Hair Pomade: Everything You Need To Know!

By Rich Krafting


In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the best hair pomades for men.

What Is Pomade?

Pomade is a generic term for a creamy hair product. Wikipedia sums it up as a “greasy, waxy or a water-based substance that is used to style hair.”

Pomade Definition

The English word “pomade” comes from the French pommade meaning “ointment,” which originates from the Latin pomum (fruit, apple). The original ointment recipe contained mashed apples. Modern pomades are often scented but can also be fragrance-free.

Light vs Medium vs Strong Hold Pomade

There is a pomade for every hair type, length and style. The different strengths are also all available in a range of sheens from matte to shiny.

While you will see the words high, medium and low, each formula has a unique amount of shine and hold. Not all levels of hold and shine are the same. Different brands will vary so it can take some experimentation and experience and experience to find the right product for your hair type.

Light Hold – Light hold defines hair while allowing movement and restyling. It won’t weigh hair down so is best for fine and thin hair types, medium to long hair and hairstyles, wavy and curly locks. This is for looser styles that can be reshaped.

ADH Dry – This lightweight, pliable, water-based creme has a remarkably matte finish. It adds tack and a gritty texture to hair with very little hold or weight so it moves and stays touchable. Use it alone in damp hair for very natural looking styles or for ideal results, use sparingly to finish blow-dried hair. It also works well when applied to fine hair before blow drying.

Paul Mitchell Foaming Pommade – Add a few drops off this unique formula to create a foam that is easy to work through wavy, curly or medium and long hair for light hold, to tame frizz and add healthy shine. This is best for loose styles that need some control.

Medium Hold – For short to medium length hair, medium hold pomades are strong enough to create spiky, textured and slick styles. Some medium hold formulas also work for thin or fine hair types. Look for options that thicken hair like clay or fiber pomades.

Prospectors Gold Rush Pomade – This creamy pomade has a medium to firm hold, soft finish and light shine and comes in a cool gold tin. Some users prefer it to Suavecito because it rinses out as easily but doesn’t dry out hair. The all natural pomade contains hemp oil to add nutrients and lock in moisture.

Mythical Pomade Hair Paste – Developed by Rhett and Link of Good Mythical Morning, this medium hold, matte finish product lives up to its promise of working for all hair types including short, long, thick, thin, straight, or curly hair. It also made in the USA with solar power.

Layrite Original Pomade – One of the traditional water-based pomades, this medium hold, medium shine pomade washes out easily. It also has a pleasant vanilla scent and flexible hold that works for thin to thick hair in a wide range of hairstyles.

Strong Hold – For thick hair, medium length hair and high volume styles, strong hold pomades will get you the look you want with all day hold. They also work to straighten out curly hair.

Suavecito Pomade Firme – This formula holds like a wax and washes out like a gel. It is easier to apply to slightly damp hair although that does reduce the hold. Use it for short to long hair.

Boardwalk Stronghold Pomade – This water-based, strongest hold pomade lasts all day long and then washes out easily. Touch it up with damp fingers or a wet comb without losing strength. The semi-matte formula leaves a natural shine. For more shine, apply to damper hair. This Made in the USA water-based product is vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free.

Layrite Super Hold Pomade – Layrite’s strongest formula, this water-based pomade works for the thickest, coarsest and curliest hair types. It creates all day, flexible hold for all kinds of men’s hairstyles from messy looks to high volume pomps and spikes.

How To Use Pomade

There are basically two ways to use pomade, on damp hair or dry hair. The differences are subtle but there is a difference:

  • Damp application – Shinier finish, lighter hold, smoother finish
  • Dry application – More matte finish, stronger hold, separated and textured finish

For longer hair or wavy and curly hair, pomade is easier to apply to damp hair. Dry application can be best for fine or thin hair and short hair. For guys with thick hair, it depends on the style and look you are going for.

Try your favorite pomade both ways though. You can get two different looks out of one jar of pomade or apply pomade twice for even stronger hold.

Pomade can be easier to apply to damp hair because there it spreads through hair smoothly and thoroughly. Hair should be damp, never wet. Too much water breaks down the product, weakening it. Air or blow dry hair until there are no more drops but hair still has some water in it, about 90% dry. Now, work product through hair.

