If you’re really dedicated to personal grooming or even just a little bit interested in looking presentable, you’ve probably met this problem before - trying to choose the perfect hair styling product that works each time. The problem is, there’s a tonne of hair styling products out there, and there’s also a bunch more articles trying to tell you what may work for you. 

Hence, what’s so different about this article you may ask. Well, the key thing most of those articles don’t tell you is that picking the right product starts from your hair type. A lot of the time, these articles or videos would give you recommendations based on what works for the majority that share the same hair type. One should know  that everyone would have a specific set of needs based on their hair type, the style they are going for, and whether they got the right haircut to meet that style

Moving on to the actual reason you’re still here, the hair styling products. On the contrary, factors such as strength and shine are not as important as you think, when it comes to choosing a hair product. Obviously, different products serve different purposes and different hair types react to each product a little differently. You have your hair pomades, waxes, clays, hair sprays, texture sprays, hair mousse and everything else in between. Before we begin on which of these would be right for you, it’s best to know what they actually do for you.


Oil-based Pomades

Your classic hair styling product, these products will keep your hair in place, against all elements and hardship. Commonly known to provide a strong and heavy hold, oil-based products provide a natural shine and will also not harden. The product does need more than one wash to get it off entirely, but if you’re a product buildup kinda guy, that’s okay too. If you live in a cold country that is. 


Water-based Pomades 


(Orthodox / Gel Type)
These pomades usually are somewhat clear, they provide a good hold with a sexy shine. They will also reasonably harden, but in a pleasant way of course. You won’t have to worry about the post wash residue. Being water-based, would allow you to wash out the product with just water most of the time. Orthodox / Gel Type Pomades are a  popular option for those who need a hair gel replacement in the grooming routine.


(Unorthodox)
Usually opaque and smooth, these pomades work similar to how oil-based pomades work - a good hold with a natural shine. They will NOT harden, which means non-stop sexy manual re-styling opportunities. These types are called ‘Unorthodox’, because they provide oil-based strength and styling but with water-based washability - a true hybrid

Wax


Ever wondered what’s the main ingredient used in hair styling wax? It’s wax! No surprise there. Though one thing is certain, the versatility. They help accentuate the flow and movement in your hair, giving the product the ability to facilitate many different hairstyles. It won’t harden, it’s not heavy, not shiny, and it won’t give you the volume you need for those louder styles. It is, however, the almost perfect balance between all hair styling variables - good pliable hold with a natural shine. Though it does require more than one wash, it won’t get greasy like how oil-based products do. Unfortunately, waxes are a hair styling type that’s recently slept on thanks to the plight of Gatsby - Moving Rubber.

Clay


Clay styling products have always been popular because of the natural look it gives you as well as the amount of volume it provides with minimal application. The common styling clay can be either one or a combination of two types of cosmetic clays; Kaolin and/or Bentonite. Kaolin Clay derives from ‘Gaoling’ a small southeastern province in Jiangxi, China. Known for its detoxifying properties, widely used in cosmetic products. Similarly, Bentonite Clay shares the same detoxifying properties, but AMPLIFIED! A coarser type of clay, Bentonite is extracted from volcanic ash! Yes, ‘Krakatoa’. The clay in hair styling products absorbs excess oil, creating a matted and gritty texture that prevents the hair from sitting neatly together and TA DAA! You get volume! The key ingredient in achieving that e-boy hair we all know and love. 

Styling Creams


A bit lacking in the hold department, the styling cream provides a low to medium shine. However, enough hold to do more natural and traditional styles. Styling creams would also usually provide the hair with some conditioning and protection.

Texture Spray and Texture Powders


The texture spray and powder has been the latest craze amongst barbers and hair styling enthusiasts alike. With a multitude of ways to use it, the spray and powder can be used as a pre-styler, a hair lifter or even a styling product in itself. The main purpose of the products is to add a level of grit to the hair fibers that will create texture, resulting in a very light hold. Sea Salt has been the main gimmick ingredient that’s been added to create that texture in hair, hence the multiple sea salt sprays in the market right now. You can be spoiled for choices! Some may even say that it's the difference between a good hairstyle and a GREAT hairstyle.

Hang on, you’re not a professional just yet. At this point it's important to know what hair type works best with which hair styling product. 

Starting with hair types, we generally either have straight and curly hair. Everything in between would be how straight or how curly one’s hair is. Unfortunately, it gets more complicated than that, because hair types are pretty nuanced. The thickness of the hair strand, the density of hair and also the texture or smoothness of the hair are all factors that can and will affect the selection of styling products. The obvious best combination of these hair factors would be slightly wavy, thin but dense hair that’s a bit textured. Unfortunately not everyone has that luxury.

Straight Hair
Generally, straight hair is able to pair well with almost all the above mentioned styling products. The only problem that may arise is when the hair is too thick and straight. One way to tackle this is to actually get the right haircut first. One can either get constant haircuts like fades and tapers to keep the sides in check. Another way is to grow the sides out long enough that they can be pushed or tucked back for the more mature and classy look. You choose between going long or short; there's no middle ground. Any type of clay, wax or pomade that has a stronger hold will do the job well. Be sure to finish it off with a locking hair spray or pre-style it with a texture spray before applying the product.

Wavy Hair
If you have wavy hair, you’re one lucky son of a gun. Wavy hair is the most versatile and easy to manage hair type to have. Wavy hair can pair perfectly well with all types of hair styling products at all lengths, thickness and densities. The cool thing about wavy hair is that it can pull off any hairstyle you throw at it, with the right product and styling, one can pull off a modern french crop, any quiff you can imagine, slick backs, pompadours or even the e-boy center part. Another thing about wavy hair is that all girls dig it, facts, no cap. One thing to note is that wavy hair doesn't need strong products, wavy hair usually is more textured and is able to hold with very little product or with med strength products. Hence texture sprays or powders would be ideal. To bring out the curls a little more, use some mousse to enhance and lock the curls in place.

Curly Hair
The thing about curly hair is that you can do almost any hairstyle that straight hair types can do, just that you get a messier version of it. The looser your curls are the more styles you can take on. Tighter curls might narrow you down to less styles, but they’re still just as cool. Whatever style one chooses, be it a nice taper or fade, or even letting it grow out to a poofy art piece, it’s always advisable to embrace your curls, ladies love 'em. Curls love styling products like mousse, texture spray or light styling cream because they don't straighten out the curls, they accentuate them with a little bit of hold, making them a lot bouncier. 

There you have it, a full guide on how to decide what would work best for you. The only way for you to pick the right one is to either get advice from a professional which doesn’t always work out, or actually try and use the whole lot to see which one works best for you. The good thing about trying more products is that you’ll learn how each type of product interacts with your hair and possibly find out certain product combinations that will really elevate the grooming routine. The key thing to remember is that you should always listen to your hair and not force the look because there’s nothing more cringe than a try-hard.