Buyers Guides

Last Updated January 24, 2021

Style



Best 15 Hair Gels for Men

Whether you have straight hair or curly, thin or thick, long or short, there’s no escaping the fact that there’s a big difference between a cool look and a bedhead mess. There are many products on the market now such as pomades, creams and waxes to help tame your luscious locks into a manageable form, however in this buying guide we’ll be looking at the 15 best hair gels for men.

Gel is easy to apply and a little can go a long way when it comes to styling your hair. We’ll review the best 15 hair gels that you can get your hands on, and also take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this wonder stuff. Gel has come a long way from the tacky substances that abounded in the 80s and 90s, and now you can have a clean look that is slick and shiny with a light hold gel, or go all out with spikes from some of our rock hard competitors.

We’ve researched a top selection of the best hair gels for men here, so whatever look you are trying to achieve, you’re sure to find something that fits the bill in our buying guide.

Top Picks

Budget Choice

LA LOOKS – Extreme Sport Hair Gel

With a firm hold and a good degree of shine, you can trust this men’s hair gel from LA LOOKS to do the trick every time for an affordable price.

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Best Hold Choice

Moco de Gorilla Hair Gel for Men

It simply has to be Gorilla Snot if you’re looking to create a look that’s out of this world with long spikes that stay in place throughout the day.

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Editor’s Choice

Firm Hold Got2b Spiking Glue for Men

A top product that allows you to create a wide range of looks whatever your hair type, it’s a high-quality glue from a recognized name in haircare.

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BEST HAIR GEL

1

Woody’s Styling Gel For Men

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First up on our list is Woody’s Styling Gel, a quality gel for men that can be used on hair that’s dry or wet to provide a lighter hold but still with enough substance to fashion your hair in just the way you like.

This gel does not contain any alcohol so there is no strong smell to it like some of the cheaper gels you can find, and the fact you can use it on wet or damp hair too means that you can slap it on as soon as you get out of the shower or bath. It is classified as a light to medium in terms of hold, making it ideal for creating waves in your hair rather than bold spikes.

Some gels can tend to flake when they dry, however this hair gel for men doesn’t pose that problem. Instead it seeks to add volume and body to your hairdo, and contains high-quality ingredients that will condition your hair and roots rather than making them dry out, which can damage follicles if used over a long period of time.

The makeup of the gel also cleanses and nourishes damaged hair, and can even protect your hair rather than damaging it when used repeatedly. It is a simple men’s hair gel that you don’t have to follow any specific instructions for making it ideal for daily use.

Specs

  • Hold Light to Medium
  • Size 12oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
2

Got2b Spiking Glue – 3 pack

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Got2b is a top name in the world of hair styling, and this three pack of Got2b Spiking Glue in 6oz tubes doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a firm hold that has been tested in a wind-tunnel (really!) then this spiking glue is the hair gel for men’s hair of all kinds. This makes it ideal for use in winter when the cold and wind tend to affect your hair the most, or even for a day at the beach or by the coast in summer.

You can use this hair glue to make a statement with your hair by creating hard as rock spikes that rise vertically from your scalp, or you can also benefit from its strong hold by creating a messed up look that is held firmly in place throughout the day.

What’s more, the glue is resistant to water so you don’t have to worry about looking a mess if you get caught out in a rain shower. Probably don’t try swimming with it though! It’s best used straight out of the shower on damp locks, and a little goes a long way.

It applies easily, and if you want spikes that could do some damage, a helpful tip is to moisten the tips of them with a little water and add a touch more glue to the tips.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 6oz
  • Alcohol Free No
3

Messy Look Hair Gel by Axe

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For a sleek and matte effect for your gelled hair, then this Messy Look gel by Axe is a top choice. Some gels can make your hair look wet or shiny, however this specially designed matte hair gel gives you a polished look without any of that.

The hold on this men’s hair gel is just medium, which means you can hold a messed-up look in place whilst still giving it a little bounce, and not rigidly held like some of the firmer gels. This gel is perfect for those with shorter hair, or those sporting it at mid-length because it runs through fairly easily and you don’t need much to achieve the desired effect.

It’s ideal for those looking for that bed-head style throughout the day. If you have certain parts of your hair that just won’t hold with the gel, the company makes a complimentary paste that you can use to tame those out of control region. Thanks to its medium hold, if you have a lot of hair you’re not going to feel the weight of the gel as with others which aren’t as comfortable to wear.

