Moroccan lava clay adds hold without adding shine. Easily style with fingers or comb. Doesn't leave residue and smells slightly herbal.
Some users found it to be too sticky.
Perfect for active men or those who sweat heavily. Offers a shine-free finish and a long-lasting hold. Best for thick hair. Gives layers edge and definition.
The most gluey option on our list. May be too dense for thin hair.
A great option for men who want to volumize their hair while washing it. Tahitian algae helps strengthen and add body. Helps hair appear stronger.
Not strictly a styling clay.
Works well for adding definition and texture to edges and ends. Zero shine or grease.
Some users find it a little too sticky compared to other more clay based options on the market.
Gritty, matte finish. Adds texture and shine. Gives a fuller appearance. Tames hard-to-manage thick hair. Suitable for all hair types. Durable for all-day use. Has a great smell.
Can get washed out in the rain.
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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.
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.
Hair styling clays may fall under a few different names such as “grooming clay,” “sculpting clay,” and even “clay pomade.”
Hair styling clays are a popular way to add texture to men’s hairstyles.
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.
With a reputation for strong holding power, this grooming clay is packed with potent botanical ingredients, such as tea tree oil. While suitable for most hair types and styles, it also adds substantial thickness to thinning hair.
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.
Created by barbers, one application of this cement-thick clay will last all day. If you have really curly or thick hair, this may be the only styling product on the market that’ll work. For a water-soluble clay, it has tremendous holding power, even for more extreme hairstyles.
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.
If you don’t like the wet finish of a hair gel but still seek a hair product that holds, a styling clay will give you medium to strong hold without that soppy, just-showered look.
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.
For an inexpensive styling product containing bentonite clay, Gold Coast Styling Clay For Men also comes with the added moisture-locking ingredient beeswax. Its strong hold lasts all day through sweat and humidity. Its organic ingredients provide a natural, matte finish. LAMEL Fine Grooming Clay is a unisex product without that strong “masculine” scent that styling clays often carry. We love its mild scent and its strong hold, especially for shorter hairstyles. This no-shine product delivers a true matte finish as well.
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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