10 Best Hair Clays for Men Looking to Improve Their Style

By Jack Prenter / May 27, 2017
Feature images hair

Are you in a rush? Rather than making you read through the entire article just to find out what our favorite hair clay was, we thought that we'd include a short summary at the top. However, we would still recommend that you look through the entire article if you have the time. Depending on your hair type and desired style, a different clay might suit you better

Our favorite pick was the Krieger and Söhne Styling Clay. It offers an incredibly good hold, without becoming hard and flakey like cheaper clays do. It washes out relatively easy given that it contains beeswax, this will help to provide extra thickness and a great natural style. It's cheaper that you might imagine and it's perfect for most styles. Check it out here:

Krieger and Söhne hair products

Krieger and Söhne Clay

Our favorite hair clay for men

A reasonably priced product that offers a performance that's much better than you'd expect at this cost point. It has medium hold and low-medium shine, perfect for most hairstyles.

Hair clay has gained popularity in recent years, likely because it gives a natural, textured look that has been trendy among celebrities and sports stars.

Unlike the classic pomade or gel, hair clay doesn’t have a shiny finish and therefore it’s harder to tell if the person is using any product or not. Searching for a clay can be pretty difficult, there are now so many products out there that it’s hard to tell the difference.

Clay sits in the middle of almost all measures, it has medium hold, medium stay and washes out relatively easily. Without the clumping of a gel there is no chance of flaking throughout the day, this has converted hardcore gel lovers to hair clay instead.

In recent years, the trend for mens hairstyles has leaned towards rougher and less defined cuts that allow for easier styling and less product. In this climate hair clay has thrived, it offers you the ability to style your hair against gravity but without much other difference.

Your hair still feels like it has little to no product in and it also looks that way. The only visible change is that the hold allows your hair to defy gravity and finer hair will look thicker.

Compared to the classic hair products; pomade, gel and wax, clay is new and interesting but has little else in common with the others. The closest comparison would be to a wax, but it doesn’t have the same oily feel and it often has a little less hold that makes it more workable.

How should you use hair clay most effectively?

Hair clay is applied similarly to a wax. You should curl your index finger in towards you palm and then use the upper nail and skin to scrape some of the product out of the tin. This prevent it from going under your fingernails.

You should then rub the product between your fingers on both hands until it feels warm and fully melted.

Rather than just applying the product to the surface of the dry hair, as many guys do, make sure to really get the product all across the hair and even into the roots. This will provide a lasting and strong hold. Don’t worry about styling it whilst you do this.

Once the hair has the product in it you can begin to style the hair. If you want a more defined look then use a comb, otherwise, if you want it to appear more rough and natural then you can use your fingers.

After you’ve got the perfect style you could even use a small amount of hairspray and then blow-dry it into place on a cold setting.

How should you pick the right hair clay for you?

One of the biggest factors when you're picking any product is the hairstyle that you’re aiming for. If you’ve ever grown your hair out then you’ll know that depending on the length of your hair you might need a completely different product to get the style that you’re looking for.

Clays are great for short, medium and even long hair, but to get the same hold on long hair you’re going to need a very strong clay, unless you’re planning to use hairspray. However, if you have long hair but are going for a loose and casual style then clay is perfect, just don’t expect the same kind of hold that you’d get from a pomade or a gel.

How we determine the top clay for you

With any beauty product there’s going to be a lot of personal preference based upon your own expectations and the hairstyle that you’re aiming for. Men will even have varying fragrance preferences and this can make it more difficult to create a list like this.

That’s why each of the products is broken down into individual components which are then aggregated to help us to make our final decision on where each product ranks.

Each of the reviews below the products are shorter than they might be to save your and our time, but make sure to check out the links and read some more reviews before you purchase a clay.

When we were deciding on the top clay we looked at the following factors:

Price - This is a huge factor with hair products because the price can vary so hugely. A cheap but good product might be 5x cheaper than a great product and so price can be one of the biggest factors when deciding which to use.