For dry hair, work fingers through hair a few times to make sure hair gets evenly coated. Usually this will create a more textured, separated look, which is on trend today.

How To Apply Pomade

1. Air or blow dry until damp or dry.

2. Dig out a small amount of product and rub between palms. This warms up the product and helps it spread through hair. For extra thick pomade that can’t easily be removed, blow dry the product for a few seconds to make it easier to remove.

Always start with a small amount of product, less than the size of a pea. It is much easier to add more than take it away.

3. Most people apply pomade only to the top and sides of hair. Instead, apply hair product from back to front.

Hair is densest at the back of the head. Starting there makes sure the the most product is where hair is thickest. When there is less pomade on hands, move to the top and sides where hair is lighter in density. Finish pushing hair into place with fingers or a comb.

How Often To Use Pomade

All pomades can be used daily. When applying pomade, focus on hair while avoiding the scalp, where it can cause buildup or grease. After all, it is the hair you are styling, not the scalp.

For some guys, oil-based pomades can last for multiple days. Shampooing hair does not remove all oil-based pomade so use less product for touch-ups. Strip hair with dish soap or Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo when hair is dull and greasy. This can be daily with finer, lighter colored hair or every four to five days for thicker, darker hair.

Hair may be healthier with a break from oil-based pomades or all hair products so take a day off if you can.

How Much Pomade Should You Use?

There are all kinds of recommendations for pomade usage from pea-sized to a dime. There is no one size fits all formula. Start with a little bit and add more as needed. It’s much easier to add more pomade than wash hair to remove it.

Water-Based Pomade

There are two kinds of water-based pomades, orthodox and unorthodox.

Orthodox pomades are the original water-based formulas. They were designed to recreate classic grease pomades but wash out easily. Many of them act like a gel, drying hard and can only be restyled with a wet comb. Some water-based pomades have a flexible hold. They are easy to use, stay put and stand up to the heat and sun. Typically, orthodox products offer great hold and high shine.

Bona Fide “Super” Superior Hold – This American Made pomade brand looks retro but began in 2012. It stands up to  the competition in quality, scent and value. The strongest hold works for ultra thick, coarse, wavy and curly hair as well as guys who want the ultimate all day hold.

Pacinos Pomade – Pacinos is everywhere lately, on Instagram as well as available at Target. It’s a an excellent water-based pomade with firm yet flexible hold and semi-shine finish. It works for all hair types including straight, wavy, curly and thick hair. It is popular for comb overs, pompadours and undercut hairstyles as well to hold wavy/curly hair in place without flaking.

Uppercut Deluxe Pomade – Strong hold without stiffness and medium-high shine. Works for all types of medium length hair and especially good for pomps, side-parts and slick-backs. Unlike most pomades, always apply Uppercut Deluxe to dry hair.

Unorthodox water-based pomades are newer and more similar to their oil-based counterparts because they don’t set hard. They can be restyled throughout the day, be matte or shiny and mostly wash out. There may be some residual wax buildup after a shampoo but that just helps styling the next day. This category includes clays, fibers and gels pomades.

Battle Born Grooming Co. Water-Based Pomade – Made in Las Vegas, this unorthodox pomade is handcrafted in small batches with ethically sourced organic, wildcrafted or pesticide-free ingredients. It has the strong, flexible hold and masculine smell of an oil-based pomade but washes out easily. Use it for all hair types, including wavy and curly.

Shear Revival Crystal Lake – Get a natural look with this low shine, light to medium hold, made in America pomade. It never dries hard, can be restyled without water and conditions hair.

O’Douds Multi-Purpose Pomade – This creamy, easy to apply pomade allows the ultimate control over hair with a pliable finish that can be reworked throughout the day. Vitamins and oils moisturize hair while protecting hair from the sun. Use it for more natural looks, a low shine finish and citrus cedar scent.

Oil-Based Pomade

Oil-based pomades are the original men’s hair products. Most provide some shine and can have light, medium, firm or heavy hold. The product stays malleable and can be refreshed throughout the day but changes will decrease hold, volume and shine.

Traditional oil-based pomades do not wash out in a single shower and build up. So why do people still use these products? First, they hold stronger than their water-based counterparts. Second, that build-up makes hair easier to style and provides additional hold. Last, grease pomades can be used multiple days in a row with only minor touch-ups. Anyway, there’s no point in completely washing pomade out if you’re just going to put more in your hair. The buildup of traditional pomades can make second day hair look even better than the first.