We recommend this gel to those guys out there who just like to roll out of bed, finger through a touch of gel and be ready to hit the drive to work or walk to college with minimal effort.

Specs

  • Hold Medium
  • Size 6oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
4

Moco de Gorilla Hair Gel for Men – 2 pack

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Boasting a 10/10 factor for hold, you’ll go ape for this strong hair gel for men that is designed for those who love to rock a punk style with long spikes that are as hard as nails. If you want to replicate liberty spikes from the likes of Linkin Park, or Sid Vicious and Bowie from the 70s, then Moco de Gorilla is the best hair gel for men in this category.

You can use this hair gel on longer than average hair to create some truly awesome vertical spikes, as well as on mid-length hair that is long enough to spike up. With this gel, you can rest assured that the style will hold throughout the day, come rain or shine, and what’s more it doesn’t leave any kind of white looking residue or flakes on your head.

The formulation of this gel protects your hair and although it does contain alcohol, it has ingredients which are natural and will aim to nourish your hair instead of letting it dry out and become brittle.

The name ‘Moco de Gorilla’ translates from the Spanish as ‘Gorilla Snot’, so as you can imagine it has a unique ‘texture’ which quickly becomes malleable and liquifies ready for you to use. We’re also loving the ergonomically designed bottle which we think looks a little like a banana!

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 11.9oz
  • Alcohol Free No
5

American Crew – Firm Hold Hair Gel

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A classic American product, this hair gel for men by American Crew is a great addition to your bathroom cabinet if you’re a fan of firm holding gels which will see you looking and feeling confident through the day and into the night.

As you’re able to use this on both dry and wet hair, it makes it a good choice for guys with shorter hair who like to get out of the door to work or college with minimal fuss. Thanks to the addition of carbomer you can quickly run this through your hair and distribute it evenly from front to back, and then the polymers in it (a dual complex) allows the hold to become firm and lock in place.

You will also benefit from a nice shine with this men’s hair gel too, however if you don’t want too much glistening, try to apply just to the tips or use a very little amount to ‘set’ your hair rather than overusing it. You’ll instantly add volume to your hair with this gel, giving it more body and looking thicker when applied from root to tip and messed up a little bit.

It is alcohol-free and contains vitamins for nourishment, such as B5. Dry and itchy scalps are a thing of the past with this gel, as the lower pH level is just like water. You can purchase this item in three sizes, and with or without a pump. 

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 8.4oz / 13.1oz / 33.8oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
6

Holding Gel by Redken Brews

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A quality name with a long history in men’s grooming products, you know that Redken Brews is a brand that you can trust and will do what it says in the hair gel department. As the name suggests, Redken Brews take inspiration from beer themes, so this gel formulation has been infused with malt, a key component in beer-making.

The company makes everything from haircare products to ones designed specifically for men’s skin and beards, and this gel which has been inspired from NY barbers means that it is authentic and has a very masculine scent which isn’t too strong – but is cologne-like.

You don’t have to worry about flaking either, as the product ensures maximum grip without any additives that could damage your hair. The addition of silicone in this men’s hair gel means that your hair will instantly be given a cool-looking texture and a shine too, which looks especially good on mid-length hair styles.

It doesn’t clump together thanks to its lighter formulation, making it the top choice for those of you with curly hair, and you want to emphasize that with a medium control that still allows movement. You can buy this in a small 1oz bottle which is ideal for travelling, or for weekends away with the boys, or you can buy a larger 5oz tube for regular home use.

Specs

  • Hold Medium
  • Size 1oz / 5oz
  • Alcohol Free No
7

Elegance Triple Action Styling Gel

Editors Rating

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This is our top choice if you’re looking for a gel that doesn’t only work extremely well, but also smells fantastic. This hair gel for men is available in three different scents: Earth, Moon and Venus. We like the manly scent of the Venus formulation, and it’s ideal if you are spending lots of time around people such as in class or in a workplace, as you’re sure to receive positive comments on the fragrance you leave as it wafts behind you from your hair.

This is a great hair gel for adding extra volume to our hair whilst still allowing it to bounce where needed. It does have a shine to it which works well with shorter styles, however if you apply it lightly to longer hair the shine is more subtle.

