There are three types of guys out there in terms of how effective they are styling their hair.

  • You have the majority with average, bland hairstyles that make no sort of impression and are ultimately forgettable. You wouldn’t necessarily notice them or their hair because there’s nothing worth noticing.
  • Then you have the guys with flat out terrible cuts. Usually they sport very long, unkempt and/or greasy hair. These guys either don’t care about their appearance or don’t realize the kind of negative impression they’re giving off.
  • Finally, we have the minority, maybe 5% at most, who actually know how to take care of and properly style their hair to their advantage. Who falls into this group? It’s the guys who took the time to experiment while taking into account things like their face shape, hair type, and lifestyle. They’re familiar with the unique characteristics of their hair and they understand how these characteristics affect what they can and can’t do with it.

Occasionally, you’ll spot one of the 5% in the wild — they have great hair and as one famous NY rapper put it, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell.…”

Our goal is to help elevate you into that 5% group.

So how do you achieve a hairstyle worth admiring?

It’s all in the presentation. 

To perfect your presentation, you need to perfect your hair styling methods.

For a beginner, this is a daunting task because you probably don’t know where to begin. We’ve got you covered.

Here are some helpful hair styling tips for men and common mistakes to look out for. Use them to your advantage.

”Start Low and Add as You Go”

Remember this phrase the next time you’re standing in front of a mirror, ready to begin your routine.

It’s better to start with a small amount of product (we’re talking pea-sized here) and work your way up, adding more as you need it instead of taking a chunk of gel or wax in between your palms and then drenching your hair with it.

This is a pretty common rookie mistake. Most guys do this without even realizing it because they focus so much on their hair from one angle — the front. Begin styling your hair from the back and work your way up to the front. If you try to get the front perfect, by the time you get to the rest of your hair, you’re practically an oil spill. The less hair you’re working with the more important it is to be careful.

As we mentioned in this guide, products like pomades and gels tend to be very greasy. Some hairstyles need the greasy look but it’s very easy to overdo it and it’s a real pain removing some of these products off your hair if you get too much in there. Make things easier for yourself by starting low and adding more as you go.

If you do overdo it on the product, wash your hair out and try again (unless you can get it off with your fingers but good luck with that).

Here are some more problems:

  • Too much product at once won’t get evenly distributed. You’ll end up with clumps stuck together in various spots in your hair instead of a more uniform look. Before applying product make sure you spread it out evenly over your palms and fingers to help avoid this.
  • Too much grease in your hair will also make your skin more prone to breaking out as some of it is bound to leak down.

By the way this also goes for hairspray — overdo it and all of a sudden you’re a walking fire hazard. You don’t need too much spray, just enough to cover your hair in the mist and that should be fine (assuming it’s a quality hairspray of course).

Use Your Hairspray as a Finisher

Speaking of hair sprays…

Just like WWE wrestlers have a finishing move, if your hairstyle requires it — you should have a finishing product.

Longer hair, hair that needs to stay up, and hair that just can’t keep its shape can all benefit from using a quality hairspray. After you finish applying your regular product and have your hair exactly how you want it, use some hairspray as a finishing touch to increase the likelihood of it not collapsing an hour or two later.

It’s also a good idea to use hairspray if you already have product in your hair but you still can’t get it to hold its position. Instead of adding even more product, spritz some hairspray and you’ll avoid running into the problems we talked about in the first tip.

Different Conditions, Different Results

We always stress the importance of experimentation and this is especially true when it comes to styling your hair. You should become familiar with how different products finish under different conditions.

For example, if you’re using a specific brand of pomade on dry hair, expect a different effect compared to when you use it on damp or wet hair.

Most products will also look different once they dry compared to when you first apply them. It’s important to learn the different nuances because then you’ll have greater control over your hairstyle if you know how a product will look in high humidity, low humidity, dry hair, damp hair, oily hair, soft hair and so on.

Pro Tip: For beginners, we recommend styling your hair while it’s dry so you can see exactly what the effects of the products you’re using are.

You also shouldn’t expect the same results for every type of hair product especially with all the different brands. For example, if you try a clay product and find it doesn’t work out, instead of forever shunning any and all clay products, try a different brand before you form any conclusions. Don’t expect Product A to finish the same as Product B on moist hair even if it’s the same general type of hair styling product.

To help you out, we covered this in our Ultimate Guide to Men’s Hair Styling Products — check that out if you haven’t already.

Lesson to be learned: Don’t be afraid of breaking your typical routine to try something different — it’s the key to finding a style that is uniquely your own.

Wash Your Hair Before Styling It

Before you even begin thinking about styling your hair, it’s a pretty good idea to wash it clean.

Just like we want our skin in a clean state before we begin our skin care routine, we need our hair in a clean state before starting our hair routines.

This is especially true in the morning after you wake up because your hair will usually be at it’s greasiest. Getting rid of all of the grime, grease, and leftover product from the day before will allow the new product you apply to work more effectively.

This is the same reason why some higher end places that cut and style hair sometimes wash it beforehand.

This tip is especially important if you usually use ‘heavier’ products like certain waxes, pomades, fibers, and clays. These products are a pain to remove so you need to wash your hair thoroughly before you begin styling otherwise your hair won’t want to cooperate.

Your Hair Products Can’t Take the Heat

Heat is the natural enemy to your ‘perfect’ hairstyle and it’s very likely everything will begin to fall apart once you start sweating or it gets too hot. Unfortunately, heat ruins the hold of products and basically melts any you have in your hair away if it gets hot enough.

If you live someplace exceptionally warm you’re going to have a bad time styling your hair. Your best option will be to use something lighter like mousses and styling creams or to go easy on the usual products by applying less of them.

Also, while styling your hair make sure you don’t blow dry it for too long, or at too high of a temperature. Too much blow drying in general is bad for your scalp and it damages hair so we recommend beginners avoid it completely unless you know what you’re doing (or you use a low heat setting and apply a heat protectant spray beforehand).

Bonus Advanced Tip: Use Products in Combination With Each Other

There is no hard rule saying you can only use one product at a time. Combining the properties of two (and sometimes three or more) products creates a unique effect on your hair you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise. This effect depends on what you’re using together.

This is something we encouraged but didn’t really expand on in our hair products guide.

Common combinations involve products that are opposites from each other and that have different properties. For example, a greasy pomade with a matte wax mixed together in your hands and applied to your hair at the same time gives your hair the greasiness of the pomade alongside the stronger wax finish that would otherwise be matte.

Other combos to try out are styling creams or a mousse with a pomade and/or wax.

Sometimes, a specific order is needed to achieve a particular hairstyle. More advanced model style cuts could require multiple steps using multiple products but that’s outside the scope of this article here (We’ll have specific hairstyle guides coming soon. The best way to get updated is to follow us on social media).

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We hope these tips encourage you to really begin experimenting with your hair and looking after it. Better hair will set you apart from the crowd and help you stand out in a world where most guys stay in their comfort zones, get their monthly haircut, and stick to the same bland hairstyle they’ve had for years without trying something more adventurous.

Overall, these are only basic hairstyling tips but they’ll help kickstart the process of you reaching that 5%. If you have any more specific questions ask us in the comments and we’ll try to answer them the best we can.