Before we get started here, let's get one thing out of the way: There's a huge difference between the worst and the best hairspray for men. Typical (cheap) hairsprays smell like WD40 mixed with potpourri. They will leave your hair sticky and drippy. The best hairspray, however, will do something very special: they'll lock in the shape and style you spent your morning working so hard on, and they'll do it without a mess and without an offensive odor. Imagine taking a screen shot of your hair's very best morning moment (mirror face not included) and carrying that with you until you're back in front of your bathroom mirror doing your pre-bedtime routine.
If you want good hair for the entire day, every day, then you need to play a long game. But you don't even need a spray that delivers a cement-like hold—there are plenty of hairsprays that give you texture, control, and a shield against the elements (like humidity and sun damage) without turning your hair crunchy, hard, or shiny. You simply style your hair as usual, and zap it with a dust of hairspray at the end (unless instructed otherwise), and it makes all the difference. We suggest you let your style dry before applying hairspray for "touchable hold", as it'll be less crispy and polished. (A good blow dryer can expedite that, plus the knowledge of how to use a blow dryer in the first place.)
Who's a candidate for hairspray? Technically, everyone with hair long enough to meld or shape, even guys with thinning hair. Hair spray adds texture to shorter styles, and tames flyaways for longer ones. Many shield you from humidity or heat damage (like pre-blow-drying sprays), while others purify the scalp and provide just as many benefits to our balder brethren. Even if you don't plan to use it every day, it's smart to have hairspray at the ready for those occasions where it's needed.
Below are our picks for the best hairspray for men, with specific suggestions depending on the length, texture, and density of your hair. Whether you buy one just to give it a shot or have decided to stock up for the future, you'll savor the sudden staying power of your hairstyle through humidity, touching, and long hours on the job.
The Best Salon-Caliber (and Wallet-Friendly) Hairspray
Salon-staple Sebastian is a perfect entry-level spray, especially if you're unsure about investing in something pricier. It covers all the basics: It locks in your style for a full day's duration, sans crunch, and prevents the frustrating mushroom-like effects of humidity. If you're looking for a no-nonsense, affordable, baseline hairspray, grab this one.
The Best Pre-Styling Hairspray
This product isn't a hairspray in the traditional sense. It's a pre-styling spray and a re-styling activator that soothes and nourishes your hair and scalp. It's infused with tea tree and juniper oils to calm irritation and inflammation, as well as eucalyptus oil for a refreshing tingle. And it'll add a bit of texture and definition to the hair too, and once it dries, you'll have a nourished, radiant canvas for your styler of choice. If you need to reset and re-style your hair during the day, it's the right product to spray on before re-applying another product (like a paste or a cream).
The Best Hairsprary for a Photo-Ready Finish
No matter your hair length, Oribe's top-shelf spray gives it the glow (yes, glow), definition, and medium hold that it needs to stay locked all day long. This one won't make things look crispy or helmet-like, so long as you apply it to dry, already-styled hair.
The Best Hairspray for Reworkable Style
If you only need a touch of hold and want the option of restyling your hair throughout the day, then opt for R+Co's flexible, light-hold spray. It also works good as a standalone styler to short hair that demands light texture and definition—the kind you can run your fingers through without care or worry.
The Best Volumizing Hairspray
VERB's Ghost hairspray is one of the best for unruly hair—the curly and thick strands that want to defy gravity and all of your attempts at control. It's not a gripping finish, either; this spray gives you medium hold that adds volume, definition, and reworkable style, thanks to the thickening powers of vitamin B5. Moringa seed oil detangles and smooths hair, granting you more control over your mane. (And it doesn't leave curly hair crunchy or crispy after application, either.)
The Best Hairspray for Curly Hair
Speaking of hairspray that doesn't leave curls crunchy, DEVACURL is a cult favorite among the especially tangle-haired of all sexes. It prevents hair from frizzing and poofing, while giving your curls a bouncey hold to preserve the style you so carefully administered in the morning.
The Best Hairspray for Hot Weather Protection
If you use a blow dryer, then you should spray on a heat-defense spray before any exposure to "the elements." This one from Moroccan oil shields each strand from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so hair doesn't get damaged and broken by the high-temp gusts of your blow dryer. It also plugs each hair with argan oil to encourage a healthy, radiant shine. Simply spray it onto clean, damp hair, comb it through, and use your blow dryer as usual.
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Originally Appeared on GQ