Another way to wash out hair greases is to let conditioner soak into hair for 5-10 minutes and then shampoo a couple times. Liek the olive oil method detailed above, the conditioning oils break down the pomade oil.

There are all kinds of original oil-based pomades available including Murray’s, Dax, Dapper Dan and Royal Crown. These classic formulas may have more chemicals than modern men want to put on their hair. However, they are still being bought after after over 50 years because these pomades work.

Black & White Genuine Pluko Hair Dressing Pomade Ultra White Blend – Supposedly used by Elvis Presley, this is a classic oil-based pomade. It doesn’t have the strongest hold but works well for most hair types as well as wavy, curly hair. Use it for a soft finish with some shine. It is sweat-proof for sports and hot climates.

Reuzel Pink – One of the newer grease pomades, Reuzel holds like a gel with medium shine. It can hold the thickest, curliest, unruliest hair all day long and excels at classic styles like pomps, quiffs and slick backs. For normal hair, try the medium hold Reuzel Green.

Lockhart’s Goon Grease – This made in Michigan brand is a traditional pomade with heavy hold and superior shine plus a crisp cologne scent. It goes on smooth and washes out easily for an oil-based pomade. Use it for pompadours, jelly rolls, slick backs or just to hold hair in place all day.

Matte Pomade

Matte pomades have a natural, no-shine finish in contrast to a shiny finish. Water-based pomades can be matte or shiny but clays and fibers have a natural finish. Sheen can make light or gray hair look greasy so these hair colors look best with matte or low shine finish. Other than that, it depends on the look you are going for.

Blind Barber 90 Proof Pomade – Infused with hops, this is a strong hold, matte finish product that can be used to create clean cut, textured or natural looks.

Old Spice Pomade – Made by the iconic men’s cologne brand, this medium hold pomade has a light masculine scent and no shine finish. It costs less than $10 and easy to use, making it a good choice for guys just starting out with hair products as well as experienced users.

Flagship Black Ship Pomade – This natural vegan pomade uses black oxide for the ultimate matte finish. The charcoal tint works with all hair colors. The water-based formula has a strong flexible hold that can be restyled throughout the day.

Pomade vs. Wax

Are pomade and wax the same? While some pomades do contain wax and the terms are often used interchangeably, waxes and pomades are not the same thing. While each hair wax is different they tend to be easy to apply, stay pliable all day, and have a no or low shine finish.

Hair waxes work well oily hair, thick hair and to create loose, textured and messy styles of all lengths. While some waxes are difficult to wash out, most modern formulas will rinse out easily with a shampoo.

Brickell Flexible Hold Wax Pomade – This lightweight, natural wax hair pomade provides a flexible hold with natural shine and a sweet peppermint aroma. Use it for short to medium length hair of all types, especially thick hair. Also contains Vitamin E for conditioning and castor oil to promote hair growth.

Hanz de Fuko Claymation – It’s called Claymation but the first ingredient is beeswax. The paraben-free pomade is super high hold with a matte finish to create tall pomps, textured spikes or any look you can dream up.

ORIBE Rough Luxury Molding Wax – This is one of the more expensive hair brands but also the best. The semi-matte flexible paste wax makes it easy to add texture, volume and separation to any men’s hairstyles with a soft, flexible finish.

What Is Clay Pomade?

Clay products are a recent addition to the men’s hair product category. There are a range of different clay products but they all contain clay. Clay pomades tend to be dry, low shine and easy to apply.

Clay adds thickness to hair and provides ample volume without weight hair down. It also helps control frizz. Clay products work for all hair types, from fine to thick and straight to curly. Clay pomades can be used on their own, as a pre-styler or as a finishing product.

Baxter of California Clay Pomade – Clay and beeswax creates a strong, pliable hold without shine. Use it to add hold and texture to all kinds of short hairstyles, especially the trendy crop. Works to thicken up thin, fine hair or hold the thickest hair.

Courage Clay – Handcrafted by a former U.S. Army Paratrooper, this is firm hold, low-to-no shine vegan hair clay with a sweet tobacco cedar scent. Apply to damp hair for more shine. Although water-based, this product can take a few days to wash out. That’s not a bad thing. Second day hair is often the best hair.

