Reader Question

    Reader Question: How To Tame My Unruly Hair

    4th March 2013
    Today’s reader question comes from Kalen, who manages to totally neg my alma mater while asking for advice. Well done Kalen:


    “I live in po’dunk.  Not po’dunk like Penn State, more like drive two hours North of Penn State into the middle of nowhere po’dunk.  My “salon” options are limited so I don’t know who to ask this question to.

    I have always used Got2B Glued hair gel since college.  In my 20′s, it gave me that ‘thick and stuck’ look that was cool 10 years ago (maybe it wasn’t cool).  Well now that I am transitioning into my 30′s, I don’t want the “I just went to the club look”.  I especially don’t want the “I just got out of the club look”, which is what my hair looks like sometimes at the end of the day.

    The problem is that with most hair product, I have to have my hair wet to get it evenly distributed.  The result is that after it dries it is hard and then I touch it and you can see where it isn’t “gelled” anymore.  If I don’t put any gel in, my hair turns into a frizz ball.

    What should I be using that will make my hair look managed and controlled, but not stiff and wet?  I don’t think I could go so far as to use a blow dryer, so lets say that is not a possibility right now.”

    Great question, and great that Kalen is looking to upgrade the elements that go into his personal style. I think some guys (and us ladies too) can get stuck in the mode of “Well, this is what I’ve always worn/where I’ve always shopped/what I’ve always done/etc” so it’s great to see that cycle being broken. Go Kalen.

    Not that I have anything against drugstore brands; I have a lot of them in my own bathroom cabinet. I just have a problem with companies who spell their product names like a tween who just got a cell phone.

    When it comes to hair gunk for guys, I do have one tried and true product I see as a total wonder drug. I think you guys know this by now, but when I was a mere eighteen years old, I moved here to NYC to live and work for a year before heading on to college in PA. While on my self-imposed gap year, I worked the front desk at the salon Bumble & bumble, and in that time, I totally drank the kool-aid on the company’s line of hair products.


    Which is why I recommend Sumotech to guys all the time.

    What’s great about it is that it’s not a wax, so it’s not sticky or tacky-feeling, not a paste, so it doesn’t get too stiff, and not a creme meaning it’s actually got some solid hold to it.

    I remember when I was working at the salon, they had this little party the morning that it launched, and they kept reinforcing that sumotech had “memory,” meaning you could style your hair with it in the morning, then kind of move it around later in the day without having to add more product. Because I ran the front desk and wasn’t a stylist, I didn’t get to actually put it to the test with anyone’s hair but was always curious. When I finally had a boyfriend in college with a big ol’ mess of hair, I bought him a jar and  found that, yup, that’s exactly how it worked. He could put it on for class in the morning, then push it back for a basketball game, without it getting brittle (or worse – melting down his face during a game).

    Anyways, all that to say: Sumotech is pretty much my go-to suggestion for guys, and works for like, 90 % of dudes I recommend it to.

    Bu-u-u-u-u-t, seeing as I don’t have any formal training in hair, I thought I’d go to the experts before spouting off nonsense to Kalen. So I checked in with Nico Aceves, a Bb stylist at my old stomping grounds.bumble-grooming-creme-sumotech

    He had this to say:

    My immediate response is Grooming Creme plus Sumotech. The Grooming Creme can help keep from turning his hair into a frizz ball because of its natural oils and moisturizing aspect. The Sumotech will help with definition, manageability and control without it looking stiff and wet.”


    I am a doctor of hair. Can I get some letters after my name? Megan Collins, S.G., K.H.S (Knower of Hair Stuff).

    Guys, tell me:
    What do you use in your hair? How long did it take you to get your perfect cocktail of hair products?
    And are any of you man enough to admit you own (and use) a blow dryer?



    • WB

      I’m a purist, so I say “no thanks” to any goop/oil/gel/cream/etc in my hair for a number of reasons but most importantly because I don’t want to spend anymore time in the bathroom getting ready than my girlfriend does. That being said, American Crew (the citrus mint kind is iffy, go with their original stuff) makes a line of great products and so does Jack Black (hypoallergenic products that are effective and easy to use).

    • Nick P.

