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In our humble opinion, hair cream is essential in every man’s arsenal due to its universal benefits—unless, of course, you don’t have hair. But even if you keep your strands closely cropped or prefer a high-hold, choppy-texture product, you can still find value in a light-hold, touchable hair cream. Hair cream is deeply nourishing, works in all hair textures and can be both a primary styler or used for finishing touches. But the best hair cream for you is going to depend on a few variables…
According to celebrity groomer Jessica Ortiz, whose A-list clients include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Regé-Jean Page and Jeremy Allen White, not all hair creams are created equal. “Creams come in a range of purposes,” she explains. “For example, if your hair texture is thin or fine, creams with light hold and light hydration work best to not weigh the hair down. Heavier creams that provide conditioning are excellent for thicker or curly hair to define and de-frizz.” Ortiz adds that one especially common use for hair creams is as a finishing step in your regimen, to tame flyaways and smooth the ends of the hair.
In general, though, the lightweight nature of creams makes for universal application, regardless of the product’s end goal: “Apply cream to damp hair and leave it to air-dry,” Ortiz advises. Or, you can also blow the hair dry, with the assurance that the cream is protecting the cuticle of the hair from heat damage and moisture loss.
At their core, though, these products all offer light, touchable hold, and help nourish the strands as they help perfect your hairstyle. Take a look at our shortlist below, and click on the product name to jump directly to the description of why we’re recommending it.
The Best Hair Creams for Men
Best for Short Hair: Fellow Barber Styling Cream [$24 on Amazon]
Best for Long Hair: Oribe Crème for Style [$18 on Amazon]
Best for Wavy Hair: Prose Custom Curl Cream [$28 on Prose]
Best for Tight Curls: Briogeo Curl Charisma Coil Custard [$26 on Nordstrom]
Best for Thinning Hair: Living Proof Thickening Cream [$20 on Nordstrom]
Best for Thick Hair: Davines Love Hair Smoother [$29 on Amazon]
Best Leave-In: Augustinus Bader Leave-In Treatment [$52 on Nordstrom]
Best for Flyaways: Ouai Finishing Crème [$24 on Sephora]
The Best Hair Cream for Short Hair: Fellow Barber Styling Cream
If you want a hair cream that accentuates your natural texture but keeps things lightweight and touchable, then Fellow’s is it. This one also helps build just enough texture on otherwise lifeless, flat hair. Think of it as the opposite of a choppy, dense wax or fiber, in that some people may not even realize you’re wearing a product at all; however, you will still want to wear it because you will notice the difference in that your hairstyle will cooperate every day, and will come to life as opposed to looking ignored and un-tended to. (You know those people who just let their hair dry and call it good; so much wasted potential, but not if you use a defining cream like Fellow’s.)
Best for Long Hair: Oribe Crème for Style
Applying Oribe to your strands is like spinning silk. You’ll get that light-catching shine you see in hair care commercials, as well as all-day de-frizzing and deep nourishment. This product doesn’t change its aim from one hair texture to the next, so it’s great in households that serve more than one type.
Best for Wavy Hair and Loose Curls: Prose Custom Curl Cream
Prose’s curl cream pulls focus to your natural texture, even if it’s just a pinch wavy. On top of that, the brand’s signature move is to customize each formula to the customer’s precise needs. So the formula you get for, say, loose waves in long, fine hair, will look different than that for the guy who has thick, short, wavy hair. But trust that at the heart of each recipe is moisture to the max—since hydration is the thing that all texture needs to be its best self.
Best for Tight Curls and Coils: Briogeo Curl Charisma Coil Custard
Coils are the curliest curls that ever curled, and thus they demand the most moisture in order to retain their definition and buoyancy. With a formula rich in shea butter, flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, and amino acids, Briogeo’s thick cream wears like a leave-in curl conditioner to ensure that coils stay both strong and soft. And that they stay under your control, and not that of the humidity or parched air around you.
Best for Thinning Hair: Living Proof Full Thickening Cream
Living Proof’s cream adds body and density to your hair. It’s not only suited for thinning styles that seek volume and fullness, but also flat, fine, and short styles that need extra liveliness, as well as long styles that demand more movement and drama.
Best for Thick Hair: Davines Love Hair Smoother
If your hair is thick, coarse, wiry or unruly (or any combination of these adjectives), then what you need is a smoothing cream. A product like Davines’ excellent anti-frizzing leave-in cream will soften strands and make them relax to your needs, as opposed to resisting your styling efforts (or steadily undoing them throughout the day). This product works well in all curl patterns or lack thereof.
Best Leave-In: Augustinus Bader The Leave-In Hair Treatment
Leave-in hair creams can be daily use for especially curly or unruly hair, as well as one-off weekly treatments for everyone else. They pump moisture and nutrients into the hair that help seal off moisture and thwart any environmental compromise. Augustinus Bader’s excellent leave-in cream is teeming with amino acids to boost natural shine and simultaneously detangle.
Best for Taming Flyaways: Ouai Finishing Crème
It’s all in the name: OUAI’s Finishing Crème is the last step in your haircare regimen, as a way to coach those pesky flyaways into place, or to nourish and condition the ends of your hair so they don’t over-curl or frizz throughout the day. It’s great to use after blow drying, too, for what the brand calls a “model-off-duty” effect; in layperson terms, that’s someone whose hair always looks effortless, but clearly didn’t sit at the salon for three hours to achieve as much.