Updated: March 31, 2020
By Derek Martin
Sculpting the perfect hairstyle requires time, effort, and patience. But if you’re using the wrong hair gel, then you know how quickly all that effort can go to complete waste.
Choosing the right hair gel depends largely on the look you’re trying to achieve. When it comes to sculpted, architectural, or spiked hairstyles, a strong hold hair gel is the way to go.
Below is my list of best strong hold hair gels for men. Each one is designed to provide un-compromising, strong, all-day hold.
- Oribe – Rock Hard Gel
- Sexyhair – Hard Up
- Johnny B. – Fuddy
- Fonex – Gummy
- Redken Brews – Extreme Gel
- Elegance – Triple Action Gel
Best Strong Hold Hair Gels For Men Reviewed
ORIBE – Rock Hard Gel
This list of strong hold hair gels wouldn’t be worth a damn if I didn’t include ORIBE Rock Hard Gel. Super premium, super high quality, super effective, albeit super expensive – ORIBE Rock Hard Gel gets my vote for best strong hold hair gel on the planet. If you’re unfamiliar with ORIBE, they are a best selling, award winning company that produces some of the finest hair care products available today. Part of their men’s hair care line, this Rock Hard Gel is designed to hold whatever style you can throw at it. Whether your hair is spiked, structured, or slicked back, this gel can handle it. If you’re looking for the absolute best strong hold hair gel for men and price isn’t an issue, I highly recommend checking out ORIBE Rock Hard Gel.
What I like about ORIBE Rock Hard Gel:
• It easily lasts all day
That’s one of the reasons why Oribe Rock Hard gel is on this list of best strong hold hair gels for men. This stuff lasts! Apply a small nickel sized amount to clean, dry or wet hair, style as desired, and this stuff will maintain your look until you’re ready to wash it out.
One of the things I really like about Oribe Rock Hard gel is how versatile it is. It’s great for sculpting those clean architectural styles and updos, but it can just as easily be used to create a more natural style, while maintaining hairs soft feel and pliability.
• It strengthens hair
When’s the last time you used a hair gel that was actually good for your hair? Probably never, right? That’s one of the things that makes this ORIBE gel so special. Not only is it an awesome strong hold hair gel, it’s also full of hair strengthening compounds that nourish, hydrate, and moisturize. What’s inside:
- Argan oil – A plant oil that’s derived from the kernels of the Argan tree, this extremely moisturizing oil is coveted for it’s ability to hydrate, strengthen, and soften hair.
- Shea oil – Extracted from the nut of the African shea tree, this oil moisturizes while improving hairs natural sheen and manageability.
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein – Improves hair strength and promotes a healthy scalp.
• Flake free
Oribe formulated this Rock Hard gel to be flake free, and it most certainly doesn’t disappoint. While it’s great for structured hairstyles, what’s really impressive is that Oribe Rock Hard gel can be worked through hair and blown out to create a soft, natural look. While this type of styling is high risk for flakes with most other gels, Oribe Rock Hard gel manages it with ease.
Sexyhair – Hard Up
If you’re looking to get real hard and sexy, I’m talking raging hard here, you need to get Hard Up styling gel by Sexyhair. What did you think I was talking about? This strong hold hair gel is designed to hold whatever style you can throw at it, and last all day too. Formulated to give hair that shiny “wet look”, Hard Up is the perfect choice for guys wanting a sleek, sculpted, or spiked hair style that most other hair gels aren’t able to achieve.
What I like about Sexyhair Hard Up gel:
• Doesn’t flake
One of the biggest complaints about most strong hold hair gels is that they tend to dry out and make a flakey mess in the hair. Not only does this ruin the hairstyle, it makes people think you’re in serious need of a good dandruff shampoo. Hard Up on the other hand doesn’t have this problem. It maintains your hairstyle with a strong, shiny finish, without the unsightly flakey mess.