      I have fairly thick hair, slightly wavy and not frizzy at all. I am just about to finish my first thing of hair cream … from AXE. I like it pretty well. I can apply with dry/nearly dry hair, get a fairly good hold and little to no shine, or I can use it when my hair is really wet and have more a slicked look to my hair. I have never used American Crew, but with the AXE being half the price, I don’t think I will.

      Oh, and Megan, yes I do own a blow dryer, I haven’t used it in a while, but I do own one.

      • Style Girlfriend

        They recently changed their names, but there’s one Axe hair product I really like. I think it was called the “Whatever” ?

    • GD

      I have thick straight hair so this has been a life long struggle to find a medium between a product that holds and but doesn’t leave me looking a Paully D. The guys at the Blind Barber NYC hooked me up with Sachajuan cream a few years back and I’ve been hooked ever since. Just like Sumotech its got the hold to readjust all day without looking like greasy. Also, a good tip that my barber told me was to wash your hair every other day (on odd days just rinse to get the product out) to keep it from getting to frizzy and dry – best advice I’ve ever received.

      • LV

        Yup! I actually learned that “stop washing every day!” tip from reading some quotes in some mags from celebs with great hair. Honestly, I think it was Patinson who said to stop washing it so much. Huge world of difference!

    • Brad Hov

      I have thicker hair myself and stylist I went to recommended the Bumble/Bumble sumo tech and grooming cream combo. Took a while to get the right mix of the two, but it has been great at providing control but not be so stiff.

      • Style Girlfriend


    • average joe

      I use a blow dryer every day because product doesn’t work in wet hair, but my wife own’s it.

    • average joe

      Yo’ Kalen, they got clubs in Po’ dunk????

    • average joe

      I should be able to tell you the name of the product I use since I put it in my hair every day, but I can’t. I just open the jar, do my thing, and go to work.

      I do know though, its a “rough paste”, which eliminates the wet look and give a more natural texture to my hair.

    • Michael Bailey

      I have great hair. It’s VERY tick and it gets a nice wave to it when it gets long enough. Unfortunately it is wasted on me, as I have no idea what to do with it. I use AXE products in it because, again, I don’t know what I’m doing. I switch between paste, pomade and wax depending on how long it is. I’m not super happy with any of them and I’ve been looking for something else. I’ll give sumotech a try.
      And no, I don’t own a blow dryer. What do I need a blow drier for? (Seriously, I have no idea. I know nothing about hair.)

      • Chris Rogers

        This sounds identical to me and my hair. It’s short right now and I don’t know what to do with it, it gets long and a bit wavy and I don’t know what to do with it. I basically get it wet in the morning to get rid of bed head and head out the door…

        • Michael Bailey

          That was me till age 29. Short is quick, easy and it always looks good. If you aren’t happy with it though, play around with it. Best advice I’ve ever heard about hair was: “It’s just hair. It grows back.”

          • Chris Rogers

            Agreed, just recently I’ve been playing around with a few products. I’m not afraid of letting my hair change much. Currently my hair seems to grow just fine, I recently went from full beard w/ long (for me) wavy hair. Cut the hair short and the beard off; quite a drastic overnight change.

      • Style Girlfriend

        This is great; I love your positive attitude about your coif:)

        I think I need to do a post on “What are you NOT self-conscious about?” You can get things started off!

        • Michael Bailey

          Why thank you. :)

          Lol. I wonder how a post asking guys to talk about their strengths would be received? Humility is a virtue of chivalry, and most of the men on here strike me as being gentlemen.

    • Scott

      I normally use clay as my main product but sometimes I work in a small amount of fiber to control frizz. Also, yes, yes I do use a hair drier.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Say it loud and proud, I love it!

    • Baxter

      I recently moved and had to pick a new salon/barber. My research consisted of just identifying which places carried Sumotech. I love it. I used to do the Grooming Creme and Sumotech combination, but then I found that if I limited washing my hair to every other day, I didn’t need the Creme so much. I have that thick, straight, pointing-straight-out hair with no wave to it. Every other product is either too “holdy,” too greasy looking, too waxy, too crusty or not enough hold and dies after a few hours and I go back to that poof I woke up with. Somehow, Sumotech keeps the hair in a manageable state the entire day. It’s magic.

      So just American Crew shampoo and conditioner every other day and Sumotech. Quick and easy.

