Hair paste is an incredibly versatile product. Its ability to produce a matte or low shine finish makes it appealing to so many men.
You’re about to learn everything you need to know about using a matte paste to build texture no matter what length of hair you’ve got.
Although the technique may vary slightly between men with short, medium, and long hair, understanding the core principles is what really matters.
Not understanding this is what leads some men to underestimate just how much hair paste can do. They get bad results because of a bad technique and that’s what they base their review on.
But after reading this, you’ll know exactly how to apply that paste in the most effective way possible.
Let’s get to it.
How To Use Hair Paste For Texture: 4 Easy Tips
Texture can be produced using a matte hair paste by pre-styling, blow-drying, and finger-tousling before applying it. Having hair that’s long enough to layer, applying the right amount of paste, and choosing the right style will also make it easier to build texture.
“Textured” hair is basically hair that has a distinctly separated and layered appearance. It’ll look messier and less structured.
Let’s talk about these tips for building texture with paste in a little more detail.
1. Use A Pre-Styler
Many men who struggle to build texture often have their grooming regimens completely revolutionized when they discover pre-stylers.
What they do is prime the hair for styling, as the name would suggest.
Different pre-stylers aim to do different things, such as thickening, smoothing, adding frizz, or adding grit.
Sea salt spray is a popular one.
Many of them also have heat-protective properties which are great for when you blow-dry afterward.
Pre-stylers make the hair more responsive and will allow you to build more texture once you’ve applied the paste.
Blow-drying on a medium heat setting after applying the pre-styler, or simply after washing your hair, will allow you to build volume.
Finger-tousling (i.e running your fingers through) while blow-drying will create a separated and layered appearance.
This is all before even applying the paste.
3. Longer Hair Is Easier To Add Texture To
The longer the hair, the more layering and separation you can add. In addition, when you have longer hair, you have greater variation between the lengths of your hair strands.
This is another way to increase the amount of texture you can get from your paste; simply grow it longer.
Having said that, long hair is also harder to keep in place. It’s heavier and so you may find that it won’t stay in place with hair paste if you’ve got a more complicated or gravity-defying style.
4. Choose The Right Style
Right off the bat, you’ll want to make sure the haircut you get is suitable for building texture.
You’ll want to ask your barber to sort this out for you. Using thinning shears is a great way to vary the length of the hair on top. This will help you get that great layered appearance with the matte paste.
Plus, when styling, just know that some hairstyles are much more suited to building texture than others.
Quiffs are great and so are crops. But slicked-back styles and pompadours aren’t suited to textured effects. They’re more about slickness, glossiness, and definition.
How Much Hair Paste Should You Use?
Whatever length of hair you’ve got, it’s best to start with a dime-sized amount of hair paste and use more afterward if you think it’s necessary.
The key is to use the minimum amount of paste necessary to produce the look you want.
The amount you use will ultimately depend on the thickness and length of your hair. Longer and thicker hair will most likely require more than a dime-sized amount – but start low and go slow.
When too much paste is applied to thin, fine, or short hair, for instance, it’ll weigh the hair down and look less airy, light, and textured.
It’ll also usually look shinier, no matter how “matte” the paste may be. Using too much paste for your specific hair will cause it to look shinier as the waxy compounds within it will accumulate and become more obvious.
How To Use Hair Paste For Short Hair
Here’s a quick routine you can use for applying hair paste to short hair.
In general, “short” hair is hair that’s less than 2 inches long. You’ll notice that I haven’t included pre-styling here – short hair usually isn’t long enough to benefit from it.
1. Wash Your Hair
It’s much easier to apply the paste to a clean head of hair. Hair paste is generally known for its creaminess and low shine. However, it does often have a waxiness to it as well.
So, when it’s applied to hair that’s oily or greasy it can weigh the hair down and make it look even greasier.
Wash your short hair and towel-dry it until it’s damp.
2. Break Down A Dime-Sized Amount
A dime-sized amount of paste would cover most of the space between the top crease of your index finger and the very tip of the finger.
In other words, not a lot.
When you’re applying it to short hair, you want to make sure you aren’t using an excessive amount of paste.
Doing so will weigh it down and prevent you from building proper texture and volume.
Once you scoop it out, break down (emulsify) the paste by rubbing it between your palms. You’ll want to do this quite quickly as the paste can sometimes clump up and flake after it’s scooped out.
3. Distribute The Paste
When applying the paste to short hair, this won’t take long.
You’ll want to apply the paste all over the hair on not just the top.
It’s usually best to use your fingers when doing this. You’ll be able to build a lot more texture this way compared with using a comb.
Be sure to coat the hair strands from root-to-tip. Applying the paste to only the tips of the hair strands is a common reason for a weak hold.
Get to the bases.
Finger-tousle and finger-comb the hair one way, then the other, then backward, and then forwards. This is where you try to get as even a coating of the matte paste as possible before it sets.
