There’s more to good-looking hair than genetics. True, your ancestry has a lot to do with whether your hair is thick, thinning, curly – what have you.
But the way you style your hair and the quality of that styling has a major impact on whether your hair falls into the “good-looking” category or the “he needs to do something about his hair” category.
The good news is that the list of products that make styling your hair easier is long. Very long. And included on that list is pomade, a versatile styling product used by many men.
In this post, we’ll review this year’s best pomades for men, starting with Imperial Barber Grade Products Classic Pomade pomade. Along the way, we’ll also provide pomade buying tips, discuss the proper way to apply a pomade, and compare pomade to other products such as hair gel and hair wax.
Let’s get started with some pomade buying suggestions.
- Before you buy: 4 things to consider when purchasing pomade
- 7 Best pomades for men 2018
- The art of applying pomade (A simple, 6-step illustrated guide)
- Pomade vs. all the rest
- Choosing the best pomades of 2018
Before You Buy: 4 Things to Consider When Purchasing Pomade
So, you’re in the market for some pomade?
If so, we’re here to help, because we know there are many pomade choices and plenty of things to consider when buying it. Let’s break it down a bit:
1. What type of pomade?
Pomade basically comes in two types: oil-based and water-based.
Pomades made with a mineral oil base have been around a long, long time and have helped many men in getting a shiny, well-groomed look. Oil-based pomades are usually cheaper than water-based pomades, but they can clog your pores while stripping your hair of natural oil. They’re also harder to wash out because of their oil content. That’s not to say oil-based pomades don’t do their intended job, however.
Finding a water-based pomade that provides a better hold than oil-based pomades isn’t easy. Their advantage over oil-based pomades – besides being easier to wash out of your hair – is that you can re-style your hair throughout the day. They’ll also leave your hair with a less-greasy look. But you’ll usually pay more for water-based pomade.
2. What kind of hold?
Pomades offer a wide range of holds. Those with a high-hold similar to that of gels will keep your hair in place but may leave it feeling a bit crunchy. You’ll have some flexibility to move and restyle your hair, albeit limited in some cases.
Most pomades offer medium-to-low hold. They’re usually water-based (and more expensive) but the right choice for many men.
But, the majority of pomades offer medium-to-high hold. The beauty of medium-to-high is that maintains a nice hold without being too stiff. You won’t have to worry about going outside on a windy day and having your hairstyle blown in several different directions.
3. What type of hair?
Buying pomade is the same as buying most hair products in that the type of hair you have is of utmost importance. Here’s a look at different hair types and what pomade works best for you:
- Straight hair – No surprise here: pomade will work well for you if you have straight hair; indeed, most hair products work well for straight-haired lads. However, not all pomades may offer the amount of lift and volume that you need, so you may want to consider a clay or wax.
- Kinky hair – Ah, that kinky hair – so difficult to tame sometimes. A pomade will help, but you’re better off using it as a finishing product that provides a bit of shine while keeping stray hairs in place.
- Wavy hair – Pomade is a good choice for you if you have wavy hair. For one, pomade adds moisture that’s needed to keep your hair looking radiant and healthy. But you may want to finish with a hairspray for extra hold. You may want to use a styling cream if your waves are longer.
- Curly hair – We’ve got good news curly-haired gents: pomade is for you! Pomade offers moisture that keeps your hair from looking too frizzy. You won’t need to use a lot of pomade, but just enough to give your hair a nice glow and a good hold.
- Short hair – Pomade is for you if you want to keep a slick, combed style.
- Thick hair – You want to be careful not to apply too much pomade if you have thick hair. Doing so will leave it looking – and feeling – a tad greasy.
4. What makes a good pomade?
We’ve already talked about the importance of hold in pomades, but there are other factors to consider when choosing the best pomade for you:
- How well can you reshape? Water-based pomades allow you to reshape your hairstyle throughout the day – but some products do a better job of it than others. Restyling ability isn’t necessarily a requirement when buying pomade, but it is a nice luxury to have.
- Shine – Pomades tend to add shine to your hair but there is a big range of shine between different products. Some provide a nice glisten, others provide a more “drenched” look. It all depends on your preference. Pomades with a matte finish – and not many have it – are a real bonus.
- Scent – Let’s face it. We’re men. And as men, we prefer products that have a manly smell. While most pomades don’t have an overpowering scent, they should smell clean, at the least.
- Texturing – Texturing ability isn’t the primary focus of pomade, but if you’re looking for texture and volume you may want to check out “hybrid” pomades that include clay or wax.
- Washability – Again, water-based pomades are usually easier to wash out. Oil-based products require more effort, but the overall composition of the product is most important.
