Tag Archives: men’s hair

First Look: Imperial Barber Grade Products Pt. 1

Created by LA Master Barbers Pedro Zermeno & Scott Serrata Imperial Barber is a grooming brand that prides itself on creating high quality products that are all 100% American made.  With extensive experience in LA and NYC, the founders have created an impressive line of products that can meet just about any gent’s needs. I recently had the chance to try out Imperial Barber’s Travel Assortment and am sharing some thoughts on some of the products today.

Imperial Travel Assortment ($45)

Gel Pomade: This,  by far, is my favorite product of the bunch. It’s a great styling product for summer and I imagine would work well on a a variety of hair types looking for some control and increased definition. It worked well on my hair given it’s tacky, yet spreadable consistency.

Freeform Cream: Out of the products that I’ve tried so far, Imperial’s Freeform Cream comes up second for me. It’s a lightweight, water-based, styling cream which works well for a more natural look. It worked well on my afro-textured creating a lot of softness. For guys going for a more natural look and feel, this one is a great bet.

Classic Pomade: Non-oil based pomades work out just fine for my hair but aren’t necessarily my favorite. This is, in large part, that afro-textured hair can look duller due to its structure. The Classic Pomade provides great control as it has strong hold so fly-aways or frizzy hairs are less present when using this one. It’s particularly good for really humid days or if you’re prone to looking extra frizzy.

Imperial was kind enough to send along three other products to sample in their Travel Assortment pack but I haven’t had the chance to dive into them just yet. Keep an eye out for my reviews on Blacktop Pomade, Fiber Pomade and Matte Pomade Paste.

You can learn more about the Travel Assortment in the Imperial Barber shop.

Which product seems like it would be a good fit for your hair?


Product Review: Oyin Handmade

Oyin handmade has been on my radar for a long time now. The natural hair care and body brand offers a variety of natural products for hair and body care. I  finally took the plunge and purchased some of their products so today I’m sharing with you my thoughts.

Let me start by saying that I am in product junkie recovery. I’ve done a lot better over the past several months, mostly because I’ve decided not to spend all of my discretionary income on grooming products. So, it’s gotten better. With that in mind, I’ve been a lot more careful about my spending habits. When I decided to try out Oyin products I made the conscious effort to try out their mini samples. I’ve had each of them for several weeks now so I feel like I’m fully informed about how these products have worked for me…and how they may or may not work for you.

Honey Wash: I was pleasantly surprised this shampoo worked as well as it did. I’ve used other honey based shampoos before (OK, maybe just one that I can recall) and this one was pretty good. I got a surprisingly helpful amount of slip which is great for thick, dense hair like mine (4b-cish, if you subscribe that sort of thing). My only real criticism is that it’s a little thinner than I would like but perhaps that works in my hair’s favor more than I know.

Honey Hemp Conditioner: While I’m usually harsher on shampoo products (because they can be SO drying), I’m actually feeling very critical of the Honey Hemp Conditioner. It worked OK, smelled good but it just didn’t live up to my high expectations. It’s not something that I would personally consider repurchasing.

Frank Juice: Frank Juice is a hair spritz designed to give thirsty hair a little bit of extra life. I’ve used this several different ways. I’ve used it as a second day refresher. In this way, it works fine, but it’s nothing to write home about in my opinion. I’ve never had great results with this kind of product to be honest. I’ve used it as a late day refresher for thirsty hair and recently took it to the beach to help my hair get a little extra protection and r&r. The sun can really dry out your hair and scalp when you’re baking with no cloud cover! All that being said, it’s not a wonder product but it’s cool for what it is, I suppose. This one’s not high on my repurchase list but I’m curious about the other scents available.

Shine & Define: I’m always looking for that one magical product that will give me just enough definition and control so that my fro doesn’t look like it’s all over the place. Unfortunately shine & define does not get me there. It moisturized my hair just fine but had a tacky quality on my hair which makes me think that it’s not easily absorbed. I definitely won’t be re-purchasing this one.

