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American Crew Forming Cream: A Guide And How To Use

January 3, 2021
American Crew Forming Cream: A Guide And How To Use

American Crew is one of the most recognizable men’s grooming brands in the world. Their hair products are popular, but it can be difficult to figure out which one to use. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Forming Cream. 

You need to know what it is and whether or not it’s the product for you. As these products aren’t the cheapest, it’s important to get the correct one right off the bat.

If you do feel as though Forming Cream is the one for you, I’ll also include a routine you can use for applying it. 

It’s all laid out below (plus more). 

Let’s get to it. 

What Is Forming Cream? 

Forming cream is the lightest and creamiest of the American Crew products. It’s a water-based, non-petroleum styling product with a medium hold and medium shine.  

The standard product comes in a 3oz jar. It’s lightly-scented, with many comparing its aroma to that of a gentle lotion. 

Click the image if you’d like to take a look on Amazon

The cream contains sucrose which moisturizes and conditions the hair as it’s worked through. 

Being water-based, it easily washes out with no residue. It feels light as it’s applied; not too sticky or greasy. 

As it isn’t oil-based, it does tend to dry quite hard. However, its hold is still moveable, allowing for restyling throughout the day if necessary. 

The glycerin within the product absorbs water and swells the hair shafts, leaving hair looking fuller and thicker as a result.

The finish has some shine but the end result does usually look natural. 

Who Is American Crew Forming Cream Best For? 

Forming cream is best for men with thin and short to medium-length hair looking for simple slicked-back or side-swept looks with a medium shine. 

The product lends itself well to neat, slick, classic, and vintage styles such as this. Having said that, it’s also great for styles such as short undercuts. 

Let me explain. 

Thick Vs Thin Hair

Forming cream is excellent for men with thin hair because the glycerin can make it look thicker by increasing water absorption. 

It doesn’t have that strong of a hold; men with thick or long hair may struggle to keep their hair in place because of this. 

But for men with thin hair, it’s great. It doesn’t weigh thin hair down or reveal too much of the scalp like “wetter products” such as gels and pomades would. 

Simple Vs Complex Styles

Because of its relatively light hold, men with more complex styles may struggle with Forming Cream. 

It’s better for simple styles. If all you’re looking to do is push it back or sweep it to the side, it’s absolutely fine. 

The hold is moveable and pliable, which means it’s great for restyling throughout the day. This versatility and flexibility would definitely be appealing to some. 

Long Vs Short Hair

Men with long hair may struggle with Forming Cream; the weight of the hair would benefit from a product with a stronger hold. 

Forming Cream is better for men with short to medium-length hair because it’s relatively light hold would be enough to keep it in place. 

Although Forming Cream is pretty versatile and would still work for long hair, it would usually be a better idea to use a product with a stronger hold. 

To be more specific, if your hair is longer than 5-6 inches long, go for something with high hold instead. 

Shine Vs Matte

The product is also a good choice if you’re looking for some shine. It’s medium. Not too much, but definitely not matte. 

Men that shy away from shine completely would definitely be better off going for a clay or fiber paste instead. 

Curly Vs Straight Hair

American Crew Forming Cream works perfectly well for curly hair, providing a medium hold and light shine just as it would for straight hair. 

It smooths out, moisturizes, and adds definition to curls. 

It’s important to bear the same principles in mind, however. If you’ve got thick or long curls, you may find them difficult to tame with Forming Cream and may benefit from a product with a stronger hold.

While Forming Cream would be fine, Pomade or American Crew Grooming Cream would generally be better for curly or wavy hair. 

How To Use And Apply Forming Cream In 5 Steps

If you’ve decided that Forming Cream is the product for you, follow this step-by-step routine when you apply it. 

1. Clean And Dry The Hair 

Forming Cream should be applied to clean hair with no exceptions. The main problem with applying it to greasy, oily hair is that the cream mixes with the grease and the oil. 

This prevents it from distributing through your hair evenly. It’ll cause clumping. 

Plus, it’ll look even greasier afterward and will feel overbearing and uncomfortable to wear. 

Rinse with a dab of shampoo before drying it in preparation. You can choose to either towel-dry until it’s damp, or blow-dry it until it’s completely dry. 

Either one is fine when applying Forming Cream. 

It’s important to remember that if you’re applying Forming cream to damp hair, it’ll look different to what it will when it’s fully dry. 

It may look flatter and less full because of the weight of the water. Review it once it’s dry and restyle as necessary. 

