The Thorough Guide to Hairstyling: Part 4.5: Product Reviews Continued, Plus Bad Products You Should Avoid

This section is pretty straight-forward, I will be reviewing the products I’ve used in the past, as well as talking briefly about how I used them. I will start with a brief description of the product by the company which produces it, usually taken from the jar itself or their website, to provide context for my own experience with the product.

Bumble and Bumble Prep

Brand Description: “This nutrient-rich detangler reveals texture, enhances the performance of styling products and refreshes already styled hair.”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: None

Shine: None

Texture: Helps make my hair super smooth and soft, removes basically any sort of tangle.

Smell: Mild herbal/medicinal smell, fades completely by the time you’re done styling with any products.

My Overall Thoughts: A soft-spoken essential for me. Makes my hair wonderfully smooth and controlled without doing anything that would mess up styling later. Just a note, this stuff is very similar to Bumble & Bumble’s Tonic. Tonic is just better if your hair is coarse/damaged or colored, while Prep is better for hair that is relatively healthy, but could use a little extra detangling and moisture.

How I Use It: I usually use it when my hair is damp, usually a bit after I’ve gotten out of the shower and have already towel-dried slightly. Then I comb my hair into place, which this stuff helps you do very easily, and then style with whatever products I would use normally.

Keune Man Matte Effect:

Brand Description: “Matte & dry clay for strong definition in short to medium hair.”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: High.

Shine: Low, very low. A product for pretty close to a truly matte look.

Texture: Excellent, really separates and thickens quite well and gives hair a nice, controlled look.

Smell: Sharp and masculine, hard to describe. Somewhat herbal/medicinal, but a bit of cologne too, and some minty/menthol kick. Great stuff.

My Overall Thoughts: An excellent product in almost every sense. It does what it says it will, and it does it well. The only problem is it’s price and availability, it’s somewhat hard to find and probably the most expensive product I’ve purchased as of this review. A standard puck will be $20-25, not horrendous, but a bit higher than I think most would be willing to pay.

One note on the fact that it’s a “clay” – this is one clay that is actually fairly different from most of the waxes I’ve used. It’s much more solid, being somewhat difficult to get out of its puck, and if you don’t spread it in your palms properly it can be a bit tricky to distribute. With this comes some amazing texture, though, and only a little bit of stickiness to hold it all together.

How I Use It: Same way as Fiber, really, though it should be used quite sparingly. If you start with too much, it’ll be difficult to distribute it evenly and could make your hair quite difficult to work with due to its high hold, so apply it in stages and take your time. This stuff has some fiercely good hold while remaining malleable, possibly the highest hold I’ve found in a malleable wax/clay, so it works well for styles with a good amount of height. Only problem is that its texture makes it trickier to apply to longer hair (anything above 5-6 inches), so if your hair is that long I’d recommend using it as a topcoat or cocktailing it with something like a cream or a lighter wax to make applying it easier.

Hanz de Fuko Scheme Cream:

Important note: this review is of the old Scheme Cream formula, HdF recently changed it, and I have not used the new formula yet.

Brand Description: “Ingenious, hassle – free hair grip with ultimate versatility. Provides light shine minus the weight or oiliness associated with other forming creams. Great for creating pliable styles with natural texture.”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: Light/medium

Shine: Low/natural, not matte, but a very healthy looking level of shine. Great for those with dry or curly hair.

Texture: Seems to help define curls quite well, and if I’m wearing my hair on the straighter side it provides some excellent smoothing.

Smell: Light and sweet, quite nice and very mild. Kind of like peaches and vanilla, fades relatively quickly.

My Overall Thoughts: Superb, superb, superb. This is the one hair product I’ve found that I can describe as truly weightless, so if you’ve got fine hair, especially curly hair, this stuff is a miracle. Even on the hottest, muggiest days, this stuff doesn’t make my hair droop at all, and it always lets my scalp breathe quite well.

How I Use It: There are two primary ways I use it. Method one is to apply a fingertip to damp hair, then ruffle it around while blow-drying it slowly to bring out the curl in my hair. This works as well as most curl serums/curl creams I’ve tried, and with a very natural feeling once it has set.

Method two involves blow-drying the hair first to give it some good volume, then applying the crème to the dry hair to keep it neat and smooth. Works great for a sort of casual, slightly messy pompadour style in my hair. This is good controlling hair that is generally good on its own, but needs a bit of moisture and hold to be at its best. Kind of works like a leave-in conditioner, in a way.

Hand de Fuko Quicksand:

Brand Description: “Revolutionary! Add volume, absorb excessive oil and add texture with zero weight! Provides great lift for second day hair and for creating textured styles that defy gravity”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: High, surprisingly so. Up there with Keune’s Matt Effect, if not higher.

