One of the myths about cutting off all your hair is that you’ll save money on product. Sure, the increased mileage I get out of a bottle of conditioner is like switching from a 1970 Chevy Impala to a Prius, but when it came to styling product I used to get by with a couple of anti-frizz serums and a plain old bottle of hairspray. But now that I have a pixie, I have a whole stack of hair goops to tame it. It’s still easier to style (I love getting back the time I used to spend curling my hair, and I don’t miss the burns, either) but in exchange for that saved time I need to use more product.
I’m still searching for the perfect hair goop that does everything I need (when I had short hair in college, my aunt worked for Unilever and I got enough free boxes of the now-defunct Salon Selective Control D Substance Molding Putty to get me through two years of short hair and a year of growing it out. I wish they still made it.)
Here’s the roundup of everything I have tried since chopping off all my hair the day after my wedding:
Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Finishing Paste
Consistency: It feels a lot like face cream.
Smell: Lemon Pine-sol
Good news: The “clean” part of the name of this product is very appropriate, unlike a lot of these goops, it does not make your hair feel like you haven’t washed it in a week. It makes hair look less fuzzy, which is especially helpful when you need a trim.
Bad news: It offers zero hold and styling assistance.
Best use: Giving it to your Jew-fro’d husband, who has switched over to it after years of exclusive use of Garnier Fructis Style Curl Construct Mousse.
Tigi Bed Head Manipulator
Consistency: Aileen’s Tacky Glue
Smell: Somewhere between coconuts and candy necklaces
Good news: Nothing else I’ve tried, not even my beloved departed Salon Selectives goop, will correct the position of a wonky chunk of hair as quickly and easily as this stuff.
Bad news: It’s far too sticky and powerful to use all over your head. It’s pretty pricey, too, but it goes on 2 for 1 sales a lot at Ulta and Target, and so far I’ve managed to only buy it at those times.
Best use: Taming cowlicks and getting those little wispy hairs on your forehead out of the way.
Additional note: I tried some knock off version of this that I can’t even remember the name of, and it worked ALMOST but not quite as well, but the smell was so terrible (sort of like almonds and cough syrup) that I couldn’t stand to use it.
Sexy Short Sexy Hair Quick Change Shaping Balm
Consistency: Sort of like a creamy rubber cement, if you can imagine that.
Good news: This has nearly as much shaping power as Bed Head, but is thinner so you can use it on your whole head. Like with the Garnier Clean Paste, the name of the product is truth in advertising, because it is a super fast way to completely switch up your hair style.
Bad news: I compared it to rubber cement because it sticks to itself and stretches out in long strands of hair goop. This means using it is a huge fucking mess. The outside of my jar is disgustingly sticky. You absolutely must wash your hands after using this stuff. Also, it makes your hair feel completely grody and kind of makes me want to run for the shampoo.
Best use: When you have to be somewhere ten minutes after waking up/working out and your hair is all over the place and you’d need to make it look neat enough to go out in public, NOW.
Sexy Hair Short Sexy Hair Rough & Ready Styling Gunk
Smell: I honestly can’t remember.
Consistency: Sugar wax for hair removal.
Bad news: I’m starting with bad news because I hated this product. I bought it to help me with fauxhawks and similar wacky looks, and sure, it’ll get your hair there. The problem is it starts to flake off almost immediately, which is not only gross but means your wacky style won’t actually hold for very long.
Good news: Ulta takes returns within 60 days!
Best use: Maybe you are making a shot-for-shot remake of The Breakfast Club and the actor you have playing Ally Sheedy’s character doesn’t have dandruff? You can use this stuff for the scene where she makes dandruff snow on her sketch. You’re welcome.
MOP Glisten High Shine Pomade
Price: About $15
Smell: Vaguely lemony.
Consistency: Melted petroleum jelly.
Good news: This is a fantastic finishing product, smoothing down any stray bits and making your hair really awesomely shiny. It makes your hair feel soft instead of waxy.
Bad news: You have to use it VERY sparingly or your hair will look hella greasy. Also, the shinyness can have a “My gray hairs, let me show you them!” effect.
Best use: Making your short hair look extra fancy when you are really dressed up.
If you have or have had short hair, I’d LOVE to hear what you use on it. Maybe you can lead me to short hair product Nirvana!
January 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm
I’ve had good luck with some of the got2b products, especially the Playful pomade when I just want a slightly messy casual look. If I put it in while my hair is still wet, I don’t need to use very much, and it’s pretty subtle once dried. I like it because my hair still feels like *soft hair* but it holds a flexible shape pretty well and doesn’t end up looking greasy. I use the got2b Defiant pomade when I want spikey hair (still flexible, but a stiffer hold, still not greasy!) and if I’m doing a faux hawk, I’ll use the got2b glued (only the gel, NOT the freeze spray).
got2b glued is heavy duty stuff, though. I cannot ever put it directly into dry hair, my hair must be wet, and sometimes extra water needs to be used to dilute the gel/paste/stuff. It is some awesome long-lasting stuff, though.
January 12, 2012 at 11:28 am
That Glued stuff is INSANE. Might as well use actual glue. Which is what I remember the “punk” kids at my middle school doing anyway.
January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm
I waited about a month after the wedding before I went back to my pixie-cut ways. I tried using the husband’s axe styling products, but didn’t like smelling like a boy. I use ThermaFuse Tac, which is described as a texture taffy. It smells pretty good and I use it all over for everyday texture and hold. I have stick-straight hair and love that it helps “rough” it up a little. That said, I don’t think it would be strong enough to hold a faux hawk, but I’m not sure. I bought it directly from my hair salon, so it was pricey and I honestly haven’t looked anywhere else for it.
