We live in an age where men’s hair products abound. And that’s good because the difference between a well-kept hairstyle and one that needs some help often comes down to the product you use.
Hair cream, for instance, offers a lot of advantages to men who are serious about hair care, which is why we want to focus on the best hair cream for men. We’ll look at what we think are top creams available including the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shaping Cream (our No. 1 choice) – what to consider when buying hair cream, how to apply it, and how it stacks up when compared to other styling products.
In the end, we hope you’ll be well-informed, ready to rock your favorite hairstyle, with the well-groomed look that you’ve always wanted.
- Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when purchasing hair cream for men
- 8 Best hair creams for men 2018
- Applying hair cream: The basics
- Hair cream vs. all the rest
- The how & why of choosing these products
Before You Buy: 5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Hair Cream For Men
Men’s styling creams are not all the same, but they do share common characteristics. They’re also versatile and can serve a variety of functions for styling your hair. The key question is, what should you look for in a hair cream?
1. Hold & Shine
A couple of terms you’ll often hear regarding hair styling products are hold and shine. Hair cream is no different.
A styling product’s hold indicates its ability to keep your hair in one place after you’ve styled it. If it has a high hold, your hair won’t have much movement, i.e., “bounce.” In some cases, a product with a high hold will leave your hair feeling – and looking – pretty stiff, but that’s OK for some hairstyles.
Hair cream, meanwhile, typically has a low hold rating and gives your hair flexibility. They’re also lighter than many other styling products, including pomade and wax.
A product’s shine measures how well it reflects light and makes your hair look glossy. Products with a low shine absorb the light and have a matte finish, which means it’s hard to tell that they’re in your hair. Cream has a natural, medium shine that helps give your hair a healthy look. And, they do keep your hair healthier because they contain moisturizing ingredients.
Hair creams come with many descriptions – grooming, shaping, molding, lotion, etc. – but almost all of them offer the same level of hold and shine.
3. Know Your Hair Type
It’s important to know your hair type no matter type of styling product you choose. One of the benefits of hair cream is that it provides texture and a natural hold on a variety of hair types, and it can provide additional volume for men with thin hair. Again, it’s a versatile product that’s suitable for a variety of hairstyles and types.
You’ll find similar ingredients in most hair creams, although the list is a bit different for those labeled “all-natural.” But ingredients you should look for include:
- Natural oils (including essential and carrier oils). Avoid synthetic oils or mineral oils because they block moisture from the hair.
- While many creams contain alcohol, look for ones that don’t include parabens or sulfates. Also, avoid petroleum because it can clog pores and lead to a buildup on the scalp.
- Water should be among the first ingredients listed. Not to be Mr. Obvious, but water is the best moisturizer for hair. Water provides the moisture while natural oils seal it in.
You’ll find fragrances added to some styling creams and other hair products, which isn’t a great thing because they’re chemical-based. The best creams, however, have a scent that’s derived naturally with scented oil. The oils provide a pleasant fragrance that’s not overpowering or overbearing.
Now let’s take a look at the best hair cream for men in 2018.
8 Best Hair Creams for Men 2018
Let’s kick-off our hair cream reviews with a great product from Paul Mitchell.
You’ll find tea tree oil in a variety of hair products, and with good reason. After all, it’s an essential oil with many benefits for the hair, including:
- Tea tree oil encourages hair growth by unclogging hair follicles and nourishing their roots
- It’s excellent for fighting dandruff
- Tea tree oil fights fungus, bacteria, and allergic reactions that cause an itchy scalp
- Tea tree oil is also effective in fighting head lice.
So, Paul Mitchell’s Shaping Cream already has a good thing going for it with the inclusion of tea tree oil, but there’s plenty of other reasons to like it.
First, you’ll appreciate the cream’s versatility because it works well on thick, thin, straight, and curly hair. You’ll also like its hold, which is strong enough to keep your hair in place throughout the day without having to touch it up because of strays or frizziness. It’s also easy to wash out at the end of the day.
Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shaping Cream has a low-shine, matte finish, and – as mentioned – a firm hold, but the hold still allows for the right amount of movement and bounce in your hair. Your hair will look natural and not as if you’ve saturated it with excessive amounts of product.
Among the many other ingredients found in this styling cream is castor oil, which is another oil with a variety of hair-friendly benefits. While it does contain alcohol, it is paraben-free.
The cream also has a lightweight feel that’s non-sticky, unlike some other creams, and you only need a small amount of it to get the job done. You should apply it to damp hair to get the best results.
Like American Crew’s Forming Cream, the Tea Tree Shaping Cream has a pleasant, masculine scent. While it might be a bit strong for some, most users like it.