Now that we’ve covered some important considerations to keep in mind before you buy, let’s dive into our best pomade for men reviews.
The 7 Best Pomades For Men 2018
A pomade created by professional barbers seems like a good idea and that’s what you’re getting when you buy Imperial Barber Grade Products Classic Pomade.
Conceived by the owners of Razorbacks Barbershop in Long Beach, Calif., the Imperial Barber Classic Pomade has a great design and, more importantly, a long-lasting hold that’s indicative of a product that claims to have the strongest hold of any water-based pomade.
While the latter is open to debate, it’s hard to find fault with the kind of hold provided by this pomade. It also allows you to adjust the hold depending on the amount of water in your hair – if you prefer a lighter hold, apply it with water on damp hair; if you’re looking for a stronger hold, apply a heavier amount on dry hair.
Some users say that the product works best when your hair is damp (or even wetter). Simply apply a small amount and then let your hair dry naturally. While you’ll definitely get a strong hold after you’ve applied it to dry hair, you may notice a slight amount of crunchiness – but not unbearably so. And it produces a light shine that’s pleasing but not blinding.
No matter how much you apply, however, it’s easy to rinse out because it’s water-based.
One of the first things you’ll notice when opening your container of Imperial Barber Classic Pomade is its scent. Reviewers describe it as having the slight fragrance of watermelon with a tad of sharpness. It might not be for everyone, but it’s not an unpleasant scent by any means.
A key characteristic of quality pomade is how often you need to apply it throughout the day – which takes us back to this product’s hold. And with the Imperial Products Classic Pomade, one application a day is usually enough to keep your hairstyle in place until you repeat the process the next morning.
And even if your hair does become unkempt – say, from a hard workout – just add a little water, comb it through your hair, and you’ll have your style back in place. An added benefit is that you won’t have to use as much of this pomade as you would with other products that have less hold.
While the Imperial Products Classic Pomade is good for all types of hair, it’s particularly useful for thicker hair. It’s even the best pomade for Asian hair, because people of Asian descent tend to have thicker and coarser hair than African-American and Caucasian men.
- Long-lasting hold
- A little goes a long way
- Doesn’t have a greasy feel
- Not as good for curly and wavy hair.
It’s always nice to have a pomade that will last you throughout the day without having to re-apply it. The Imperial Products Classic Pomade does that and more. Just apply it in the morning and your hair will stay in place throughout your day.
Achieving the perfect hairstyle isn’t always easy. You need grooming products that really work, and if they include truly all-natural ingredients, then they deserve two thumbs-up.
Well, Seven Potions’ Hair Styling Pomade gets both thumbs, as well as a place on our list of best pomades for men. Based in Britain, Seven Potions has a solid reputation for developing men’s grooming products that work without overloading its customers with artificial ingredients.
Make that no artificial ingredients. Like all of the other Seven Potions products, their Hair Styling Pomade For Men is 100% natural, organic, vegan, and cruelty-free. The pomade’s list of ingredients includes no parabens, PEGs, silicones, synthetic fragrances, or colorants.
What it does include, however, are ingredients such as shea butter, castor oil, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, and sandalwood essential oil – to name just a few.
And it works as a quality pomade should. Whether you sport a side part, slick-back, or pompadour, the Seven Potions Hair Styling Pomade holds your favorite style in place the entire day. It’s non-sticky and applies easily to dry or damp hair, and it’s water soluble so that it washes out easily, unlike with many oil-based pomades. It also leaves your hair naturally shiny.
Seven Potions’ pomade has a subtle but invigorating scent that includes hints of sandalwood, sweet citrus, and musk afternotes.
To apply it, simply rub a small amount of the pomade between your palms to warm it up and make it more pliable. If you need a stronger hold or need to restyle your hair, then apply some more. Many reviewers say it works best for short and medium-length hair, as well as some medium-long hairstyles.
- All-natural and organic
- Provides a high hold and shine
- Washes out easily
- Perhaps not as effective on longer hairstyles
The Seven Potions Hair Styling Pomade earns high grades in a variety of categories, including its ingredients. It also provides excellent hold and the kind of shiny finish you want on certain hairstyles.
If you’re a man with curly hair, wear it proudly. Those handsome curls have no doubt garnered a fair share of attention and, in most cases, they look damn good.
But as a man with curls, you also know the struggle of trying to keep them in place. It’s a style that’s inherently messy and styling is often a royal pain.
Not to fear, however. Layrite has a solution for you.
Layrite has you covered with its water-based Super Hold Pomade. And water-based pomades work best with curly hair because they’re easier to restyle during the day. Chances are, your curly locks will need a bit of touch up throughout the day.