2. Scoop And Spread Across Your Palms

As you scoop out the Forming Cream, you’ll notice that it has a buttery, creamy, and light consistency. It’s smooth and will spread nicely and easily across your palms. 

Warm it up between your hands for a few seconds. 

Remember, start low and go slow. You want to use the minimum amount of styling product to get the job done. 

Start with a quarter-sized dab initially and increase it if you think you need to. Over time you’ll get to know how much you need for your specific purposes. 

3. Massage It Into Your Hair

Thanks to its smooth consistency, as you massage it into your hair you’ll notice that it has minimal tug and pull. 

Massage it into the roots, but as always, be gentle. Excessive force with product applied will lead to hair being tugged out. 

With Forming Cream, excessive force isn’t necessary in any case. It spreads easily. 

4. Distribute It Evenly

To avoid greasiness and clumping, you’ll want to make sure that the cream is distributed evenly throughout your hair. 

What you’re aiming for is a coating of cream from the roots to the tips. 

Your technique here will depend on what style you’re looking to achieve. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of men who use Forming Cream are looking to slick it back or to the side. 

When distributing the cream, try working it through in the opposite direction to what you eventually want it to end up. 

If you want to eventually slick it back, push the hair forward and work the cream into it, before pushing it all the way back. 

This is a great way to get a nice, even coating of cream from root-to-tip. It also adds volume and fullness. 

What you use to distribute it is up to you. Finger-combing is a good option for a lot of men, especially if you’re looking for a slightly messier or more tousled finish. 

But combing the Forming Cream through is great for neat, slicked back, or side-slicked styles. 

Men with longer or thicker hair may find that a boar bristle hairbrush would be even better. 

5. Dry And Review

If your hair was dry to begin with, this step may not be necessary. 

But as I mentioned earlier, if you’ve applied the cream to damp hair, you’ll want to wait until it dries before reviewing what it actually looks like. 

You can choose to air-dry it; if so, review the styling after around an hour or so. Don’t mess with the hair while it dries; wait until it’s dried before restyling it if you think it’s necessary. 

The beauty of Forming Cream is that the hold is moveable, making restyling simple if that’s what you want to do. 

Although it does stick pretty quickly and dries pretty hard, you should still be able to run your fingers through it once it’s dried for restyling purposes. 

An alternative would be to blow-dry. Blow-drying is efficient and also great for styling purposes as well. 

It can be used to add fullness and volume. Use it on a cold setting to really lock the style in place. 

American Crew Forming Cream Comparisons

American Crew has a few widely-known hair products you should know about. Once you’ve read this, you may decide that Forming Cream isn’t the best option for you. 

Forming Cream Vs Pomade

American Crew’s Pomade would be more suitable than Forming Cream for thicker and longer hair. It’s also better than Forming Cream for curls and for men looking for more shine. 

Essentially, if you’re looking for medium hold and a higher shine, go for Pomade and not Forming Cream. 

Pomade has a slightly stronger level of hold than Forming Cream and would be better suited to keeping thick, long hair in check. 

Although the hold on American Crew Pomade isn’t great, it’s still better than Forming Cream. 

Plus, pomade may just look quite heavy and overbearing when applied to thin hair. 

Pomade is also an excellent choice for curls that are resistant to other types of products. It’s great for taming and defining curls while laying down strays and flyaways. 

While Forming Cream is fine for curly hair, pomade is usually a better option. 

It’s important to note that you should expect more shine with pomade. If you’re looking for more of a natural finish, go for Forming Cream instead. 

Forming Cream Vs Fiber

American Crew Fiber has a stronger hold and provides more texture than Forming Cream. Fiber is better than Forming Cream for messier, more tousled looks and does produce less of a shine. 

It’s high hold and low shine. 

Although it isn’t quite matte, Fiber will produce a finish with less shine than Forming Cream would. 

It has more of a wax-like consistency. 

The strong hold of Fiber is what draws men toward it. It may not be as strong as a clay, but it still produces one of the strongest holds in the American Crew range. 

If you’re looking to create a textured, more complex, or messier style with very little shine, it would be a better option for you than Forming Cream. 

Forming Cream Vs Defining Paste

Defining Paste will produce more of a matte finish than Forming Cream and will also give you a slightly better hold. 

It’s medium hold and low shine. 

Defining paste has a wax-like consistency but is still relatively easy to distribute through the hair. It’s often thought of as similar to Fiber in consistency but is a little easier to work through the hair. 

