Best Hair Styling Clay for Men

Updated November 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

52 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
181 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hair styling clay for men

Now more than ever men have options when it comes to styling their hair. Whether they’re rocking a professional or a hipster look, men’s product choices are no longer limited to a drugstore gel or greasy pomade.

One of the newer classifications of men’s grooming products is hair styling clay. With a consistency that can range from thick to creamy, all styling clays contain — you guessed it — clay. Bentonite clay, a fine powder, is commonly used in styling clay formulas and has a velvety feel. In addition, this natural ingredient has multiple benefits for the hair and scalp.

Want to add volume to your hair? Do you like a matte finish? A hair styling clay might be the hair product you’ve been hunting for. It provides the hold and structure of gels and waxes, without a wet look and without weighing down your hair.

For more on why hair styling clays for men stand out from other grooming products on the market, read our shopping guide below.

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Bentonite clay is made from the ash of volcanoes. It’s popular in other natural beauty remedies, such as recipes for face masks and detox baths.

Who needs a styling clay?

Styling clays for men are designed for short to medium-length haircuts. Women with short hair can by all means use and benefit from a styling clay, too. Consider using one of these products if you’re in the market for the following perks.

  • Volume: A styling clay adds a significant amount of fullness to your look. The clay grabs onto the hair follicle and thickens it, adding overall body to your hair. Styling clays also don’t weigh down hair, keeping your style buoyant all day.

  • Hold: If you want your hairstyle to stay in place, a styling clay offers a medium to high hold. It provides enough “tack” for a short, spikey look and structure for a casual, slicked back look.

  • Matte finish: One of the most appealing features of a styling clay is that it doesn’t have the shine or glossiness of a pomade or gel. Styling clays provide a natural, dull (in a natural, attractive way) look. If you prefer a little shine, look for a styling clay that offers a low sheen.  

  • Softness: Despite what you may assume when you think of “clay”, grooming products containing the ingredient don’t dry hard. This means you can rework the product throughout the day, and your hair will still feel soft and malleable.

  • Natural look: Overall, styling clays are ideal for relaxed, casual hairstyles that still require structure and volume.

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Did you know?
Hair styling clays may fall under a few different names such as “grooming clay,” “sculpting clay,” and even “clay pomade.”
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Other benefits to consider

If you have curly hair, a styling clay works to condition and moisturize the follicles and control the frizz factor.

If you have a sensitive or dry scalp, styling products containing bentonite clay have nutrient-rich properties and minerals to heal the scalp. These properties are also beneficial for damaged hair.

If you’re concerned about hair loss, clay reportedly stimulates the hair shaft and scalp, promoting hair growth.

Lastly, if you have impurities or dirt in your hair, the clay will draw them out, essentially providing a detox for your scalp. This process does not strip your hair of its natural oils, which is a big bonus.

Features

The following are all features associated with hair styling clay for men, although not all clays have these features.

  • Water soluble: A styling clay that’s water soluble will wash easily out of your hair, unlike oil-based ones. However, it won’t protect your style in the rain.

  • Strong hold: While all styling clays provide hold, some are stronger than others. Pick one formulated for “strong” or “high” hold if your style needs a lot of staying power.

  • Lightweight: Some styling clays are more lightweight and have a creamier texture. These tend to spread easier through the hair, absorb better, and leave less residue.

  • Bentonite clay: Take advantage of the healing and detox properties of wellness-world favorite bentonite clay. Not all hair styling clays used bentonite, so carefully scan the ingredient list or manufacturer’s label for this specific type of clay.

Hair styling clay for men prices

Hair styling clays for men usually come in 2-, 3-, or 4-ounce jars. Keep in mind how much product you’re getting when looking at price points. A 2-ounce tub could cost half the price of a 4-ounce one but only supplies half the amount of styling product.

An entry-level priced styling clay costs between $13 and $19. We don’t recommend dipping below $10 for budget, hair “clay” products, which may not contain clay at all.

Salon-worthy hair styling clays for men run between $20 and $26, but you can still find top-quality styling clays in the lower-price range.

Tips

  • Hair styling clay is buildable, so start with a smaller amount (pea- to dime-sized) and add more later as needed.

  • Warm a small amount of the styling product in your hands, rubbing it between your palms or fingers, before running it through your hair. This will also help eliminate any clumping or stray bits.

  • Apply hair styling clay from root to tip, spreading it evenly throughout the hair.  

  • Although styling clay is generally applied with the fingers to create a loose look, if you’re creating a more structured look, like a side part, use a comb.

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Most styling clays are scented, ranging from mild to strong.

FAQ

Q. Should I apply a styling clay when my hair is wet or dry?
A.
You can use a styling clay in either wet or dry hair. Some users prefer using the product somewhere in between, on damp hair. In short, a styling clay is versatile. If you use it as a pre-styler before you blow dry your hair, it will greatly increase your hair’s volume. The heat from the dryer will also help lock in the clay’s moisture. Other experts recommend blow drying your hair first, then applying the product afterward. Experiment with what works best with your hair type.
 

Q. I have really thick hair. Would a hair styling clay work for me?
A.
Absolutely. A styling clay with a thicker consistency will work better on a thick mane than ones with a creamier, lightweight consistency.
 

Q. What other ingredients should I look for in a hair styling clay?
A.
First, you want to make sure the product actually contains clay. Bentonite and ozocerite are two names for legitimate clays. Beeswax is another natural ingredient that can add volume and moisture to your ‘do. This ingredient won’t add shine, either. Most styling clays either contain water or petroleum jelly. The latter helps keep your hair moisturized — but not greasy — and provides more hold than water-based formulas. Lastly, if you’re a health conscious person, opt for a styling clay that doesn’t contain parabens, a potentially harmful preservative found in many hair products. 

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