Performance - When you’re using a hair product, you have a certain expectation about how it will perform. Many of us take our appearance very seriously and even a slightly weaker performance can make a product unusable.

Peer review - With most products having hundreds of reviews from people with wildly different hair types and styles, it would be crazy for any reviewer to ignore them. We use peer reviews extensively to help us decide on how to rank products and how they perform in comparison.

Scent - The fragrance of a hair product is such an individual choice that it’s often better for companies to remove all fragrances, and yet they never seem to. The reason that we’ve included scent is because we want to prevent clashes between the fragrances you’re using and because some scents are almost universally more preferable than others.

10 Best hair clays for men

Krieger and Schone

Krieger + Söhne Styling Clay

Krieger is German for warrior and that really holds true for this clay. This product near enough destroys most other clays out there and offers an incredibly good product at quite a reasonable price point. When we finished up our reviewing process we realized that this was the best hair clay for men, it offered the best performance for most hair types and was available at a reasonable price.

Prices will vary across states and also over time, but at the time of writing you can normally find the K+S clay for around $15 for a 2oz container, which is more expensive than some of the cheaper brands you’ll find in the grocery store, but is reasonable for this quality. If you’re looking to buy a product that performs well then you’re going to need to spend a little extra.

Speaking of performance, the K+S clay has great hold that is a little heavy if anything and lasts for around 12 - 14 hours. For a clay this is great performance, you can’t expect it to last for 24 hours like a gel or a pomade. That’s just because the ingredients are natural and don’t cause the hair to stiffen and clump in the same way.

The clay contains a large amount of beeswax, this gives it a much thicker texture than many clays but also less solid. This beeswax is quite rich and allows you to use less of the product than you might need with a rival brand, making the same container go much further. The only downside is that beeswax is naturally water resistant and so the clay won’t wash out of your hair as easily unless you use a shampoo.

One of the only negative points that we saw brought up was that the scent is quite strong. It has a fragrance somewhere between coconut and fruit, it’s not the most masculine smell and it is quite noticeable at first. However, as with any scent, it will fade relatively quickly and shouldn’t interfere too much with your cologne.

Most of the reviews are extremely positive and this product has even be recommended by style and beauty Youtubers. If you’re looking for the best hair clay then you might be convinced by their 100% satisfaction guaranteed refund policy. Like many men before you, take the leap into the world of better hair with the best hair clay available right now!

Layrite Cement Hair Clay

Layrite Cement Matt Clay

Before we start this review, it should be noted that it clearly says “cement” in the product name, so if you expect anything less… that’s your fault!

The Layrite Cement Matt Clay is the only choice for guys with longer hair or those of you who want to rock a more extreme style. This is one of the hardest setting clays available on the market right now and performs exactly as you’d hope. The only reason we didn’t choose this as the best hair clay for men was because not everyone is looking for such a rock-hard feel.

It has quite a vivid vanilla smell that isn’t overly sweet or unpleasant, but fades quickly and shouldn’t overpower your cologne or aftershave. Unlike some of the other products out there, the Layrite clay is water-based and therefore, it will wash out easily in the shower but also in the rain. Depending on where you live this could be an issue.

At the time of publication, you can find a 4oz container of this clay for a very reasonable $16, making it an affordable option for most men. For that price this is an absolute bargain for anyone in the market for a high-quality, high-hold clay that will work for many different styles.

The overwhelming majority of the reviews that we read from users of the product were very positive and one was even from someone who had been in the hair industry for 10-years and he said “Do not listen to the reviewers that give this product anything less than 5 stars”.

Pete and Pedro by Aaron Marino

Pete and Pedro Clay

The third clay that we recommend is by a man who I have a lot of respect for, Aaron Marino. Aaron is a professional image consultant and Youtuber who has gained a lot of popularity in the industry for his honesty, trustworthy advice and professionalism.

P&P makes it very clear that their clay is completely paraben-free and so you can be confident in what you’re putting into your hair and on your scalp is safe for you.

This clay is quite different from the Layrite Cement Clay, the P&P Hair Clay is medium hold and without shine. Unlike many products that claim to have no shine, but actually do, this one has about as little shine as you can get without sacrificing performance.

