The world of men’s hair styling products can be a confusing place.
There are so many types of products and each type has hundreds of brands and variations depending on hair type. Years ago, finding the best pomade for men was easy. You just grabbed the one your father got at the drugstore.
These days, guys are a little more discerning about what they put in their hair and want the best pomade for men for their hair type and style. Not to mention that old school pomades had a lot of bad ingredients for your hair. Now, there is more emphasis placed on quality ingredients that do the job and don’t damage your hair.
Take a look at our reviews of the best pomade for men and see which one is the best fit for you. For the busy guys out there that don’t have time to read the whole article, I made this comparison table to see how the top pomades compare at a glance.
- Imperial Barber Grade Products Classic Pomade
Water soluble and washes out easily. Best for Asian hair, Thick or Curly hair or for longer slicked back styles.
- O'Douds - Traditional Pomade
Oil based all natural ingredients moisturize and nourish. Best for thin or fine hair.
- Smooth Viking Medium Hold & High Shine Pomade
Water based and easily washed out is best for any type of hair or style that requires a high shine.
- 18.21 Man Made Pomade
Water soluble with medium to high hold works for any type of hair but is best for short styles.
- Mythical Pomade for Men Medium Hold - Matte Finish
Moisturizes and nourishes hair with argan oil and Vitamin E.
What to look for in a pomade
Not all pomades do the same thing, so it is important to understand what it is you are looking for it to do to your hair before you go and buy one of the best pomade for men. Generally, pomades provide a strong hold with a high shine for that wet look. When you think of pomades, you almost always think of a pompadour. But, there are a lot of other styles that can benefit from the hold a maneuverability a pomade can give you.
Whatever strength your style requires can be had by a pomade. From super high hold that could keep a hurricane from dislodging a hair to a light hold that will let your style flow free without getting weighed down.
The days of the greaser look can still be alive and well with the use of a pomade, but now there are options.
There are matte pomades that give no shine to your hair at all.
For something in the middle, there are plenty of medium shine pomades available.
Usually, the best pomade for men is just to give hold and shine and not really add much in the way of texture. Usually, a clay or fiber hair styling product will do that for you.
However, there have been some reformulations of pomades to give a bit of texture and volume to your hair.
You don’t have to be going for the slick look to use a pomade.
Scents can run the gamut from no scent at all, to a cologne level fragrance.
Which scents are best is entirely up to personal preference.
Water Based vs Oil Based
Back in the day, pretty much all pomades were made with petrolatum, a petroleum-based product. There are still plenty now that use it, but since it is bad for your hair and general health, many manufacturers are moving away from it.
Oil-based pomades can be made with other ingredients that aren’t petroleum based, like waxes and mineral oils.
The benefit to oil based pomades is that they don’t harden. Since it stays soft, you can shift your style around without needing to reapply.
If you’re planning an active day like playing some sports then an oil-based pomade is good.
When using a high shine pomade it will stay shiny even at the end of a long day because of the oil.
There are a lot of high hold water based best pomade for men that can stand up equally well to oil-based ones. They may not last quite as long as oil-based ones, however. When they do start drooping, then it is easy to readjust by wetting your hands to restyle.
Another benefit is that they are very easy to wash out. Since they are water soluble, you won’t find any residue in your hair after shampooing.
Then there is the health aspect. Water-based pomades are less likely to clog pores.
Now you have to consider what you are asking the pomade to do based on your hair type and style. Hair Type
If you have thin or fine hair then you need a lightweight pomade. A heavy, thick pomade will weigh your hair down and you won’t be able to style it the way you like.
On the other side of the coin, if you have thick or wavy hair then a lightweight pomade won’t give you the lift you need. For that kind of hair, you’ll need a high hold, very strong pomade.
Straight, Asian hair definitely needs some muscle to get it to behave the way you want. In this case, the best pomade for men for Asian hair is something that is not only very high hold but long-lasting.
Curly hair poses its own problems. If you’re just tired of frizziness that comes with having curly hair, then any type of the best pomade for men will suit you since it moisturizes and keeps hairs from flying away. If your curls need to stay in place then, again, you’ll need a high hold.
How to pick the right pomade
It’s no secret that many hair and grooming products are hiding some really nefarious ingredients. Sifting through the list can be really challenging as many of the words are incomprehensible and hard to read.
Here are a few things to look for. Both for what you want to see in a pomade and for what you don’t.