Boing!:  I’ve heard A LOT about boing! So much that I really researched whether this would be a good product for me or not. I have to say that is, by far, my favorite Oyin product. This formula worked really well for me as an all in one conditioner and styler. I just raked it through wet hair at the end of my shower and I always ended up with touchable, yet softly defined coils. I love it. The smell ain’t too shabby either. I WILL absolutely be buying this product again…and the full-sized tub at that.

Burnt Sugar Pomade: I’m not a huge fan of pomades as sometimes they can be quite greasy and just using them can help my face break out with a little extra acne  and I don’t have time for that.  I will say this about burnt sugar pomade though, it works really well. I think that the formula, while a little oily/greasy, is great for my hair. It helps provide structure and control and I think that many people could use this with good results. Whether you put in twists, have waves or just need to tame your fro’s ends, this is a pretty safe bet. I like the scent but it is potent. It smells very sugary, without a doubt, but the burnt sugar smell reminds me of fancy desserts and I can’t find much fault in that. The name really fits on this one.

All in all, I would say that my first run with Oyin Handmade was a mixed bag. While Shine & Define and the Honey Hemp Conditioner left a lot to be desired, Boing! and Burnt Sugar Pomade are stand outs. As far as Frank Juice goes, I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it but I think I kind of like it.

Until next time!

Back to Basics: Hair Care 101

conditioner bottles

From time to time I get asked how I take care of my hair so well and whenever I do it’s always a huge compliment! I’m always very grateful to hear people think that I have great hair. There was a time when I didn’t think my hair was so great, especially when I grew out my fro for the first time. It’s been a challenge for me to get used to all the attention (both positive and negative) and it’s been a growing process overall.

Today I want to share with you how I actually do take care of my hair. You’ll see some of the same steps on my hair care regimen at the link on the top right-hand corner of the page, but today I just want to give you a little bit more insight into my process and how you can take good care of your hair so that you are always looking your best.

First off, let me start by saying that one term that you’ll hear about in hair care, and black hair care in particular, is wash day. “Wash day” is exacty how it sounds; it’s the day of the week that you wash your hair.  Yes, I know that sounds disgusting at first, but the truth is that no matter your hair type you really shouldn’t be shampooing your hair more than a couple of times per week, barring any special scalp conditions.  Washing your hair more often with traditional shampoos can rid your hair of it natural oils and moisture.  This can leave you with chronically dull and dry hair. But because we have to use shampoo from time to time, there are some easy ways to minimize it’s effects.

First, only use a sulfate shampoo when you feel your hair is especially dull and gunky.  Sulfates have been found to dry out your hair and scalp and can cause irritation. And for those of you with sensitive or scalps, you might want to try and avoid altogether.  I like conditioning washes like MITCH Double Hitter as they don’t dry out my hair or scalp but make sure I feel clean.  This particular option also helps detangle my strands which is helpful when you have kinky or coily hair.

So now you magically find yourself on wash day…what comes next? It’s time to condition!

There are a lot of conditioning options out there but there are three basic types you should know about for the second part of your hair care routine.  They are rinse-out conditioner, leave in conditioner and deep conditioner.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the three types:

Rinse out conditioner: this is your typical conditioner that you can find in most drug stores or in your local grocery store. After washing your hair you apply a rinse out conditioner for a few minutes, usually about 3 to 5 minutes, and then you rinse it out completely.  It’s usually best to do this with cold water.

Personal recommendation: TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. You can read my review at this link.

Leave in conditioner: leave in conditioner is just how it sounds. This type of conditioner is usually applied after you rinse out the conditioner and it’s meant to be left in your hair before your styling product.  The amount you should use varies on your hair length and texture.  For my currently cropped mane I use about a nickel to quarter sized amount.

Personal recommendation: Kinky Curly Knot Today.  My hair LOVES this stuff and its one of the best on the market, in my opinion. See more information at this link.

