Hair » How to Use Hair Wax: Hair Wax vs. Gel

How to Use Hair Wax: Hair Wax vs. Gel

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Containing little to no water and plenty of power, hair wax is a product that can quickly shape your hair just the way you want. Particularly known as a men’s style tool, it’s time to take notice that hair wax is great for any hair type or gender because it can quickly pull your hair together when every strand seems to want to be apart.

This added strength to your hair will help you achieve any look you’ve desired, whether defined curls or a messy bedhead. Perfectly safe for your hair and containing plenty of natural properties, this will certainly be a product you’ll want to snatch up, given its versatility. Giving your hair a sleek and shiny boost, with plenty of extra volume, hair wax is something you won’t be able to live without ever again. Interested? Then read on for all the details on how to use hair wax, all the benefits (and some of the side effects), and everything else you’ll need to know!

In this article:

What Is Hair Wax?

Hair wax is a wax-based hair styling product that can give your hair a thin coating for the strands to retain a strong hold and shine. Used since the Ancient Gauls as a way to keep flyaways tamed during battle to modern times with it getting attention as being an almost natural version of hairspray, this product is a staple that has survived the test of time.

Simplistic in most ingredients and often containing little to no water, hair wax will block the humidity around you to give your hair that perfect high-fashion look. Of course, it’s important to consider which of the two main types of hair wax are best for you, and for this reason, you’ll find a breakdown of the subcategories below.

  • Mud wax will be the type you want to grab when creating a more classic hairstyle. Usually providing your hair with a matte finish and natural appearance, this type of hair wax holds your hair more flexibly while giving it a fuller texture.
  • Clay wax will help you style your hair in a messier and more tousled way. Adding plenty of texture and little shine or smoothness, this hair wax gives off the perfect messy look. With clay higher up on the ingredients list than wax, this can lead to a tiny bit of clumping that won’t be good for thinning hair.
What Is Hair Wax?

Hair Styling Wax Benefits

Naturally meant to add just a bit of extra texture or volume to your hair, there are many benefits to hair wax. Because of the natural bases used in these products, there’s less fear around mixing hair wax with other styling tools, making it perfect for color-treated or permed hair.

Along with this, hair wax won’t leave behind any sense of greasiness or flaking, instead, leaving your hair with a lovely, strong shine. This versatile effect will work with any hair type or length, explaining the popularity of this product. So, mix it with other products, restyle your hair throughout the day and peruse the other benefits below!

  • Won’t harden into a shell
  • Tames flyaway strands
  • Often alcohol-free, and there are new all-natural options on the market – and hair waxes that can add extra highlights to your hair!

Hair Wax vs. Gel vs. Other Styling Products

After writing articles on hair pomade and debating over the importance of one hair product over another, it seems that we’re back at it again as we question how hair wax stacks up against other options you can buy at your local salon. While semi-similar to both hair gel and pomade, all of these products contain various ingredients that will react differently together, making the benefits different.

  • Hair wax will maintain a firm – but malleable – hold on your hair without making it greasy. Slowly coating the strands, it will also lock in moisture so that there is no damage to your hair. The fact that there is no alcohol in hair wax means that it will not be dehydrating or damaging.
  • Coming in cream, spray, or tins, hair pomades will provide you with a slick and shiny look. Often used as a product to create the ‘I just got out of the pool’ look that has been so popular for fall, pomades won’t add any extra texture or volume to your hair because they are meant to dampen it down.
  • A cool and almost translucent product, hair gels will solidify your hair into a wet look that can often feel a bit thick. Along with this, they often contain heavy amounts of alcohol, which can dry out your hair.

While all products have their drawbacks, and I’d vouch for hair pomade or hair wax over gels, it’s still important to remember that any excessive use of a product can still be damaging.

Hair Wax Side Effects

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using Hair Wax?

As with anything, there can be drawbacks to using hair wax. The largest issue would be a wax build-up if it isn’t washed thoroughly from your hair. This wax build-up can create a greasy effect over time and clog hair follicles.

Because hair wax can’t be brushed out and isn’t water-soluble, just be sure to pay extra attention to the section of this article that explains how to remove it from your hair. Along with this, also be wary of dry scalp and that hair wax isn’t long-lasting.

How to Use Hair Wax for Different Effects?

Given the waxy and moldable consistency, hair wax can be used to create many different hairstyles. Of course, the exact steps you’ll use to create each style can be different, which is why we broke down each step for the main hairstyles that involve hair wax below!

A few basic reminders:

  • Look for a hair wax specific to your hair type, particularly if you have curls.
  • Wait until your hair is dry before applying any.
  • Don’t mix the wax into your scalp because this will make it all the more difficult to remove.

Silky Finish

  • For an easy and slick-backed look, start by parting your hair and smoothing down any flyaways.
  • Once you get to that point, grab a pea-sized amount of hair wax and slowly warm it up in your fingers so that you can apply it to your hair. Because you’re aiming for a sleeker look, you’ll want to focus the wax more on the hairs close to your scalp since those can be the frizziest.

Tousled Looks

  • To get the perfect tousled look, spritz a small amount of water into your hair and towel it dry.
  • After this, rub a pea-sized amount of hair wax between your fingertips and slowly apply the wax from the back to the front of your hair, working with the natural partings of your scalp.
  • To create a defined texture, spin large sections of your hair around your fingers and scrunch the strands to create a ‘just out of bed’ appearance.

Defined Curls

Defined curls can be tricky to get, whether you have naturally curly hair or not. The key to getting the definition you crave is through pulling out your natural volume.

  • To do this, ensure your hair is fully dried before adding any wax and avoid anything that can produce frizz (such as heat stylers and towels).
  • When your hair is dry, take small amounts of wax and find curls that already exist within your hair, slowly wrapping your fingers around them with the wax and twisting them in the natural direction.
  • To add extra volume, flip your head over and scrunch the curls up from the bottom, add a bit of hairspray if necessary, and voila!


A pompadour is a classic when it comes to hair wax – or even hair pomade. To achieve this look, you’ll want to get as much volume as possible in the front of your hair. The easiest way to do this is by setting your hand on the middle of your head and then slowly dragging your hair up. As more volume is added, you can start to apply a bit of wax to get the hairs to stay in place.

How to Use Hair Wax for Different Effects?

How Do You Wash Hair Wax out of Your Hair?

Getting hair wax out of your hair is crucial after you’ve finished wearing the style you created. If you leave hair wax in for too long, this can create a wax build-up that could cause scalp damage and irritation. Because I’m fairly certain that doesn’t sound like something you want, just follow the steps below to remove the hair wax easily and efficiently from your hair.

  • Once your hair is wet, apply shampoo as you normally would. While you’ll realize that it isn’t lathering, still continue to work it through your hair because it will break down the wax molecules.
  • Rinse out this layer of shampoo with warm water and then apply a little more because there will still be some wax that needs to be removed. After the second shampooing, you should be good, but if you’re not, then think of investing in a clarifying shampoo because it will break down the oils faster.
  • Now that you’ve shampooed twice, make sure to apply a thick layer of conditioner because the second shampooing will have removed not only the wax but also some of the healthy oils in your hair, and you’ll want to put them back.

Photos via @sachajuan, @amberjeanhair Instagram