• Great for all hair lengths
Whatever length your hair is and whatever style you’re trying to achieve, Hard Up has got you covered. This extreme hold hair gel is capable of handling even the most bizarre hairstyles, and it will last all day doing it.
Whether you’re going for a sculpted or messy look, Hard Up is pretty versatile. Just apply a small amount to damp hair for a defined hairstyle, or apply a small amount to dry hair for the “I just got out of bed” look. Either way you use it, Sexyhair Hard Up gel does a great job of keeping your desired look in place.
• Glossy finish
Depending on the look you’re going for, shine can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If you prefer a more natural sheen or a matte finish, Sexyhair Hard Up isn’t the hair gel for you. While the shine isn’t as intense as other hair gels I’ve used before, it does offer a nice “wet look” finish that appears sleek and smooth. For maximum shine, apply Hard Up gel to freshly shampooed hair that is still slightly damp.
Johnny B. – Fuddy
Looking for a strong hold hair gel, but don’t want the shine? Then I suggest checking out Fuddy by Johnny B. Fuddy is a thick hair gel that offers super strong hold, but leaves hair with a more natural, matte finish. Perfect for men with medium to thick density hair, Fuddy is capable of handling pretty much any style you throw it’s way, including: spikes, coif, pompadour, or slicked back.
What I like about Johnny B. Fuddy:
• Matte finish
Fuddy kind of breaks the mold of what we have come to expect from hair gel. Unlike your typical gel, Fuddy dries to a cool matte finish. No shine, no gloss. And aside from it’s strong hold, it almost looks like there isn’t anything in your hair at all. If you’re looking for a strong hold hair gel but prefer a more natural, matte finish, Fuddy is certainly worth checking out.
• Flake free
Come on now, it wouldn’t have made this list if it wasn’t flake free. Although Fuddy provides hair with a firm, strong, all day hold, it doesn’t dry out and cause unsightly flakes like most of the crap that you will find in the grocery store aisle.
• A little goes a long way
Mileage will vary depending on hair length and desired look, but I find that you really don’t need a lot of this stuff to get a really strong hold. For most guys with short to medium length hair, only a nickel sized amount of Fuddy will do. And considering Fuddy costs a bit more than your average hair gel, it’s nice to know that a tub of this stuff will last a long time.
• Easy to wash out
Not necessarily a benefit when it comes to styling and holding capabilities, but it’s nice to know that when it’s time wash out, Fuddy isn’t a complete pain in the ass to remove. With the help of a little shampoo and water, Fuddy washes out quickly and easily without leaving any sticky residue behind.
Fonex – Gummy
If you’re looking for a great strong hold hair gel but don’t want to spend a small fortune, Fonex Gummy hair gel is definitely worth a hard look. This strong hold hair gel is ideal for pretty much any hair type, and leaves your style with a strong, all-day hold, with a touch of shine. Great for those sculpted hairstyles, or the classic slicked back look, Gummy has no trouble managing even the most unmanageable hair styles with ease. Featuring a fragrance fit for a man, and a very reasonable price tag, Gummy is a worthy, budget-friendly addition to this list.
What I like about Fonex Gummy hair gel:
• Great value
Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Know what I mean? Gummy comes in a huge 33.8 ounce tub that will probably last you an entire year with daily use. For the price, I’d say you can’t beat it.
• Doesn’t flake
Don’t worry about dry, flakey hair with Gummy. The strong, all-day hold keeps your style in place, keeps hair looking healthy, and doesn’t dry out and cause unsightly flakes.
• All hair types
Straight hair, curly hair, thick hair, thin hair, long or short – Gummy has got you covered. This professional styling gel provides lasting, all-day hold for any hair type, and the lightweight formula doesn’t weigh you down.
• Easy to wash out
If you have ever used a hair product that requires 2-3 washes to completely remove from your hair, you know how much it can suck. Gummy’s water based formula on the other hand washes out quickly and easily, and leaves zero residue or buildup.
Redken Brews – Extreme
Known for their premium hair care products, Redken has built a solid reputation for quality and diversity in their haircare line. Redken Brews Extreme hair gel is formulated specifically for guys like us, and you can immediately tell when you crack open the bottle and take a whiff. The fragrance is fresh, clean, and downright masculine as hell. And if you couldn’t already tell by the name, the Redken Brews hair line for men is inspired by craft beer, and is even malt infused. Hair gel doesn’t get anymore manlier than that.
What I like about Redken Brews Extreme gel:
• Made for men
Redken introduced their first hair care line for men way back in 1967, so I think it’s safe to say that these guys know what they are doing. Redken Brews is one of their most recent hair lines for men, and in my opinion they hit a home run in regards to quality and scent. Like you’d expect from any product designed for men, Redken Brews has a fresh, masculine scent that leaves hair smelling great, without being too strong or overbearing.
• Flake free
In my opinion, no great hair gel is going to cause flakes. It’s one of the qualities that separates great hair gels from the cheap, shitty ones. As you would expect, Redken Brews Extreme gel provides a strong all-day hold, without drying out and causing flakes.
• lasts all day
What is a hair gel that doesn’t last all day? Answer: a shitty hair gel. No guy wants a strong hold hair gel that slowly gives up throughout the day. One of the things that I really like about this Redken Brews gel is that it keeps your hairstyle looking the same from morning until night. Just like a great strong hold hair gel should.
• A little goes a long way
Just because you’re using a strong hold hair gel doesn’t mean you need to use a ton of it to get the job done. That’s kind of defeating the purpose of using a strong hold hair gel. One of the things I really like about Redken Brews gel is that a little bit of this stuff goes a lot further than you would think. While longevity will vary depending on hair length and desired style, you can expect a bottle of this stuff to last.
Elegance – Triple Action Gel
Elegance Triple Action is another great styling gel that easily outperforms it’s very reasonable price tag. This super strong styling gel is capable of holding pretty much any style you can dream up, while it adds a touch of shine, and even a bit of volume. Hence Triple Action (shine, volume, hold). Great for pretty much all hair types and styles, Elegance Triple Action gets 3 thumbs up for quality, performance, and affordability.
What I like about Elegance Triple Action Gel:
• Scent options
When you buy cologne you have scent options. When you buy deodorant you have scent options. When you buy hair gel, you don’t have options. Until now. One of the things I really like about Elegance hair gel is that it’s available in 3 really great smelling options, including: Earth, Moon, and Venus. I’m partial to Earth.
• Flake-free formula
As you would expect from one of the best strong hold hair gels for men, Elegance Triple Action gel doesn’t leave any unsightly flakes or white residue in the hair. It simply provides a strong, all-day hold, without the embarrassing mess.
• Easy to work with
Even though this is a super strong hold hair gel, it’s still really easy to work with. The water based formula isn’t too thick or thin, and it isn’t overly tacky. It works through wet or dry hair with ease, and allows plenty of time to achieve your desired look before it sets.
Gel, Clay, Pomade, Wax, Glue… What’s the Difference?
If you spent any amount of time in the haircare section of your local grocery store, you undoubtedly noticed a dizzying variety of hair care products that offer hold and manageability.
There’s gel, clay, pomade, wax, glue, hairspray, cream, mousse, paste…. the list goes on. And if it isn’t confusing enough, there’s hybrid products like: cream pomades, clay pomades and even gel/glue concoctions.
With so many options to choose from, it’s no wonder why many men get confused when it comes to picking the right product for their specific style and needs. Especially when it’s unclear what each one of these products does and the differences between them.
So in order to help clear the air, I compiled a quick reference guide of all the different hair care products available on the market today that offer hold and manageability.
Who should use it: Gel is good for pretty much any length of hair, but due to the weight of hair gel, it’s generally not recommended for men with very thin or thinning hair.
How it performs: There is a very good reason why hair gel is one of the most popular styling products for men. It offers hold, shine, definition, texture, and is capable of achieving extreme styles that most other hair products can’t.