      I’ll blow dry on those days I feel like Draper-ing myself a sharp, clean side part. But I use my wife’s dryer. It’s my wife’s, I say.

    • Mark

      Pureology Texture Twist. I’m been using for about 9 years now. It sounds similar to sumotech in that it’s not a firm hold like some gels nor is it sticky like a wax. It feels pretty natural. You’re hair moves around yet stays where you want it. I’m a fan.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I tried their conditioner once and loved it. Good to know their product line holds up throughout the collection!

    • Jon B.

      I actually went and bought the sumotech (on your recommendation) once the product I had been using ran out. My first thought when I looked it up was ‘How much? For HOW much?’. I simply did not believe that amount would last me any appreciable amount of time. Thus far, my thick hair with a slight waviness had proved too much for any product I had used.

      Still on that first purchase, I’ve been completely happy with the product and results. Just a quick swipe around the edge provides all I need all day. So, if you’re reading this Kalen, the stuff is magic. Sticker shock is normal, but push through and you’ll be happy. And if you don’t believe me, go read Baxter’s comment. And he’s right. It’s quick and easy.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Love it!!!! And yes, you pay more, but it lasts a long time, so the cost-per-use is a little more to think of it that way!

    • Rory

      I use American Crew Light Hold Texture Lotion. I also use American Crew Forming Cream when my hair refuses to co-operate.

      • Style Girlfriend

        American Crew does seem to be a favorite with this crowd!

        • Chris Rogers

          Definitely a fan of their shampoo and conditioner, but their styling products (beyond gel) are difficult to find in my area.

    • LV

      Not sure if you are high’n'tight or spike your hair or want it styled down or not, so I can only say what I use. My hair was long a pain point in my childhood; it is thick and sticks basically up and out. In college, I learned to stop fighting it and go with a spiky look with gel, which resulted in what you described as thick and stuck.

      I’ve since decided to be much messier with my spikey hair and have no problem messing it up or doing whatever. I’ve also moved away from the crisp wet look into something more natural. This basically means ditching the gels and that “wet look” thing going on. It’s just kinda gross and I’ve not met any girls who like touching it.

      Essentially, start looking at matte pastes or texture pastes, instead of gels. Others I like are Kevin Murphy’s Night Rider and Jonathon’s Dirt products. If you want to get crazy, Kevin Murphy’s Gritty Business is fun as well. I second the Sumotech product. It’s pretty nice, and I think I picked it up due to an earlier mention on this site.

      Ultimately, go to a ‘real’ barber or stylist (seriously, girl salons do guys just fine most of the time, and they’re fun!) and get a good style as well as products that match it. Half the battle with hair is getting it cut in a compatible manner. Paying a little extra (tipping well!) and hitting up the same stylist when you find one you like immediately moves you ahead of every guy that spends $12 at the cheap cuts places, bar none.

      For me, I’m still always searching for products, but I’m pretty happy with what I mentioned, especially when I don’t actually shampoo/condition it every day; I usually go 2-4 days between, unless I’ve gotten sweaty (shower every day, just don’t shampoo). I’ve thought about a hairdryer, but honestly my products prefer dampness and my hair is short enough to air dry quick.

    • Kary

      I have very curly hair. I don’t want it frizzy and I don’t want it crunchy (or have the wet look). I’ve found Bouncy Cream does a great job keeping it controlled with defined curls while having a natural feel. I also use curly hair specific shampoo (Deva No-Poo) and conditioner (Jessicurl Too Shea) which probably helps.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Good to know! My hair is pin-straight, so I’ve never really delved into the curly product side of things!

    • Chase

      I have thick frizzy hair too and I use the old school VO5 conditioning hairdressing that your grandma probably uses. I put it on before I use a texture paste and It works amazing at keeping my straight, non frizzy and im able to run my hands through it. You can get it at your local drug store for like $5 it comes in a tube.

    • DanPatrickFlores

      I have short fine straight hair, so I go with pomade. It holds, but I don’t get that crusty feeling when I used hair gel. When it get’s longer, I switch to a hair cream.

      • Style Girlfriend

        The crusty feeling is a definite no-go

    • Darren

      How well does this work with longer hair? Mine comes down to between my ears and shoulders, as well as being fairly thick. It can be fairly unruly at the best of times

      • Style Girlfriend

        Wowa, that’s pretty long! What do you do with it now?