- Infused with tea tree oil
- Provides a firm but not-too-firm hold
- Can be a bit greasy on long hair
Paul Mitchell is a big player in the world of hair products and they’ve built a strong reputation because of products such as their Tea Tree Shaping Cream. It certainly ranks among the best styling creams available and will help any man to keep his hair looking its best.
The Smooth Viking Hair Styling Fiber Cream for Men warrants high praise for many reasons, including that it allows you to style your hair in a variety of ways – including into more modern hairstyles.
But there’s plenty more to like:
- It has a stronger hold than a lot of creams – one that lasts a long time. Long enough, that is, that you shouldn’t have to reapply your cream during the day.
- While it provides a nice hold, it also adds texture and thickens hair. Indeed, many users talk about experiencing increased volume in their hair after using this product.
- It has a minimal to matte shine that’s ideal for natural looks, such as tousled or “messy” hairstyles. That’s good news because a natural look that doesn’t look natural is, well, not the best styling result.
- While many styling creams work well for longer hairstyles, such as those mentioned above, Smooth Viking’s Fiber Cream is excellent for shorter hairstyles, too. Short hair can be difficult to style, but Smooth Viking’s cream binds to hair strands to create a cohesive appearance while making styling easier.
- Because it has a fibrous texture, Smooth Viking is an alternative to traditional gels and creams.
- It’s easy to distribute it evenly throughout your hair, and it washes out just as easily. While it has a thick, creamy texture, it’s not sticky on your hair or hands.
Smooth Viking’s Styling Fiber Cream has a very light finish, but you can add a bit of water to it to create a higher shine. Also, you’ll get a bit more shine and slightly less hold if you apply it to damp hair. Either way, you can use it on wet or dry hair.
We also like that Smooth Viking is a cruelty-free brand and that you’ll find a variety of natural ingredients in its Styling Fiber Cream – ingredients such as argan oil, beeswax, green tea extract, castor oil, etc.
- Provides volume and texture
- Easy to apply
- Long-lasting hold without feeling stiff in your hair
- Not many, although it’s a bit more expensive than some creams
Smooth Viking’s Styling Fiber Cream covers all the bases when it comes to a product for men and man’s unique hair needs. You’ll love how it provides a nice but not-too-stiff hold and how your hair looks after you’ve applied it.
What’s not to like about a product that lives up to its brand’s iconic name? And American Crew’s Forming Cream is just that, an excellent styling cream that’s affordable, effective, and the go-to choice of many men.
There’s a lot to like about this cream, including that it works on any hair type – thick, thin, wavy, etc. – texture, or length. American Crew defines it as a “medium hold” styling cream and it’s enough of a hold to last you all day. Meanwhile, its list of ingredients includes glycerin, which softens your hair while giving it a thicker look.
American Crew Forming Cream is an ideal product when you have a new hairstyle or cut, and when you’re going for a different look overall. It’s easy to use, for one, which makes it a good intro for newbies into the world of styling products.
While the Forming Cream’s hold is strong enough to last through the day, it’s also pliable enough to provide the right amount of movement and bounce that’s particularly effective for longer hairstyles.
While we don’t always talk about a styling cream’s scent – because it’s not as important to the product’s overall effectiveness as other factors – the fragrance of American Crew’s Forming Cream is worth a mention. It’s light and sweet and has some citrus notes, but it’s a masculine fragrance that women love.
Because it’s water-based, the Forming Cream is easy to wash out of your hair. It has a lanolin wax base that helps enhance the hold, and it’s cruelty-free, but it does contain alcohol. And, again, it’s very easy to apply because of its pliable and creamy texture.
Like many styling creams, American Crew’s Forming Cream works best on damp hair, although it’s also effective when applied to dry hair.
- Easy to work with
- Excellent scent
- Works on most hair types
- A bit greasy, but not overwhelmingly so
You won’t go wrong if you choose American Crew’s Forming Cream. It’s a versatile product that works on almost every type of hair and cut, and it’s easy to apply and spread through your hair.
Axe was the favorite of adolescent males for several years because its products had a unique scent that, advertisers claimed, was irresistible to the ladies. The Axe scent wafted in the hallways of many high schools and junior high schools, a reminder of both the power of advertising and the surging hormones of teenage boys.
Not that the Axe scent is bad, mind you. It’s pleasant and non-offensive, but here’s the thing: You won’t find it in Axe’s top-notch Natural Look Hair Cream, which instead has a woodsy, fresh scent that pairs well with any hairstyle.
But, again, the fragrance isn’t a huge concern when analyzing men’s styling creams – or a lot of other products, for that matter. And Axe’s Natural Look Hair Cream deserves mention in our reviews for many other reasons.