I did a quick search at thermafuse.com with a Pittsburgh zip code and couldn’t find it closer than 50 miles. Let me know if you want to try it, though, and I will send some your way.
January 12, 2012 at 11:30 am
I am fairly certain they sell that at a nearby salon, my sister-in-law who got a pixie while I was still growing out my hair for my wedding uses it. Thanks!
January 12, 2012 at 12:02 am
I still have a tub of that Salon Selectives stuff, which should give you an indication of how consistently I use hair product. Now wondering what I could get from you for it. Maybe Stukitty (JUST KIDDING COLLIN)
January 12, 2012 at 11:30 am
I’m just going to sneak into your apartment ninja-like and steal it. And then be like, “Annie, what up! I’m in Boston, let’s get cocktails!” which will give me away.
January 12, 2012 at 7:16 am
I too cut my hair pixie short after my wedding and am still playing around with products. I hate when companies discontinue good products! When I had long curly hair, revlon made this amazing stuff called lush whip. It was perfect for curl styling… So sad. Anyway, I digress.
My question: which has been the best for the faux-hawk look?
January 12, 2012 at 11:31 am
I use the quick change for the fauxhawk. My hair wants to stick up on its own, which helps. I think people with finer hair would need something stronger, but if you have curly hair this should probably do the trick.
January 12, 2012 at 7:28 am
Also, have you tried Redken Rewind? I remember that being fun and smelling good…
January 12, 2012 at 11:32 am
I haven’t! Thanks!
January 12, 2012 at 8:39 am
A – your aunt who works at Unilever should now be supplying you with all the TIGI you can rub on your head
B – I enjoy the TIGI bed head stick. First, according to the package, it is for cool people. It is kind of like a glue stick – it adds nice texture and can ALMOST make all the hair stick out if you run it right up the back of your head. Bonus: you do not actually have to get goo all over your hands. http://www.tigihaircare.com/consumer/en-US/bedhead/bedhead-products.asp?product=w_stick&categoryID=7
C – I still have half a container of this grey putty that came out of an old-school upright aquafresh dispenser (dark gray with an orange cap). I forget the name. It was imported and absurdly expensive at a salon I used to go to, but it smelled amazing and would make my hair do anything.
January 12, 2012 at 11:33 am
My aunt RETIRED! And as happy as I was for her that she was able to retire young and well, I very selfishly was like, “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY SAMPLE PRODUCTS?”
January 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm
I like using Aveda’s Men Pure-formance Grooming Clay. It’s not sticky, which a major bonus in my head. But it holds. I love this stuff. It smells like nature too, organic and earthy. So good. This what I use when my hair is short.
January 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm
I remember one Christmas all I wanted present-wise was Aveda custom shampoo. My mom was like, “Uh… sure, hon.”
January 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm
KMS moulding paste is the shiz. Kind of expensive (maybe cheaper in the US though, as it’s from there) but lasts forever cos you only use a tiny wee amount. Works a charm.
January 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm
I will have to check it out! Thanks!
January 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm
I used d:fi and it smelled SO fantastic. It was definitely not clean feeling if you use too much, but it gave me some serious spikes. Here is a link to the medium. They also have light and heavy:
January 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm
I used that before I got the Salon Selective windfall with short hair Round 1! I’m surprised I haven’t bought another tub.
January 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm
Great post! I am seriously in pretty hair debt to you now.
My two recommendations are:
Paul Mitchell Re-works is great for a texture “I don’t want to look like a dandelion puff” thing.
Aveda Brilliant Universal Styling Creme: Really pleasant light feel, good at smooth and shiny and smells delightful.
January 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm
I use Paul Mitchell Wax Works for my faux hawk and it’s splendid. Great hold, but doesn’t make your hair all crunchy. Re-style-able all day long. $6 at my salon.
I used to use Rusk Being Primitive Clay which was awesome and smelled good but my salon doesn’t have it and I haven’t been able to find it any stores.
I somewhat-begrudgingly use the Bed Head Manipulator when traveling because it comes in a less-than-3 oz. container, but I agree with your assessment – too tacky for use on my whole head.
January 18, 2012 at 12:40 am
Ooh! I had boy-short hair from late high school through early college, which involved a lot of unfortunate ’80s-man-hair mornings until I found my way to styling aids. The best/only product I used then (sparingly, apparently, because I still have the same tub and I’m pretty sure I got it in 2002 — also, oh my god that was 10 years ago) and even later with longer hair to tame unruly bits is d:struct pliable molding creme by d:fi (www.dfihair.com). I got it from a salon then, and I still see it around, so it shouldn’t be that hard to come by. It smells pleasant, like a nice hair product should, and is kind of sticky… not sure I’d use it on my whole head, but it’s hard to say since it’s been so long for me and such short hair. It’s definitely still my old reliable for smoothing and fixing and things like that, though.
May 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm
What are you using now as an alternative to control [d] substance?!
I’m a guy with short hair and my relationship is seriously at stake if I can’t find a proper replacement. I’ve got a stack of probably 25 products only a few of which come near to what I need.
June 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm
Oh, I knew this day would come. I bought a dozen lovely green tubs of Salon Selectives Putty about two years ago from a place in Canada and I am down to 4 tubs left. I guess I will have to start all over and find something to replace it as I cannot find the good green stuff anywhere.
Total bummer when a great product is discontinued.
I treat it like liquid gold now.
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