The hold is advertised as medium and it’s true to it’s claim, perfect for people who want a more natural and wavy hairstyle but with hold that will last throughout the day. Unlike a lot of clays, this one doesn’t dry super hard and allows you to still run your fingers through it without feeling like you’re digging in dirt.

The only reason that this wasn’t at the top of the list (we love you Aaron), is because it’s a bit more expensive at around $19 - $20 for a 2oz container. Again, with products of this you don’t need to a use a large amount and so it should last longer than a similar sized container of a cheaper product. Regardless, many people are on a budget and this might put it out of their price range, but for those who can afford it, it’s an excellent product that is highly recommended.

Mr Natty's

Mr Natty’s

It would be rude to create a list of anything related to grooming and not include a product from the UK, the home of grooming!

Mr Natty’s takes everything that we loved about British grooming products and put it into a hair clay. It’s much thicker and has a heavier texture than a lot of pomades, providing you with a lot of ‘fullness’ in your hair, perfect for anyone with fine or thinning hair.

It hasn’t essentially no shine at all and provides an ultra-matte finish with reasonable low-medium hold. The hold is comparable to most mid-market products but with a dry look that most are unable to provide.

The price can seem quite high at around $20, but you get a 100ml tin which is around 3.3oz and should last the average person for around 6-8 months. Most reviews are positive and the few complaints are often about the very sweet smell or low hold compared to other products.

Overall, Mr Natty’s is a good quality product but one that won’t suit all hair types. If you have longer hair or need higher hold, then you should consider the Layrite Cement instead, this clay is for shorter hair and a dry finish. Although it’s not our favorite, it’s still a decent choice if it fits your requirements.

Baxter of California Clay

Baxter of California Clay Pomade

It took a bit of deliberation to decide whether we should include this in the list or not. It’s actually much closer to a pomade than it is to a clay, but it technically includes clay and has similar enough performance that we decided to recommend it.

Baxter of California is famous across the industry for its range of incredible hair products and this clay pomade is no exception. It won an award from Details Magazine in 2012 for this product and it’s easy to see why.

The hold is very good and that’s because it has similar ingredients to a pomade and also beeswax which provides the ‘sticky’ feeling that you want when you’re looking for hold. This does mean that it’s not going to wash out with just water, but that might be a benefit to many guys.

It’s advertised as having no shine, but we would prefer to classify it as low-shine. There is clearly some shine from the beeswax and other ingredients that the clay doesn’t overpower. For anyone looking for no shine you should go with something like Mr Natty’s, but if you’re okay with a little natural shine then this is a good choice.

For those worried about the scent, don’t, it has a pleasant and light citrus scent with notes of earth that complement well to smell like an orchard, a smell that most men are likely to enjoy.

The only reason that this wasn’t ranked much higher is because it is quite expensive at around $21 for a 2oz tin that will last 4-6 months.

Smooth Viking

Smooth Viking Hair Clay

If you’ve ever used American Crew Fibre, this is quite similar to that, just with a little more hold. The Smooth Viking advertises itself as a high-hold, no shine choice for men then need staying power throughout the day and extra texture in their hair.

From the reviews that we saw, feedback was generally positive but some have suggested that the hold isn’t as strong as the company suggests and is a medium hold. Regardless, the reviews were generally quite positive and the price is competitive.

If you’re looking to try out something a bit different, from a smaller company, then you might like to check out Smooth Viking.

It doesn’t appear that they’ve added any fragrance at all into the product and we love that. Fragrances are far too subjective in most cases and represent extra chemicals which you don’t need to be putting into your hair and onto your skin.

As a water-based product it will wash out just as easily as American Crew Fibre, but provides that extra hold that AC Fibre users often claim they had.

Mandom Technical Design Clay

Mandom Gatsby Technical Design Clay

This is a Japanese product that has been gaining some popularity in the United States. It’s aimed at Asian consumers because of their specific hair type, but with such great hold this is a great choice for all different ethnicities.

