The Cream That Won’t Hide Your Hair’s Personality

jvn complete air dry cream

JVN Complete Air Dry Cream.

Philip Friedman

Shop $24, jvnhair.com


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My hair has a little bit of a wave to it. But depending on when you see me, you might not know it. For one thing, the shorter I get it cut, the less it wants to curl. That’s on me. But the other reason my style might look less than lively is if I was hurrying out the door, scooped up some pomade, raked it through my hair, and went on about my business. That’s on me, too—but it’s also on the pomade.

Hair products are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. While some pomades do a great job of providing a neat-and-tidy ‘do with a nice shine, they can also weigh down the hair. The same thing could be said of clays (more matte, still heavy), waxes (super shiny, more pliable), and any number of other concoctions you can use to style your mop on the daily. But there is one go-to option for guys who want to let their hair’s true character come through for all to see: cream. The best ones will be lightweight but still provide a bit of control and natural-looking shine, allowing for your style’s personality to run free. And Jonathan Van Ness, he of the famously lustrous locks, has created one that fits the bill perfectly: Air Dry Cream.

jvn complete air dry cream

Philip Friedman

It simply works.

This is the big question when it comes to any haircare product, so I’m not going to make you wait for it. Does this stuff do its job? Sure does. Mind you, you’re not getting “hair that stays in place in a wind tunnel” levels of hold here, but that’s not the point. You’re supposed to have some movement. And applied to wet, damp, or dry hair, it smooths things out without weighing you down. In fact, my initial application—about a nickel-sized portion of product on slightly damp hair—left me with such a lightweight feeling that I came back for more once my hair dried. That’s not a knock. If I’d been aiming for frizz control, shine, and nothing more, I would’ve been happy. But I was also going for a bit of shaping. The JVN crew calls Air Dry “buildable,” so I figured I’d put it to the test. And with a little more cream and a little more control, I was all set.

Shop $24, jvnhair.com

jvn complete air dry cream

Philip Friedman

It smells—and looks—great.

There’s no use having a cream that does the job if it smells like blue raspberry (unless that’s your thing, in which case, uh, okay?). Air Dry Cream has a light scent that won’t clash with whatever cologne you decide to spritz before a night out, but still registers in your nostrils while you’re getting ready. You know that clean, fresh, ever-so-slightly sweet smell you encounter in a good salon? It’s like that—subtle. The tube itself—clean lines, muted colors, low-key branding—matches that vibe. And if you, like me, have a habit of infuriating roommates and partners by leaving your grooming products out on the sink, the fact that it looks nice is a welcome bonus.

Shop $24, jvnhair.com

jvn complete air dry cream

Philip Friedman

It’s made with friendly ingredients.

I am not a scientist, which is a big part of the reason why I’m writing about haircare instead of, I dunno, decanting something in a beaker right now. But I do appreciate the idea that the hemisqualane, a plant-based emollient that’s an alternative to silicone, in Air Dry Cream will help keep my hair healthy and add smoothness and shine without build up. And even if I’m not going to eat the stuff, it’s nice to know that the oils and extracts making my hair softer come from flax, chia, and moringa seeds. I’m no alarmist when it comes to ingredients. I won’t run from a complicated, chemistry-class-sounding name. But it’s even more fun to be able to pronounce the stuff I’m putting on my hair.

Shop $24, jvnhair.com

Photography by Philip Friedman. Prop styling John Olson for Halley Resources.

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