You’ll also love Layrite Super Hold Pomade’s hold, even if you need an occasional re-style (by simply using water). It holds like a wax but washes out easily. You’ll need all the hold a product can muster if you have curly, wavy, or thick hair.
So, what’s the story behind Layrite’s excellent pomades?
It all began as barbers looked for something to replace the wax that was popular in the Southern California rockabilly scene. They also wanted to create something that had a high shine and left a polished look. Hence, the creation of Layrite pomades.
Here’s another thing: the Super Hold Pomade keeps your hair soft with no flaking thanks to its unique formula.
And here’s another thing: because it’s water-based, you control the strength of hold when using this pomade. All you have to do is dry your hair to the desired amount. Layrite pomade has its strongest hold on dry hair; all you have to do is blow dry your hair completely before rubbing an ample amount of it thoroughly into your hair. The final step is combing or brushing it into your desired hairstyle.
There’s a lot of like about the Super Hold Pomade’s texture. It’s smooth and doesn’t have any stickiness. It also has a faint, sweet vanilla scent that provides a fresh fragrance without being overpowering.
- Super hold, especially for curly and wavy hair
- Easy to re-style during the day
- Washes out easily
- Some users say it left their hair a bit dry
Layrite’s Super Hold is the best pomade for curly hair, but also one of the best water-based pomades available. It makes it easy to re-style your hair during the day, but its hold is strong enough that you may not have to worry it.
Sauvetico Pomade is perhaps the most popular pomade for men. Let’s start with that fact and throw in a few other platitudes – such as the best water-based pomade and the best hair pomade, period.
Strong words, for sure, but Sauvetico walks the walk with its high strength pomade that truly works with every hairstyle. Whether you have a slick back, side part, pompadour, or even a combover, Sauvetico’s Pomade Firme will keep your style in place.
Let’s take a closer look at this excellent pomade:
- It’s water-based, which means that it washes out easily and it doesn’t leave your hair greasy or stained after you’ve rinsed it.
- It has the extra-strength hold of wax but it’s water soluble.
- Sauvetico Pomade Firme Hold has the appearance of a thick, honey gel, but isn’t sticky and has the smell of old-fashioned cologne. Meanwhile, it’s consistency is smooth and creamy with few, if any lumps.
- Because it’s water-based, it’s easy to fix your hairstyle if and when it comes out of place during your day. All you have to do is apply a small amount of it to re-hydrate your hair and make it easy to adjust your hairstyle on the fly.
- It’s affordable, especially when compared to other high-quality pomades.
- Sauvetico Firme Pomade provides a moderate shine that looks healthy and not contrived. Just apply it to dry hair for less shine.
- You’ll love its finish. Your hair won’t feel hard or flaky.
- While it’s also one of the best pomades for waves, it’s perhaps the best pomade for thin hair, as well. It’s simply a good all-around product.
- Combs with ease for maximum styling control
- Doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy
- Provides a healthy, vibrant shine
- Scent is a bit strong for some
It’s no surprise that Sauvetico Pomade Firme Hold is one of the most popular pomades on the market. Everything – from the ease in which you style your hair to the ease in which it rinses out – combines to make it a go-to grooming product for many men.
With a name like Goon Grease …well, what should we expect from a name like that?
For starters, Lockhart’s Goon Grease is oil-based – as you might expect. It certainly gets more than a few nods for the best oil-based pomade.
But it’s also, as its name implies, a pomade with heavy hold. Nonetheless, it doesn’t harden into a crusty layer like some pomades, which means you can re-style your hair throughout the day without excess pulling and tugging on the ol’ follicles.
It’s also perfect for pompadours, slick backs, jelly rolls and about every other style that comes to mind. That’s not a surprise, either, because company owner and pomade creator Steve Pomade had vintage pomades in mind when he created Goon Grease in his Michigan shop.
With a name like Goon Grease, it’s also no surprise that the pomade as a bright green tint to it. No worries, however, because it won’t affect your hair color or leave a greenish tint on your pillow.
It also has a unique, cucumber cologne scent, at least that’s what many reviewers say (the company calls it “coco vanilla,” however). Keep in mind that it’s a lighter scent, so it’s not going to hang with you for the entire day. If the fragrance isn’t to your liking, you can still choose a cinnamon sandalwood scent that Lockhart’s also offers.
Again, you’ll love the hold of Goon Grease. You’ll get a solid, sticky grip while using only a small amount of the pomade. It’s great for taming waves, stubborn cowlicks, and the side of your hair where strays may also roam. The stuff even keeps your hair in place while walking outside in strong winds.
