What’s the difference between a gel and a wax?

What’s the difference between a gel and a wax?

We all know the difference between hairspray and mousse. And that a heat styler does something completely different to a serum. But how much do you know when it comes to men’s hair styling products? Do you know the difference between a gel and a wax? Do you even know that clay is a completely different product to both of these?

And more importantly, does your man even know the difference? For all he knows, he’s been buying the wrong type of product for years and doesn’t know why he can’t get the results he’s after.

The world of men’s hair styling products can be a confusing one, which is why we asked Grant Withnell, Schwarzkopf’s National Technical Educator, to give us a run-down of the different types of men’s styling products.

Let the decoding begin…


“Wax is fantastic for creating a gloss finish,” says Grant. It’s ideal for smooth styles that are a bit flatter and can be used to create texture and volume.
Styling advice
Rub a small amount between your fingertips or palms and work the gel into dry or damp hair from roots to tips. Then sculpt and accentuate individual strands for long-lasting hold.
Try: Schwarzkopf Taft Full On Structure Modelling Wax.
Why? It helps structure your hair like wax and holds like gel without hardening or becoming greasy-looking. Not only does it provide extreme hold, but it’s easy to wash out, too.


“Gel provides a hard, firm and wet finish,” advises Grant, so it’s best used for creating a slick hair look that you’d want to have looking wet for a long time (think Don Draper’s sophisticated style in Man Men).
Styling advice
Apply gel with your fingers to wet or dry hair and sculpt into the desired style.
Try: Schwarzkopf Extra Care Styling Power ‘N Touch Gel.
Why? This gel has been exclusively designed by Schwarzkopf to give ultimate 24-hour hold without that crunchy feeling.


Clay gives your hair a matte finish and is perfect for creating a messy, textured look. “Use clay if your hair is very thick and hard to hold,” says Grant.
Styling advice
Work the clay between your palms, rub into dry hair and style as desired. For a texturised look, use the clay on your fingertips and twist pieces of your hair to mould the style into place.
Try: Schwarzkopf Taft Full On Stylin’ Texture Clay
Why? It helps mould and manipulate hair for all kinds of styles and a matte finish.


Foam will give your hair a natural finish and can be used on all hair types. “Foam is best when applied to wet hair and is perfect for blow-drying to create the desire look,” says Grant.
Styling advice
Use a small amount of the foam and run it through your hair slowly, making sure to cover all areas.
Try: Schwarzkopf Taft Full on GelFoam
Why? This foam combines the super-strong hold of gel with the natural grip of foam. It wraps around every single hair strand and can help you achieve a whole range of looks – everything from a bold quiff to a slick sophisticated finish.

Did you know the difference between these styling products? Which one does your man use?

Have you tried any of the products mentioned?

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