It’s also a great way to add layering, separation, and texture. You can use the blow-dryer when doing this as well – it’ll build additional volume.
If you feel as though you need more paste, use a bit more. It’s OK to start with a small amount and then build up if you feel it’s necessary.
This is better than loading up short hair with excessive amounts of paste right from the start and having to wash it out.
4. Style The Short Hair
Paste is great for styling short hair. It can be used to create small quiffs, spikes, tousled and side-swept styles, and so on.
It works well because it usually produces a matte or low shine finish. This lack of shine means that you don’t show too much of the scalp past the short hair.
Style it as you want it. Pastes do usually give you a pliable hold, which means you can restyle it during the course of the day. It won’t set stiff like a gel or water-based pomade would.
When you’ve got short hair, you don’t need that strong of a hold in any case. Hair paste should be able to keep it in place without any trouble.
Once you’ve styled the top, look for any flyaways at the sides and back. Flatten them with your fingertips or the heel of your palm. Again, you can use a tiny bit more paste to flatten them out.
How To Use Hair Paste For Medium Or Long Hair
Here’s a routine you can use for applying hair paste to medium or long hair.
Medium hair is between 2 and 4 inches long, while long hair is longer than 4 inches.
It gets exciting when you’ve got more length like this.
As I explained earlier, the more length you’ve got, the more layering and texturing you can produce.
But medium hair is also not so long that paste would struggle to keep it in place. The medium-to-high hold that you can usually expect from a paste should be enough to hold this length of hair as you want it.
Long hair, on the other hand, is tough to keep in place given its weight. The hold you get from your paste may not be enough to hold it in more complex styles, but it’ll still be able to help you get texture, volume, and a great matte finish.
1. Wash And Dry
Medium and long hair is more likely to build up grease, grime, and oil than short hair is.
It would be difficult to produce lift and a matte finish with paste when you’re applying it to greasy hair.
So, rinse the hair with shampoo ideally, before towel-drying it until it’s damp.
Pre-styling is more important when you’ve got some length. It may not be essential, but it definitely helps.
Medium and long hair is more likely to benefit from the priming, thickening, or smoothing benefits of a pre-styler.
Again, a simple sea salt spray would do just fine.
Blow-dry the hair while finger-combing in all directions in order to build volume and add separation.
Once you’ve got this sort of length, you should be able to build a good amount of volume and lift when compared with short hair.
3. Emulsify The Paste
“Emulsify” just means break down in between your palms. The more length you have, the more you’ll want to make sure the paste is properly broken down before you apply it.
You want it smooth and creamy before you pass it onto your hair.
The main reason for this is that it’ll just be much easier to distribute. Plus, it won’t be as chunky, flakey, or bumpy.
Now, the amount you apply really does depend on how much hair you’ve got.
Just like you would with short hair, start with a dime-sized amount and go from there.
You can always add more later down the line if you feel as though you need to. In fact, layering the product like this is a great way to add texture.
4. Get As Even A Coating As Possible
You want to coat the hair as evenly as possible to prevent the hair from clumping up. Finger-comb and finger-tousle in all directions before styling the final shape.
Focus on the top, but flatten the sides and back with your palms.
With medium or long hair, you’re more likely to get stray hairs and flyaways. Try to flatten these as you go along because although you get a pliable hold with pastes, most of them do stiffen a little after a while.
5. Consider Blow-Drying Again
Blow-drying your hair while finger-combing and tousling once you’ve coated your hair in the paste is a great way to build more volume, texture, and layering.
Start to move your hair in the direction you eventually want it to lay.
The more time you spend working the hair, the more layering you’ll be able to achieve.
Again, using your fingers is the best way to get that separated appearance with paste, but if you’d prefer a neater or more defined look, a curling brush or comb would be the way to go.
When you’re styling long hair, this is also especially helpful for holding the hair in place. The pressure from the blow-dryer will forcefully give it more lift and it’ll be more likely to stay the way you want it.
After you’ve blow-dried, you’ll probably find that you need to apply more paste. That’s fine – take another dime-sized amount (or less) and work it in your desired direction.
6. Final Styling
When you’ve got medium or long hair, your choice of hairstyles is greater than with short hair.
Pastes are best for producing textured hairstyles that work well with a matte finish.
Side-swept styles, quiffs, crops – they could all work great.
As a final touch-up, flatten any flyaways on the sides and back that may have escaped your radar.
Once you’re happy with your style, you can choose to leave it at that. However, given the often medium-level hold that a paste is able to produce, men with long hair may want to consider a quick spritz of some hairspray to keep things in place.
There’s so much you can do with hair paste. That’s probably why it’s so difficult to define what it actually is.
It’s a creamy substance with waxiness and stickiness, but also usually some grit. It’s like it takes the best features of so many different types of hair products and mixes them into one glorious substance.
Hopefully, you now know how to use it in the most effective way possible, no matter what length of hair you may have.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.