Hair wax and hair gel are both products used for defining and structuring hairstyles. However, both have limitations and are useful only for certain applications and hair types.


Hair gels are water- and alcohol-based semi-solids that are chemically designed to have stretch. Hair waxes are soft solids that use natural or man-made wax blended with other materials to make them easy to apply.

Hair Gel Uses

Hair gel dries completely and forms a stiff shell over the hair shaft. It is useful for creating volume in curls, flattening flyaway hairs, preventing frizz and building height.

Hair Wax Uses

Regardless of the amount of time hair wax remains on the head, it will remain pliable. It can be continuously manipulated until it is removed. Wax is useful for emphasizing texture and creating spikes in short hair.

Hair Gel Limitations

Hair gel is most effective when applied to wet hair. As it dries, it dehydrates the hair and causes it to keep the shape it has been molded into. Heavy gel application may cause the hair to take on a crusty sheen.

Hair Wax Limitations

Hair wax should be applied to dry hair or hair that is only slightly damp because wax is a lipid and not soluble in water. It will not stick to the shaft of hair that is wet. Hair wax is not ideal for people with long, thick hair because it adds weight and will make the hair hang limp and look greasy.


Gels can usually be removed from hair by rinsing, as they are water-based. Waxes require either a shampoo containing a surfactant or massaging wet conditioned hair with a scrubbing aid such as baking soda or brown sugar.

References and Resources

Waxes and Other Esters


Virtual Hair Care