How to Tame Thick & Unruly Hair for Men


Stocksy / Design by Zackary Angeline

Thick hair comes with its own set of challenges. It can be unruly, hard to handle, and takes forever to dry. Luckily, with the right tools, thick, luscious hair can be tamed. If you’ve been blessed (or cursed) with a super-thick head of hair, these tips will help you get your mane under control. Thanks to some experts, we've got all the advice you need to control a full head of hair.

Meet the Expert

  • Rod Galvao is a stylist at Gem House in Brooklyn, NYC.
  • Jeff White is a barber at Fellow Barber’s Williamsburg location.

Consider a Chop

Man getting haircut

PeopleImages / Getty Images

Of course, the easiest way to control very thick hair is to simply cut it short. A shorter length can be a great option for those looking for a low-maintenance style. Depending on how it's cut, a shorter hair still leaves room for endless styling options. "Textured, shorter cuts work best for thick hair. When you texturize the hair with scissors, you’re removing bulk that many clients with thick hair do not want. It also lends itself to more edgier looks, which I love," says White.

"The best haircuts are more texturized because they balance the weight of thick hair and the volume. Layers are also good, only blunt cuts aren’t recommended," adds Galvao.

Use a Blowdryer and Brush

Man blowdrying his hair before work

monzenmachi / Getty Images

In addition to the products you use, it's probably a good idea to invest in a brush and blowdryer to help with styling your hair. "Have in mind that you will sometimes need extra products like a blow dryer and a brush to achieve the desired look. I recommend blow drying the hair first and then finishing the styling with products." adds Galvao.

Grow it Out

John frieda frizz ease secret weapon
John Frieda Frizz Ease Secret Weapon $7.00

Does your hair stick straight up when it's short? In that case, growing your hair out to a longer length may help keep flyaways weighted down. For stubborn hairs that refuse to lay flat, try using a smoothing cream like John Freida's Frizz Ease Secret Weapon.

If you still want the freedom to wear your hair down or up, a longer style is a versatile option. 

Find Products That Work for You

Fellow Barber Hybrid Clay
Fellow Barber Hybrid Clay $25.00

If everyone had a perfect head of hair, we wouldn’t need styling products. For thick hair, a styling product will give you some control over your excessive crop. Product will add weight and allow you to create nearly any style you want. 

White says, "I like to use Fellow Barber’s Hybrid Clay on thick, shorter styles. It makes it easy to sculpt the texturized look into place. Using a leave-in conditioner or a styling product that is highly moisturizing like Fellow Barber’s Styling Cream ($25), which adds hydration that thick hair needs, especially if the hair is wavy or unruly." Galvao adds, "If you have curly thick hair it is also recommended to use a curl activator. I suggest the Kevin Murphy Killer Curls ($33)"

What products aren't a great for for thick hair? "Mouses are the no go here, also be careful with wax and pomades. Usually the consistency can make thick hair look greasy. Oils are also recommended only in the case of having dry hair. Avoid volumizing products, as most of these will give a dry aspect and sometimes look crunchy and even stiff," says Galvao.

Let It Air Dry

man wearing suit

Janko Ferlič / Unsplash

Excessive heat is damaging for any hair type, but using a ton of heat on thick hair can lead to extreme breakage and frizz. But, even with air drying, frizz is still possible. Using the right products can tame frizz and keep hair looking shiny and make it easier to style. If you don't have time to let your hair air dry on it's own, opt for a cooler setting on your hair dryer. This will add some extra volume and decrease drying time. 

Condition Away

Young man with thick hair

Arrul lin / Unsplash

Always use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. White advises to shampoo no more than three times a week, but you should condition your hair every day. "Thick hair needs more moisture and hydration. Shampooing too frequently can strip hair of the natural oils it needs," he adds.

After a good shampoo, apply about a dime-sized amount of conditioner to your hair, comb it through with a wide-tooth comb to distribute evenly, and leave it on for several minutes. A good conditioner will help soften your hair and make it more manageable.

Avoid Too Many Layers

Man leaning into camera

Justin Chen / Unsplash

While layers can add volume and movement, shorter layers can stick straight up—or out. If you want to remove some bulk from your hair, ask your hairstylist to use a razor to help thin it out. "If your hair is thick, the longer it is, the more trouble you’ll have without a certain amount of layering and texture. For that reason, I recommend shorter, more wispy styles that are thinned out," adds White. A razor creates more texture and movement than regular shears, but can help reduce areas that may appear heavy or too thick. 

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