Shu Uemura Clay Definer – This clay based styling pomade has an easy to apply creamy texture for flexible styling with texture. Use it for modern dry look for all kinds of styles.

What Is a Fiber Pomade?

Fiber pomades have an extremely strong, pliable hold with a matte finish. Resinous fibers thicken, texturize and increase fullness. Fiber products work best for short hair up to  three inches long. It can thicken up fine hair or tame the thickest, curliest locks.

Reuzel Fiber – The Dutch brand Reuzel is known for the classic oil-based pomades but also offers water-based formulas. This fiber pomade has the pliable feel and strong hold of a grease but no shine and washes out easily. Controls the thickest of hair with a tobacco-vanilla scent.

American Crew Fiber – From one of the most well-known men’s hair brands, this fiber works for all hair types from thin, fine to thick hair with more hold than you need.

Johnny B Street Cream – It’s not in the name but this is a fibrous cream with 8 out of 10 hold that lasts all day with a matte finish. It is ideal for textured and high volume looks as well anything that needs a lot of strength. It works for thin as well as thick hair.

What Is Gel Pomade?

Gel pomades provide the ultimate hold, plenty of shine and dry hard and rinse clean. Gel pomades tend to be superior to hair gels because they have the same qualities without alcohol, which can dry out hair, and that dreaded flaking. This type of pomade works well for the most high hold hairstyles as well as thickening up thin hair.

At the moment, there is only one official gel pomade available but many water-based pomades have the hold and shine of a gel.

Imperial Barber Gel Pomade – Like a gel, use this this gel pomade for to add hold and shine to ultra straight or curly hair. It can be used on its own or as a pre-styler. Works to add volume, texture and spikes.

What does hair pomade do?

Hair pomade holds hair in place with light or strong hold. They can also boost volume, add shine, smooth hair, build texture, thicken hair and fight frizz.

What is hair pomade used for?

Hair pomade is used to create all kinds of men’s hairstyles. Use it to create slick, spiky or messy styles or anything you can dream up.

Can Pomade Make You Lose Your Hair Or Damage Your Hair?

Using pomade will not damage your hair. In fact, some formulas contain conditioning agents that moisturize hair.

What can lead to hair loss is product buildup on the scalp. Limit this by using as little product as possible and concentrating on hair rather than the scalp.

Make sure to wash product out thoroughly at least once or twice a week. Consider skipping hair products and heat styling for 1-2 days a week to improve hair health.

How Do I Get Pomade Out Of My Hair?

Water-based pomades rinse out easily with water while oil-based products will not even wash out with shampoo.

The secret to getting oil-based pomades out of hair is using dish soap because it is designed break down grease. This can be harsh on hair so it’s not for every day. For daily pomade use, every three to four days in-between degreasing should be adequate. Shampoo in between to prevent buildup.

Adding one simple extra step helps remove the pomade from hair and keeps hair healthy. Apply a spoonful of olive oil to dry hair and massage it. The oil breaks down the pomade, making it easier to rinse out. Then create a lather of dish soap and a few drops of water in the hands and work through hair and rinse with hot water. This can be followed up with a shampoo and conditioner but it isn’t necessary.

Which Pomade Is Best?

The best men’s hair pomade is the best one for your hair type and style. There are so many factors that influence that. Shine or matte, light or strong hold, smooth or texture, smell, price and availability.

That’s not very helpful though. These are a few of the most popular men’s pomades because of their ease of use, price point and quality. Many of these can be purchased from drugstores.

Axe Messy Look Flexible Hair Paste – It’s not weird to buy a pomade from a cologne brand. In fact, the Old Spice pomade is also a good option. This hair paste has plenty of hold that works for short to medium-length hair with a matte finish.

TIGI Bed Head B for Men Matte Separation Workable Wax – This isn’t the cheapest pomade available but a little bit really goes a long way. Use it for combed or textured style. Hair stays in place all day and never flakes.

Got2b Defiant Define and Shine Pomade – This strong hold product with a little bit of shine can be used to spike hair up or hold hair down. It’s an affordable product for guys getting into pomade.