Forming Cream Vs Grooming Cream

Grooming Cream has a stronger level of hold and shine than Forming Cream. It has more of a pomade-like consistency and is excellent for wavy, curly hair that needs tighter control. 

Grooming Cream is high hold and high shine, while Forming Cream is medium hold and medium shine. 

The coconut oil and aloe vera gel of Grooming Cream also make it more moisturizing and conditioning than Forming Cream as well. 

Forming Cream Vs Molding Clay

Molding Clay produces a stronger hold than Forming Cream and will also produce a little less shine. 

It’s high hold and medium shine. 

American Crew’s Molding Clay is unusual because it’s a clay that markets itself as having “medium shine”. 

Traditionally, clays are known for high hold (which this product has) and matte finishes. Clays and shine generally don’t go together. 

As a result, the finish with American Crew Molding Clay is a little oilier than you’d expect. It still produces less shine than Forming Cream, but not by much. 

So, if you were looking for a product with high hold and more of a matte finish, don’t go for molding clay. Go for Fiber or Defining Paste instead. 

Alternatives To American Crew Forming Cream

Two great alternatives to American Crew Forming Cream are Cremo’s Styling Cream and Mitch’s Clean Cut

I’ve chosen these because they have a very similar consistency to American Crew Forming Cream while also producing a medium hold and a medium shine. 

1. Cremo Barber Grade Styling Cream

Much like American Crew’s Forming Cream, this product is pliable with a moveable hold, perfect for restyling throughout the day. 

Click the image to check it out on Amazon

Although this product markets itself as medium shine, you should expect a little bit less than what you’d get with Forming Cream. 

It’s very comfortable to apply, doesn’t flake, and will allow you to run your fingers through it throughout the day without any sticky residue. 

2. Mitch’s Clean Cut

Mitch by Paul Mitchell produces pretty premium hair products at an affordable price-point. 

Click the image to check it out on Amazon

You can expect some shine with this semi-matte product; similar to that of Forming Cream but not quite as much. 

Much like Forming Cream, it’s best suited to simple, slicked-back styles and for men with hair on the thinner side. 

Men with thick hair would be better off with a clay or pomade, depending on the level of shine they’re after. 

Clean Cut isn’t overbearing to apply or wear and feels comfortable throughout the day. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

To finish things off, I wanted to answer some frequently asked questions about American Crew Forming Cream. 

Is American Crew Forming Cream Water-Based?

Forming Cream is water-based, which means it easily washes out with very little residue. 

Although it’s water-based consistency makes it very convenient in this sense, it does give it less of a hold than oil-based products. 

Other ingredients within Forming Cream include Lanolin Wax (provides a moveable hold), Glycerin (softens and thickens), and Sucrose (conditions and moisturizes). 

How Often Should You Use Forming Cream? 

Forming Cream will need to be used on a daily basis if you intend on washing your hair every day. As it’s water-based, it washes out very easily. 

This also means that it doesn’t deal very well with the rain. If your style is flattened by the rain, you may find you need to reapply it during the course of the day. 

How often you use it will also depend on how complex your style is. 

If you’ve got a simple, slicked-back, or side-slicked style that Forming Cream would be best suited to, once a day would be absolutely fine. 

But if you’ve got a more complex style, or thicker, wavier hair, the medium hold of Forming Cream may not be enough for once-a-day application. 

Should Forming Cream Be Applied To Wet Or Dry Hair? 

American Crew Forming Cream should be applied to dry or damp hair. Applying it to wet hair would be inappropriate considering it’s a water-based product and will wash out. 

Remember, when applying it to damp hair, it’ll probably look different to how it’ll look in an hour once it’s completely dry. 

So don’t judge it too soon. 

Is American Crew Forming Cream Bad For Your Hair? 

Forming Cream shouldn’t be bad for your hair as it is a relatively mild product with moisturizing and conditioning properties. 

Having said that, it’s always best to use the minimum amount of product to produce your desired result. 

Any hair product used in excess could be damaging. 

In addition, whenever you apply a new product to your hair or skin, do a patch test beforehand. 

Apply a small amount of the cream to the back of your elbow (or a different body area that’s easy to hide). Review the area in 48 hours. If there’s any soreness or irritation, don’t apply it to your hair as you may have had a reaction to it. 


There you have it. Hopefully, everything you could possibly want to know about American Crew Forming Cream. 

It’s a classic product. American Crew really did put men’s grooming products on the map way back when.

As one of its staple products, Forming Cream is definitely worthy of discussion. 

Have fun with it. Enjoy.