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How to Use Hair Gel: Master Styling Techniques for Any Look | Expert Tips (2024)

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Did you know that 78% of men use hair gel regularly?

For sure, the ways of applying hair gel are one thing to master. Do it right and you’ll up your style game, letting you go looking top-notch clean and professional, or messily undone for that carefree attitude.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide: only the best tips for mastering your hair’s look at any event. You will learn to select the right gel, apply it, and accomplish many more styles with confidence.

Get set to elevate your hair styling now.

Key Takeaways

  • Step 1: Prep your hair for styling success. Think of it as giving your hair a blank canvas, ready to showcase your masterpiece. Wash and detangle those locks to get rid of any unwanted visitors.
  • Step 2: Choose the right hair gel for your hair type. This is like finding the perfect sidekick for your hair adventure. Look for gels that are alcohol-free and have natural ingredients to keep your hair happy and healthy.
  • Step 3: Apply the gel like a pro. Remember, less is more. Start with a small amount and work your way up, depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
  • Step 4: Style your hair to perfection. Whether you’re going for a sleek, straight look or rocking those curls, use different techniques to shape your hair and add some personality.

How to Use Hair Gel?

To master using hair gel, begin with clean, damp, detangled hair. The gel you choose should be free of drying ingredients. You’ll want to pick the right hold for your style—light for a messy look or medium for sleek spikes. Use the size of a fingertip and apply it as the very last step in your routine. Rub your hands together and then run them through your hair. Brush for a straight look or scrunch for curls.

Apply to wet hair for a glossy finish, distributing evenly with a comb, and into dry hair for an effortless, disheveled style—scrunch it at the end. Follow these steps, and you’ll unlock more techniques and tips to perfect your style.

Preparing Your Hair

Preparing Your Hair
Before applying the gel, ensure your hair is clean, damp, and detangled. A gel formula may be applied that doesn’t contain any drying alcohols, which may damage and, therefore, not give the best overall results in styling.

Start With Clean, Damp, Detangled Hair

Getting the hang of hair gel styling begins with a blank canvas. Shampoo and condition hair thoroughly, and then pat it nicely so it’s damp but not dripping wet.

This is where you bring in your detangling prowess — use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to smoothly work out any knots.

Just ensure that you distribute the gel well, and you’re on your way to being a hair god.

Avoid Drying Alcohols in the Gel Formula

When selecting a hair gel, steer clear of formulas containing drying alcohols. These sneaky culprits, like propanol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol, can wreak havoc on your hair health and cause scalp irritation.

Instead, opt for alcohol-free gels or natural alternatives that won’t strip your locks of moisture. By choosing wisely, you’ll avoid gel damage and keep your mane looking fabulous.

Choosing the Right Hair Gel

Choosing the Right Hair Gel
When selecting a hair gel, consider your styling needs to choose the right hold level for your desired look. Opt for gels with non-drying ingredients to keep your hair healthy and manageable while achieving your preferred style.

Consider Your Styling Needs for Hold Level

When selecting your hair gel, consider the hold level that matches your styling needs.

Light hold gels offer a playful, messy look, while medium hold provides shiny spikes.

The gel’s performance isn’t affected by color or scent, so focus on thickness and hold.

For most gels, fingertip application works best.

Opt for Non-drying Ingredients in the Gel

When selecting your hair gel, prioritize non-drying ingredients to protect your hair health. Look for formulas that:

  1. Contain moisturizing elements like aloe vera or glycerin
  2. Exclude harsh drying alcohols
  3. Include natural oils for added nourishment

If you’re prone to gel sensitivity or allergies, opt for hypoallergenic options. Store your gel properly and consider alternatives like leave-in conditioners for a gentler hold. Remember, a clarifying shampoo can help remove stubborn gel buildup when needed.

Applying Hair Gel Effectively

Applying Hair Gel Effectively
When applying hair gel, use the right amount for your hair length to avoid overdoing it. Apply the gel as the final step in your styling routine for the best hold and finish.

Use Appropriate Amount for Hair Length

Determine the volume of gel according to the length and thickness of your hair. The correct amount will make it so that your hair can still be shaped and styled without necessarily weighing too much. Read on below for a useful guideline on mastering the application of gel:

Hair Length Thin Hair Medium Hair Thick Hair
Short Pea-sized Nickel-sized Quarter-sized
Medium Nickel-sized Size of a quarter Half-dollar size
Long Quarter-sized Half-dollar Silver dollar

Adjust these amounts in accordance with your styling preferences and how often you wear your hair.

Apply as the Last Step in Your Routine

Lastly, apply your hair gel to complete the process. With gel as the last product to apply, the other products will give you maximum flexibility in styling.

Use your hands and run the gel through the center of your hair, distributing it most in areas where the hair needs extra hold. Just remember that a little bit really goes a long way with gel.

Shape the style of your hair according to your preference. All those tricks to your hair will come out in this subsequent shaping upon application of the gel and will condition the texture and look perfectly.

