Do you ever feel as if you’ve been cursed by the hair gods? No matter how hard you try, you can never get your hair to look even remotely close to the awesomeness of a fresh cut. Your unruly hair won’t stay where you want it to chill. Your dry hair soaks up way too much product and looks crunchy. You fall flat on your face when you attempt to recreate the fierce new style your barber gave you. Can you relate to any of these frustrating hair peeves? Sadly, most dudes can. Creating that I just left the barbershop look seems easy in theory, but when it comes time to execute, it becomes anything but simple. Between the amount of hair care products flooding the market and a lack of experience, education, and time to mess around with our hair, we end up falling prey to these 7 big mistakes that make our hair look like crap.
The problem is, if your hair isn’t on point, you can bet the rest of your game will be thrown off too. Fear not.
Today’s guide will show you how to overcome the 7 worst offenses guys commit when it comes to their hair. With our intel and a few simple tweaks on your end, you’ll be rocking hair that looks so #blessed by the hair gods they may actually become jealous.
YOUR HAIRSPRAY ROUTINE IS WAY OFF FLEEK
Most dudes turn to hairspray to polish off their look and set their style, but they have no idea how to use the hairspray spritz to their advantage. That’s why this is the first trouble area we’re going to tackle. Stop making these three hairspray mistakes and you’ll notice a big difference in your hair’s response:
#1: Choose the right alcohol content
You may not know this fun fact, but hairsprays generally come in alcohol-free formulas and those that incorporate a bit of alcohol.
When companies add alcohol to their products, your hair’s natural moisture is zapped out in order for the hairspray to fill in and seal your look.
Hairsprays containing alcohol are ideal for use during summer’s warm temps and for dudes living in humid environments. When you’re constantly fighting the moisture in the air to keep your hair under control, an alcohol barrier may be your best defense.
On the other hand, alcohol-free hairsprays are better for cold, dry days when your hair needs all the moisture it can get.
But use an alcohol-based hairspray in the winter and you’re likely to see flakes by mid-afternoon and suffer the wrath of a dry, itchy scalp all day.
For someone who already has dry hair, you can imagine this problem only gets worse.
Check your hairspray’s ingredients to cross this mistake off your list.
#2: Keep your distance from the nozzle
If you spray your hairspray too close to your head, you’re going to concentrate all that product in one, small location.
The product will immediately build up and your locks will press together in a crunchy clump right away (read: this is not a good look).
Ideally, you’ll want to aim your hairspray at least 10–12 inches away from your hair. At this distance, you’ll give your locks the space they need to absorb your product evenly instead of creating a hairspray helmet.
#3: You may not actually need all that hairspray (or any for that matter)
Now if you combine these first two issues with our final all-too-common mistake of applying far too much hairspray, don’t be surprised if your hair is more hard-as-a-rock than soft and touchable.
For some reason, we just love to go to town on hairspray.
Is it because we secretly have fun using the hairspray can like spray paint for our hair? Or because it disperses in the air in such a fine mist we can’t tell if we’ve saturated our strands enough?
Whatever reason you use to over-spray, stop it RN.
You don’t need to spray your head from left to right (and then from right to left) a dozen times before you put the can down.
Go easy — we’re talking 3–4 light-handed sprays at most, people.
Most guys can safely get away with cutting their hairspray use in half while still achieving the same desired look.
To find out if you’re part of the fold, try giving your hair a quick 1–2 sprays on a day with normal weather to experiment. Don’t choose a rainy or hot day day to try this out as you’ll wind up with skewed results.
You may find that less is truly more for your hair to seal the deal on your look.
And if you come across different products offering real staying power, you may not even need to use hairspray at all. Try skipping a day of hairspray to gauge the situation.
The next mistake on our list seems to happen to every guy who gets their hands on a blow dryer.
Hair Mistake #2: Applying heat without protection
Since most of us don’t take Navy SEAL cold showers, we have to account for the fact that hot or warm showers — though cozy and easy on the early wakeups — have a tendency to dry out both our skin and hair.
But when it’s 20 degrees outside, you also need to blow dry your hair before you leave the house to avoid pneumonia.
Bad news: the heat from using your blow dryer will not only dry, but dry outyour strands even more. So before you think about firing this baby up, let’s talk about heat protection.
Heat protectors will add moisture to your hair and create a safe buffer zone between the blow dryer’s heat and your actual strands.
Without applying a product specifically designed to protect your hair from heat damage, you’re just asking for dry, dull, brittle hair (which screams unhealthy).
Luckily, you just need to add a heat protecting serum or spray to your daily hair care routine to fix this. Just spray or apply this product before you blow dry and you’ll block all the negative effects of the fire-breathing blow dry dragon.
It’s also a smart idea to forgo back-to-back heat sessions instead of blow drying your hair every single day.
Snag a shower cap, shower as usual, and then apply a high-hold product with a touch of dry shampoo to your locks post-shower. This helps you create the perfect next-day look that’s touchably clean and freshly styled.
We see way too many smart guys making our next familiar mistake. Don’t be that guy!
Hair Mistake #3: Using products laced with chemicals
Most of us know how bad overly processed junk foods are for our bodies. The chemicals lurking behind the ingredient label force many of us to opt for healthier, additive-free options.
But how many of us know how terrible certain chemicals are when we apply them directly to our bodies or to our hair?
Scientific studies continue to uncover the potentially toxic effects of chemical ingredients in lotions, shampoos, and personal care products.
What does that mean for you and your hair? Let’s just say it’s not pretty.
Parabens and sulfates, two cheap chemical ingredients common in the hair care world, are added to beauty products to keep them shelf stable and to give them super aggressive cleaning detergent power.
This ultra cleaning potential is simply too much for most people to handle so they’re stuck with dried-out, frizzy tresses instead. Yuck.
To avoid your hair turning into a parched desert landscape, “look for products that use fruit or vegetable-based cleansing ingredients,” as Michelle Grossman of Stylecaster puts it.
So in the same way you check ingredient labels on your food, do a quick scan of your hair products –– shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, gel, wax, pomade, etc. –– and toss out any products with the following ingredients:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
- Synthetic Fragrance
- Silicones (“any ingredient ending in -cone”)
Don’t sweat it if your current products don’t meet your new standards.
You can find natural plant extract-based shampoos and conditioners on the market to ditch sulfates and parabens once and for all.
You can even find products fortified with amino acids to give your hair an added nutrient boost.
There’s no reason to settle for anything bursting with bad chemicals when there are so many better options for your body and hair if you know what to look for.
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s finally settle the debate we see many guys still arguing about: conditioner.
Hair Mistake #4: Not using conditioner
A good base is the key to creating a look your barber would be proud of.
But so many guys take this important first step for granted when they only shampoo and skip conditioner.
Think conditioner is just for girls?
You’re not alone.
But you’re certainly paying the price for this flawed thinking with your crummy, frizzy hair days.
So why do you really need conditioner?
Shampoo is great at cleaning your scalp, but it also strips away your hair’s essential oils.
That’s where conditioner comes in.
Not only does conditioner add in the moisture shampoo may deplete, it also delivers essential vitamins and nutrients your hair needs to thrive.
The end result: smooth, shiny, healthy strands that just beg for attention.
Another bonus: healthy, well-moisturized hair is SO much easier to style when you’re not fighting static and split ends. #doublewin
So find a conditioner that uses natural plant extracts and amino acids for the best (and easiest) improvement.
How do you use conditioner as your hair’s secret weapon if you’ve been avoiding it for years and have no clue?
Kate Canary of Birchbox Man sums it up perfectly:
“The most common misconception about shampoo and conditioner is that you only need one or the other. Your hair does need both –– but you’re not required to use them in tandem.”
You can use conditioner on its own or immediately after shampooing.
If you wash your hair every 3–4 days with shampoo, use your conditioner on your off days. Ideally you’ll want to condition a few times a week.
If your hair tends to be dry, you can get away with using it every day.