We’ll start with the Natural Look Hair Cream’s hold, which is medium to light and provides a natural look that’s manageable and soft to the touch. You’ll still maintain control over your style, even if it’s curly, frizzy, or wavy, while also adding a bit of thickness that you’ll like.
This cream has a little more shine to it than other men’s styling creams, but not so intense that your hair looks greasy. There’s no leftover film or white flakes, and it won’t form clumps in your hair. It’s also somewhat thicker than other styling creams, but you’ll only need a small amount to reap its full benefits.
Among the key ingredients in Axe’s styling cream is tea tree oil, which we’ve already mentioned as one of the essential oils that’s superb for hair health. It doesn’t contain parabens or petroleum (which you’ll find in many styling products), but it does contain some alcohol.
- It provides a natural look to hair
- Light hold that’s still strong enough
- Leaves no greasy film
- Not the best for complex hairstyles
The Axe name carries a lot of weight and street cred and its Natural Look Hair Cream delivers on its promises. As its name suggests, this cream gives you a natural look that’s easy to control while also providing volume and texture to your hair.
You may not be familiar with Bumble and bumble, but it has been around since 1977 when it first opened on New York City’s hairdresser’s row. It’s come a long way since, and now makes a variety of products for men and women, including its fantastic styling cream.
The Bb Grooming Cream ranks among the best styling creams for men with thick hair, as well as for men with frizzy, wavy, or coarse hair that never seems to stay in place. It smooths and softens hair to give a natural appearance while providing a medium hold that’s meant to last through the day.
It’s also an excellent option for men with hair that has thick curls and waves because the hold isn’t so tight that you won’t lose your hair’s natural bounce because it’s lightweight and not too heavy. It also has benefits for those with thinner hair, but it’s certainly a good choice as a men’s styling cream for long hair.
Bb’s Grooming Cream helps keep your looking natural while providing a light shine that isn’t greasy. It comes in a 5-ounce tube – instead of a jar or tin – that makes it easy to dispense the amount you need (which isn’t a lot).
Another thing we like about this styling cream is its list of natural ingredients such as jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, and safflower oils. It also contains alcohol.
- Ideal for men with curly and frizzy hair
- Provides an excellent hold that isn’t too thick
- Also good for men with sensitive skin and scalps
- More expensive than many other creams
Bumble and bumble are in the business of making quality grooming products and its Grooming Cream is no exception. Men with curly or frizzy hair may struggle to find products that work effectively for them, but Bumble and bumble’s cream offers a good solution.
Whenever the word crème is used in place of cream, well, you can’t help but think of something a bit fancier and sophisticated. But while D:fi D:struct’s Pliable Molding Creme has plenty of sophistication, it’s a product that’s for every man thanks to its many benefits.
If you prefer a cream, or crème, with a firm hold, this product is a good option. It adds volume to listless-looking hair but doesn’t have the crunchiness of gels, and has a natural, matte-like finish.
You can apply the Pliable Molding Crème to damp or dry hair, although it works best on dry hair. It won’t leave a residue or shine, so your hair looks natural after you’ve applied it.
While you’ll find alcohol, and some parabens, in its ingredient list, it has a water base and includes castor oil, one of the most hair-beneficial oils around.
- Provides excellent volume and texture
- Superior hold
- Leaves your hair looking natural
- Stickier feel than some creams
A lot of users sing the praises of this crème for a lot of reasons. It has one of the strongest holds among styling products but leaves your hair looking healthy and natural.
Many men prefer a natural matte finish to their hair and that’s what Challenger’s Blue Matte Styling Cream is all about. But while Challenger’s cream gets high marks for its finish, it’s also a versatile cream that’s easy to use.
In fact, the Challenger Blue Matte Styling Cream includes the attributes of hair wax, fiber, clay, and paste – all of which we’ll explore in more detail later – and it works on a variety of hair types and styles and leaves your hair looking good for every occasion.
Because it’s a matte styling cream, there’s no shine in Challenger’s cream, but that’s the point. It does, however, have superior hold and will keep your style in shape the entire day. It doesn’t leave flakes like some pomades and it doesn’t clump like clay.
We think you’ll also like that it’s water soluble and rinses easily from your hair. Plus, it has a pleasant scent that’s noticeable but doesn’t linger overpoweringly throughout the day.
The folks at Challenger recommend applying their cream to damp hair and then setting it with a hairdryer, or by letting it dry naturally.
- It has a medium to firm hold that will last the day
- Fresh, subtle scent
- Water soluble
- Perhaps a bit stickier than some other creams
Challenger’s Matte Styling Cream has everything a man could want – especially a man who’s looking for a natural, no-shine finish.
