Hair clay is a newer type of men’s hair styling product. As indicated by the name, the product is (usually) clay based, and can range from very thick to creamy depending on the type of clay used.
The most common clay base for styling hair clays is bentonite, which is a natural clay made from volcanic ash.
Hair clay has a variety of uses and benefits for styling and hair and skin health:
Because of its natural properties, hair clays are a styling product you can feel good about, since it is actually good for your hair and skin and works well.
Best Hair Clay
As indicated above, clay is the key ingredient of most styling clays. However, there are many types of hair clay and a variety of ingredients.
Determining how exactly you want to use it and the type of sheen you want to achieve will help you determine the best type of hair clay for you.
Here are somethings you need to consider when choosing a clay that is right for you:
Ingredients: As mentioned previously, bentonite is the most common clay that you will find in hair styling clays. However, there are definitely more ingredients than just that, and those ingredients impact just how the styling clay will work best.
Beeswax, for example, is a key ingredient in most clays that offer stronger holds and more versatility for serious styling.
Kaolin, or white clay,may also make an appearance. This is a gentle clay that exfoliates and cleans hair without stripping it or your scalp of needed moisture.
It also absorbs toxins from the hair and scalp. In some styling clays, this is the clay of choice, as it is in Woody’s hair clay.
Rhassoul clay, or Moraccan Red Clay, may also pop up as an ingredient. It is mineral rich and helps reduce dryness while removing toxins and increasing body in hair.
This type of clay is very beneficial for helping sooth sensitive skin that is prone to dandruff and psoriasis.
Essential oils are often added to provide scent to the styling clay, as it is usually odorless or mildly earthy.
Essential oils can also provide additional health benefits for skin and hair, since many of them are antibacterial, antifungal, and have other health and cleansing properties.
Hold: clay products will offer varying levels of what is called “hold” – the ability of the product to hold the styling in place throughout the day. In general, clay has a strong hold compared to other products, but you can find clays ranging from light to very strong holds.
Light to medium hold clay is good for a sleeker look and/or finer hair, as strong holding clay can at times leave fine hair looking oily.
Clays that boast the strongest hold, like Boogie’s hair clay, claim to hold your styling all day even if you are being active, getting sweaty, or putting your hair under duress.
These stronger holds are better for more extravagant styles since it is strong enough to keep the hair supported and in place.
Finish: again, in general, clay products have a much more natural looking finish so that it is typically difficult to tell that you even have product in your hair. However, check the clay you are looking at to see if it offers a mild sheen or is truly a matt finish.
When choosing a clay, you need to make sure you understand, first your own hair type and condition, and second, the look you are wanting to achieve. Based on those two things, you can then move forward with choosing the clay that is best for you.
In general, when you look, you will see clays labeled as matte, styling, barber, finishing, and molding clay.
The latter will be discussed briefly below, but in general, each does have a bit of a different focus. Be sure to read the labels to see what the main focus/purpose of that clay is.
Molding Clay for Hair
Molding clay is styling clay with a much stronger hold.
It is meant specifically for those who need the style to hold all day while they go about rigorous activities, such as sports or strenuous physical activities that would make one prone to sweat.
While most hair products would not be able to hold with heavy perspiration or activity that could disrupt the styling, molding clay can.
Because of its thickness, though, it will be a little bit more difficult to wash out and may not be the best for finer hair types.
What’s the Difference? Hair Clay vs. Pomade vs. Paste vs. Gel
So, what on earth is the difference between other styling hair products like pomade, paste, and gel? Here is a quick break down of each and what they are good for:
Pomades are a styling product that helps style and hold the hair in a neat, slick manner while giving it a high shine finish. This type of product works best for hairstyles formed with a comb.
A benefit of pomade over something like a styling gel is that it won’t leave your hair dry and crunchy once it sets, meaning you can continue to style repeatedly throughout the day.
Pomades are either oil-based or water-based. Oil-based are composed of grease or petroleum, which are incredibly difficult to wash out and likely to strip your hair and skin of good, natural oils.
The results may be acne and unhealthy hair.
Water-based pomades are easier to wash out and don’t have the negative effects, but still give the same, slick and shiny look.
Pomade is good if you want to have a smooth, sleek look with a bit (or a lot) of shine and if you like the option to reshape and restyle throughout the day.
Hair Paste is thicker than pomades and usually provides a more natural, matted look, though some can add a bit of shine. Pastes are good for holding hair styles, offering medium to very firm hold, depending on the thickness of the paste you use.
Hair paste takes a little bit more work to use for styling, as some are so thick that you must first rub it between fingers and hands to warm it up so that you can evenly work it through your hair.
However, it is a very versatile product and works for a wide variety of hair styles and it is very easy to wash out.
Hair paste is good if you want to have volume and a good hold with a more natural look.
Hair gel is the gateway hair styling product. It is the cheapest and most readily available product, but also the most synthetic and unhealthy. Gels are composed of chemicals and alcohols that, while they work, are harsh on the hair and skin and quite damaging.
Gels work for all sorts of hair styles to mold and hold it, but will leave the hair stiff, crunchy and immovable once it sets.
It leaves a glistening shine, but if disturbed (as might happen if you run your fingers through your hair), it can flake and leave a residue appearance.
The alcohols in hair gel lead to excessive dryness in the skin, and the chemicals strip the hair of natural moisture, leaving your hair frizzy and damaged and with no healthy shine of its own.
What is it good for? Ultimately, a lot of what is different between these products and hair clay is what they are made from. Hair clay is by far the most natural product and can actually be healthy for your hair and scalp.
How to Use Hair Clay
Of course, you may have found an excellent clay, but if you don’t know how to apply it correctly, it may do more harm than good.
So, check out the basics of application below:
Want to see it done? You can check out this video giving you a quick break down and walk through of applying hair clays.
The Top 5 Hair Clays: Pros & Cons
Now that you have learned all about what hair clay is, how it is different from other hair styling products, and how to apply it, it’s time to explore your options and choose the best clay for you.
To help you get started, we want to review the top 5 hair clays that you can find on Amazon and briefly go over their pros and cons:
As you can see, there are many options for hair clay at your disposal.
Each of the above products have their good points and drawbacks, but considering your circumstances, we are certain you will benefit from one of them.
Go ahead and give one a try. We are sure you won’t be disappointed!
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- Best Hair Clay
- Molding Clay for Hair
- What’s the Difference? Hair Clay vs. Pomade vs. Paste vs. Gel
- How to Use Hair Clay
- The Top 5 Hair Clays: Pros & Cons
- 1. Krieger + SÖhne Styling Clay
- 2. Lamel Fine Grooming Clay
- 3. Layrite Cement Matte Hair Clay
- 4. Smooth Viking Hair Care Styling Clay
- 5. Rocky Mountain Barber Company Styling Clay