If you’re of the male persuasion then you’ve probably heard about or come across pomade at some point in time. The barber might have used it to style your hair, or you might have wondered how the guys in movies have such shiny, well styled hair. Pomades are one of the most versatile hair products out there and there’s been an explosion of different formulas and products over the last few weeks. Pomades are a popular styling essential for many men, and it’s no wonder why. No matter what the length, texture or styling needs of your hair there is a pomade to suit your hair.

If you’re not sure what all the fuss is about when it comes to hair pomades then you should read our helpful guide to pomade below. We cover what pomades are, the different types of it and the history behind pomades. We also cover the different holds that are possible with the product and how to use it for styling your hair.

What is pomade?

Pomade is a highly versatile, creamy hair product used for styling hair. It offers a shiny, wet look and offers different levels of pliable hold. It comes in a few different types of formulations including oil, wax and water-based and comes with different levels of hold depending on the type of formula used. It’s an excellent choice for those who preferred a slick-back, well groomed look and looks great in shorter, more textured hair. It’s not great with very fine, thin or limp hair however, as it can make hair look greasy or heavy. In longer styles it can add impressive shine and add some hold for separation and styling.

What is the history behind pomade?

Pomade was originally an ointment made from mashed apples, which is where the word comes from. In French the word ‘pommade’ means ointment, which originated from the Latin word ‘Pomum’ which means fruit or apple.

Light, medium and strong hold pomade

There are pomade products out there to suit all kinds of hair types, lengths and styles. They come in different sheens from matte to shiny, perfect for creating different looks and styles. It’s common to see the words high, medium and low hold on pomade formulations but the truth is that every brand is slightly different and every product will give you a different level of shine and hold. Finding the right one for you can take some time and experimentation. Try asking friends with similar hair types, or whose style you admire, they might be able to recommend you some great products. You could also check out reviews online to help you find some great products. Here are the key differences between the different levels of hold for you to compare.

hair pomade

Light hold

Light hold pomades will generally allow you to style your hair whilst still allowing your hair to move or be restyled. It’s not as heavy as other types of pomade, so it won’t get weighted down or leaves your hair feeling like it has too much product in it. If you have fine, or think hair then light hold pomades are usually your best option. It’s also better for medium or longer hair, or wavy and curly locks that require a looser style.

Water-based crème’s make excellent light hold pomades because they remain lightweight and touchable and usually offering a matte finish. Water-based pomades are offer grit and texture to the hair, making it easier to style, without making hair too stiff. It’s best to use a light hold pomade on damp hair or sparingly through blow dried hair.

There are some great foaming pomades that can help with taming frizz and adding shine to the hair, although it’s best to only use a small amount.

Medium hold

Medium hold hair styles are better for creating more structure and style, so they’re great for spiky, textured styles or slicked back hair. They work well in short to medium hair, but can start to look heavy on thinner or finer hair, or longer lengths. Look out for options like clay and fiber pomades which provide medium hold and can make your hair look thicker. Medium hold formulas can be a bit tougher to remove from the hair, so be careful to wash thoroughly after using it to style your hair.

Strong hold

If you have particularly thick hair, longer length hair or like to wear a voluminous style then a strong hold pomade is probably the way to go. Strong hold formulas have the ability to keep your hair styled all day long and can even straighten out curly hair. These formulas tend to be wax or gel and are best applied to damp hair.

How to use pomade

There’s a couple of different ways to use pomade, it can basically be styled through damp or dry hair. The way you choose to use it will impact on the overall styling effect; the differences can be subtle or more dramatic depending on how much product you use.

Applying to damp hair usually results in a shinier finish, a lighter hold and a smooth finish whereas applying it to dry hair will give a more matte finish, a stronger hold and a more textured finish.

If you have long or wavy hair then you’ll find pomade is easier to apply when your hair is damp, and you’ll probably get better results from this. If you have thin hair then a dry application will likely yield better results although it depends on the style you’re trying to achieve.

