Brogues? Check. Bespoke suit? Check. Perfectly paired pocket square? Check. Unruly mane? Try again.
We get it: the wide array of grooming products can be intimidating. But there’s no surer way to kill good style vibes than with lackluster hair. And sadly, properly applying product isn’t as simple as hastily throwing some gel in your hair post-shower (though we wish it were).
If you feel like your hair isn't living up to its potential, try these tricks the next time you go to style.
Swear By Conditioner
Great hair starts with a well-hydrated canvas, and nothing does that better than a dedicated conditioner. Take the extra couple minutes in the shower to massage some into your scalp, let it sit, then rinse. Your hair will be softer, shinier, and most importantly, easier to manage when the time comes to style it up.
Know Your Product
Learn all about the tools at your disposal, figure out what you want the end result to be, then choose accordingly. Controlling extra thick waves, nailing that sharp Don Draper coif, and adding some volume if things are getting a little sparse will all require slightly different products.
Read our full hair product primer to figure out the ins and outs of each. As a quick-hitting rule of thumb, styling creams control frizz, wax gives you a movable hold, and pomade gives you a shiny, stiff volume.
Warm Up Your Wax
Most hair products – wax especially, but others as well – come out of the jar either stiff or cold, or both. That's not a good combo if you’re going for go-ahead-and-touch strands.
Soften and warm up your product in between your palms for a few seconds before applying. Getting it up to body temperature will help you work it in a lot more smoothly, and prevent clumps from forming.
Apply When Dry
Most products are meant to be put on dry strands. That way, you get more control over how your hair falls and the overall shape. The product will take to your hair right away rather than being weighed down by water, which can then slowly dry into a style you didn't quite want.
Applying to damp hair, like when you just hopped out of the shower, tends to leave you with a funky air-dried mess. The product will clump together, and your hair will dry stiffly, rather than having a more natural and feathered look.
Less is More
Using too much product is a cardinal grooming sin. Start with less than you think you’ll need and work it through your coif. If that's not quite enough hold, add just a little more.
If you go all-in at once, and overshoot the amount you need, your hair will look rigid and overly manicured. You want something like Justin Timberlake circa 2015, as opposed to Justin Timberlake circa 1998.
Go Back to Front
Most guys think you should apply product the same way as you run your hands through your hair: front to back. But that’s a rookie mistake.
Start at the back and work your way forward, making sure to get down to the roots. That way, all of the product doesn’t end up glopped in the front (again, JT circa 1998).
Comb It Out
Even if you’re not going for the Don Draper side part, get a reliable comb and use it to work your product through every time you style. It helps to spread your wax, or pomade, or whatever through all of the strands, giving you a pliable hold all over.
Once it’s evenly distributed, you can run your fingers through again to get a looser, more tousled look.
Keep Everything Clean
Your tools, your hands, and your products – all of it. Gunky buildup can collect on your brush and comb if you don’t wash them, so swish them around in some soapy water at least once a week. And since styling with dirty hands leads to greasy hair, wash up before you start applying product if you haven't already showered.
Finally, make sure you keep your product tubes and jars closed tight. Leaving them open or poorly sealed allows air to seep in, drying them out and reducing the effectiveness.
Put those into practice, then get out there and take care of business like a well-coiffed hair conqueror.