The Best Hair Gels (2021 Reviews)

Vanessa Manning
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Having the right hair products can transform your look and help you feel more confident. Shampoos, conditioners, styling creams and gels are commonly used by men and women of all ages.

If your hair is prone to split ends or unmanageable, you should look into finding a great hair gel or styling cream. Here we’ve reviewed some of the most popular hair gels to buy in 2018.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, you might be interested in the best hair gel for afro hair.

Below you’ll find a range of products designed to give you a good head of hair, or to improve the condition of your locks.

NameCategoryProduct
Gentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling GelBest OverallGentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling Gel
Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling GelBudget PickGarnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling Gel
Old SpiceUpgrade PickOld Spice

1. Gentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Gentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling Gel

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Pros:

  • Smooth, swift application
  • No flakes, no stickiness, no buildup
  • Maximum hold without weighing down hair
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, aluminum-free
  • Easy to wash out of hair
  • Budget-friendly

This is a unique grooming gel because it does not have a consistency like the ones that you already know. Gentlemen Republic has actually incorporated coconut oil into their grooming gel so it already feels somewhat different, more moist.

It doesn’t work well in humid tropical weather, but works quite well in the rest of the US and anywhere else. That concerned me at first, but when it comes to hair gel, the only time I noticed a problem in high humidity is that the gel flakes a little when you don’t wipe it off.

So the fear that it might weigh your hair down is unfounded. Your hair is clean, and you are not getting flakes. The hold is improved, so the final result is that you don’t profit a thing by using the Gentlemen Republic.

2. Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Hair Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Hair Gel

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Pros:

  • Huge variety of colors and styles
  • Resistant to humidity and sweat
  • Strong hold but does not harden hair
  • Contains UV protectors and vitamins
  • Very long lasting

The Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Hair Gel (with UV protectors and vitamins) is my top pick in the field of gels, surpassing most other products thanks to its impressive hold which still gives you long-lasting results, even when you’ve been training for a long time.

What’s the reason behind its impressive hold? It’s Got2b’s unique two-part system. Got2b’s gel contains a unique fiber molecule called SCLAY, which adds the finishing touches to their formula and allows these wearable hairsprays to provide a strong hold for as long as 12 hours.

You can use Got2b Invincible Styling Hair Gel in all sorts of situations, whether you need it for an important business meeting or a night on the town, you’re going to find it is the ideal solution.

3. Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel

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Pros:

  • Effective Firm Hold
  • Long-Lasting
  • Free From Parabens and SLS
  • Cruelty-Free Company
  • Perfect for all hair types

Cons:

  • Not sure if it really “smells like the beach”
  • A little on the pricey end

This product smells absolutely wonderful. It’s made with natural extracts, and if you’re not a fan of the scent you can even add your own scent during application to make it smell exactly how you want it to.

Another thing that makes this hair gel so great is the long-lasting hold. Not only does it last, but it keeps your hair in place for the long run. It’s been tested in high humidity scenarios, wind, and even extreme situations (i.e. dogs or cats running around your head.) It’s clear that this gel is one that you can have around for a long time without worrying about it not meeting your hair styling needs.

4. As I Am Curling Jelly

Our rating: 9 / 10

As I Am Curling Jelly

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Pros:

  • Discount price
  • Best hold

Cons:

  • Slow shipping
  • Poor packaging, some bottles came broken

As I am Curl Jel is an amazing quality product for the mentioned price. It easily performs where most other products fail, such as offering a strong hold and a matte finish. Being a jelly, its hold is slightly softer than the average hard gel. Being alcohol free makes it perfect even for people with thin, "no-hold" hair. The smell is also pleasant, although the fragrance could be stronger.

The only issue is that you have to be patient as it takes a while to reach you. The packaging is also not the best for the fragile bottles, and it breaks in some cases. It’s too bad they’re not using a more quality solution.

Without a doubt, As I am Curl Jel is a high-quality, medium-hold and all-around amazing product, especially for the price which makes it easily one of my best value picks. The fact that it’s organic and created with natural ingredients only sweetens the deal.

5. Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Maximum Hold Hair Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Maximum Hold Hair Gel

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Pros:

  • Aussie is one of the best hair product on the market
  • Make hair super curly and shiny.
  • Color safe and works great with most of the hair color
  • Does not leave any flakes or mess
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Affordable price
  • Does not dry hair out
  • Pretty good smell

Cons:

  • A little strong smell
  • Too thick for some
  • Others complained about the smell
  • Does not keep the curls styled for a long period of time

This new sculpting and styling gel provides maximum hold and hair control while reducing frizz. It’s full of softening and conditioning ingredients that are vital to healthy-looking hair. Aussie’s Instant Freeze Gel provides superior hold, definition and shine.

6. TIGI Bed Head

Our rating: 9 / 10

TIGI Bed Head

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Pros:

  • Value for money
  • Banishes frizz
  • Great hold
  • Tames all hair types
  • A little goes a long way

The TIGI Bed Head for Men Power Play Firm Finish Gel is a 6.76-ounce container that should last an above average length of time. As with everything else at this price point, you’re not getting a quality container. You’re getting a plastic bottle, so you might have to wash out the bottle before using it.

7. Herbal Essences Set Me Up Spray Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Herbal Essences Set Me Up Spray Gel

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Makes hair soft
  • Great hold
  • Smells great

Cons:

  • Sticks to clothes
  • Can get weighed down
  • Can get sticky

I personally love Herbal Essences Set Me Up Spray Gel. It has a super light hold that lets you comb any hair style in just a few minutes. It offers great shine and keeps hair healthy.

I also like the price point because it is a great deal for the product that you get. You can lock in your style and walk out the door knowing that your hair is in good condition. I also like that it doesn’t flake and makes my hair look so fresh.

The only downside to this product is that it does get sticky easily and will stick to your clothing. I also think that it can become a little hard.

8. Old Spice

Our rating: 8 / 10

Old Spice

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Pros:

  • Has a low shine that’s not overwhelming or greasy
  • Easy to wash out
  • Matte finish and high hold that lasts all day
  • Does not flake or build up on your scalp or hair
  • Gives you plenty of control for every hair type
  • Does not irritate your scalp or smother your hair leaving your hair feeling greasy
  • Made in U.S.A
  • Budget friendly

Cons:

  • Sometimes this product may smell like old spice, but it’s not overpowering and typically goes away after you wash your hair
  • Some have complained that it flakes in really hot weather
  • Despite its matte finish, it isn’t fully matte
  • Sticks to your ears, nose, and cheeks
  • You can’t wash this product out of your hair with just water

This hair gel is another one that’s made by Old Spice. The classic amber-colored, non-irritating formula is a staple among men who are always on the go.

9. Cantu Shea Butter

Our rating: 8 / 10

Cantu Shea Butter

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Pros:

  • 5-in-1 incredible product
  • Great for curls to last for days
  • Silicone free
  • Helps with frizziness and flyaways
  • Good for natural hair in general
  • Affordable
  • Great smell
  • Cruelty free

The Cantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel was created specifically for ethnic hair, so it’s not surprising that it’s so effective.

All you need to do is apply a little bit on your fingers and work it through your hair before twisting your desired style, and then leave it alone. The best part about it is that it doesn’t leave any greasy or sticky residue after you’re done.

What’s also special about this product is that you can use it as a deep conditioner, styling gel, or daily moisturizer. It’s a great option for people who are trying to grow their hair out because it helps prevent breakage when you’re styling with heat tools.

10. Aunt Jackie's Flaxseed Recipes Don't Shrink Elongating Hair Curling Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Aunt Jackie's Flaxseed Recipes Don't Shrink Elongating Hair Curling Gel

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Pros:

  • Unscented
  • No flaking or buildup
  • Easy to wash out
  • Holds curls and coils
  • Brushes out easily
  • Great for curly, thick hair
  • Good price
  • Doesn’t cause itchiness
  • Helps increase length

This is the best water-based gel I’ve used for natural hair. It’s perfect for giving you many of the benefits of a salon gel without the dried out, stripped feeling.

The key ingredients in this gel is flaxseed that moisturizes and isn’t reactive to the scalp like many products are. That’s because the product contains more than 80 percent organic and natural ingredients.

This gel is also free of harsh alcohols and chemicals, as well as pesticides and formaldehyde.