It doesn’t have the same hold that the Layrite Cement has, but it’s not far off. However, it has less shine and if you’re going for a spiked haircut, but want a matte look, you don’t have many other choices.

The reviews are generally very positive and speak well about the hold, the feeling and the smell. The main complaint was that because the product is so strong and thick, it can be difficult to wash out of your hair, even with a shampoo. For those who re-style their hair every single day, this might not be an issue. But if you are looking for something to only use occasionally, this isn’t the right choice for you.

The hold really is that strong, but it comes at a price. It can be found for around $10 per oz, which makes it one of the most expensive on this list.

Lamel Fine Grooming

Lamel Fine Grooming Clay

Lamel is a brand that’s been growing across the hair styling industry and this clay is one of their most popular items. It’s a middle-market product with a medium hold and low shine that offers much better hold on shorter hair, but a weaker and more natural hold on longer hair.

Lamel’s is very light when compared to their competitors, if you’ve ever been annoyed at your hair being weighed down after applying a competitors cream, you might want to give this a try. It’s less heavy, provides slightly less hold but gives you a natural look and feel, meaning you can run your fingers through it even later in the day.

This would be great for short hair which you want to push up-and-over, or long hair that you want to style back into a relaxed pompadour or a casual combover. This isn’t a great choice if you want extreme hold or a defined style, this is going to make it look like you woke up like that, rather than making it look like you created that style.

Whilst this is lower hold, it does offer excellent texture. If your hair is thinner than you’d like but you’re not interested in getting a high-hold or high-shine look, then you could consider using Lamel.

The price is a little higher than we would have liked to have seen, but it’s not unreasonable. You can buy 2.7oz for around $15 and that makes it about average for this list.

American Crew Molding

American Crew Molding Clay

It wouldn’t be fair to create any hair product list and not talk about American Crew. They don’t offer the highest quality products in the world, but they do offer a good product at an extremely competitive price and it is available across the entire world.

American Crew is very likely one of the most popular mens hairstyle brands in the world, with an instantly recognizable logo and container. For years, men have been using their products and it’s likely that this influence will only grow as time goes on.

Whilst they are most famous for their pomade and their fibre, their hair clay shouldn’t be overlooked. A 3oz container can normally be found for less than $10, making it one of the cheapest on this list and a great option for anyone on a budget.

As with most AC products, the hold is very good and true to the “strong” that it claims. However, unlike most on this list, this one claims to have a medium shine. So, if you are looking to have a natural and healthy looking shine, as opposed to the dry look that most clays give, this is an excellent choice.

However, as with most American Crew products, it is very thick and rich. This means that it’s also relatively heavy and can weigh down longer hair, so, this is best suited for those with short and medium lengths.

With that richness you get incredible lasting though, meaning that this clay will easily last the whole day and often into the next day. Reviewers have even complained that they struggle to get the residue out of their hair because it is so thick and sticky.

Overall, this is an excellent choice for anyone who is on a budget but is still looking to upgrade from cheap grocery store products and into something that professional barbers use.

Uppercut Matt

Uppercut Barber Supplies Matt Clay

The final one that we are going to mention in this article is by Uppercut. We decided to include this because Uppercut is remarkably popular and gaining fame for their pomade. We wanted to review the clay and see how it stands up to their other products.

In general, the reviews seem to be average. Some people have said that they really enjoyed it, whilst others have complained that the product was super sticky and almost impossible to apply or remove from their hair.

We looked at the ingredients and it’s clear that it’s a petroleum-based product and that’s likely why some reviewers complained. They were expecting a traditional clay, but with a petroleum-base you’re going to get a glossier shine, a sticky feel and will need a heavy shampoo to get the product out of your hair.

This might be excellent for some people, for example; one reviewer was a surfer and he loved that even after getting his hair wet it would stay styled the exact same way. So, if you’re looking for something that will hold up against all conditions, even the waves, this is a good pick. Otherwise, if you want a traditional clay you should stick to products that are beeswax or clay based instead of petroleum-based.

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