel and what's the difference between hair gel and hair wax. If you're ready to buy or want to see our selection, visit our hair gels & waxes page.

Top Hair Gels & Waxes Brands

  • House 99
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Schwarzkopf
  • Shea Moisture
  • Boucleme
  • Le Labo

Hair Gels & Waxes FAQs

What is hair gel?

Hair gel has been around for decades. It is typically applied to wet hair to keep it in a firm hold throughout the day. You can use hair gel in the styling process after washing your hair, whether it's with a scrunching motion or with a smooth combing process with your fingers.

Hair gel can be used on any type of hair, from curly to straight, thick to fine. The strengthening ingredients allows you to sculpt your hair in whatever style you wish, and the long-lasting properties keeps it in place for hours. The texture is often liquid and smooth with a transparent colour, which is easy to maneouvre around your locks.

A complex formula completes hair gel, which is often fronted by water and enhanced by a myriad of nourishing ingredients.

What's the difference between hair gel and hair wax?

The difference in hair gel and wax lies mainly in the texture. Wax has more of a solid, thick texture whereas gel resembles a liquid form which tends to be a touch smoother. Gel is often transparent in colour whilst wax can come in various colours, but typically comes in a milky colour.

The differences in texture and colour may be obvious, but the differences in uses are where it gets interesting: wax can only be applied effectively in short hair, whereas gel can be applied to hairs of all length. Wax keeps hair pliable and easy to mould, which is ideal for matte, natural looking hair. Gel adopts more of a sticky texture and tends to make hair stiff.

The differences in how they are applied also varies. Gel is best applied to wet hair and soaked in to your locks, whereas wax is best applied on dry hair and can be easier to sculpt later in the day.

How do I use hair gel?

Hair gel is pretty simple to apply, and there are often instructions on the bottle to give you a helping hand. It can be applied to all hair types and lengths, though hair does typically need to be wet to maximise its potency. If you apply hair gel to dry hair it can often get caught between the hairs and create a brittle, sticky residue that looks and feels unpleasant.

The key to utilising hair gel comes in the amount you apply: applying too little fails to impact your hair and makes it difficult to mould, whereas too much can make your hair become limp and lifeless. The optimum amount is a penny shaped drop in your hand, which you should rub between your palms and fingers then either scrunch in your hair or smoothly run through with your fingers.

After application, don't rinse your hair. Allow the gel to be absorbed into your hair, and if you want to shape it differently you can scrunch or twist with your fingers.

What is the best hair gel for men?

Hair gel has generally become a unisex product, though there are still variations that are dedicated solely to men. After all, male and female hair differs greatly and specific products produce better results for your hair. You can still use unisex products if you find they suit your hair style, especially if you have medium to long hair, though hair gel specific to men yields better results for shorter hair.

Redken, Jack Black and MenScience are three of the leading brands in male hair gel, offering deluxe products that are fairly affordable. You can get a premium product in the region of £10-£20, which should last you for a couple of months depending on how often you use it.

Matching your hair gel with your shampoo and conditioner often produces the finest results. Pretty much every hair care brand offers hair styling and hair care products that complement each other perfectly.

What is the best eco hair gel?

Eco-friendly beauty is becoming the norm, and that's represented by eco-friendly hair gel. Most major brands now offer eco-friendly, fair trade and vegan products that cater to the evergrowing demand of ethical beauty.

Brands like Boucleme and R+Co only provide eco-friendly products, including hair gel. The formulas are always comprised entirely of natural ingredients that are typically sourced from fair trade farming groups. Such is the increasing popularity of eco-friendly products, the quality is exceptionally high and matches the standard of other beauty products.

Eco-friendly products used to be more expensive than their counterparts, however, they are now reasonably priced to meet the high demands.