Test out you pomade with both applications to figure out what you prefer, you might find that a style looks particularly great after applying your styling pomades to wet hair, or that a bit of pomade after blow drying gives your hair just enough texture.

You’ll probably find that applying pomade to damp hair is much easier, as it will spread more easily. It’s important to ensure that hair is damp however, and not wet. If you have too much water in your hair then the product will begin to break down and won’t work. Try and get hair mostly dry so that it is only a little bit wet before you work the product through the hair.

hair pomade

Steps for applying pomade

  1. Blow dry hair or allow hair to air dry until it’s damp or dry.
  2. Get a small amount of product out (you can always add more later!) and rub between your palms to warm it up. Warmer product spreads more easily, if it doesn’t melt down easily, try warming it with a blow dryer.
  3. Work product through the front and back of the head with your fingers

How often should you use pomade?

You can use pomade every day if you like. When using the hair product try to work it through the lengths of your hair and avoid making contact with your scalp, as it can cause oily or waxy build up on your head. Some stronger, oil-based pomades can last in the hair for multiple days so applying it to the scalp can make it tricky to remove! Sometimes even shampoo isn’t enough to remove oil-based pomades form the hair. If you’re having a hard time getting your hair clean try using a clarifying shampoo. If you use an oil-based pomade it’s a good idea to give your hair a break from it a few days a week to prevent your hair from feeling dull and greasy from too much product build-up.

How much product should you use?

The amount of pomade you should use will depend on how much hair you have, but generally it’s best to start with a pea-sided amount or no more than a dime. You can always build up from there and work more product in, but if you start with too much your hair might end up looking heavy and greasy.

What you should know about water-based pomades

There are a couple of types of water-based pomades, orthodox and unorthodox. Orthodox pomades are made up of the traditional water-based formula’s which were designed to wash out easily and look similar to the classic, grease pomades. Most orthodox pomades will dry hard and can usually only be restyled by wetting the hair or using a comb – although some formulas are designed to have a flexible hold. Orthodox products usually offer a good level of hold and shine.

Unorthodox water-based pomades are the new kid on the block and are much more similar to their oil-based alternatives, because they won’t set hard on your hair. Unorthodox pomades will allow your hair to be restyled throughout the day and are not typically overly difficult to wash out.

Oil-based pomade

Oil-based pomades were the original men’s hair products. They usually provide a natural shine and can have different levels of hold. Oil-based pomades are usually flexible hold and can be restyled over the course of the day. The only problem with oil-based pomades is that they build up in the hair and don’t always wash away with only water, so it’s sometimes necessary to use a clarifying shampoo or olive oil to try and strip out the product build up.

Matte pomade

Matte pomades have a more natural finish and aren’t as shiny in comparison to mother pomade products. Water-based products can either matte or shiny, but clays and fibers will almost always have a natural finish.

Clay pomade

Clay pomades are a dry product that are easy to apply and low shine. They make hair appear thicker and do not weight the hair down. Clay products are great for all sorts of different hair types.

Fiber pomade

Fiber pomades have strong hold and a matte finish. They’re excellent for texturising hair and increasing volume and fullness. They work better in shorter hair, but are excellent from everything from baby fine hair to thick, curly locks.

Gel pomade

Gel pomades provide great hold, lots of shine and tend to dry hard and rinse out well. They make a great alternative to gel’s as they provide a similar level of hold without the same amount of dryness and flaking.

Pomade is an excellent, versatile styling product that can do wonders when it comes to styling men’s hair. Pomades can be used for loose style, stronger styles and can be used on everything from the thinnest hair to thick, coarse hair and even wavy or curly hair. Some formulations wash out more easily than others, so men with hair that tends to look greasy when product builds up should avoid oil-based or greasy formulations. Luckily, there are some great water-based formulas that provide light to strong hold and will usually wash out easily with little to no effort.