Many gels which contain alcohol are prone to making your hair slightly oily looking afterwards, or even leaving residue and flaking – never a good look. However, with this triple action gel by Elegance you can use it on all hair types without worrying about either of those common issues. All in all, it’s a strong gel which will last you all day long during work and play.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 19.9oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
8

Gummy Gel for Men

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This large tub of Gummy gel is ideal for daily use, and thanks to its size it will last you for many weeks which is great if you’re at college and don’t like to do the grocery shopping! One of the main characteristics of this gel is it’s hold potential.

You can use Gummy gel if you are a fam of extreme looks for your hair, or like to create custom shapes in a structure that needs to hold firm for the best visual effect. It has a slightly different texture to most gels which allows you to apply blobs of it onto your fingertips and use all over your head as well as targeting certain areas to create shapes.

We recommend this gel if you’re a fan of making quiffs in your hair at the front, or have a messy slicked back look that needs to hold firm throughout the day instead of bouncing around with every movement. As it’s alcohol-free, you know that your hair isn’t going to be dried out and feel like straw at the end of the day when you’ve washed it off.

Best applied to slightly damp hair to make the most of spreading the gel out, you can quickly transform your hair from drab to fab in a matter of seconds, safe in the knowledge that it’s going to hold everything in place from morning to night.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 33.8oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
9

Dove Control Gel for Men

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A name usually synonymous with female products, in recent years Dove has tapped into the men’s grooming market with some incredible results. They have a Men+Care range of everything from shaving foams to shampoos and beard conditioners, but for us the real winner is this Dove Control Gel.

It is perfect for creating the growingly popular wet look so many celebrities are sporting these days. Some gels get it really wrong with the wet look gels, making hair seem oily or greasy and too shiny, however Dove has got it oh-so right with this product as it is smooth and gives properly defined hair without being too heavy or greasy.

It is a top choice for those athletes among you who want to play sports or workout and maintain that sleek gel look without looking like sweat has drenched your hair. It does provide a strong hold, but it is malleable enough to provide a quick retouch when needed to reshape the hair without having to wash it all off and start again.

As Dove is famed for its caring aspect for skin, you won’t find any alcohol in this gel which has the tendency to dry hairs and cause splitting. Instead, it fortifies hair with caffeine extract, thickening it where needed to give a voluminous and resilient effect. We do like this gel and recommend it for active weekends rather than at work where the look may not carry off that professional image.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 7oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
10

Men’s Styling Gel by Johnny B

Editors Rating

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For over two decades Johnny B has been providing barber shop quality hair gel and other hair products which have made it stand out on the list for us. When a company focuses solely on one aspect of male grooming such as haircare, you can be sure that lots of research, testing and customer experience analysis goes into their products – Johnny B has done this extensively to provide high-quality products that are trusted by thousands of men daily.

Straying away from that firm, fixed hold, they’ve rated this hold as a medium and given it a 5 out of 10. For us, this is an ideal consistency that can be used by all types or hair for a wide range of styles. It’s not so light that your hair flops around unnecessarily, and isn’t too firm so that there is zero movement in your locks.

This style is highly flexible so it is perfect for those who have an exact image in their mind and want to keep it that way with minimal movement. If you find that your bedhead is out of control on a daily basis, then this is the gel for you as it quickly tames unruly hairdos into something sleek and effective.

You can even blow dry this gel after application to create that level of volume for those of you with already thick hairstyles that you want to maintain from the minute you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow.

Specs

  • Hold Medium
  • Size 16oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
11

Majestic Pure Hair Gel

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If you’re a fan of natural products and gels that aren’t tested on bunnies, then Majestic Pure is the way to go. It has around 95% of its constituents coming from ingredients which are totally natural, and is also free of paraben and alcohol.

Not only does it contain the ‘wonder-oil’ that is argan, but you can also find pro-vitamin B5 in this gel, along with natural components such as orange, lavender, ylang ylang and lemongrass. Now that might sound a little bit girly, however the scent that will emanate from your hair as you waltz past colleagues and classmates will be masculine and make the ladies turn their heads.

With so many natural ingredients and wholesome oils, it’s a good idea to do a small tester on a sensitive part of your skin, such as the inner elbow to make sure there’s no reaction. Remember, there are no punk rocker rabbits with spiked fur hopping about laboratories when you buy this natural hair gel, so self-testing is needed if you know that similar nature-based items bring out slight reactions on your skin.