11. Pantene, Spray Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Pantene, Spray Gel

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Pros:

  • Great for thick and wavy hair
  • Makes hair shiny and manageable
  • Good hold and smell
  • Cheap
  • Available in many countries

A decent workhorse of a product from one of the most reliable manufacturers in the world. The name itself tells you exactly what it does (with little or no exaggeration).

This hair styling gel for men is a styling solution designed for men with thick, wavy hair. The product promises that it will make your hair more manageable, shiny and really, really strong. Most men who have tried it, have confirmed its effectiveness.

The Pro-V Curl Gel is available in many countries around the world (particularly in the USA and Canada) and it is incredibly cheap, especially when you consider its quality and effectiveness.

12. Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling Gel

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Pros:

  • Helps create easy, natural looking styles
  • Gives non-greasy hold without flaking or matting hair
  • Helps soothe dry scalp
  • Doesn’t leave hair feeling dry and brittle
  • Can be used on all hair types

Cons:

  • Doesn’t wash out easily
  • Can leave some color residue on dark hair

I definitely didn’t see this coming, but I’ve been using (and loving) Pure Clean Styling Gel by Garnier Fructis for a week now, and on day seven, my hair still looks freshly styled and shiny.

It’s pretty remarkable. I’ve tried some of the more expensive gel products out there before, many of which cost half as much as Pure Clean, and they never come close to having the hold and nonchalant style of this inexpensive product.

Stylists have been using different techniques and products to style hair where they want it for centuries, and the Pure Clean Styling Gel is as far ahead of its competitors as they are in this regard.

13. Garnier Fructis Style Curl Shape Defining Spray Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garnier Fructis Style Curl Shape Defining Spray Gel

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Pros:

  • My wife loves it. Curls come out lovely, soft, defined, shiny, with no frizz.
  • It’s not sticky or stiff like most hair gels for curly hair are.
  • It’s not hard to wash out like the usual mousse or hair gels for curly hair.
  • I’ve received a lot of compliments from people that say, I wish my curls were like that.

A few weeks ago, the kind folks over at Garnier Fructis got in touch with me in response to my big hair gel awareness campaign. They shipped me some of their top selling gels to try.

I am a big fan of my hair gel and only buy the best hair gels for curly hair available.

I have long, thick, and curly hair with some waves and curls in them.

14. Aussome Volume Spray Hair Gel 5.7 Fl Oz

Our rating: 8 / 10

Aussome Volume Spray Hair Gel 5.7 Fl Oz

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Pros:

  • Does not flake
  • Lightweight
  • Non greasy
  • Strong hold

This is one of the best men’s styling hair product lines out there and is available in a 4-pack on Amazon.

It is made specifically for men with core technology and “2-in-1” styling and provides strong hold. Contains coconut oil as a moisturizer for the hair and scalp.

Not at all greasy, which is the main reason so many guys love this product.

15. Fairy Tales Curly-Q

Our rating: 8 / 10

Fairy Tales Curly-Q

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Pros:

  • Made for all hair types
  • Adds moisture like a serum
  • Gives hold like a gel
  • 100% natural
  • Holds your curls in place without weighing them down
  • No crunchy feel
  • Can use to create loose curls
  • Softens hair without weighing it down
  • Controls frizz
  • Adds shine

16. Manzanilla Ricitos de Hair Gel| Alcohol-Free Hair Care Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Manzanilla Ricitos de Hair Gel| Alcohol-Free Hair Care Gel

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Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Very little product required per use
  • Gentle on the hair
  • Can be used on wet or dry hair
  • Holds hair in any hairstyle
  • All natural ingredients
  • Alcohol-Free
  • Exotic fragrance

Cons:

  • Some users claim that the consistency of the product is watery
  • Many people do not like the smell of the product

The Manzanilla Hair Gel is a great option for those who want their hair to have a nice hold without compromising with the health of their hair. The good thing about this product is that it is alcohol-free. This means that you can use it every day without harming your tresses in any way.

It contains all natural ingredients that leave your hair smooth, glossy, shiny and with a nice fragrance that will remain for several hours after using.

The best thing about this product is that it holds very well and you only need a small amount to achieve this.

