Hair wax vs. hair clayView all articles

Hair Wax vs. Hair Clay: Which Is Better For You?

With so many styling products available, it’s easy to get confused about which is best for your hair and how to use it. Two often confused styling products are hair wax and matte hair clay. If you’ve ever wondered what’s the difference, you’ve come to the right place.

Today I’m breaking down the difference between hair wax and hair clay. Plus, I’ll tell you how to shop for the best hair wax and the best hair clay and how to use hair wax. Keep reading for more!


What Is Hair Wax?

Hair styling wax is a thick hairstyling product that provides a strong but pliable hold. As the name implies, hair wax is formulated using beeswax, lanolin, castor wax, or other waxes. Hair styling wax is also sometimes known as hair putty or styling paste. Hair styling wax has a slightly shiny finish and gives hair a natural feel that’s neither stiff nor crunchy. Sometimes these products are marketed as hair wax for men, but anyone can use them.

But there are many other hair styling products out there to choose from besides a traditional hair wax. Read more about the different types of styling products below to figure out which one works best for your styling needs.

Hair Wax vs. Hair Clay vs. Gel vs. Pomade

Hair Wax vs. Hair Clay vs. Gel vs. Pomade

Hair styling wax, clay, gel, and pomade: all of these products can be used to style your hair. Due to their similar, thicker consistency they can be easily confused. But which is best? It comes down to the sort of look you want to achieve. Let’s quickly recap what each product does:

Hair Wax

What It Is: A hair wax is a wax-based styling product that has a creamy or oily consistency.

What It Does:

  • Flexible hold
  • Natural texture
  • Low to medium shine

Cons: Hair waxes may be difficult to wash out of your hair, due to their high content of wax that can build up on hair.

Hair Clay

What It Is: Hair clays are similar to hair styling waxes but are based on a natural clay ingredient, like kaolin. They are a relatively new styling product that has recently gained popularity. Like hair waxes, they are often marketed as hair clay for men, but anyone can use hair clay. They have a slightly harder consistency compared to hair waxes and require a little warming up between your hands prior to application.

What It Does:

  • Strong, flexible hold
  • Natural, matte finish
  • Adds plenty of volume and texture to hair
  • Absorbs excess oil

Cons: Some matte hair clays can leave hair feeling dry or rough (if this happens, you can add a tiny amount of hair oil to your hair)

Hair Gel

What It Is: Hair gels are made from styling polymers and they often have a jelly-like consistency. Hair gel comes in many strengths, from light to heavy-duty. Usually, hair gel is used for more dramatic looks like slicked-back hair or spikes, though you can also use hair gel to help define curls.

What It Does:

Cons: Many gels have an alcohol-based formula that may dry out hair and cause hair breakage. Additionally, gels can make fine or thin hair look even thinner, as they weigh hair down.


What It Is: Pomade is a type of hair styling wax that adds shine to hair. It works best for slicked-back and shiny hair styles. Compared to gels it gives less hold so that hair can be combed and restyled throughout the day.

What It Does:

  • Gives the least hold
  • Shiny, sleek finish

Cons: It can be difficult to wash pomade out of your hair. Pomade may also make your hair look greasy.

There are four main differences between these products:

1. Hold

Compared to gels, hair waxes and clays don’t leave hair as stiff. Hair wax, clay, and pomade give a more flexible, touchable hold. You can still run your hand through your hair with wax, clay, or pomade, which is often impossible with hair gel.

2. Finish

Gels and pomades leave hair with a shiny finish. Hair waxes and clays give a more natural-looking, matte finish. Gels and pomades are suitable for polished styles when you want hair to look smooth and styled, while waxes and clays are suitable for more casual, bedhead looks.

3. Effect On Hair Health

Most gels have a high alcohol content, which can harm hair over time. Why? Because alcohol dries out hair, leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. Alcohol may also dry out the scalp, leaving it dry, itchy and flaky.

Clays and waxes are much better for your scalp and hair as they are made mostly of natural ingredients that are good for your scalp and hair.

4. Suitability for Certain Hair Types

Gels and pomades work better on hair that’s thick, curly, dry, or coarse. Hair styling waxes and clays work on all hair types, but they’re especially great for hair that’s fine, thin, or greasy. Thanks to their clay content, matte hair clays help to absorb excess oil from the scalp. They also make hair look thicker with touchable volume.

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Is Hair Wax for Men Only? What About Hair Clay for Men?

You may have seen these products marketed as hair wax for men or hair clay for men. But are they just for men?

Hair waxes and clay are popular amongst men because they are great for styling short hairstyles and hair that’s thinning. However, hair wax for men and hair clay for men are versatile, unisex products for any hair type. Clay waxes (hybrids of matte hair clays and hair waxes) are especially great for those with fine, thinning, or greasy hair.

How to Find the Best Hair Wax

So how do you find the best hair wax? What about the best hair clay? Here are a few pointers:

  • Choose a product free from itchy silicones, parabens, drying alcohols and perfume to reduce irritation on the scalp. These ingredients may also degrade the health of your hair and scalp, leading to breakage, irritation and even hair loss.
  • Look for hydrating, nourishing ingredients that benefit your hair and scalp while you style. I love a styling product that improves your hair’s health!

My pick for the best hair wax is also my pick for the best hair clay: Mineral Clay Wax. This natural styling product is made with kaolin, a soft white clay that provides a lightweight, flexible hold. It also helps to absorb extra oil from your scalp so that your scalp feels clean and your hair voluminous.

