Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Want thicker looking hair without any hard work? While you may struggle to get the fullness of your dreams with a gel or pomade, the thickening power of clay will give your hair instant body.
What Is Hair Clay Made From?
These products are so volumizing because they literally use clay (mostly bentonite, an ingredient naturally formed from volcanic ash) that will give you volume with a very matte finish. These hair clays work by self-sealing when they come into contact with water to create a barrier over your hair that will moisturise and nourish your scalp. The best hair clays for men will give you an all-day hold and if water based will easily wash out with shampoo.
What Kind Of Hair Is Clay Good For?
Clay works best on normal to dry hair types. It will give your hair some needed moisture but will still provide a matte finish and a strong hold. It’s a top styling product for men who like a volumized look, and the best hair clays for men will work on both thin and thick hair.
What Are The Different Types Of Hair Clays For Men?
There are less varieties of hair clays than other men’s products, like hair wax, but there is a difference when it comes to what other ingredients have been added. Lots of clay will have additional oils to nourish your hair, while some will be made of water-based natural ingredients that are easier to wash off. The small subtleties between the best hair clays available can make choosing the right one seem tricky, our guide will help you find the perfect product for your hair:
1. Hanz De Fuko Claymation
Made in California, this clay is a great option for men who like a firm hold to create a bold look. The beauty of this product is the ‘clay-wax’ hybrid formula which will keep your hair in place while still nourishing your scalp. That’s because of the great mix of natural oils that have gone into this hair clay. Jojoba and castor oil will sink into your scalp and hair to boost moisture while the lemon peel extract will reduce oil levels and help stop dandruff. The most interesting ingredient here is the mallow flower, which works to boost blood circulation to your scalp. All this makes Hanz de Fuko Claymation the best hair clay for men who are worried about thinning hair.
2. John Frieda Lifting Clay Creme
Ever wondered what keratin proteins in hair clays actually do? Lots of hair products for men and women use keratin as their star ingredient and it’s easy to see why. Keratin is the protein that our hair, skin and nails are made out of, meaning the molecular structure of keratin in a product is the same as that of your own hair. By adding it to this men’s hair clay, John Frieda has formed a product that will bond with your own hair to create seamless texture with a good hold and natural look. This is the best hair clay for men with fine hair, as the keratin will coat every strand while still creating a matte finish with a medium hold.
3. Toni And Guy Moulding Clay
If you want to create texture and volume on medium-length hair, you need to check out this clay from Toni and Guy. Designed to be used by backstage stylists to create looks that will stay in place and stand out amongst the crowd, the London brand knows what it takes to make hair clays with a natural matte finish and a strong hold that can withstand any urban environment. The best way to use this hair clay is to warm a small amount up by rubbing between your palms before spreading through your hair and using your fingers to style. Remember it’s always easier to use small amounts of clay and gradually add more, than whacking in a big glob and trying to get excess product back out. Once the clay has dried slightly, use your usual tools to create a more defined look.
4. Aveda Pure-formance Grooming Clay
Don’t let your hair product weigh your fine hair down – this Pure-formance Grooming Clay from Aveda uses light-weight microfibres to create a strong hold with a natural matte finish. Fine hair can often look greasy far too quickly, which isn’t helped if you live in a city where dirt and grime can make it even worse. This hair clay prevents grease in your hair by using citrus extract (also good for fighting dandruff), while the clay itself will draw out impurities from your hair and help nourish it. With certified organic essential oils, the spearmint and lavender in this hair clay will help you start the day smelling clean and fresh. If you care about doing your part for the planet, you’ll be happy to know that Aveda were the first beauty company using 100% wind power to make their products in their main factory.
5. Osmo Extreme Matte Clay
For men with short hair, it can sometimes feel hard finding a hair clay that will give you good texture without making your hair look like one uniform fluffball. This Extreme Matte Clay from Osmo will give you definition and a medium hold while making your hair look thicker and fuller. Be warned that this clay sets pretty quickly so after warming it up between your palms for 15 seconds, you’ll want to spread it through your hair within about 30 seconds to ensure good distribution. Unlike some other makes, this hair clay from Osmo won’t leave a sticky residue over your hands, making it the best hair clay to chuck in your gym bag or use for a quick top up after work.
6. American Crewe Matte Clay
American Crewe have a wide range of styling products to suit all cuts and hair types so you know you’re in safe hands when you use this matte clay. With a medium hold, this grooming clay will give you long-lasting texture with a workable hold that will keep your hair in place but can be restyled throughout the day. If you’re looking for a hair clay that isn’t totally matte and will give your hair a low shine, this option is best for achieving a natural look for men who have straighter hair. For a more relaxed finish, apply to damp hair before styling, while using the clay on very dry hair will give you a more firm hold.
7. Bumble And Bumble SumoClay
Haven’t heard of Bumble and Bumble? You seriously need to check out this hair care brand that has been making waves in the grooming industry. Designed for men and women, the SumoClay is best for fine to medium hair that has been feeling dry and needs a moisture boost. The finish is described as a ‘gritty matte finish’ but don’t let that put you off, what this hair clay does is create grungy, rugged looks that can be revived throughout the day with more product. We’d say this is the best hair clay if you have a longer cut that has been dried out by a summer under the sun.