Krieger + Sohne prides itself on “strong” men’s products while pointing out that “Krieger” stands for a warrior in German. Warriors, they say, get the job done no matter the circumstance, and no one ever accused a warrior of being anything less than strong.
Well, you can safely say that the K + S Premium Forming Cream gets the job done. It offers a hold that’s strong enough to last through the day, but not so firm that your hair looks stiff. It has a non-greasy formula that leaves your hair feeling natural and soft, not hard and crunchy.
It’s also good for long and short hair and whether you desire a sleek, well-coifed look, or one that’s disheveled and “messy” the Premium Forming Cream suits your needs. It also leaves a matte finish that creates the natural look many men prefer.
One of its key ingredients is tea tree oil, which has several hair-friendly benefits. Meanwhile, its list of ingredients doesn’t include parabens, which always is a plus.
Another thing we like about the Premium Forming Cream is that it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it, K + S won’t charge you.
- Leaves a natural finish
- Firm hold that doesn’t leave hair looking stiff
- Good for almost any hairstyle
- The scent may not be to your liking
Krieger + Sohne’s Premium Forming Cream checks off a variety of boxes when it comes to reasons for buying their product. It’s strong, yet soft enough to leave hair feeling natural, and it’s paraben-free.
Applying Hair Cream: The Basics
There’s nothing overly complicated about applying hair cream. But there are a few things to know that will ensure that you’re getting the most from your cream.
1. Your hair type
What type of hair you have isn’t a big deal when choosing hair cream because most creams work on a variety of hair types – whether it’s coarse, textured, thick, thin, etc. It is especially effective for men with long or curly hair, however, because it helps boost your naturally wavy look without weighing it down.
2. Damp or dry hair?
Many styling products work best when applied to damp hair and the same is true for styling cream. Then again, others say it works just as well, if not better, on dry hair so it comes down to personal preference.
3. You don’t need much
A little styling cream goes a long way, as we’ve mentioned in many of our reviews. It’s best to start with a pea-sized – or fingertip amount – and only add more if you need it.
4. Get it warm
The best way to “warm up” your styling cream is to rub it between your palms. Your fingers will provide all the heat you need to make it easier to apply.
5. Applying it
Once you’ve warmed your cream, apply it to your hair by using your fingers. Start from the front and work backward – don’t forget the hair on the back of your head – while making sure that you evenly cover all of your hair. Gently massage it for a minute or two and, if you have the time, let it sit a few minutes to work it into your roots.
6. Drying it
If you’ve applied your cream to damp hair, you can use a hairdryer to provide a softer finish and also to add more body to your hair. You can use a comb to work it into your particular style or use your fingers to create texture if that’s what your style demands.
Hair Cream vs. All the Rest
Hair cream belongs to a long list of hair styling products for men. From pomade to wax to gel, they all serve a certain purpose and many factors go into determining which one is right for you. Here’s a brief look at these products, starting with cream.
We’ve discussed hair cream at great length already, but it has a few attributes that help set it apart from other products:
- Most hair creams have a medium shine that provides a natural look.
- They provide a lower hold than some other styling products, one that doesn’t have the stiffness or greasiness of wax and gel. But some creams have more hold than others.
- Creams work well with mid-length to long hair and help tame frizziness. But they’re also suitable for men with thinning or fine hair who don’t want to use pomade or wax.
- Cream is lightweight enough to feel as if you aren’t wearing any product at all.
- The texture of styling creams ranges between lightweight lotions and products that have a wax-like consistency.
Gel is one of the most common hair products used by men and, for many young men, it’s the first styling product they try.
Hair gel has a high hold and high shine and is good for use on a variety of hair lengths, thicknesses, and textures, while giving you the ability to shape your hair into the style you want. One drawback of gel is that it can strip needed moisture from your hair and scalp.
Pomade is for men who want a slick look along with a well-combed hairstyle. It has a medium hold – one that’s strong enough to last – but it doesn’t leave your hair feeling stiff or crunchy.
Pomade is great for styling thick and curly hair because of its creamy texture, but also works on straight hair. And while its hold is more than strong enough, it allows you restyle your hair throughout the day, if needed.
Waxes share many similarities with pomades, including that they work well on hairstyles that require a comb, such as pompadours and side parts. Pomade tends to have a higher hold than wax, but a common ingredient in wax is beeswax, the same stuff that holds beehives together.
Hair wax tends to have a medium shine although it depends on the particular brand. It works best for men with short to medium length hair, but not as well for men with wavy and curly locks.