This product does give your hair a nice sheen look without being too heavy or wet-looking, making it ideal for daily use around the office or campus. What’s more, it’s made in the USA and can be washed off very easily with water without forming into a goo. Say goodbye to sticky fingers after application too, the natural hair gel formulation is light and not at all tacky. It’s rated highly in reviews to boot.

Specs

  • Hold Light to Medium
  • Size 8oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
12

sexyhair Styling Gel

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Style your way to a sexy look with this unique gel for men. The brand was formed in LA back in the late 90s, but now has expanded to be a top choice for men’s hair gel in more than 60 countries around the world.

One of its known products is hairspray, but they ventured out into the realm of pastes, creams and gels – and we’re really glad they did! It’s one of the best hair gels for curly hair because it achieves a maximum amount of hold across multiple hair types, and won’t cause it to curl any further into tighter rings, instead enhancing your natural curls.

There is also a high degree of shine with this gel compared to most others, due largely in part to the added titanium dioxide and mica, both which add a much-loved glisten to your locks. They have a blue tinge to them which is very subtle, however it reflects light in a way like nothing else so you can benefit from a glowing head of hair in bright sunlight or under those disco lights as you dance the night away.

It’s made from a non-flake formulation and is best applied when hair is wet or damp so that you can use that added liquidity to refine your look into sculpted shapes or go all out with spikes that will last all day long.

You can also assume that it is beneficial for your hair and cares for it thanks to amino acids of keratin – the stuff your hair is actually made of. It has been top rated by over 1000 customers, but the price tag has gone up recently which has meant it has possibly fallen out of favor amongst the younger buyers who can’t afford it.

Having said that, the product is brilliant and is touted as one of the best out there for a look and feel like no other gel, especially with the added shine ingredients which are lacking from many other products in the price range.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 16.9oz
  • Alcohol Free No
13

LA LOOKS – Extreme Sport Hair Gel

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This gel from LA LOOKS is one of the cheapest products on our list, ideal for students on a budget who still want a firm hold for their hair. The name Extreme Sport comes from the fact that this is one of the best gels for men who enjoy playing a game of football or basketball and are prone to sweating. Let’s face it, you want that slicked back wet look to be made by yourself on purpose, not the side effect of one too many circuits or a full-length game of ball with friends.

We recommend this gel as number 13 on our list because although it is not as cleverly crafted as some others, it is virtually ‘activity proof’. As you’re on the court, or jogging through NYC on a hot summer’s day, this gel is going to be your #1 amigo thanks to the fact it is both resistant to heat emanating from your head, turning you into a melted mess, and also to humidity which can be high in places such as Florida, LA, San Fran and Hawaii even in the cooler months due to their coastal locations.

This gel comes in a three pack for great value, and is highly rated by many customers. It’s a real frizz-tamer for those guys out there with locks like Will Ferrell or GOT’s Kit Harington, and helps to control those pesky fly-aways.

*Although this gel sports a hold level of 10, so it falls into the Firm category, it won’t actually make your hair stiff as a rock.

Specs

  • Hold 10*
  • Size 20oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
14

Molding Gel For Men by Gentlemen Republic

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One of the best hair gels for men on our list, this molding gel from Gentlemen Republic has lots of great features to provide the best level of hair care money can buy. Not only does its unique formula prevent flaking thanks to its zero alcohol content, but it’s also made in the USA to high standards.

You won’t have any problems with dry or itchy scalps with this product as is common with cheap dollar store gels containing large amounts of alcohol and chemicals. Instead, you’ll be treated to a high level of a shine and a hold that lasts for a full 24 hours, and some customers have reported that it can actually last a second day without moving or distorting style. This means you can wake up, go to work or college, and then head straight out for a party or night in the clubs without having to wash and rework your hair multiple times in between.

It is also resistant to humidity which can cause some hair gels to look wet rather than shiny, and it will hold in place rather than letting it flop in high humidity situations – coastal locations, dense concrete jungles, or in wetlands such as the Everglades. To boot, it has a macho scent that is not overwhelming to the senses.

Specs

  • Hold Firm
  • Size 16oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes
15

American Crew Hair Gel – Light Hold

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The second product from this brand on our list and for a good reason – it’s awesomely light! Too many manufacturers get it wrong when it comes to light hair gels for men, and they don’t provide enough grip to provide a lasting style or any volume to your hair.

We love this product because it is perfect for styling a number of looks that are based on loose or floppy hair, or for curls that just need that extra bit of encouragement to retain their form throughout the day.