Shine: Non-existent. This is pure matte, and the most matte product I have ever used, there is simply nothing better at getting that dry look.

Texture: Wow, is all I can say. This stuff is possibly the best volumizer I have ever used, it thickens and lifts like nobody’s business. Lacks slightly when it comes to separation, but you can always cocktail to get that, and this is probably the most cocktail-able product there is. It does leave your hair with a gritty feeling, kind of like you’ve just been swimming in the ocean, but it remains malleable all the same, and I actually kind of like it.

Smell: Dusty, earthy, clay smell with a slight maltiness to it. Lingers for a while, but stays relatively mild.

My Overall Thoughts: This is the one product on this list that I will say absolutely everybody with an interest in styling their hair should try. Simply the most unique product I have ever used, and it can solve so many problems of volume/limpness/thickness that many people struggle with. It isn’t perfect, as it really works best when cocktailed, and some may not like the feel. But this product is one-of-a-kind, so it’s worth a try at least once. As a plus, it’s a powder-in-cream product, so the cream side of it helps it distribute really, really easily.

How I Use It: If I want a lot of thickness, I apply it to my hair when it’s damp then blow-dry. If I want more in the way of lift and volume, I apply it to dry hair. This stuff also cocktails amazingly, and the cocktail of this + AC Pomade is possibly my favorite thing for my hair. Definitely worth a try, and you can adjust the ratio of Quicksand to Pomade depending on how much shine you want. Also cocktails quite well with Hanz de Fuko Sponge Wax. As a side note, my girlfriend also loves using this for shagging out her hair, so if you’re interested in that, this is a good choice.

Hanz de Fuko Hybridized Wax:

Brand Description: “Wildly Inventive! Water based styling wax with custom blended polymers to provide maximum separation, texture and control with iridescent mica for shine.”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: Medium-high

Shine: Medium

Texture: Super-smooth, not “slick” per se but very controlled. Some nice separation, too.

Smell: Smells like eucalyptus. Weird, yeah? But nice, and extremely mild. Fades almost immediately.

My Overall Thoughts: A fun and under-rated product. Most HdF buzz focuses on Quicksand, Sponge Wax, and Scheme Cream, but this product is quite remarkable. It’s extremely lightweight, much like Scheme Cream, but provides a good level of shine. And honestly, at least for my hair (light brown with notes of red and blond), this stuff has the perfect level of shine. Enough to make my hair a bit more interesting, but never enough to make it look greasy.

How I Use It: I like to apply this to dry hair, as the lightweight nature of the product lets me take advantage of the volume I get after blowdrying. After adding the product I’ll sometimes blow-dry my hair with the dryer on the cool setting a bit more just to liven things up. This is a pretty straightforward product, but it’s quite nice, overall, especially since most products that give shine tend to be a lot heavier or greasier.

Hanz de Fuko Sponge Wax:

Brand Description: “The best wax formulation for achieving the perfect balance of flexibility and firmness with a great matte finish. Unique ingredients combine for limitless styling creativity with long-lasting, pliable hold.”

My Ratings/Experience:

Hold: High, but very malleable

Shine: Low. Not quite matte, but close. Seems to provide a very healthy shine, somewhat like Scheme Cream but a little bit less.

Texture: Great texturizer, gives some nice separation and smoothness. Really kind of buttery smooth, a surprise for a wax. Smell: Scheme Cream without the peaches, sort of a mild vanilla scent.

My Overall Thoughts: Top-notch wax, an upgrade from AC Fiber. Not as strong-holding as Keune Matt Effect, but more lightweight and easy to work with. Gives some good hold all the same, but remains very malleable, so you can use this stuff to get your hair in a style that’ll hold through wind and heat, but adjust easily if you want to re-style it yourself. How I Use It:

I prefer to use this stuff on dry hair on its own, in the same way as the HdF Hybridized Wax, or on wet hair in a cocktail with Quicksand (usually 2 parts Sponge Wax to 1 part Quicksand). The wax distributes very easily throughout the hair, so I can style in a few seconds flat and get a very nice look. Super easy to use, so this is a good beginning hair product.

The Ugly Roundup: Products I recommend you AVOID at all costs.

Suave Volumizing Mousse: Doesn’t do what it says it will, doesn’t seem to do anything at all really, and made my hair smell like chemical fruit. Worst part is, if you look at the third ingredient, it is, I kid you not, PROPANE. Good in King of the Hill, not so much in your hair, unless you want to (tragically) attempt re-enact a Rammstein concert the next time you blow-dry.

Suave Maximum Hold Hairspray: Held for a few minutes before it drooped, tried to re-comb it and it flaked. Smelled acrid and bitter.

Pantene Fine Hair Touchable Volume Hair Spray: Made my hair feel sticky and awful and smelled like a basket of overripe fruit.

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