WAX ON WAX OFF: A Barbertown Guide on Hair Products

Well done so you’ve found a barber that you can trust, you’ve found the style that suits you and now all you need to do is to find the right product to achieve a great finish.

The two main factors you need to consider are:

  1. Will the product work with the natural condition of your hair?
  2. Will the product allow you to achieve the desired finish you want? i.e. Hold

“Great hair doesn’t come in a jar” which is true.  Great hair comes from a great cut and using the right product for your style and hair type.  Hair products are designed used to enhance your style not fight against it so you need to think carefully about what your hair needs and the finish you want.  If you have thick hair you don’t want anything that gives you too much volume or if you have fine hair, you don’t a wet product which makes your hair look thinner.  The problem is the market is full of hair products all promising something different.

Here is the BARBERTOWN HAIR PRODUCT GUIDE to help you navigate your way through the various hair products that are currently on the market:


This is “THE” all round go to hair product.  It generally gives a light to medium hold although some brands claim to provide extra shine or matt.  It’s good at retaining a flexible hold and calming frizz – not so suitable for very thick or curly hair.  

One issue is that alot of waxes are oil/petroleum based and are harder to wash out of your hair so you will need to use a specialist shampoo to break the oils.  

Another drawback is that most waxes don’t actually dry on your hair so they are prone to attracting grime, pollen, dust and can leave a residue on clothing, pillows and inside caps.


This is an old fashioned favourite which has seen a resurgence recently thanks to the old barber shop classics like the Pompadour and the Slick back.  Pomade has a creamy-like texture which provides the hair with nourishment and suits drier and thicker hair. A quality pomade should spread easily through clean hair using a comb (or fingers for a looser look).  If you opt for a water based pomade, you will find them a lot easier to wash out in comparison to the oil based pomades. Beware of the pomades that offer a drier look (matte) as this can often lead to a more rigid look.

It is a great product for styling slicks, sweeping partings and generally most classic styles where sheen and hold is required.  


Hair gels have moved on somewhat from the days of “blue gel in a tub” which produced that terrible wet look and dried out flakes over your denim jacket.  We generally use gels now for more specialist applications like Mohawks and the more punk styles. Bear in mind, that most modern gels SET really hard although they are generally water soluble so  easy to wash out.


Creams have a lighter consistency than wax, are suitable for thick and fine hair and are all pretty much water based.  They don’t dry out either so whether you use it to thicken up fine hair or defrizz your mop then there will be a hair cream out there for you.  They work in similar way to a pomade and come in a variety of holds and finishes. Creams also work well in clean towel dried hair or dry hair where you apply and style as desired. Remember to use any product sparingly to start with you can always apply more!!


Fibrous products will generally give a hard hold with a low to medium sheen.  Fibre is a great option for you guys with shorter, thicker hair. It can help “wrangle” your desired style into place without too much effort.  It’s not really designed to be combed through and give smart finish, its more for a dishevelled look. Also ALL fibrous products are pretty much water based so easily removed from the hair.  Again like creams less is more.


Clays and putty’s are great at giving a medium to strong or even brutal hold and no shine (extra matte finish).  They tend to be thick in consistency so need breaking down or warming up between the palms of your hands. Best results are achieved when used in clean, dry hair.  They can also add a great thickening effect on fine, limp hair providing it is on short hair.

Be mindful, how much you apply as too much of this product can leave your hair feeling  heavy and clumpy.


Sea salt or texture spray are great for that “been at the beach look”.  Generally they work best in medium to long hair, can have a great thickening effect in fine hair whilst adding volume and flexible hold with little or no shine.  You can apply to wet hair and leave to dry naturally or you can apply pre-blow dry to achieve extra volume or to target a specific part of your hair for more definition.  This product is very versatile and lifestyle friendly – a great addition to any gym bag, it ticks all the boxes.


This is the new kid on the block, it’s a completely dry powder with the same texture as talcum powder.  It’s applied directly on to clean, dry hair or shaken on to the palms of your hands and combed through with your fingers.  

It gives a very mattifying effect, giving a strong hold and a shine free natural look.

Don’t use it in wet hair or before you go to the barber shop as it can affect the feel of the hair and the end result.


Hairsprays are used for finishing,  to “ glue the hair in place” whilst adding extra volume or just to give the style extra sheen.  They are generally used on longer hair (over 6”) as they can provide a light hold without weighing the hair down.  There are many sprays on the market, some aerosol sprays contain alcohol denat, butane and propane gas which are flammable and can be damaging to your hair and skin with prolonged use.

Remember guys ….LESS IS MORE….

It’s true when your barber says rub a pea sized amount between your palms to dry or nearly dry hair and style as desired.  You always add but you can’t take it away!!

Just remember Stay Sharp Guys and Visit Your Barber

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