17. Original Sprout Natural Hair Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Original Sprout Natural Hair Gel

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Pros:

  • Suitable for both men and women
  • Free from alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and artificial colors
  • Full 100% money back guarantee

Sprout’s Medium Hold Natural Hair Gel is a great product that is free from alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and dyes and is also safe for both men and women. It is advertised to set without flaking and without leaving your head feeling sticky. As for the smell, some people love it and some people hate it. Some have mentioned that it smells exactly like sugar cookies or winter candy canes, while others have said that the pair of them together smell like cumin, and some have said that it smells like plastic and that it’s overbearing. The scent is definitely strong, but it is adaptable. You can give it a smell before you buy, and if you don’t like it, you can just put some hairspray on top of it to cover it up.

The price is a definitely a plus for this hair gel. It’s cheaper than many of its competitors. The packaging is also great because it comes with a small pump that is easy to control the amount of gel you use.

18. Hip Peas Natural Hair Styling Balm / Gel / Pomade

Our rating: 8 / 10

Hip Peas Natural Hair Styling Balm / Gel / Pomade

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Pros:

  • Organic and very safe ingredients
  • Budget friendly
  • Cruelty free

Another favorite among men with beard and long hair is the Hip Peas Natural Hair Styling Balm. The main ingredient, hemp seed oil, is one of the most absorbent oils I’ve ever seen; it holds hair and gives it a natural shine. It doesn’t dry out your hair the way many other high-hold hair products do.

The Hip Peas Styling Gel is easy to use and gives your hair a natural look and feel. It’s a great choice for men who like to keep their hair long and like to style it every morning, but don’t want to look like they styled it.

19. Snip-its Funky Spiker Kids Hair Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Snip-its Funky Spiker Kids Hair Gel

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Pros:

  • Targeted for kids
  • Doesn’t build up in their hair

When I was a kid, I never had hair product. My parents would put my hair in a ponytail or a braid, but that was about it. Now that I’m a parent myself, I’m embarrassed our family never invested in any of the other hair products that I wish we had!

This kid-friendly hair product targets both boys and girls, but is especially excellent for girls with naturally curly hair!

Most hair gels or goos build up, and this gel has a nice light feel that allows your kid’s hair to look fresh, not dirty at the end of the day. It’s not sticky or oily, and washes out easily.

20. Fresh Monster Kids Hair Styling Gel

Our rating: 7 / 10

Fresh Monster Kids Hair Styling Gel

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Pros:

  • Reasonably Priced
  • Alcohol-Free Gel
  • Great Range of Styling Options
  • Reduces Frizz
  • Provides Great Hold

Cons:

  • May Cause Build Up
  • Has A Sticky Feeling

The Fresh Monster kid’s hair gel is alcohol-free, which dramatically reduces drying time and reduces the sticky feeling you get from most gels. This hair styling gel still provides great hold and reduced frizz and comes in a variety of scents to match your scent preferences.

21. Baxter of California Thickening Style Gel

Our rating: 7 / 10

Baxter of California Thickening Style Gel

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Pros:

  • Leaving Your Hair Perfectly Managed
  • Easy to Apply
  • Works Well with Just a Little Amount
  • Strong but Not Overpowering
  • Great for Pompadour and Undercuts
  • Protects the Hair and Keep it Healthy
  • Non-Sticky, No Buildup
  • Slick, Clean and Natural Texture

The Baxter of California’s Thickening Style Gel for Men is a product suitable for both thick hair and thin hair. It’s a medium hold hair styling product with a Medium shine. It has a very pleasant fresh scent that develops when the gel dries.

The smell reminds of a freshly opened bag of Frito's chips or perhaps a lemon cleaning solution. That said, the Fresh Citrus scent doesn’t over power, it's hardly noticeable when dry.

The gel does the job it's supposed to do. It provides for an easy styling. It’s as simple as that.

22. Suave Kids Gel Star Wars Stormtrooper Tropical Storm

Our rating: 7 / 10

Suave Kids Gel Star Wars Stormtrooper Tropical Storm

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Pros:

  • Awesome Star Wars design
  • Manageability

The perfect gel for young Star Wars fans, this gel combines high hold and super shine as well as a unique Star Wars design. For parents who are searching for natural-looking hold and shine, this might be a great gel for them.

The product is formulated with Dimethicone, which is an anti-humectant that dries the hair instead of maintaining the moisture in it like moisturizers and oils do.

This means your hair will stay matte while other products (such as coconut oil or argan oil) can do the opposite.