You’ll also like how easy it is to apply it; it breaks down easily into a buttery consistency and spreads evenly without issues. Moreover, Goon Grease provides a medium shine that stays pretty consistent throughout the day.
Note: because it’s petroleum-based, Goon Grease is a bit harder to wash out. You’ll probably need a few days of washing to get it completely out of your hair.
- Consistent hold
- Good for many different hairstyles
- Doesn’t form a crunchy layer on your hair
- Doesn’t wash out easily, as you might expect with an oil-based product
Consistency is an excellent attribute for any men’s grooming product and Lockhart’s Goon Grease delivers nicely every time you use it. Superior hold, easy styling – there’s just a lot to like about this pomade.
A lot of people love the smell of American Crew’s products, including women. So, if you’re a man hoping to meet the lady of your dreams, then a men’s grooming product such as the Crew’s pomade won’t hurt your chances.
We wouldn’t include a product in our best-of reviews based only on its scent, but the American Crew Styling Pomade has a lot else going for it. For one, it works well on most hairstyles and curly hair, for another it’s made with all-natural ingredients. And its list of ingredients includes sage, which helps to reduce thinning hair, and also ginseng, which strengthens hair and reduces dandruff.
American Crew also got it right regarding its pomade’s hold. The hold is more than strong enough, but not so stiff that you can restyle your hair during the day if needed. It’s the kind of hold that makes applying the Crew’s pomade easier because you don’t have to worry so much about using too much product, or too little for that matter.
The shine is natural, somewhat glossy, and you can bring out an even deeper shine by adding a little water during the application process. Keep in mind that you’ll get a softer hold when you add water, but one that’s still strong enough to keep your hairstyle in place.
All that said, American Crew’s Pomade is ideal for achieving the classic slick-back look that many men desire. Just put on an old-school leather jacket and you’ll look as if you’ve just stepped out of the 1950s.
It’s also easy to wash out of your hair because it’s water-based and won’t leave a residue after you’ve shampooed your hair.
- Firm, but pliable hold
- Made with natural ingredients
- Works on all hair types
- It’s a bit stickier than some other pomades
American Crew is like a band that keeps cranking out hits. Their pomade is among those “hits” and does everything you’d expect from a high-quality quality product.
It’s true. Just like its name suggests, Mystic Man’s styling pomade is good for both the hair on your head and the hair on your face.
That’s a strong combination – and certainly, one that we like.
Moreover, Mystic Man stands behind its claim of all-organic products; in fact, all of their ingredients are certified by the USDA. The fact that it’s made – and sold – in California, a state with rigorous organic regulations, also backs them up.
Oh, and the pomade works, too.
For starters, it contains sedr extract, an ancient natural remedy that dates to the ancient Egyptians. Sedr is a centuries-old solution for cleaning, conditioning, thickening, and protecting hair – even for stimulating hair growth.
The Organic Styling Pomade & Beard Balm’s list of ingredients also includes organic beeswax – a key reason for the pomade’s exception hold – coconut oil, olive oil, and other pure essential oils that provide control, moisture, and shine to your hair or beard.
The “hold” you’ll get with this pomade is medium and flexible, while your hair and beard look natural, not hard and crunchy like with other products. You’ll also like the fact that this pomade reduces hair and beard flakes while softening your whiskers. (For a detailed guide on the best beard balms check out our review here).
Moreover, it has a nice, lightweight lemony scent that’s pleasing without being overpowering.
- Good for hair and beard
- Organic ingredients
- Leaves hair and beard looking natural
- Few, if any
This stuff works – whether it’s for your hair or your beard. If you care about what goes on your hair and beard as much as you do about what goes into your body, you’ll love this pomade.
The Art of Applying Pomade
But pomade … well, let’s just say that there’s a bit more technique involved.
Not like performing brain surgery kind of technique, mind you, but just enough to make sure the job gets done the right way.
1. Wash your hair
Washing your hair isn’t mandatory before you apply a pomade, but pomade does adhere best to clean hair. Besides, that’s how you usually start your day, anyway.
2. Leave your hair damp
After washing your hair, lightly dry your hair with a towel before styling. Pomade looks best when it’s styled in hair that’s slightly damp. But “damp” is the key word here; you don’t want your hair to be dripping wet. A damp head of hair is ideal for your pomade to mix in nicely and look great after your hair dries.
- What about blow drying?
Blow drying certainly isn’t necessary after applying pomade and the number of men who don’t dry their hair after adding pomade to it probably far outnumbers those who do. However, a bit of heat after you’ve applied pomade can add volume and extra hold. But again, it’s not mandatory.