The gel is totally alcohol free, so no flakes or dryness are reported, but instead it contains extracts of sage and ginseng which actually work to condition the scalp area. You can still build up layers of thickness if you have a lot of hair to be dealing with, and it has a slight shine to it too for that natural look.

If you find that you like to blow dry your hair into a certain style, then this is the product for you. It has thermal protection abilities which not only guard against high heat, but also against any environmental stressors such as city life and ever-changing weather conditions – making it an all year round choice. Best applied to hair that has been towel dried and is slightly damp, you can then apply liberally as it’s so light and not worry about it looking overly oily or greasy.

Specs

  • Hold Light
  • Size 8.45oz / 13.1oz
  • Alcohol Free Yes

BUYING GUIDE & FAQ'S

How To Choose The Best Hair Gel

You need to think about the look you’re trying to achieve when finding the best hair gel for you. Anything that has a ‘shine’ factor is going to give your hair a more reflective quality, whereas ‘matte’ types will let your natural color shine through.

Next consider the kind of hold you want. If you are just looking for something to define certain parts of your hair you should go for a light hold. If you want to create waves or a quiff, then a medium hold is the one for you. But if you want to create solid spikes or need your style to stay in place all day long, then you need a firm hold.

Check the label for whether it contains alcohol or not. Some gels can make your hair dry out or become frizzy and brittle over time, and ones with a high alcohol content usually cause flaking or a buildup of white residue on your hair when you touch it or comb it after styling.

Consider your hair type too, as if you have curly hair you don’t want something heavy that will weigh down you naturally bouncy coils. On the other hand, if you have frizzy hair or thick hair, additional weight will come in handy.

Some gels contain lots of chemicals which aren’t beneficial for your hair. However, there are lots of natural ingredients in many of the gels on the market which contain keratin, pro-vitamin B5 and natural oils which condition your hair and keep it in great shape whilst the gel is on.

How To Properly Apply Hair Gel

Possibly the simplest haircare product you can use for styling, the water-based gels run through your hair fairly easily, allowing you to control it from just a few splodges on your fingertips. It’s best to start with hair that has been just washed and has been dried to a semi-damp stage with a towel. This encourages a better distribution of the gel.

For an overall look, make sure you rub the gel from the roots to the tips, and don’t forget the back of your head too! Then you can just let the gel dry in the air, or some gels allow you to blow dry as you apply it. If you’re going for a hard spike, comb your hair with the gel on it then manipulate it, smoothing it out with your fingers. If you want an all-over messy look, instead of applying the gel to just your fingertips, place some in the palm of your hand and work through your entire head of hair repeatedly.

Hair gel is really only for short or mid-length hair, as long hair down to your shoulders or longer isn’t going to want to be fixed in place all day long and is naturally going to want to flow, move about and bounce with movement.

How To Best Remove Hair Gel

As the vast majority of hair gels are water-based, all you need to do to wash it out is stand under a shower with warm running water and gently push it out backwards with your head tilted back so it doesn’t go on your face. After running your hands through it a few times it should fall out easily enough. If you have placed hard spikes of hair for your hairdo, just gently massage them under the running water and they should just start to ‘melt’ away.

It’s a good idea after the initial rinse to use a small amount of shampoo to combat the effects of the gel. Once you’ve had a preliminary wash, run your fingers through and if it still seems gel-like or tacky, then continue to wash it with a larger amount of shampoo until it clarifies.

If you’ve applied too much hair gel and it has congealed in your hair and won’t wash out easily with water, try a cup of pineapple juice or vinegar directly onto your head, and the acid it contains will begin to melt the jelly-like substances contained within all hair gel.

Don’t ever try to use a comb or a brush to get hair gel out. It will break your hair strands and even pull hairs out directly from the roots – plus it will really hurt!

Which One Will You Be Sticking With?

So there you have it, our best hair gels for men that you can use to style and tame your locks! We’ve listed many kinds of natural hair gels, hair gels for curly and straight hair, and a large proportion of the ones on our list are alcohol free hair gels to reduce dryness.

We’ve aimed to cover both expensive, high-quality gels as well as ones that are more budget-friendly but still do a damn fine job at providing you the look you’re aiming for.

So whether you just want to create some bouncy waves or have a more punk look in mind, we know you’ll find just what you’re looking for in our hair gel reviews. Happy styling!

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