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Gel Hairstyles: A/W Trend-Setting Looks

From its modest beginnings to its current status as an indispensable tool in styling, hair gel has charted a remarkable journey. Tracing its origins back to the early 20th century, hair gel has transformed from basic formulas to sophisticated styling products.

Hair gel has long been a staple in hairstyling, offering unparalleled control and versatility. In recent years, it has played a central role in reviving sleek and sculptured looks, emerging as a key trendsetter in the hair fashion industry. The beauty of gel lies in its ability to create sharply defined styles that exude sophistication and elegance.

Sleek hairstyles, once a hallmark of classic Hollywood glamour, have made a dramatic comeback, now imbued with modern twists. Using gel, stylists achieve flawless, glossy looks that range from straight, combed-back styles to intricate, slicked-down patterns. The result is a polished, refined appearance that makes a bold statement. Whether it’s a sleek ponytail, a glossy bob, or a sophisticated updo, gel ensures that every hair is perfectly in place, adding a lustrous sheen that enhances the overall look.

On the other end of the spectrum, sculptured hairstyles showcase the transformative power of gel in creating artistic, avant-garde looks. Here, gel holds the hair in place and sculpts it into innovative shapes and textures. These styles often defy convention, featuring dramatic waves, bold spikes, and intricate designs that seem to challenge gravity. They embody a playful yet edgy approach to hair styling, turning the hair into a canvas for artistic expression.

Both sleek and sculptured trends underscore the evolving nature of hair gel as a medium for creative styling. A staple in styling arsenals, it owes its efficacy to a blend of polymers and water. When applied to hair, these polymers create a hardened film, holding the hair in place. Modern formulations often include nourishing ingredients, balancing hold with hair health, and catering to various styling needs without compromising the integrity of the hair.

Gel Hairstyles for Different Hair Types

Each hair type presents its styling challenges and opportunities, necessitating a tailored approach when using hair gel. From the light touch required for fine hair to avoid greasiness to the robust hold needed for thick locks, the hydrating care essential for curly hair, and the texture-enhancing properties beneficial for straight hair, choosing the suitable gel and application technique is crucial for achieving the desired look while maintaining hair health.

Fine Hair Gel

For those with fine hair, the challenge lies in achieving the desired hold without sacrificing natural volume or causing strands to clump together—lightweight gels like Bumble and Bumble’s Bb.Gel or Paul Mitchell’s Super Clean Light offer sufficient hold without the weightiness of their heavier counterparts. When applying, use a minimal amount, starting with a pea-sized dollop, and work it through the hair from roots to tips. This approach avoids the greasy, weighed-down look, ensuring the hair retains its natural bounce and texture. These gels often come fortified with volumising agents that hold the style and add a subtle lift, making them ideal for fine hair.

Thick Hair Gel

Individuals with thick hair often grapple with maintaining control over their voluminous locks. Stronger hold gels like American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel or Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Gel are their best allies, providing the necessary grip to keep hair in place throughout the day. These gels are designed to tackle the unruliness of thick strands, offering a durable and flexible stronghold. Distributing the gel evenly when applying is essential, ensuring each strand is coated for uniform control. These gels often contain smoothing agents that tame frizz and flyaways, making them an excellent choice for managing thick hair while allowing for various styling options.

Curly Hair Gel

With its unique pattern and texture, curly hair requires a gel that holds the style and nurtures the curls. Hydrating gels like DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel or SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle are ideal as they lock in moisture, defining curls without stiffening them.

These gels often contain ingredients like glycerin or natural oils, which provide hydration and elasticity to the curls, reducing frizz and keeping the hair soft to the touch. It’s important to apply the gel to damp hair, scrunching it gently to enhance the natural curl pattern. Gels specifically formulated for curly hair also help retain the shape and bounce of the curls throughout the day, making them an essential styling product for curly-haired individuals.

Straight Hair Gel

Adding texture and volume can be challenging for those with straight hair. Light to medium hold gels like Kenra Styling Gel 17 or TIGI Bed Head Superstar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray offers a solution, allowing for creating textured, dynamic styles without weighing down the hair.

These gels are typically consistently lighter and can be worked through the hair to create a range of styles, from sleek, straight looks to more tousled, textured appearances. Applying to damp hair and then blow-drying can help set the style, providing lift at the roots and adding a natural-looking volume. These gels often contain ingredients that enhance shine and flexibility, making them suitable for straight hair that requires a boost in texture and movement.

Gel Tools

Achieving salon-worthy hairstyles in the comfort of your own home is more accessible than ever, provided you have the right tools at your disposal. The foundation of any great style is a quality hair gel suited to your hair type, which can be the difference between a style that holds all day and one that falls flat. 

A good comb is also essential for evenly distributing the gel through your hair, ensuring that every strand is coated and the style is consistent throughout. A hairdryer, preferably with various heat settings and a diffuser, is another key tool, allowing you to set your style in place and add volume or smoothness as needed.

The real artistry comes in through experimentation. Playing with different amounts of gel can dramatically change the result – a small amount might give a light hold and natural look, while more gel can provide a slick, sculpted appearance. The application technique is also crucial. 

For instance, applying gel to damp hair and then blow-drying it can create a sleek, smooth finish, whereas scrunching it into wet curls can enhance its natural shape. The direction in which you comb the hair, the way you section it, and even how you use the hairdryer (like angling it for volume at the roots) can all influence the final look.  

Through trial and error, you can discover the perfect balance for your hair, leading to a personalised look that reflects your style. This process saves money and time spent at the salon and empowers you to become more creative and self-sufficient in your hair care and styling routine.

The Ethical Aspect of Hair Gels

As environmental consciousness becomes increasingly mainstream, the hair care industry responds with eco-friendly and vegan hair gels. These innovative products are formulated to provide the same high-quality styling benefits as traditional gels but with a focus on sustainability and ethical practices. 

They typically feature naturally derived ingredients, biodegradable formulas, and packaging made from recycled materials. For instance, brands like Aveda offer gels like their Flax Seed Aloe Strong Hold Sculpturing Gel, renowned for its natural ingredients and strong hold without the environmental impact. 

Another notable product is Giovanni’s Eco Chic Hair Care LA Natural Styling Gel, a popular choice for those seeking a vegan and cruelty-free option that doesn’t compromise performance. These products help create stylish looks and contribute to a healthier planet, aligning with the values of environmentally conscious consumers. 

Hair gel remains a timeless and versatile tool in hair styling, capable of sculpting a variety of looks across different hair types. Its evolving nature encourages experimentation and personal expression, making it a staple in modern hairstyling.

Images: Launchmetrics. Main image: Palm Angels F23

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