Most styling products will have a brief description on the label and specify whether its a matte, natural, satin or wet look finish etc. It is important that you consider your hair texture/density along with the product finish to help determine which styling product you should go with.
If you have fine hair you should be using a product that is described as matte finish, a clay is usually pretty good. Clays are great for creating a rough messy look and make fine hair appear thicker. Make sure your hair is dry before you apply and work a small amount in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together vigorously until the clay has warmed up. You should have a nice even spread throughout your hands, then work through your hair using your fingertips starting from the crown working forward. Repeat the process if you feel you need more product and then style as required. It is always better to apply multiple small amounts of product as to one large amount. Stay away from wet look products, as these will clump your hair together and highlight any areas you feel you may be lacking in hair.
Should you have normal to thick hair, a paste is generally ideal. These tend to have a more natural finish and are a bit softer making it easier to work through your hair. They are best used on dry hair, and as previously mentioned, work a small amount through using your fingertips starting from the crown and working forward. Again less is more here, Repeat the process if you feel the need and style as desired.
If you wish too add volume to your style, believe it or not a wet look gel is perfect. Apply a decent amount to towel dried/damp hair. Blow dry it in using your comb or brush to direct the hair in the desired direction. By doing this, the gel will dry and you won’t even see it in your hair. This will also give the added benefit of long lasting hold. Style with a paste or clay as described earlier to add definition if needed.
Should you wish to have a slick/sleek look, pomade is your friend here. Pomades have a high shine finish and should really be applied to towel dried hair. Work through an ample amount using the palms of your hand to distribute and run a comb through if you want a bit of separation or a parting. Leave to dry naturally.
If your hair is curly/wavy and wish to encourage curls, a curl enhancing creme would be my recommendation. The satin finish of a creme is perfect for defining curls and taming frizz. Apply a generous amount (use your discretion) to towel dried hair, scrunch in and loosen with your fingertips, leave it air dry. Curly hair is best left to dry naturally. The more you play with your hair the more likely you are to cause frizz. Should you feel the need, lightly scrunch in a little more as the day goes by to keep frizz at bay.
Bonus tip: Hairspray isn’t just for women. It is an ideal product to give your hair that extra hold after you have dried and styled. Giving you confidence to go on about your day knowing that your hair looks great!