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What is Hair Gel?

By J. Beam
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hair gel is a hairstyling product that is applied to wet hair to aid in the styling process. It comes in several forms, including gel consistency, liquid consistency, or spray form. The holding power varies from light hold to strong hold and is most frequently the preferred styling product for styles that are allowed to air dry. This hair product is sold at both professional salons and at discount drug stores.

Though hair gel is used to aid in the styling process of many different hairstyles, it is most useful at providing a “wet look.” Gel is also useful for “crunching,” a styling term that refers to bunching up strands of hair to boost any natural or chemical curl or wave in the hair. Even though it creates a superb wet look and works well with air dry styles, it can also be used when blow drying and heat styling.

The method of applying hair gel depends on the type in use. If you are using spray gel, simply spray all over the hair from roots to end and then work into the hair using your hands. For regular or liquid gel, apply a quarter-sized dollop to one palm, rub together with the other, and work into the hair. For longer hair, more may be necessary to cover all strands. Always apply it to damp, towel-dried hair, as it is not designed for use on dry hair.

Similar to other styling products applied to wet hair, hair gel can be reactivated by lightly spraying the hair with water once dry. To revamp a style in a hurry, simply mist your hair with a spray bottle full of water and reshape. If additional hold is desired, you can easily reapply a small amount of gel before combing or shaping.

If you have dry hair, you should avoid using hair gel that contains alcohol. Like other styling products, it can build up on the hair follicles over time with frequent use. To remove this build-up, simply use a clarifying shampoo once every few weeks. Follow up with a conditioner after washing the hair with a clarifying shampoo and then style as usual. Experiment with different types of gel and different hold strength to find the product that best suits your styling needs.

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Discussion Comments

By anon937642 — On Mar 06, 2014

I disagree with what you say about hair gel. It's all about the hairspray.

By anon306954 — On Dec 02, 2012

Hair gel is a horrific part of our modern society.

By surfNturf — On Jul 22, 2010

Comfyshoes- I agree with you. My son uses Dep Sport in a tube but I do notice when he puts too much because it does tend to flake and look white.

I usually Aveda pomade or an oil spray because my hair is dry and gel makes it worse. The texture of my hair limits my styling options.

By comfyshoes — On Jul 22, 2010

Stare31- I agree with you. Hair gel offers a better hold. The only thing that you have to remember with hair gel is not to put too much because it tends to flake. Sometimes the flakes are visible and it does not look attractive.

By stare31 — On Nov 05, 2009

Hair gel is a better product than hair spray if you want to stiffen your hair. Hair wax is even better for stiffening than hair gel.

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