Mineral Clay Wax is formulated with organic cocoa seed butter, which is packed with fatty acids and antioxidants that nourish and protect the scalp and hair. Mineral Clay Wax is 100% natural and the first ECOCERT-certified hair wax. So while giving your hair hold, body and texture, it actually nourishes your strands with all natural ingredients!

And it’s not just a hair clay for men. This clay-wax is unisex and works for all hair types. Plus, it comes in compact travel-size packaging, perfect for bringing it with you anywhere. That’s why, in my opinion, it is the best hair clay! Now that you’ve got your product, keep reading to learn how to use hair wax/clay.

How to Use Hair Clay

Are you wondering how to use hair wax or hair clay? It’s easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Hair clay works best when applied on dry hair. So if you have just jumped out of the shower, dry your hair first with a towel or hair dryer. Don’t forget to use a heat protectant first, if you opt for the dryer.
  2. Scoop a small amount out of the jar. How much clay your hair requires will depend on your hair type, length, and the style you’re going for. However, adding product is much easier than removing it, so I recommend starting with a pea-sized amount of hair clay and adding more as needed.
  3. Warm up the product between your fingers or your palms. This allows the product to melt a little to make it easier to apply evenly.
  4. Apply to dry hair and style your hair as desired. Add more hair clay as necessary.

Hair clay can be used to create a multitude of hair styles that require hold and texture. Use hair clay to help you achieve certain styles, such as:

How to Use Hair Clay For Short to Medium Hairstyles

Use Hair Clay For Short to Medium Hairstyles

Want to get more hair volume in short or medium length hair? Whether you prefer a messy, bedhead look, a quiff or a slicked back style, a hair clay can help you achieve that. Just follow these steps:

  1. Start with clean hair. I recommend Grow Perfect™ Shampoo and Conditioner for thin or fine hair. These haircare products are formulated with growth-boosting ingredients like AnaGain™ and rosemary oil.
  2. Next, apply your favorite volume-boosting products as a foundation. I recommend Grow Perfect™ Thickening Spray, a leave-in styler fortified with RootBioTec™ that works to increase the density of your hair. Mist hair with Thermal Shield™ Heat Protectant to guard it against heat damage during the next step.
  3. Use a hairdryer with a nozzle to dry the hair. Use your fingers to direct the hair upwards to give it more volume. It is a good idea to start to shape your hair into the desired shape while drying it.
  4. Warm a pea-sized amount of matte hair clay in your palms to ensure easy application.
  5. Start by coating the underside of the hair, then apply the product to your hair from root to tip. Rake through your hair with your fingers to apply the product evenly and to create the desired look. You may want to use a comb during this step. Use your hands to twist and manipulate your hair. Thanks to its flexibility, you can keep styling your hair until you’re happy with the result or easily restyle your hair afterwards.
  6. To fix your hair in place and smooth any potential flyaways, finish with a tiny amount of clay. You can also mist hair with a non-aerosol hair spray for extra hold if desired. Unlike other hairsprays that dry out your hair, this hair spray is loaded with lightweight conditioning ingredients that hydrate the hair while providing hold.

How to Use Hair Clay For Messy, Beachy Waves

Use Hair Clay For Messy, Beachy Waves

Hair clay’s soft, flexible hold perfectly matches this messy style for medium to long curls.

  1. Start by washing hair. If your hair is naturally textured, opt for Curl Crush™ Shampoo and Conditioner. Then, apply your favorite curl cream or curl mousse through your hair to define your curls or waves. Then dry your hair in sections using a diffuser.
  2. Once your hair is dry, apply a pea-sized amount of matte hair clay to enhance the shape of the individual curl clumps. This will give your curls messy definition and hold.
  3. If you like, finish by misting your hair with a sea salt spray. This styling spray adds volume, body, and texture to all hair types. It’s also formulated with hair-healthy ingredients like AQUAXYL™, glycerin, and organic aloe vera.
  4. To refresh waves throughout the day, mist with sea salt spray or apply a small amount of matte hair clay with your fingers.

How to Use Hair Clay To Tame Frizz and Flyaways

You can also use hair clay to tamp down frizz and flyaways. Warm up a minimal amount of product in your fingers. Smooth your palms over areas of frizz. The best hair clays and waxes can also help to stop static electricity in hair.

If flyaways are your main concern, try also the Final Touch Hair Styling Stick.

How to Avoid Build-Up of Hair Wax

Due to their formulation, even the best hair wax and other styling products can build up on the hair and scalp. Signs that you have build-up include:

  • Greasiness
  • Dullness
  • Dryness
  • Breakage
  • Scalp irritation
  • Flakes

More than regular shampooing is required to avoid product build-up, especially if you style your hair often. If you use styling products every day, consider adding these products to your cleansing routine:

  • Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub – This scalp scrub buffs away build-up from sebum, dead skin, hard water minerals, and even styling products. But don’t worry, it won’t dry out your hair or scalp. This Detox Scrub is sulfate-free and formulated with hydrating botanicals.
  • Scalp Delight™ Scalp Massage Brush – Supercharge your shampoo with this gentle bristle brush. Scalp Massage Brush has flexible silicone bristles that exfoliate and stimulate the scalp.

Matte hair clay or wax can be a styling game-changer, especially if you have fine or thinning hair. Now that you know how to use hair wax/clay, it’s time to experiment with your style!

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