I have to say, after having my ‘Happy Mondays’ cut shaved off and spiked at aged 24 (after people said my hair made me look 40) it was recommended by the butcher of my locks that Wella’s styling mousse was best for the hair type and length.
For a while it did the trick but as the length of the spikes increased they started to droop. Another product was required. I tried everything (and it cost me a fortune) and in the end I settled on Wella’s Shockwave range and the Ultra Strong Power Hold gel.
In terms of hold, only the Shockwaves Tuff Stuff beats this gel.
There you go; you don’t have to read any more unless you want the full analysis.
Ultra Hold became a mainstay in my bathroom - it was cheap and widely available, and remains so to this day. A small 200ml tube costs between £2-£3 and you can often find them on multi-buy offers.
Back when I first started using this in 2003 the packaging used to provide the same promises as every other Wella styling product. The gel has a special micro-defuse system that separates individual strands leading to a firmer, longer lasting hold with the added advantage of easier styling. In addition to this, the gel should (in theory) brush out when required. Now, they have the ‘re-style with H2O’ marketing blurb that says you can reactivate the gel with wet hands to reset. No offence, but of course you can re-style it if you wet it! It’s a gel!
So, with this being ‘Ultra Strong’ I expected amazing results.
Application and results:
When applying gel, it’s always recommended that you apply to fresh washed hair that is slightly damp. Not only does this mean your hair is clean before application, it also makes the gel go further as it is mixed in with the moisture already present in your hair.
I applied the gel to my hair after it had been dried slightly with my hair dryer. The gel’s fragrance when it leaves the tube is quite strong, with a fresh clean aroma with hints of apple. Although the smell was pleasant, the fragrance died down as soon as it was applied.
Taking into account the length of my hair (3-4 inches usually) and the messy look I go, a lot of the gel was needed to cover every strand. In fact, approximately 25ml was required. It was absorbed fairly quickly and was extremely easy to apply to the actual strands of hair.
The gel seemed thicker than the Wet Look version and this did become apparent when styling. It was far, far easier than using a wax, putty or clay. The spikes in my hair stood up immediately and once gentle heat was applied, dried very quickly meaning that further hair inspections weren’t needed prior to leaving the house.
Once dried, the gel set my hair like cement. I’m not joking here; nothing would possibly move it. I could jump up and down, shake my head and not a hair would move. As this is the major function of a hair gel, and the main criteria for any future purchases, it scored 10/10.
But, I don’t just take final results into consideration when making the decision which gel to use and the overall performance of the gel has to be taken into account.
Yes, it has fabulous hold, it made my hair look shinier, but, to the touch my hair felt far too crisp and a greasy residue was left on my hands after touching it.
The gel didn’t leave me with any white flakes on my clothing while out and about, but in the morning the usual problems that occur with gel were evident. My hair was full of white flakes, so much so, simply applying more gel was not an option. My hair had to be washed to remove the flakes. Brushing it out was not an option. I have since had my hair cut and don’t use as much of this gel as I had previously, but I still wake in the mornings to find a head full of white flakes. So, it wasn’t a problem with the amount of gel used, it is a problem with the gel.
Apart from the crispy feel and the white flakes in the morning, this gel was great; it kept my long(ish) hair in place for well over 8 hours which is an achievement.
So the good points:
- It’s easy to apply
- Cheap, especially when bought on offer
- Holds hair in place for in excess of 8 hours
- Made styling easier
- Dried quickly when left to dry naturally
- Makes hair look shiny
- Easy to wash out
- Only a little is required to style short lengths of hair
- Smells clean and fresh
- A lot of gel is required to style longer lengths
- Makes hair crispy tot he touch
- Leaves hair looking fluffy in the morning
- White residue in hair once the gel was worn out
If you need a strong product to style your hair, this is for you.
RECOMMENDED for short hair, messy styles and people who don’t touch their hair a lot.