We wrote this guide to styling products for men with curly hair with one goal: to help demystify styling products so you can choose the best product(s) for your hair. We do this by explaining various curl characteristics and then providing an overview of the different curly hair styling products.
First Step On a Man’s Journey To Finding The Right Styling Products? Know Your Curls
Every head of curls is unique, and there are a few curl characteristics that will determine which products (or combination of products) will work best for you. Below, we’ve explained some of these characteristics to help you determine these characteristics for yourself.
Curly hair is often broken into four types, with subcategories within each. Your curls may fall between types or subtypes, and you may even have multiple curl types in different places on your head. However, these types will help you understand your curls and how to best care for them.
Type 2 (Wavy)
Type 2 hair is the loosest curl type, ranging from waves to very loose curls.
These are the type 2 subtypes:
● 2a: very loose, tousled waves
● 2b: loose, S-shaped waves
● 2c: thicker, more defined S-shaped waves
This hair type can become easily weighed down by too much product. A lightweight product that promotes volume and lift is best for this hair type.
Type 3 (Curly)
Type 3 hair includes hair with ringlets and corkscrew-shaped curls.
These are the type 3 subtypes:
● 3a: large diameter curls with a loose corkscrew shape
● 3b: smaller diameter curls, springy ringlets
● 3c: tight, dense ringlets
3a curls may become easily weighed down like wavy hair, while 3c curls may require products with a slightly stronger hold and deeper moisturization. Most type 3 curls require the perfect balance of moisturizing and defining products.
Type 4 (Coily)
Type 4 is the curliest hair type and includes tight curls and coils.
These are the type 4 subtypes:
● 4a: dense coils with a small diameter
● 4b: tightly packed coily strands that often feature sharp angles, hair can be easily shaped for updos and other hairstyles
● 4c: tight, fragile, zig-zagging coils
This hair type gets dry and frizzy quickly if not properly cared for, so it will require products that provide deep moisturization and promote defined curls.
When choosing products, your curl type is not the only factor to consider. Hair density refers to the number of strands that grow on your head per square inch of the scalp. Your hair density is essential to consider when styling, as it affects how much product your hair will need for styling. An excellent hair product can lead to poor results when too much or too little is used.
Additionally, your hairline may have a lower density than the crown of your head, so distributing hair products in the right areas is also essential.
Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs moisture based on the spacing of your hair’s cuticles. Widely spaced cuticles lead to high hair porosity, while cuticles that are very close together cause low porosity.
Low porosity hair will have difficulty wholly absorbing moisturizing products. This may cause the product to sit on top of the hair rather than penetrate the strands. High porosity hair will absorb moisture readily and lose it just as quickly.
To find out your hair’s porosity, dip a section of your hair into a cup of water:
● Low Porosity: Your hair will float on top
● Medium porosity: Your hair will
float somewhere in the middle
● High Porosity: Your hair will sink to the bottom
Styling Tips for High Porosity Hair:
● If your hair is over-moisturized,
protein treatments will help strengthen your hair.
● Regular deep conditioning will help your hair retain its moisture.
● Use serums or oils to seal in
moisturize from conditioners.
Styling Tips for Low Porosity Hair:
● Wash your hair using warm or hot water (but not too hot to avoid damage). This will open up the cuticle.
● Apply heat using a blow dryer when deep conditioning.
● Opt for lightweight oils, like jojoba or avocado oil.
For more information on finding your hair type (with pictures!), check out our in-depth article on curl types.
Styling Product Options for Men With Curly Hair
Now that you have a better idea of your curl’s characteristics, It’s time to review the different products men use to style curly hair and find the ideal for you.
Leave-in conditioner is a moisturizing styling product most often used after washing and conditioning your hair. It is most often used following your regular conditioning routine in the shower, and as one of the first products in a styling routine to provide a moisturizing foundation.
Leave-in conditioner is a great moisturizing product for any curl type, though a lightweight leave-in is better suited for type 2 hair, while a heavier, creamier leave-in will work best on type 4 hair.
Apply leave-in conditioner by gently raking it through your hair. Optionally, you can comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product evenly and remove all tangles.