8. Seven Potions Hair Styling Clay
This is the best styling product for men who want to make green choices when it comes to grooming. Made in the UK from natural, vegan products that are never tested on animals, Seven Potions Styling Clay will give you flexible hold that will easily wash out because of the water-soluble ingredients. Whereas some hair clay may leave a buildup after shampooing, this product is silicone and paraben free so won’t leave your hair looking greasy after use. With bergamot, ylang ylang and sandalwood oil creating a subtle scent, the Seven Potions clay creates natural texture with a touchable feel. Most hair clay is best applied when your hair is very dry, so it’s a big bonus that this option will work just as well on damp hair – best for men who have a quick and simple morning routine.
9. Brickell Styling Clay Pomade
Formed in 2013 by Josh Meyer and Matt Bolduc, the friends started creating their brand out of Matt’s garage. What started as a solution to their own hair care needs, became Brickell – now sold in over 100 countries. Made with the best natural ingredients and paraben free, the bentonite hair clay will give your hair a fuller look, while aloe will provide moisture to your scalp making each strand more volumized. The natural oils in this hair clay (namely argan oil) will condition your hair, helping to smooth out any unwanted frizz. In our opinion this is the best hair clay for men who would like to help stimulate hair growth and maintain thick hair. As this won’t damage coloured hair and will work to condition your scalp, Brickell clay works a treat for men looking to maintain a youthful appearance.
10. Uppercut Matte Clay
Think of Australia and chances are beaches and surfing comes to mind. That’s why this hair clay from australian brand Uppercut has been designed to create the best long lasting texture that won’t come out in water. While this matte finish hair clay will be your saviour when it comes to your poolside style, the wax-based formula means it also won’t come out in the rain and will keep your look in place even if you get caught out in a city drizzle. When you want to wash the clay out of your hair, shampoo will shift it with ease, though Uppercut also makes ‘Deluxe Degreaser’ if you’re keen to make sure your hair clay leaves absolutely no buildup. Giving long lasting, firm hold to even short hair, this is the best hair clay for active men.
11. Baxter Of California Clay Pomade
A little goes a long way when it comes to this hair clay pomade from Baxter of California. While it might have a higher price tag than some other options, lots of cheaper mens products are designed so that you need to use more to get a good finish meaning you end up spending more replenishing your store than if you bought a better quality clay in the first place. To use this Baxter of California Clay Pomade, use a hairdryer to heat up the tub (cap removed) and loosen the clay before rubbing some between your palms and smoothing over your hair. With a strong hold and low shine, this Baxter of California clay is best for creating a bedhead look on all hair types. With natural oils and a frizz-free finish, it’s not hard to see why Baxter of California has been making some of the best hair products since 1965 and in our opinion this is the best hair clay out there.
How To Best Use Your Hair Clay?
If you want to create volume with your hair styling products, begin by drying your hair forwards then point the hairdryer backwards as you brush your cut into shape. Scoop out a small amount of clay from the tub and use the hairdryer to soften the hair clay a little and make it pliable. Rub your palms together then spread the clay through your dry hair, roughing it up as you go. Use your fingers to pinch your hair and create a messy texture. This will give your hair a strong hold and matte finish throughout the day. If you have longer hair and you’re looking to create more of a natural bedhead look, use a medium hold men’s hair clay and apply it to damp hair. Run your hands through your hair for a tousled finish as you gently dry your hair.
Is Clay Bad For Your Hair?
If you use a low-quality hair clay, you may find that the clay won’t wash out of your hair and over time leaves a buildup of product. This could result in the pores on your scalp becoming clogged, creating excess sebum in your hair. To make sure your grooming clay doesn’t damage your hair and leave it looking heavy and greasy, look for a hair clay with natural ingredients that are water based and will wash out easily. Try not to apply too much of any hair styling products directly on to your scalp.
What Are The Alternatives To Hair Clay For Men?
If you are looking for a product that will give you a matte finish, there are alternatives to hair clay. Thanks to the men’s grooming revolution there are plenty of options to make sure you’re choosing the right styling product for your hair:
Sea Salt Spray
A water based sea salt spray is the perfect styling product to add a beachy texture and natural look without weighing hair down, but might dry out your hair so won’t suit men with brittle hair – unlike a clay which will moisturise dry hair.
The best hair gel will give your hair medium hold and will help tame frizz on longer cuts. As styling products go, it’s a firm favourite amongst many men and offers the same versatility as hair clay.
Hair wax will give hair a firm hold throughout the day and is the best styling product for men’s hair that needs shine without looking too greasy. Hair wax works well on thick hair and like clay is often made of natural ingredients. Unlike clay, the best hair wax will give your hair a slight shine.
If you prefer a slicked-back vintage look then a pomade will give your hair a sleek shine and will suit fine hair types. A pomade may not work so well on thick hair but will look great used on straight hair. Though if you want a matte finish and strong hold, stick to men’s hair clay.
What To Remember When Choosing Your Hair Clay
There are a few things to remember when it comes to choosing the best hair clay for you. If you have short hair you may want a clay with a strong hold to give your hair some definition. For a longer, more tousled look choose a clay with a medium hold and run it through your hair when wet for a natural look. The best hair clays for fine hair types will use natural ingredients to moisturise your hair without clogging up your pores. Look for a water based , paraben free hair clay that will wash out easily. The best styling product for men with thick hair is a hair clay that has a strong hold and a medium matte finish.
11 Best Hair Clay Brands: Ranked
- Baxter Of California Clay Pomade
- Uppercut Matte Clay
- Brickell Styling Clay Pomade
- Seven Potions Hair Styling Clay
- Bumble And Bumble SumoClay
- American Crewe Matte Clay
- Osmo Extreme Matte Clay
- Aveda Pure-formance Grooming Clay
- Toni And Guy Moulding Clay
- John Frieda Lifting Clay Creme
- Hanze De Fuko Claymation