The Male Asian hair is one of the most difficult to style. It is thick, straight as an arrow (no pun intended) and notoriously stubborn. I have used so many gel, waxes, pomades and oil but so far, very few brands have succeeded in taming my unruly Male Asian hair and at the same time turn its flaws into beauty.
In this review, I am looking at the most popular brand preferred by Asian men – Gatsby. Gatsby is a Japanese brand of hair products that is specially designed for Asian men. It is very affordable and the quality is top-notch. The brand really exemplifies the Japanese philosophy of professional perfection: making a product perfect regardless of the price range.
These two Japanese products are not made for the spikey hair styles current in Japan, Korea and China, but are more for the European-style short and taper cuts.
What is so different about ‘Male Asian hair’?
By ‘Asian’, I mean ‘East Asian‘ – persons of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian origins. In the UK, they are called ‘Orientals‘. In this sense, East Asians are genetically different from ‘South Asians‘ (Indians, Pakistanis etc) and ‘Southeast Asians‘ (Indonesians, Thais etc) both of whom are blessed with easier-to-manage, curlier and thinner hair.
East Asian hair is about 50% thicker than Caucasian hair and much more resistant to breakage. Men also tend to have thicker hair than women so Asian men normally have very thick, stubborn and gravity-defiant hair which most of us have difficulty in coping with.
On the other hand, East Asian hair has amazing shine when taken good care of. That is also the reason why Asian women like to grow them long, because you can see the glean and lustre of their black mane which in itself is a beautiful sight to behold. Because it is mostly straight, East Asian hair combs so easily with a hairdryer and a brush and doesn’t break when pulled.
What I look for in a hair product for my Male Asian hair
Because it is so stubborn, I need a product that holds my hair together and prevents it from reaching up into the universe. I hate it when it looks spikey (a look oft sported by Korean and Japanese men) as it is less formal and stylish.
I want the natural shine of my hair to come through in spite of having a hair product holding its style. A product that dulls the shine really ruins the genetic advantage that comes with beautiful East Asian hair. And a product with too much shine makes my hair look unnatural and greasy.
On top of that, the hair product needs to last me the whole day. I don’t want my hair to lose its shape by the end of the afternoon or after a brief walk out for lunch or me being caught in the rain. Too much hair product is bad for your hair, that’s clear. The product needs to do its job with a minimum amount.
My Review: The Gatsby Ultra Hard Type Styling Hair Wax
The Gatsby Ultra Hard Type Styling Hair Wax must have been around for 20 years! I remember using it in my school days and virtually all my friends were using it. The product is still popular in Singapore and Hongkong after all these years, but has been taken off the original Japanese store shelves.
The reason why the Gatsby Ultra Hard Type Styling Hair Wax is still so popular is because of its unique texture. It chemically transforms itself once applied to your hair: first, shampoo and condition your hair, then blow it dry and into shape. Take a tiny amount of the white wax and spread it between your palms. Then very quickly mold your hair with your hands. You will notice that within SECONDS, the wax turns into a mold that you can no longer comb or brush through either with your fingers, a comb or a brush! The job is done so easily and quickly it amazes me every time I use it.
With the Gatsby Ultra Hard Type Styling Hair Wax, no hairspray is needed to fix the look. My hair feels slightly sticky afterwards but not uncomfortably.
The smell is rather strong: one that reminds me of chewing gum. It doesn’t go well with the scent I normally wear on me.
The hold is so good that it always stay the whole day. Seriously, even when I am caught in a rain shower. This product is even waterproof!
This means that getting it out in the evening requires thorough shampooing and conditioning. Too much shampooing as you know will strip the hair of the natural oils that protects your scalp.
- Hold: The hold is amazing! It has literally the best hold in the world.
- Quantity: You only need a very small amount to get the job done. The 80g pot lasted me for two months.
- Scent: I don’t like the chewing gum smell. It is not overpowering but really clashes with my cologne.
- Wash: It is not water-soluble, so I am forced to shampoo every night. Not healthy for my hair
- Shine: It is matte. Although I don’t have to apply a huge amount, it does dull the natural shine of my hair.
My Verdict: 8/10
I love this product in terms of its amazing hold – never seen before in the world of hair products. But that is also a double-edge sword. I don’t see myself using this everyday but it is something to keep for those bad hair days!
My Review: The Gatsby Pompadour Styling Hair Pomade Supreme Hold
The Gatsby Pompadour Styling Hair Pomade Supreme Hold comes in two versions with very different product packaging. One version is sold in India and seems to be geared towards the market there. The one I am reviewing is for the East Asian market like Hongkong. This is the ‘Pompadour’ version. I am not sure how different the two are.
This pomade is transparent and slightly brownish in colour.
It smells manly in a retro way, so I don’t mind having it on my head and it doesn’t clash with my cologne.
The hold is less strong than the styling wax I must say. To apply, I follow the same routine, and I notice that I have more styling time using the Gatsby Pompadour Styling Hair Pomade than with the Gatsby Ultra Hard Type Styling Hair Wax. I even have the time to comb through my hair with a fine comb for that formal look on special occasions.
What I find less satisfactory about the Gatsby Pompadour Styling Hair Pomade is the way my hair would “regroup” into thicker bunches as the product dries up. This is annoying when you think you have a good style and ready to go and one minute later the look changes. So I am obliged to use a hairspray to fix the look before stepping out. While that won’t be an issue at home, this means while travelling you will need to bring along a travel size hairspray.
Compared to the wax, the look does not hold up until the end of the day. The hold is very good, I must admit, but probably not in a humid environment. So a hairspray is necessary to fix the style.
That said, I can easily rinse it off when I come home at the end of the day and let it dry naturally before I go to bed.
Last but not least, the shine is ideal in this case. The Gatsby Pompadour Styling Hair Pomade Supreme Hold lends lustre to the natural shine of my hair for that sophisticated look, yet does not come across as greasy.
- Hold: The hold is top of the class. But you’ll need a fixer plus I don’t like the bunching up.
- Quantity: A small amount will do the job. The 75g pot lasted me for one and a half months.
- Scent: Sexy, manly retro smell. Think hot daddy.
- Wash: Easily done with water.
- Shine: Helps to make your Male Asian hair shine like the sun!
My Verdict: 8.5/10
Definitely my everyday go-to pomade! It styles my Male Asian hair so well with the concessional hiccups but I can deal with that. I hope they can make it more available though, as it is now serving a very small market.
To get both products, here are the links: