When it comes to hair, you might feel overwhelmed by the wide variety of product choices on the market. A fantastic product to start out with is hair cream — it’s easy to apply, looks natural but can take your look to the next level.
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So what exactly IS hair cream anyway?
Hair cream is a styling product that is cleaner than a pomade, paste or clay, but not as stiff or inflexible as gel, wax, or hairspray. It’s got a very pliable consistency and tames frizz and fly-aways effortlessly.
Hair cream comes in many different holding strengths and is great for creating a gentle, natural and effortless look.
Pros of Hair Cream:
- Provides lightweight to medium hold
- Gives a good range of soft, touchable, motion to hair
- Is easy to wash out
- Comes in many formulas and consistencies
- Tames frizz and split ends
- Won’t dry or damage hair
- Provides protection and moisture
Cons of Hair Cream:
- Do not work well for extreme looks like spikes or mohawks
- Not water resistant in most cases
- Doesn’t work as well on long hair
- Some creams wear off quickly
What types of hair or haircuts is hair cream for?
Hair cream works well for most hair lengths. The main difference is how much you will need to use. Most creams are extremely concentrated so start off with a very small amount and build from there.
If you’re going for more extreme styles, you will probably need to get into gel or hairspray. However, if you’re just looking for a light, natural hold and frizz reduction, creams are perfect.
Especially well-suited for men with curly, long, thinning or coarse hair. If you’re growing out your hair and transitioning to a looser style, it’s also worth a try. Or men who want to look slightly better groomed without the fuss of actually styling their hair.
How is hair cream different than other styling products?
Hair cream is great because it does the job of hair oils or pomades, without the greasy mess. Some hair creams can even provide nourishment for your scalp and hair follicles!
Gel and hairspray may give a firm hold but often lack the natural feel that cream provides. Hair cream gives you much more motion and flexibility so that your hair is still soft to the touch.
Tips on How to Use Hair Creams
1. First time you use a new product, apply it to clean, dry hair
If you have dirty hair, your own hair oils start to interact with the product and it’s hard to know what’s the product vs your oils. To really test a product, it’s best to start with a clean slate of clean hair.
2. Don’t apply the hair cream directly from the package to your hair.
Don’t squeeze or dab out product and plop it directly into your hair. Instead take the product in your hands and rub in your hands together to emulsify the product first. Then you can apply it to the hair.
This helps distribute the cream more evenly and prevents you from ending up with a stiff, sticky patch of hair.
3. Make sure you distribute the cream throughout your hair, including your roots.
Important for men with longer hair — make sure the cream is distributed the entire length of your hair. The roots are easy to forget but important if you want to maintain the look all day.
4. Start with less and add hair cream gradually.
It’s a lot easier to add product than try to remove it once it’s in your hair. If you’re new to hair cream, start with a dime-size amount and add more gradually as you see the effect it’s having. If you end up with a sticky mess, it’s often a result of too much product.
5. Takes 10-30 minutes for the final effect.
Hair creams work with your natural hair so before you make a judgement, wait 10-30 minutes for the full effect.
I find creams often feel slightly tacky or have a wet look when first applied but after 30 minutes, that disappears so be a bit patient and don’t throw it out because you don’t like the effect when you first apply it.
The Best Hair Creams for Men
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
As the packaging alludes, this is a subtle and understated cream. It gives a light and flexible hold that simultaneously provides a nice fresh scent to your hair.
Especially good for young guys who want to look styled but natural, it’s soft to the touch and will keep your hair in shape for hours. It’s also a great price point — remember a little goes a long way. Start with a finger-tip amount and rake it through your hair with your fingers.
THE GOLD STANDARD OF HAIR CREAMS
American Crew is one of the most popular and best-selling hair creams, making it the gold standard to which all others much compare.
Easy to use and great for all hair types, this cream provides light hold and natural softness and shine. It also has the added benefit of making your hair look thicker and fuller — perfect for those who might be thinning on top and want a little extra help.
Crew Forming Cream is great for attaining natural-looking hair with medium shine, leaving hair pliable and touchable throughout the day. Because it never gets stiff, it’s a great one for beginners who want to try a hair cream but are apprehensive about using it correctly.
BEST FOR CLASSIC STYLES
Is there anything more classically manly than Brylcreem? Helping men look their best since 1928, Brylcreem is a true icon of men’s grooming and great for retro-styling at a good price.
If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to beat. Brylcreem provides nourishment and hold while eliminating split ends. Plus old-school packaging will look great in your bathroom.
One note, it is much higher shine than we’re used to with modern hair creams, so if you’re looking for a matte effect it’s likely not a good fit. If you’re trying to re-create a classic pompadour, this is a great place to start.
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SCALPS
Inspired by the warrior in all men (Krieger means warrior in German), this product has a pleasant, light coconut scent with no white residue. While the hold might be slightly shorter than Axe or Crew, it’s very easy to work with the hands and my writer who has had irritation with the American Crew cream, found this one to be a soothing alternative.
BEST FOR THINNING HAIR
Naturally derived and with a matte finish, this cream is perfect for adding a bit of weightless volume and thickening your hair. Plus it’s good for you with keratin and soy protein that work to fortify your hair.
I found it slightly thinner than the American Crew cream, which is good if you have thinning hair, don’t want extra weight pulling it down. Use it in conjunction with Ever Man Jack’s Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner for full effect.
BEST FOR CURLY HAIR
Inspired by surfers, this cream is a great choice for anyone wanting a young and fresh look with no hassle, whether you’re a surfer or not.
I’d say this cream is more about general texture and shape than precision old which makes it perfect for curly hair. It gives you curls instead of a frizzy mess. Your hair will still have a good range of motion and feel soft to the touch.
BEST FOR WORK
What can I say, Jack Black always makes great products and this is no exception. Subtle enough that no one will even know it’s there and the anti-frizz is great if you’re spending long hours flying or in a conference room.
Perfect for dry to normal hair (if you have naturally oily hair, you might find your hair ends up looking greasy rather than smooth. I also like that it’s unscented so it doesn’t compete with other products.
BEST FOR COARSE HAIR
Vikings didn’t mess around and neither does their hair cream. The fiber means it’s a good fit for men with coarse hair who want a little extra more that you usually get with creams.
If you’re looking for a little spikiness in your hair, this can be a good fit. I found it quite matte and personally preferred it on dry hair, though you can technically use it on wet or dry. Smells like nice clean soap and vaguely masculine.
BEST FOR STRONGER HOLD
It probably won’t give you a mohawk, but as far as hair creams go, you’ll find that it provides a firmer than expected hold. This molding cream really lets you express your style and individuality.
It has a matte finish, unlike many gels that would give you a similar effect but with a shiny finish. Plus it washed out well.
Still not sure what’s the right one for your hair? In general, I recommend American Crew Forming Cream and use it as my go-to for days when I want a little style without overthinking it. Plus it’s at a price that’s hard to beat for the quality!