Deep conditioner/hair mask: this type of conditioner comes in the form of many different names. It’s often referred to as a deep conditioning mask, a hair mask/masque or something else. Usually this type of conditioner requires that you leave it on your hair for more than 10 minutes and sometimes you get the best results by using heat as well. If you ever get treated in a salon, they’ll often put you under a hooded dryer for this part.

Personal recommendation: Pantene Pro V Intensive Restoration Treatment.  Read my review at this link

I should say that this sounds like a lot but I don’t typically use all of these products at every wash. I usually wash 2-3 times per week to remove product gunk and cleanse my scalp which is prone to buildup.   Usually, I only deep condition about once a week on the infamous “wash day” and while I do use shampoo on other days I don’t go through the whole shebang as it were.

So in essence wash day looks like this:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Deep condition
  3. Leave in conditioner
  4. Gel or cream based styler
  5. Use pomade once hair is dry

While non-wash days look like this:

  1. Rinse out conditioner
  2. Leave in conditioner
  3. Gel or cream based styler
  4. Use pomade once hair is dry

So there you have it! There are my not-so secret tips to keeping “good” hair. Don’t forget to check out my hair care regimen for more insight into my process.

The Question I Hate Most

Almost everyone knows that women in the natural hair community are, in a sense, fighting an uphill battle for acceptance of their hair.  While mainstream media has certainly made strides in showcasing natural hairstyles, there’s still a lot of work to be done, even for guys with naturally curly hair.  And, unfortunately, I am personally familiar with a lack of acceptance for my fro.  So, what’s the question I hate most?

“What are you going to do with your hair?”

Often times, I’m not quite sure how to respond to that question, and I have lost count how many times I’ve been asked it over the past few years.  I’ve heard every form of that question like, “When are you going to braid it?” or “Are you trying to grow locs?”  But while I’m able to keep my composure on the outside (at least I think so), my internal monologue says something like, “Oh, my hair isn’t “done” enough for you?!”

I take great pride in my mane and how I take care of it.  Psychologically, I’ve gotten over the need for it to look perfectly defined and have started to embrace the “messiness” that is my fro.  Unfortunately, there’s still this expectation that my fro, as it stands, is not a complete or good look.  But at the end of the day, I’m happy with it and I guess that’s what matters most, right?


Today’s post features Ron, who rocks some seriously awesome locs and has great growth! Read on for his tips on loc maintenance as well as what his hair helped him embrace.

Ron - loc hairstyle

Tell us a little bit about yourself (your name, where you’re from, etc.)
Hey, name’s Ronald, go by Ron.  Born and raised in San Antonio TX and currently living in Houston, TX for the past 6 years.

When did you start growing your hair out and how did people react when you started to loc your hair?
My loc journey started on June 22, 2009 from a 3 inch fro. I got different reactions…some liked my hair short and others liked the twist/locs. I feel once my locs matured and weren’t all over the place (the first 6 months to a year) more people liked them and I got more compliments.

I have had just about every style The Gumby, s-curl, High top, Cesar, Bald Fade I can go on and on (I’m a 80’s Baby). I kind of like to express myself with my hair, so anything I ever wanted to do, I did, and didn’t really worry about what people thought.

Ron - loc pic

What’s your usual hair care routine?
I tie my locs down with a du-rag or LocSoc every night to keep them neat and lent free.  I spray oil daily before work sometimes water or just the steam from the shower keeps my locs soft and moisturized.  I wash my hair every 3-4 weeks and do the maintenance myself.  I also do my own edge up saves trips to the barber shop and money. Normally I’ll do a braid out because it’s easier for me to do then using clips plus the wavy look adds a little character.

Do you have any favorite products or hair tools that you would recommend to other mane men out there?