    • Ethan

      I started using American crew products a few months ago and they;ve been great. I currently use the pomade for my hair and while its a little pricy, it definitely works well.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Thanks for sharing Ethan! A lot of love for American Crew products on here today

    • John Savage

      I’m a huge fan of Paul Mitchell products, in particular the Tea Tree Shaping Cream and the Mitch Construction Paste. I’ve got very fine, thick, straight hair which has its own ideas on what shape it should hold (two very stubborn cowlicks in the back while the rest insists on laying as flat as possible on my head). Both products offer a flexible hold and don’t clump my into unnatural locks. The Construction Paste spreads nicely in damp hair (blowdryer is your friend for speed) while the Shaping Cream applys better in almost dry or dry hair. I touch my hair a lot and so have a good looking texture and not feeling like my hand is covered in gunk after touching my hair was what sold me on my regimine.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Mmmm, Paul Mitchell tea tree products smell AMAAAAAZING. My dad used their shampoo as a kid and I’d sneak into my parents’ shower to take a whiff from that bottle every now and again.

        …Is that weird? Am I oversharing?

        • John Savage

          Not weird, I did the same thing with my parents Aveda products. Then I discovered the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo & conditioner which I now use and feel amazing after. (Coupled with my Anthony Logistics Mint and Eucalyptis bodywash, no amount of stress can hold out against a shower)

    • brianmo95

      I was very hesitant about switching to Axe anything, but I went for their Pomade a few months ago and love it. I have medium-length brown wavy hair and it holds without getting crispy and gives it a nice shine without looking too wet. As a matter of fact I think Justin Timberlake stole my style on the Grammy’s this year :) Ahhh what can you do?! You win some you lose some.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :)

    • Ryan

      If you’re having trouble with applying a product, try towel-drying and then applying product when your hair is just barely damp, about 10%. Too much water makes hair clump together, and too little makes it hard to work product over your whole scalp. Also, I find that my hair behaves better if I don’t shampoo it every day, especially in the winter.

      I have a friend who owns a salon that sells Redken, so I got a discount on their working wax, and so far I’ve been very impressed. I was laying on some gross Garner Fructis putty before that always left my hands feeling sticky, and while the Redken product is technically a wax, it looks and feels very natural.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Good tip Ryan!

    • DanielDanTastic
    • Kevin

      I use the “purple” variety of Gatsby. I think it’s a wax. But I only use it if I’m really trying to achieve a certain clean-yet-tousled look, otherwise, a little blow drying after a shower works to get some volume/lift in my hair.

    • Ryan

      cocktail of hair products? O_o

    • Scott

      As someone who has had a, variety, of hairstyles I can say from experience that Kevin Murphy is the way to go if you are unsure. There is something for everybody, every hair style, every hair type. Me personally, I have gone from being completely bald, to shoulder length hair, I’ve bleached my hair, dyed it purple and even at one time had a full on mohawk, not one of those faux-hawks, a real, sides of my head shaved mohawk. I am also proud to say, that in my thick haired journey, i have become fairly familiar with the blow dryer, but unfortunately it hasn’t been used in the past few years. The biggest tip that I have to offer, however, is, for those who use conditioner, to make sure not to use it more than three times a week. Maximum. if you use it anymore, it leaves residue on your hair that will greatly diminish the effect of any product you use post wash.

    • NECS

      I have super thick, straight hair. It has always been a pain… the picture of my full on Billy Ray Cyrus mullet my exasperated parents put me in when I was 5 is evidence of this.

      This is what I’ve learned after many pitfalls (spiking my hair up and growing it out in high school) in my hair odyssey.

      1) Stop going to Cheap Cutz R Us. I know this is does not work for all income levels, but upgrading yourself to a stylist that knows what they are doing is a must. I pay $35 each time I get a haircut. I am perfectly fine with that.

      Also, I hate the insinuation that if you go to a “stylist” you are somehow less of a man.

      2) Yelp. Yelp is your best friend when finding a stylist.

      3) I use Kevin Murphy products… a bit expensive, but a little goes a long way and it works with my really hard to work with hair.

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