Pomade Brands

There are new pomade brands popping up every day. There are the big, well known brands like American Crew, Suavecito, Layrite, Uppercut, Murray’s and Imperial Barber. There are also lots of smaller brands that are local, handcrafted, made in the USA and more. A few of those mentioned here include Admiral, The Cardinal, Courage, Flagship, Lockharts, Shear Revival and Battle Born but there are many more.

It’s all finding the right formula for your hair.

Best Pomade For Thick Hair

Guys with thick hair may have the hardest time finding pomades with enough hold to sculpt hair and keep it in place all day. Fortunately their are many ultra strong pomades available. Pick from a variety of ingredients, shines and aromas. Here are a few of the best pomades that will tame the thickest hair.

Admiral Classic Pomade – Designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, this water-based product also contains beeswax to hold the thick hair, whether it’s straight, wavy or curly. It goes in easy, has a pleasant coconut smells and washes out easily. Check out the reviews for more info but this is a very popular products.

Jovinno Natural Pomade – Made with French ingredients, this all natural formula works for all hair types but can hold the thickest, coarsest hair all day long. The matte pomade washes out easily with water for those who don’t shampoo daily.

JS Sloane Heavy Weight Brilliantine – Created for unruly hair, this maximum control water-based pomade holds any style place with a fresh scent and washes out easily. Works for straight and wavy hair.

Best Pomade For Waves

Creating 360 waves requires a durag, brush, pomade and a lot of brushing. Wave grease conditions and softens hair while holding it in place. Different brands have different ingredients and consistencies but all will moisturize hair and keep it in place.

Of course, no product will create waves for you. The key is to brush, brush, brush and then brush some more but these products are some of the best wave builders out there.

COLDLVBEL Premium Wave & Scalp Butter – If you’re into natural hair products for natural hair, this is one of the best options out there. Made of oils, wax and fragrance, this all natural product is ideal for the creating 360 waves. It gets the job done without being as thick, heavy or greasy as other wave pomades. When hair gets longer and waves get deeper, try the even thicker Wolfin Pomade by the same brand.

Murray’s Superior Hair Dressing Pomade – Created by C.D. Murray, a Chicago barber in 1925, this is one of the original pomades. The strong hold is ideal for wolfing waves. If the original feels too thick, try the Super Light formula.

Wavebuilder Cocoa and Shea Pomade – Designed specifically for wolfing, this pomade contains oils that moisturize hair with enough hold to lay hair down for the wave building process.

Pomades For Curly Hair

Pomades and creams are an excellent choice for curls. They control curls, eliminate frizz and add moisture to hair. Look for traditional oil-based or water-based pomades that don’t dry hard. The amount of hold and shine depends on your hairstyle and preference. Here are a few of the best pomades for curly hair. Combine a pomade with a salt spray for added texture and curl definition.

Imperial Classic Pomade – Pretty much the opposite of the above recommendation, this product is water-based, strong hold and low shine. It tames the thickest waves and curls while washing out easily.

Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade – The humectant formula draws water into hair, taming frizz while defining curls and adding shine. Aveda is known for their plant-based formulas as well as working well for curls.

Baxter of California Cream Pomade – For a light hold with natural finish, this cream pomade refines and smooths hair while keeping it touchable. For thicker, curlier hair, check out Baxter of California Hard Cream Pomade for firm hold.

Pomade For Thin And Fine Hair

Hair products for thin and fine hair should thicken hair, hold without weighing it down and contain minimal to no shine. In addition to mousses, salt sprays and hair sprays, pomades are effective ways of thickening fine hair. In general, look for matte formulas especially fibers and clays that build texture. Here are a few of the specific formulas that transform thin locks into thicker hair.

Combine these products with the best hairstyles for thin hair and you’ll have the look of fuller hair.

The Cardinal Brand Atlas Matte Texture Clay – This whipped clay pomade provides separation and definition without weighing hair down. This versatile product works for short cuts and longer styles as well as anything from spiky texture to a high volume pomp. It is especially good for fine, thinning or limp hair, adding fullness and texture.

Smooth Viking Hydrating Fiber Cream – This minimal shine fiber pomade thickens and texturizes hair with medium hold. It is best suited for shorter hair and adds volume and hold without weight hair down.

Jack Black Clay Pomade – The texture of clay helps beef up fine, thin and thinning hair with pliable hold and matte finish. Use it for the type of textured, piecey styles that minimize the appearance of thinning hair.

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