Sea Salt Spray
While a relative newcomer to the world of men’s styling products, sea salt spray is now a go-to option for men with medium to long hair. As its name implies, sea salt includes salt and other compounds that absorb the oil from your scalp and hair to help provide better texture, waves, and volume.
Sea Salt spray won’t leave your hair feeling sticky, stiff, or greasy, and provides a light to medium hold that allows your hair to retain its natural bounce. It’s ideal for messy and tousled hairstyles that have a lot of texture but aren’t stiff.
While sea salt spray has many benefits, you should use it in moderation because it can dry your hair or scalp.
Clay has a higher hold factor than many styling products but isn’t as easy to restyle as other products. Nonetheless, it adds texture to the hair and you don’t need to use a lot of it to get the firm hold you desire.
The clay found most commonly in styling clays is Bentonite, which is produced by the weathering of volcanic ash. And clay has many benefits for hair, including that adds thickness and body, that it draws out dirt and impurities without drying out your hair’s natural oils, and that it helps to control and maintain frizzy and curly hair.
Clay provides a matte to low-shine finish and typically includes a variety of natural ingredients.
Paste is versatile enough to work with almost every hairstyle and provides medium hold and shine. Most pastes are water-soluble, which makes them easy to wash out, and they won’t “clump” your hair so that it’s easier to restyle if needed.
Styling paste has many other advantages, including that it gives your hair separation and flexibility while also adding volume and texture. It works for a variety of hairstyles, including messy styles that make it look like you’ve rolled out of bed but still have hair worthy of admiration.
Mousse resembles foam and provides an overall fuller appearance to hair because of chemical polymers that surround hair strands and add volume. Many mousses also contain essential oils such as rosemary that is effective for treating hair loss. If you’re a man with thinning hair, you may want to add mousse to your grooming arsenal.
Mousse has plenty of hold but doesn’t give your hair an oily or stringy look. Blow drying your hair after applying mousse provides volume and polish, or you can let your hair air dry for messy and tousled styles.
Hairspray may not be as popular as it once was but it’s still an effective styling product. One of the advantages of hairspray is that you can use it alone or with other products such as paste and pomade.
It’s hard to beat hairspray’s hold, which makes it one of the best finishing products for hair. It also provides volume to your hair and is a go-to option when the humidity is high and your hair turns limp. As guys, “limp” isn’t a word we like to hear, at least in most contexts.
Styling balm has many benefits, as well, including that it tames frizzy hair that sometimes defies some styling products. But it also helps to regenerate hair while maintaining its proper moisture level.
It’s best to apply balm to damp hair but you don’t need to massage it down to the roots. You can set your style in place with a hairdryer after you’ve spread the balm evenly throughout your hair. Regular use of balm may make your hair greasy and clumpy, so be sure you wash your hair regularly to remove it before your next application.
Hair serum is silicone-based and coats the surface of your hair. Among its benefits is that it prevents hair from becoming tangled while providing softness and shine. High-quality serums protect your hair against sun exposure, as well as against pollutants such as dust and grime.
Another reason many people choose hair serum is that treats dry and damaged hair while giving it a shinier, healthier appearance.
Hair oil has been around since, oh, the ancient Egyptians, and it’s still an effective styling tool. Hair oil helps keep hair stronger, softer, and shinier while protecting it against damage from the sun, dust, grime, and outdoor pollutants. It’s also great for getting tangles out of your hair.
Other Styling Products Worth Mentioning
Some other men’s styling products you may want to consider include texture powder, fiber, hair putty/mud, and dry shampoo.
Texture powder helps create volume to hair while absorbing excess oil. It works best as a pre-styling product that you put on your hair before products such as pomade.
Hair putty and hair mud are one in the same – it just depends on what each brand calls it. While putty is sometimes confused with hair paste, it’s softer and allows for more bounce and movement in your hair.
Fiber is like hair wax and is effective for adding volume to your hair. It also has a firm hold, firm enough that you won’t be able to restyle your hair during the day.
Dry shampoo is similar to texture powder because it comes in a powder form, although it also comes in an aerosol spray. It’s a great product for absorbing excess oil from the hair and scalp.
The How & Why Of Choosing These Products
Men’s hair cream serves several functions that can enhance your hairstyle and hair type – and there are a lot of brands from which to choose. For us, it came down to a few basic things for when picking the creams for our list, including user reviews. But we also took into account each cream’s versatility, it’s shine and hold, and – of course – its overall effectiveness. Nothing overly scientific, mind you, but simply a matter of paying attention to details.
What are your thoughts? Do you use hair cream and, if so, what’s your favorite product? Have you tried any of the creams included on our list? Let us know because we always welcome your comments and suggestions.