  • Maintenance Products: 100% Shea Butter, Organic Virgin coconut oil, and Pure Honey.
  • Favorite Daily Oil: Bronner Brothers Tropical Roots Spray has a great fresh pineapple mango smell or 2nd choice Jamaican Mango & Lime Island Oil
  • Favorite Shampoos: Taliah Waajid Total Body Black Earth Shampoo and Paul Mitchell Green Tea
  • Shampoo/Conditioning: I will pretty much use any deep conditioner and hot oil treatment. I cover my locs with a plastic cap and sit under the dryer for 15 mins then rinse, which adds moisture and leaves my hair very soft.

Ron - loc pic

Anything else you would like to share?
When I started my locs I was thinking it’s about to be cold and I want locs…“reality check”, hair doesn’t grow that fast. Growing locs is a process and you definitely need patience, if you don’t have patience you will learn. If I ever decide to go back to a short haircut I will continue using natural products. No more greases pomades, etc. The process was a learning experience for me and absolutely taught me patience and brought me into a whole new world of natural.  Locs have taught me how to embrace my natural god-given crown.

The Definition of Natural Hair

If you do an internet search for “natural hair definition” or any combination of the forms of those words you will end up with millions of results. Most likely they will put you in the direction of the best products, tools and methods to define your natural hair. But for me lately, achieving that great definition has seemed less and less important.

For some time now, I’ve been preoccupied, albeit obsessed, with getting the right products to give my fro that definition and clump factor that I’d seen in so many of the You Tube videos and blogs from natural hair gurus. Then a few months ago, I started to notice how good my hair looked on days two and three after doing a “wash and go”. Recently, I had an epiphany…I like my hair the most on days two or three. Go figure!

Achieving definition is a hot topic for debate in the natural hair community and I suspect it won’t be going away any time soon. All I know is, the longer I have had my fro I’ve gotten more comfortable with fluffier hair to the point that I actually prefer it. And trust me, that’s a world of difference from when I first started growing my fro 3 years ago.


Check out today’s featured MANE MAN, Ken! I came across Ken while browsing Instagram and I think you’ll be just as impressed with Ken’s mane as I was.  Did I mention you can now follow MANE MAN on Instagram (@manemanblog)?  Without further adieu, here’s Ken!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (your name, where you’re from, etc.).
What’s up, I’m Kenneth, but everyone calls me Ken. I’m from Flint, Michigan, but grew up in a small town outside of Flint. I am currently a freshmen in college at Central Michigan University.

When did you start growing your hair out? What was the reaction like?
One day I just woke up and decided I was going to grow my hair out…that was in July of 2011. I guess you can say I started growing it out of curiosity after seeing my sister’s hair. I started from a bald fade. Throughout my process I’ve received mixed reactions. Many of my close friends didn’t like it at first, but I didn’t care, I was doing my own thing. It eventually grew on them and now they love it!

How do you care for your fro on a weekly basis?
Caring for my hair is rather easy. I wash with shampoo once a week and detangle with my fingers while in the shower. Most days I just wash, shake, and go. On off days, throughout the week, I just wet my hair or co-wash with conditioner.

Do you have any favorite products or hair tools that you would recommend to other mane men out there?
I love Taliah Waajid’s shampoo and detangler. I also love Shea Moisture’s Moisture Retention Shampoo. Every so often I also use Kinky Curly Curling Custard.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you are debating whether you should grow your hair out or not, I say go for it. I love it! It’s a fun and interesting process. Also on the bright side, you will save a lot of money on haircuts.  Feel free to follow me on Twitter @kdm428 or on Instagram @kdm428.  Also, I have a Facebook which is under my name Ken McGuire.


I’m Too Sexy For My…Hair?

Last week TIME magazine published an article, written by Alexandra Sifferlin titled Shave it Off! How Bald Guys Can Look More Manly and Dominant, encouraging balding men to completely shave off their wispy manes.  Balding is a serious concern for many men who understand the social impact of hair loss and perceived attractiveness. Well, now there’s some scientific backing to the claim that a shaven dome makes you seem stronger, and sexier, than if you let the last few wisps linger or opt for the ill-fated comb-over.

