In high school I spiked my hair, but when I got to college I went for a Caesar with the front flipped upward; to style my coif, I used a pomade. As I made my way through the products sold in most stores, I started to get an idea of what I wanted and what I should avoid in a hair pomade. For one thing, I noticed certain pomades made my hair super shiny to the point of looking greasy and unclean, so that was to be avoided. I also noticed that many pomades were great for adding texture, but I couldn’t seem to find one that had any hold to it; I’d always have to style my hair with wax, then use hairspray.
Some years ago—perhaps a decade at this point—I found Redken’s Rough Clay 20 at the salon where I used to get my hair cut. It was a match made in heaven. It had the hold I was looking for, but it had zero shine to it. In terms of texture, it was very, very thick like clay—imagine that!—but became pliable once you worked it between your hands to put it through your hair. However I styled my hair, it would stay that way. Interestingly, Rough Clay was somehow reworkable despite its hold, which meant that if I wanted or needed to adjust my hair halfway through the day, I could do so and the Rough Clay would hold my hair’s modified style. It was magical.
Then, without warning, Redken discontinued Rough Clay 20. I went into the salon for my bimonthly cut and when I went to the shelves to get another jar, Rough Clay was gone. But never forgotten.
When Redken discontinued Rough Clay 20, I began to hunt for a replacement. Redken didn’t release or offer a replacement for Rough Clay 20, which meant I was on my own. I tried countless products and spent more money than I care to think about in my search for a Rough Clay replacement. It wasn’t until recently that I finally found it, and now I can happily say that after at least five years of searching, I have a new go-to hair product: Star Pro Line’s Star Wax Clay. In fact, I’m so happy with this product that I started a new section on my website for product reviews so that I could share my discovery with others who might still be searching fruitlessly, hopelessly, longingly for a Rough Clay replacement.
Here’s what Star Pro Line, the makers of Star Wax Clay, have to say about the product on their website:
Using Star Wax Clay
When you open the Star Wax Clay jar—which is quite a large 5 ounces, probably more than double the amount you’ll get with most other products—you notice that the consistency of the product is almost identical to that of Redken Rough Clay 20. It’s very thick, also looking a lot like actual clay, and wonderfully matte, adding absolutely zero shine to your hair; in fact, it almost strips your hair of its natural shine, giving it a very matte finish that I really like. My hair is currently cut into something derivative of a pompadour—longer on top while short on the back and sides with a very minimal amount of fading in between—so the amount that I use is a little smaller than my thumbnail. I put it into my hands, rubbed them together to warm the clay a bit, then combed it into my hair using my fingers.
The hold isn’t quite as strong as the Redken Rough Clay 20, but it’s close. I’d say the Redken was a strong hold, and the Star Wax Clay is a medium hold or thereabouts although Star Pro Line says the Clay is their strongest hold. Aside from the difference in the strength of the hold, styling my hair with the clay was like stepping into a time machine. It felt so much like Rough Clay 20 that it almost feels like I’m using Rough Clay, and it just makes me so relieved that my search is finally over. Yes, I’m aware this sounds dramatic, but we all have those products we love and become heartbroken when they’re taken away. Using this Star Wax Clay ended a search that lasted several years for me, so I really couldn’t be happier.
I do wish that the hold was just a bit stronger, but considering this is the closest I’ve ever come to Redken Rough Clay 20 and it’s almost an identical product otherwise, I’m not going to dock the product any points for that. The hold is still adequate, especially with a light spritz of hairspray to finish. It’s great for sculptural styles in which you would normally have trouble getting your hair to go or do what you want, especially those involving lots of height and volume. Once the product “sets,” it looks much like you would expect a pomade-type product to look, giving your hair tons of texture and definition, but without that unnatural shininess that will make your hair look dirty. What’s more, the Star Wax Clay washes off your hands and out of your hair extremely easily, which I always appreciate; I’ve been frustrated at having to use about half a bottle of shampoo to get product out of my hair before, but this Star Wax Clay washes out like conditioner.
Also, this product has fragrance in it that smells like men’s cologne. It’s not a smell that will vaguely remind you of cologne, but rather it smells like cologne was added to the mixture during production. Actually, it’s somewhere between cologne and a fresh smell, almost like something you’d expect from a men’s body wash or deodorant. I don’t personally have an issue with that and I find that it smells really good, especially compared to the awful smell that some products out there have; however, I’ve read that other reviewers have disliked the smell, calling it overpowering or saying that it makes the product smell like a cheap body spray. Again, I really don’t mind it and find that of all the smells that could be radiating ever-so-slightly from my head, I certainly don’t mind this one.
As far as price goes, it’s a bit more expensive than other products out there, but I’m a big believer in the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” At $25 for Star Wax Clay via Amazon, you’re getting more than twice the amount that you would get from most other product lines, so I’d say there’s even more value to be had here with this one.
Star Wax Clay: The Bottom Line
If you were a fan of the Redken Rough Clay 20 or the Stephen Knoll New York matte clay that was also discontinued not long ago, this is going to be the best replacement that you’ll find. Better yet, it’s an almost identical product. It’s got plenty of hold—though the hold can easily be supplemented with hairspray—and is a joy to work with as you style your hair. The smell is pleasant and not overpowering, plus the product washes out incredibly easily. Star Wax Clay has great longevity, lasting me throughout the day and even in very humid conditions. I even sweat a little bit in 90-degree heat today and my hair still looked just as it did when I put the product in and styled my hair this morning, more than 12 hours ago.
If you’ve been looking for a Redken Rough Clay 20 replacement or have simply been looking for a quality pomade for your hair-styling needs, your search ends right here. Something else I love about this product that I didn’t mention above: It seems to be of incredibly high quality. Even looking at the ingredients I can see that this is something I don’t need to feel afraid to use long-term. I wouldn’t be surprised if I started seeing this product on salon shelves as it’s just that awesome.
Star Wax Clay has become my go-to styling product and is the only pomade or clay that I’ll be buying from now on… until it inevitably gets discontinued, too.
Star Wax Clay is made by Star Pro Line, who also makes three other pomades as part of their product line: Star Wax Original, Star Wax Crystal, and Star Wax Toffee. Check out the online retailers that carry Star Pro Line pomades here, or you can buy Star Wax Clay and other products from Amazon like I did.