- What about applying it to dry hair?
There’s also nothing that says you must apply pomade to wet/damp hair, either. But you’ll need to run your fingers through your hair several times to ensure an even coating of pomade.
3. Getting started
Experts say that your initial application of pomade is a game-changer. Many say that it’s best to apply to the back of your head first and work your way forward. Why? Because you’ll have less pomade on your hands when you get to the thicker areas of your hair, like the front and sides. Others say use both hands and massage the pomade into your hands from both sides as if you’re using a shampoo.
4. How much to apply?
The amount of pomade you use depends on the density of your hair. If your hair is thick, curly, or coarse, it’s able to absorb more product. Men with thinner types of hair should use it sparingly.
5. Massaging it into your hair
Concentrate on applying the pomade through the areas of your hair that need it most. Pull your fingers through the hair from just above the root all the way up through the tips. Note: Don’t let the pomade reach your scalp as it will cause your hair to look greasy and interferes with your scalp’s production of natural oils.
6. Spiking it, slicking it back, etc.
There are numerous styles you can attain by using pomade. If you prefer the “spiked up” look, put a small amount of pomade on your fingertips and apply it just to the tips of your hair. Using your thumb and fingers, gently pull the tips of the hair in the direction you desire.
If you prefer a slicked-back look, start by brushing your hair to get out any tangles. Gently apply the pomade while pulling your hair towards the back of your head. Repeat this process until all of your hair is pointing to the rear, and then finish the job by using your palm to smooth your hair back.
Pomade vs. All The Rest
So many choices.
In a nutshell, that sums up the challenge of choosing hair styling products because the possibilities are endless. It’s hard enough picking the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair, and it’s not any easier when deciding what type of product you need to keep your hair in place.
Pomade, as we’ve discussed at length, is certainly one very good option when it comes to hold (and styling). But there are also gels, wax, creams, hair spray, etc.
Here’s a close look at your option by way of comparison:
Pomade, as previously mentioned, comes in two major types – oil-based and water-based. Oil-based pomade is the original type and made with real grease and fatty ingredients to produce its shine and hold. Water-based pomades are water soluble, easier to wash out than oil-based pomades, and – generally speaking – usually better for the health of your scalp.
A pomade is an ideal option for almost all hair types and styles, and adaptable in that you can alter its effect by changing the amount you use and deciding whether to use it on wet or dry hair.
If you want a slick and shiny hairstyle, like a pompadour, then you won’t go wrong with pomade. Moreover, if you’re looking for a precision hold, pomade is always a good option.
Pomade is also particularly useful if you have thick, coarse, or unruly hair. Those types of hair need to “move” freely rather than remain frozen in place, and pomade gives you that freedom while still allowing for good control.
Let’s take a look at pomade vs gel:
One of the key differences between pomade and gel is that gels harden on the hair and has a stiff feeling, along with a shiny, wet look. Gels also have a thinner consistency than a pomade, and are considered “lightweight” or “heavyweight” depending on their hold.
While you’ll love the hold you’ll get with gel, you’ll have to deal with its stiffness. That’s something to consider if your wife or girlfriend enjoys running her fingers through your hair. But gels are easier to wash out than pomade (because most of them are water-based).
Lightweight gels work best with thin or thinning hair, while heavier gels are ideal for thick, curly, and wavy hair.
Wax, pastes, and clays – they’re basically one in the same – have a thicker consistency than other styling products. When it comes to pomade vs wax, waxes generally have more of a matte finish that’s ideal for a dry look. Like pomade, waxes don’t flake and are easy to restyle if your hair gets out of place during the day.
Wax is different from gel in that it doesn’t stiffen in the hair. It’s also good for any hair length.
Nothing too confusing here: hairspray is sprayed onto the hair with a pump or aerosol can. It provides extra shine to your hair, and may add volume while giving your hair roots a boost.
Choosing the Best Pomades of 2018
Pomade has a big job to do – it has to keep your hair in place, it has to fit your type of hair, it has to (or should) provide a clean look with just the right amount of shine, and it should leave your hair feeling manageable – not stiff as a board.
With all those things in mind, we came up with our list of the best pomades for men in 2018. We aim to provide a list that covers a wide range of pomades with a wide range of attributes, not the least of which is the strength of their hold.
Other things we consider? Plenty of positive reviews, for one. Ingredients and overall craftsmanship for another. We also considered price and always hope to have a list of products that fit all budgets.
Is there a pomade that you like that we didn’t include in our reviews? Or, do you have comments about any of the products listed here? As always, we welcome your feedback – whether it’s about pomade or any other men’s grooming product.
We’d love to hear from you!