Once you add a high quality conditioner to your hair care routine, you’ll be amazed at how soft and touchable your hair becomes.
But simply adding conditioner without fixing these next few mistakes won’t do the trick completely.
Hair Mistake #5: You have no idea what products to use
It’s no wonder you’re clueless about which products work best with your hair when there are so many different options crowding up the shelves.
Head over to your local barbershop and you’ll find an expertly curated section of high-end products to choose from. Pop in the grocery or drugstore and you’ll find hundreds more.
When they all promise the same results, how’s a guy supposed to know which one is right for him?
Should you use a gel?
What about a cream?
Would a wax work better for your new cut?
Do you need extra hold or is medium enough to get the job done?
For most guys, this situation is so overwhelming it’s enough to make them walk out empty handed.
But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.
First, you’ll need to figure out what your hair type actually is .
Are your locks straight as an arrow or do they have some curve to them?
Do your curls spiral down loosely or are they wound in short, tight coils?
Your answers to these questions will help you determine which products you should keep on your radar. And knowing this simultaneously helps you weed through the bulk of options staring back at you when you’re shopping.
For straight hair, look for the following products:
These products, as opposed to heavy, liquid gels or creamy formulas, are light enough to keep your hair looking thick but also give your strands the grip they need to keep your style in place.
Skip these products (with the exception of versatile waxes) if you have curly or wavy hair as they won’t work as well as lightweight products that condition and lock in moisture.
For manes like these, seek out products that will define your curls and target frizz, such as:
If you’ve already matched your hair type with the correct product, kudos! You’re ready to fix the next mistake on our list.
Hair Mistake #6: You’re not using your products correctly
Okay, so you found the right product. Why does your hair still look like a hot mess?
Unfortunately, if all you did was squirt that product willy-nilly into your hands before finger-combing it through your hair, it’s no wonder you’re less than happy with the results.
Not all products work like this, cowboy. If you’re not applying your product directly as instructed, it will never work the way its supposed to.
For example, certain products need to be applied to dry hair while others only work on freshly showered wet hair.
Other products use heat-activated ingredients that require a warm up before application.
So while your air dry approach seems like a no-brainer time saver, if you’re not activating the ingredients in these products, it could be the reason why your product seems useless and virtually invisible in your locks.
While this step may seem straightforward enough, it’s one you truly can’t afford to skip if you want your hair to look like you just left your barber’s chair.
Do yourself a favor and take the extra 30 seconds to read your hair product’s instructions and follow them for the best results.
If you strictly adhere to the directions for a few days and you’re still not achieving the look you’re after, you may be unknowingly committing our next mistake.
Hair Mistake #7: You’re using too much or too little product
While your product’s instructions are the best way to gauge how much you should be using, if you don’t adjust this amount depending on your specific hair type, you could be setting yourself up for failure.
Add too much product to curly hair and those spirals will be weighed down and flat instead of bouncy. An abundance of product will also make straight strands appear greasy or chunky.
You also need to adjust how much product you use for the length of your hair.
Obviously the more hair you have, the more product you’ll use, but it’s also about where you add your products too.
For instance, longer lengths become prone to breakage and split ends so they’ll need extra moisture on the ends versus the roots.
Keep these basic product tips from GQ in mind when you first start out:
- Thick and denser hair requires more product.
- Start with a dime-sized amount and experiment with this for a few days before adding in more or using less.
- Apply the product directly to your roots.
Make these game time adjustments to suit your hair’s uniqueness and you’ll always score high.
Now that you know the top offenders, it’s time to make a promise to never commit these 7 hair crimes ever again.
Start by easing up on the hairspray and, for the love of good hair, quit spraying it so close to your head.
Add a high quality conditioner and heat protectant to your routine and you’ll start checking out smoother, softer hair in the mirror within a few days.
As for the rest of your repertoire, don’t forget to:
- Find the right product for your hair
- Follow the directions to a T
- Adjust the amount to suit your length and hair type
Do these steps in order and you’ll have Instagram-worthy hairstyles that rack up likes every day of the week.