Is wax good for your hair?

We explore the pros and cons of using wax products for hairstyling

Grooming, hair wax, shaving, beard
(Image credit: Getty)

Hair waxes have long been known as one of the best ways to create a slick and natural-looking hairstyle. However, with the rise of rival styling products such as gels, clays, and creams, hair wax as we know it seems to have taken a back seat. But, made largely from natural ingredients, should wax be one of our go-to products when it comes to hairstyling?

Unlike water-based products like gels and mousses, hair waxes don’t dry hard. This makes them ideal for a hairdo that you can restyle throughout the day without taking the moisture out of your hair as other products can.

Let’s explore just how good using wax can be for our hair.

Hair waxes with natural ingredients

The great thing about most hair waxes over other types of styling products is that they’re usually made up of natural ingredients. You’ll find that most brands’ products are alcohol-free so, unlike gel, they don’t dry out your hair and your scalp.

Take celebrity hairstylist Oliver J Woods’ natural, preservative-free Blackseed Wax, for instance. This wax has not only been designed to create slick styles but it makes use of active ingredients that also benefit the condition of the hair. This is largely thanks to the Blackseed oil, an ingredient that has natural anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Like many other brands, it also boasts a serving of natural beeswax and sunflower wax, which work to nourish the hair and scalp.

The natural properties of wax products like this mean they can also be used on facial hair, to style eyebrows, beards, sideburns, and moustaches.

Hair loss shampoo

(Image credit: Getty)

Much better for your hair than gel 

If you’ve been using that ‘90s style wet look gel for time and still not sure whether to ditch it for a more natural and healthier wax product, you should listen to what the experts have to say.

According to most hair professionals, gels can be bad for your hair over time as they have a tendency to mess with your hair’s moisture levels and reduce the production of sebum. This creates dry, brittle and breakage-prone hair and gives rise to problems of itchy and flaky scalp.

Check out our ‘Which is better: hair gel or wax’ article for more on this. 

Don’t overdo it

Sure, hair wax can prove beneficial for your hair over other products, but - as with all things in life - you can have too much of a good thing. 

Dr Eid Alhajar of Bizrahmed Centers, a specialist surgeon with a certification in hair transplants from the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, says we should be cautious about applying too much wax, too often. 

“Using a styling product such as hair wax isn’t harmful in itself, but it is important not to overuse it,” he recommends.

“The overuse of wax can lead to discolouration and damage because it disturbs the pH balance of the hair and makes it unhealthy. This can cause blackheads and skin impurities, and - in some cases - an allergic reaction could occur after application.”

The key in this case is moderation. Use a small amount of wax to style your hair. And as before, ensure that you’re washing it out properly, a matter which we’ll dive into next.

Build up and washing

Another problem that wax can bring is that if it’s not washed out properly, it can start to make your hair look greasy. And because wax essentially creates a seal around the hair and scalp, it could have a knock-on effect of trapping the oil close to your skin. 

However, shampoo giant Head&Shoulders offers some handy tips for washing out wax:

“To make sure that your scalp stays healthy while you’re using wax, try applying a bit of shampoo to dry hair first,” the brand recommends. “This helps concentrated shampoo bind to the wax which otherwise is hydrophobic – before it gets diluted.

“After you’ve washed that out, try washing again normally, applying your shampoo to wet hair and you should be able to get rid of all of the wax.”

A regular washing routine is a must when using any product, especially wax. This will ensure your scalp stays as healthy as possible.

How to apply correctly

If you’ve decided that wax is the styling product for you but you’ve never used it before, or you’re not sure if you’re using it correctly, here are some pro tips from the popular high street salon Tony&Guy on how to use it to create some killer looks.

Step 1: Scrape about nail’s worth of the hair wax with the back of your index finger.

Step 2: Warm it up: wipe the product into your opposite hand’s palm and work between your hands until fully melted, evenly distributed, and clumpless. It should look almost like there’s nothing on your hands.

Step 3: Apply wax to wet or dry hair for a more styled look, or damp hair to achieve a more natural look.

Step 4: Start applying at the back of the head. “Since the majority of our hair lies toward the back of our heads, it’s the perfect place to begin wax application and create the foundation of the hairstyle,” the salon says.

Step 5: Alternate hands during application. As you work back to front, be sure to alternate your hands as you go. “This will ensure that the product is evenly applied as it’s transferred from your hands to your client’s hair,” it adds.

Step 6: Close your hand as you work towards the ends to ensure the wax is applied evenly across the whole hair.

Step 7: Once applied, get your hands through your hair and style as desired.

Because hair wax generally has an exceptional hold, you can style a short men’s hairstyle any way you’d like. You can also finish with a hair spray to fully fix the style.

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Lee Bell
Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.