We currently don’t offer a leave-in conditioner. We’re getting there. In the meantime, check out this leave-in from another great company.
Gel is a product best known for creating perfectly defined waves, curls, and coils. It can also help lock in moisture from conditioners and creams. A classic in man’s quest for great hair, this product usually creates a cast on wet hair that you can scrunch out once your hair is completely dry.
Formula F=kx Defining Gel is a lightweight gel that works well in adding definition to type 2 and 3 waves and curls. Here are some tips for applying gel, and pairing it with other products.
Applying gel to wavy hair
- Start with wet hair. This allows the product to distribute evenly.
- Apply gel with a scrunching technique. This will help encourage more volume and definition and prevent your hair from falling flat.
- Once your hair is dry, scrunch again to break the cast.
Tip: If your waves need extra moisture, apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner before applying your gel.
Applying gel to curly hair
- Start with wet hair.
- Apply a leave-in conditioner for added moisture.
- Raking the gel through your hair using your fingers.
- Shake or scrunch your hair to encourage curl shapes to form.
Applying gel to coily hair
- Start with wet hair.
- Styling cream or oils can be applied before gel.
- Apply your gel using praying hands, gliding your hair between your hands to coat the strands.
Mousse is another curl-defining styling product. This lightweight product can give your curls a bouncy, frizz-free style. Though not typically thought of as a styling product for men with curly hair, Mousse can be a great asset for men looking to add volume to their curls.
Here are some tips for applying Mousse, and pairing it with other products.
Applying Mousse to wavy hair
Mousse can be applied on its own to wavy hair to encourage voluminous, tousled waves.
- Scrunch Mousse into wet hair, or rake a small amount and then scrunch.
- Allow hair to dry and then scrunch out any remaining crunch.
Applying Mousse to curly hair
- Start by applying a leave-in conditioner or curl cream if your hair needs extra moisture.
- Rake the Mousse through your wet hair, and then scrunch out excess product and water.
- Allow hair to dry and then scrunch out any remaining crunch.
Applying Mousse to coily hair
- Apply a leave-in conditioner to wet hair.
- Optionally, apply a serum to lock in the moisture from the leave-in.
- Apply Mousse to the hair in sections, brushing it through with your fingers or a brush to encourage definition.
- Allow hair to air dry or diffuse with a hairdryer.
Curl cream is a styling product designed to create softly defined curls. This product can be used like a gel or a mousse, but will not leave behind the crunchy texture that gel and Mousse often do.
Many curly hair routines for type 3 or 4 hair combine gel, cream, and/or Mousse, rather than using just one.
Just like other moisturizing styling products, curl creams can range in consistency from lightweight to thick. So, different creams suit different hair types. Formula F=kx Styling Cream is ideal for dense, tight curls, including types 3 and 4.
Here are some tips for applying curl cream, and pairing it with other products:
Applying cream to wavy hair
- Choose a lightweight cream that will add moisture and fight frizz.
- Apply a pea-size amount of cream to wet hair, raking it through and then scrunching.
Applying cream to curly hair
- Rake curl cream through wet hair, distributing evenly.
- After raking the product, scrunch curls to encourage definition.
Applying cream to coily hair
- Rake curl cream through wet hair using your fingers.
- Optionally, use a serum or oil before or after applying curl cream.
- You can also apply a gel after applying curl cream for added definition.
A serum or hair oil is a product that contains varying types of natural oils designed to nourish your hair. Oils also seal the hair cuticle, locking in moisture from conditioning products.
Hair serums containing thicker oils, such as coconut oil, are best applied to type 3 and 4 hair. Lighter oils such as jojoba oil can be applied to type 2 and 3 hair.
Serums containing tea tree oil will have a clarifying effect, removing buildup from your scalp. Serums containing peppermint oil will stimulate the scalp, promoting hair growth.
We currently don’t offer Serum/Hair Oils. We’re getting there. In the meantime, check out this hair oil from another great company.
Determining a routine that allows you to achieve your best curls may require some trial and error, but the information above will give you a headstart on choosing the best products for your unique head of hair.