Paul Mitchell Lab ESP Review


Strong flexible matte hold.


Chemical smell at first, but doesn't last.


Great for spikes or radical hair styles or messy style. Not greasy at all.


Shorter lengths, adds great textured look. Leaves very little build-up to your hair.


Mid range price, ~$15-20.

Hair Type

Great for thick or thin hair. Better for shorter hair, less than 2" in length, short to medium hair lengths. With longer hair, ESP tends to weigh it down.

Does It Last?

Lasts all day. Very easy to restyle and rework hair throughout the day.

Easy To Wash Out?

Very easy to wash out.

Adding Too Much?

Start by using a little. Can pull hair if trying to put in too much. Can make hair look and feel dry. Can leave hair with white residue.

Customer Reviews:

Excellent hold for short hair

I love how this product gives a strong, flexible hold for my short hair. It's perfect for creating textured and messy styles without feeling greasy. The initial chemical smell isn't great, but it doesn't last long. Overall, a great purchase for the price.

Easy to wash out and restyle

This product has become my go-to for daily use. It's so easy to wash out and allows me to restyle my hair throughout the day without any hassle. The mid-range price is a bonus too!

Good for shorter lengths, not for long hair

The hold and texture are great for short to medium hair lengths, but it tends to weigh down my longer hair. It's a decent product, but probably better suited for someone with shorter hair.

Leaves hair dry and with white residue

I found that if I used too much of this product, it made my hair look and feel dry, and left an unappealing white residue. It also pulled at my hair when trying to apply it. Not a fan.

Chemical smell, but decent product overall

The initial chemical smell is off-putting, but it doesn't last long. Once you get past that, the product does its job well, providing a good hold for my short hair. It's a decent option, but I might look for something with a more pleasant fragrance next time.

Product Summary:

The Paul Mitchell ESP paste is renowned for its extremely strong matte hold, ensuring that hair remains shine-free regardless of the amount used. This product is particularly effective for shorter hairstyles, where it excels in maintaining a desired look. However, when applied to longer hair, it may result in the hair appearing dry, sticky, or difficult to work with. The adage "a little goes a long way" aptly describes this paste, as only a small amount is needed to achieve significant hold.

Its formidable holding power is evident even in humid weather conditions, keeping hairstyles intact throughout the day. While the product allows for reworking or restyling during the day, it's important to be mindful of not using too much, given its strong holding capabilities. This makes it an ideal choice for styles that require a firm hold, such as spiked looks or maintaining a mohawk (faux hawk) style.

Another advantage of the ESP paste is its subtle scent, which is barely noticeable. It is also user-friendly in terms of washability, as it can be easily washed out in the shower. This paste can also be used to tame curly hairstyles. It is perfect for those seeking a very strong hold with no shine. However, users with longer hair may find it challenging to run their hands through their hair after application. Therefore, this product is best recommended for shorter hair styles due to its intense hold and texturizing effects.