23. DevaCurl Ultra Defining Hair Gel

Our rating: 6 / 10

DevaCurl Ultra Defining Hair Gel

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Pros:

  • NO silicones
  • NO parabens
  • NO sulfates
  • NO DEA
  • NO glycols
  • NO phthalates
  • NO mineral oil
  • NO propylene glycol
  • NO PEG
  • NO petrolatum

It doesn’t have any heat protection attribute. But that doesn’t really matter because this product dries so fast. It will protect your hair from the heat if you use a flat iron or curling iron afterwards.

DevaCurl Ultra Defining Hair Gel is a good option for curlies who want to use prefer curl enhancing gels over mousses. And it also works for people with fine hair because it gives more definition than a regular hair gel without weighing your hair down.

24. Garnier Fructis Style Curl Scrunch Controlling Gel 6.8 oz

Our rating: 6 / 10

Garnier Fructis Style Curl Scrunch Controlling Gel 6.8 oz

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Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Luxuriously thick
  • Great smell
  • Washes out cleanly

Cons:

  • Works great for some, but not everyone so if you don’t like it try a different brand!

This fabulous gel has a great smell and leaves your hair shiny and soft. Great for curls.

This gel does leave a residue in my hair, so I have to rinse it out with shampoo and I’m not crazy about the residue! I still think it’s the best, I just have to adjust the amount.

It leaves hair feeling soft and clean. It just doesn’t hold as long as other gels I’ve tried.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which brand of hair gel is the best?

When you’re trying to decide which brand or type of hair gel you need, the most important thing to look at is what effect you want the gel to have on your hair. For example, if you prefer a natural look, you might be a fan of more natural hair gel brands. Or, if you want a really firm hold and a shiny, glossy finish, you might be drawn to a hair gel that has a lot of silicone in it.

You’ll also need to consider other features such as the scent. Some people are fans of artificially sweet and fruity scents, while others prefer a nice subtle and manly smell.

What is a good gel?

A good gel is going to provide you with a good overall hold, make your hair easier to style, and keep your style looking good all day. Gels also tend to provide the best hold for finer hair without drying it out.

Gel vs. Mousse

Gels have far more hold than mousse does. Mousse and other styling products like it have a lighter hold. They make your hair easier to control, but they do not provide the same hold as gels do. For this reason, many gels include light hold ingredients so that they perform like lighter products.

Is crew gel bad for your hair?

The pH of the crew gel is what matters. A more alkaline crew gel will take more of a toll on your hair as it strips and seals the natural oils from your hair. A more acidic crew gel will not affect your hair near as much as a more alkaline gel will. Your hair will not have the same softness and bounciness that it did before, but the natural oils in your hair will not be stripped away. So you still have a lot of time to repair your hair after you use up the product.

The biggest thing about using crew is it is very easy to detect whether or not the pH of the gel is higher or lower. The higher the alkaline level of the gel, the more heavy the gel will make your hair. The lower the alkaline level of the gel, the lighter the feel of the gel in your hair.

What is better than hair gel?

Hair gel provides a tougher, glossier look that lasts longer than ordinary hair spray. It is especially recommended if you have unruly hair and cannot easily style your hair yourself. Like its name portrays, this product is used to help style hair into a gel-like mold that is fixed and stays longer, which is also known as holding power.

It provides frizz-free hair, making it more manageable. You can easily choose a hair gel depending on the type of hair you have and the style you want it to hold. It is helpful for hair that is curly, straight, or even wavy.

Hair gel is available in different scents and flavors. Choose the right gel for you depending on your daily activities and how long you want your hair to last.

Conclusion

We’ve done the research on the best hair gels available, and found the top 7 products in our guide. Get your hair to look the way you want with one of these quality gels. They offer a wide variety of hold and styles to fit your needs, and will leave your hair looking great all day long.

Thanks for reading our guide on the best hair gel for men. There is a wide variety of products available to choose from depending on your hair type and the look you want. Hopefully this guide has given you a better understanding of what are the best gels for you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Gentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling GelBest OverallGentlemen Republic 16oz Grooming Hard Hold & Shine Refined Mold Hair Styling Gel
Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling GelBudget PickGarnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Styling Gel
Old SpiceUpgrade PickOld Spice