Styling Techniques With Hair Gel

Styling Techniques With Hair Gel
When styling with hair gel, you’ll use different techniques depending on your desired look. For straight hair, brush or shape the gel through your locks, while those with curls should scrunch or twist their hair to enhance definition and hold.

Brush or Shape for a Straight-haired Look

For a smooth and straight effect:

Apply evenly to wet hair a light-hold gel. Run a wide-tooth comb through your hair, distributing the gel evenly.

Blow-dry with a round brush to straighten hair and give volume. To give an ultra-straight look, flat iron.

Run a bit of serum or styling cream through hair to smooth away any fuzz and flyaways.

Be cautious, as very little gel is required, or it can weigh the hair down.

Scrunch or Twist for Curls

To enhance your curls with hair gel, try these techniques:

  1. Scrunch: Apply gel to damp hair, then gently squeeze upward toward your scalp.
  2. Twist: Separate hair into sections and twirl each around your finger.
  3. Finger coil: Use a curl activator or defining mousse, then wrap small sections around your finger.

For best results, combine flex hair gel with a curling cream or curl enhancer. This’ll help fight frizz, define texture, and create a stunning wet look that lasts.

Achieving Different Hairstyles

You can achieve a sleek look by applying gel to wet hair and combing it through, ensuring a smooth, polished finish. For a messy, tousled style, apply gel to dry hair and scrunch it with your fingers, creating texture and volume.

Sleek Look: Apply to Wet Hair and Comb Through

Now, let’s master the sleek look. You’ll need wet hair and a fine-toothed comb to achieve this polished style. Start by applying a dime-sized amount of gel to your damp locks. Work it through evenly, then use your comb to create defined sections. For extra root volume, try finger styling upwards. Don’t forget to tame those pesky flyaways with a toothbrush!

Step Action Result
1 Wet hair Clean canvas
2 Apply gel Even distribution
3 Comb through Defined sections
4 Finger style Root volume
5 Toothbrush Tamed flyaways

Messy Look: Apply to Dry Hair and Scrunch

Want to achieve that laid-back, cool, messy look? Here’s how to pull it off with hair gel:

  1. Use a firm-hold gel applied to dry hair from mid-lengths to ends.

    2: Scrunch by squeezing hair sections upwards towards the scalp.

  2. Twist random sections for added definition to the cut and to give a "piecey" effect.

This technique creates be ach y waves and a tousled, textured look that scream effortless style. Moderation is essential; less is truly more when it comes to gel—you don’t want to disrupt your scalp’s microbiome!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you put gel in wet or dry hair?

Hair gel can be applied to damp hair or dry hair. The hair will make the product application smoother and help maintain the gel. For volume or texture, it can be applied to dry hair. Over-application shouldn’t be done to avoid the crunching effect and to ensure evenly spread usage.

What is the purpose of hair gel?

Hair gel’s purpose is providing powerful, precise hold for your hair, helping you control, shape, and define styles. Whether taming frizz, defining curls, or achieving slick looks, it suits every styling need.

How do you apply gel after washing your hair?

After washing, gently towel-dry your hair. Scoop a small amount of gel onto your fingertips and evenly distribute it through your damp strands. Style as desired for a sleek, defined look that lasts.

When would you use hair gel?

Use hair gel to control frizz, define curls, style edges, create sleek topknots, or maintain a polished look. It’s perfect for securing styles, whether you desire a messy, voluminous, or sleek appearance.

Can hair gel cause hair loss or damage?

Hair gel, if used excessively or containing harsh ingredients like drying alcohols, can cause hair damage or contribute to hair loss. Choose non-drying formulas and apply appropriately to maintain healthy hair.

How often should I wash out hair gel?

You would want to wash your gel out daily or at least every other day to prevent it from building up, thus ensuring your scalp stays healthy and not dry or damaged. It’s quite important to keep your hair tamed and clean.

Is it safe to use hair gel daily?

Yes, hair gel can definitely be used daily. Just ensure it’s a formula free of alcohols which cause dryness and that, on a regular basis, it’s rinsed from hair. This will reduce product buildup and consequent eventual irritation of the scalp.

Can I mix hair gel with other styling products?

So, you can certainly mix hair gel with other styling products: gel can be mixed with creams, serums, and oils so as to increase fixation, add shine, and acquire action as a frizz controller.

How long does hair gel typically last once applied?

Hair gel typically lasts all day, securing your style from morning until evening. However, environmental factors like humidity or activity level can reduce its effectiveness, so you may occasionally need to reapply or touch up.


Step up your style, this time with a little extra confidence to match, now that you’ve unlocked the secrets of how to use hair gel.

Get perfectly prepped hair, pick the gel you need, and know methods of applying hair gel; you’ll be able to pull off any look, from neat and professional to flippantly cool.

Take on all these expert tips and let your hair be a testament to impeccable grooming and sharp, trendsetting style. Your styling game is elevated and now ready for any occasion.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.