The downside: As I already mentioned, gel has a tendency to add weight to the hair. For this reason gel isn’t the best option for men with thin or thinning hair, since it can actually make hair look even more sparse than it already is.
Who should use it: Men with short to medium length hair and pretty much all textures.
How it performs: Similar to hair gel, clay offers a strong hold that is capable of handling extreme looks and styles. But unlike gel, clay is not quite as heavy and dries to a shine-free matte finish, which tends to look more natural.
The downside: It can be a real pain in the ass to wash out of the hair.
Who should use it: Guys with short to medium length hair and all textures.
How it performs: Pomade is great for adding control, texture, and hold to most hairstyles. While most pomades are formulated to add shine, there are plenty of matte finish pomades available as well. Another important thing to take note of when purchasing pomade is understanding the differences between water based pomade and oil based.
Water based pomade: As the name suggests, water based pomade utilizes a formula containing water. It’s generally creamy and smooth and can be worked through the hair easily and it’s also very easy to wash out. When it comes to hold, water based pomades offer a medium to firm hold and can achieve most hairstyles.
Oil based pomade: As you probably guessed, oil based pomade utilizes a formula containing oil instead of water, and is great for slicked back hairstyles, pompadours, and quiffs. Oil based pomade offers plenty of shine, and rework-ability because it never actually dries.
The downside: Some cheap water based pomades have been known to leave white flakes in the hair, and oil based pomades can be a little messy and difficult to wash out.
Who should use it: Wax is ideal for men with short to medium length, straight or wavy hair.
How it performs: Hair wax is great for adding shine, texture, and hold making it great for slicked back styles, pompadours, quiffs, and even the tousled, messy look. It is also rework-able throughout the day because it never fully dries.
The downside: It’s not ideal for men with thin/thinning hair due to it’s weight. It can also be difficult to wash out. It is wax after all.
Who should use it: Styling glue is ideal for short to medium length, straight or wavy hair.
How it performs: Styling glue is very similar to a strong hold hair gel but it is usually marketed for extreme hairstyles like spikes and mohawks due to it’s holding capabilities. Like actually glue, styling glue is usually white in color, tacky, and has a medium-thick consistency. It also tends to be waterproof making it ideal for wet weather situations.
The downside: It can be difficult to wash out.
Who should use it: Hairspray is well suited for pretty much any hair length and texture.
How it performs: Hairspray is one of the most popular styling products for men and women due to it’s ability to provide hold, texture, volume, and control flyaways throughout the day. As the name suggests, hairspray is a spray (duh) and is used to lock your style into place. That means once you have your hair looking the way you want it, give it a few quick spritzes of hairspray for a secure, all-day hold.
The downside: Some cheap hairsprays have a tendency to dry out and cause flakes in the hair.
Who should use it: All hair types and lengths.
How it performs: Mousse is very lightweight and does a good job of providing hold, volume, control, and texture. It’s a great option for men with thin hair due to it’s ability to add the appearance of volume and thickness. It’s also very easy to work through the hair, and rinses out easily.
The downside: Mousse is not ideal for extreme styles. It has also been known to cause white flakes in the hair.
Who should use it: All hair types and lengths
How it performs: Unlike the other hair products on this list, hair cream provides very minimal hold. It’s primary function is to add shine, help moisturize, reduce frizz, and even help eliminate flyaways. It’s ideal for guys who aren’t looking for a rigid, sculpted look, but want a little more control while improving the health and appearance of their hair.
The downside: None
Who should use it: Guys with short or medium length hair
How does it perform: Don’t expect an extremely strong hold from hair paste. That’s because it’s primary purpose is to add texture and a light hold. It’s perfect for messy hairstyles and the “just got out of bed look.” It’s also easily re-workable throughout the day because it doesn’t dry to a hard finish.
The downside: None
Thanks for checking out my list of best strong hold hair gels for men. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.