Researcher Albert Mannes, of the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a series of studies to determine the perceptions about balding men versus completely shaven men.  It turns out that participants found that men with completely bald domes were perceived as more masculine and dominant than men who opt to bald the natural way. Interesting, huh? Clean shaven men were also perceived as taller and bigger in size than balding men.

But here’s the rub, bald men are still perceived as older and less attractive than men with full heads of hair. Mannes, who is bald himself, apparently stated that balding men may “better improve their well-being by finishing what Mother Nature has started.”

Mannes seems to think that his studies will help more men change their lives for the better by forging ahead with a completely bald head rather than going the natural way.  I appreciate that Mannes is giving balding men like him the chance to be perceived as more dominant and powerful, but I guess my problem is that it reinforces the idea that’s all men should really aim to be.  Has anyone done research on what makes you look more responsible?  What about intelligent? Kind? I’m just saying.

I haven’t been able to read the research itself therefore I can’t speak that strongly to the methodology, but I can say that from what I’ve read from some posts online, some of the sample sizes seem pretty small to me.  I think only time, and replication, will really solidify Mannes’ findings.  While I still have many questions, I  appreciate that Mannes is giving guys with thinning manes some insight into how others may be perceiving them. Who knows, there may be a day when I have to make the decision myself.  To be honest, I don’t know what I would do.  Do you?

For more reactions to this research, check out the following:

Men With Shaved Heads: Stronger, Taller, More Dominant But Older and Less Attractive

Men: Exude confidence, masculinity, authority, and power!

Shaved Heads: Less Attractive But More Powerful




MANE MAN: Russell Martin

New York Yankees everyday catcher Russell Martin has proven to be an asset for the team since joining in 2011.  Even without a consistent power batting average Martin delivers when it counts, especially on the defensive end.  Born to a Black Canadian father and French Canadian mother, Martin was born in Quebec and lived there for years until moving with his family to Paris.

Before settling with the Yankees, Martin spent years in the minor leagues for the LA Dodgers until being called up in 2006.  The accolades followed, with Martin earning a Silver Slugger and Golden Glove for his 2007 season. Not to mention, he is the first ever Canadian born catcher to start the All-Star Game. Not to bad, eh?  Oh and let’s not forget Martin’s grand slam that helped the Yanks make an MLB record on August 25, 2011. Ahhh, memories.

But baseball isn’t all that Martin has up his sleeves.  He’s also a big fan of mixed martial arts and apparently adopts some of the training techniques to keep in shape for the chase for 28 (fingers crossed).  He’s also an avid supporter of the One Drop Foundation which aims to help every person in the world have access to clean water.  Why wouldn’t you want this guy on your team?!

Today, he sports a pretty cropped do’ due to the stringent Yankees code of grooming, but I’m still a fan of both his hair (he’s also libel to sport a goatee every now and then) and style of play.  To keep up with one of my favorite Yankees, check him out on Twitter @Russellmartin55.  Just keep in mind you’ll get the occasional French tweet.   I just wonder, what would he look like with a fro?


MANE MAN Inbox: How do I get waves?

Today’s question comes from David who reached out via Facebook to ask me some basic tips on getting waves.

David writes:  Can you give me some tips on getting waves?

MM:  I use to have crazy waves back in the day! I wore a wave cap (like the stocking kind) religiously every night to bed. Du rags never seemed to stay on my head quite right.  I would prep my hair by using a thick pomade like Sportin Waves.  To be honest, the stuff irritated my scalp a little, so these days I would recommend using a natural hair butter like Shea Radiance Moisture Rich Hair Butter or something similar that won’t cause a lot of product buildup on your scalp.  Then I would brush thoroughly with a soft boar bristle brush and put on the wave cap right before bed.  Hope this helps!

Don’t forget to submit your grooming questions to MANE MAN on Facebook.com/manemanblog or Twitter.com/manemanblog!

What are your tips for maintaining waves?