A good pomade these days doesn’t just keep your hair in place and give you the type of shine you’re going for.
Lately, brands are going with ingredients that will benefit your hair as well. Those old school pomades, I’m sorry to say, are actually pretty bad for your hair and skin.
Argan oil is becoming very popular in just about every type of grooming product. It is something of a miracle product as it is extremely moisturizing and will also repair damaged hair follicles. Using a pomade with argan oil will actually make your hair stronger than if you don’t use it. It is very lightweight and won’t clog your pores.
Shea Butter is also a great moisturizer and contributes to the texture since it isn’t an oil. And, it doesn’t just add moisture to your hair, it locks it in. this way your hair will stay hydrated even after you’ve washed the pomade out of your hair.
Beeswax is what will keep the style in place. Giving your hair good hold but with some flexibility is what pomade is all about so beeswax is a great way to do that. It is all natural and even good for your hair in addition to being the ingredient that will give the pomade its hold. It is thought to be able to stimulate hair growth. The only downside with this is that it doesn’t hold as well during hot and humid weather.
Bentonite Clay is quickly becoming a go to ingredient found in tons of hair and skin grooming products. Since this clay is great at drawing toxins out of your hair, it is a good idea to have this in your next pomade if you have been using an industrial one for a while. It is a disinfectant as well so it can keep any bacteria or fungus at bay. If you have acne on your head or often have clogged pores, then a bentonite clay is an ideal ingredient to be looking out for.
Essential Oils are the best way to add some fragrance to your pomade naturally. There are so many that the types of scents can run from floral, to spicy to woody. The nicest part about adding an essential oil for scent is that you almost always get other benefits from the oil for your hair and skin. For example, sandalwood not only smells many and old school, but it can stimulate the scalp leading to faster and thicker hair growth. The same with peppermint oil as it has been found to be as effective as Minoxidil when it comes to growing your hair. Plus it gives a great smell and invigorating menthol sensation on your scalp.
Unfortunately pomade is not known for being good for your hair, skin or overall health. Historically it has been full of synthetic ingredients that can be quite harsh. Now that we know more about what these chemicals can do, it is best to avoid them.
Petrolatum is often used as a moisturizer, yet ironically it doesn’t penetrate the hair to actually hydrate it. Instead it leaves a heavy film on the hair that make your hair feel softer. What it does do that is not good is that they clog your pores and are hard to wash out. This build up stifles your scalp and ends up slowing down your hair growth. It also makes it hard for the hair to absorb the nutrients it needs. Just use shea butter instead for a natural and beneficial way to lock in moisture.
Parabens are a way for manufacturers to extend shelf life of their products. By inhibiting bacteria, it ensures that the pomade doesn’t get rotten. The problem is that it is good for the manufacturer but not for you. These parabens are very easily absorbed deep into the skin and makes its way into your system. It then can mimic estrogen and end up lowering your sperm count. This may be an extreme example and probably only applies if you have all of your skin and hair products feature it. It is unnecessary now as there are plenty of essential oils that do the same thing without causing health problems.
Phthalates are very often present in pomades as it keeps the product soft enough so you can easily apply it. The problem is that it too can wreak havoc with your hormones in the same way that parabens do. Ingredients like shea butter and beeswax can do the same things as phthalates so there is no real reason for them to be there.
Fragrance is another word to watch out for. If the label says fragrance or parfum then chances are it is a synthetic. A scent from an essential oil will be labeled as the oil and not as a generic fragrance. These are almost always a concoction of some harsh chemicals that can be bad if you breathe them in too much. If you wear a synthetic fragrance every day then this could cause you some problems.
Any of these ingredients on the list have natural and sometimes even organic versions so they can be avoided. If you are using tons of other hair and skin products like hair wax, skin cream or body wash with these ingredients then this all builds up and can be very unhealthy. Since there are alternatives there is no reason to use them. Do yourself a favor and go for the natural ones whenever you can.
Our Reviews of the Top Pomades for Men
Best Pomade for Thick Hair
Imperial Barber Grade Products Classic Pomade
Claiming to be industrial strength, Imperial Classic Pomade is definitely very high hold. In fact, I would rate this as the best pomade for men for Asian hair since it goes on easy, is very strong and lasts a long time. Notoriously straight and thick Asian hair can easily be styled with this best high hold pomade. Anybody with thick hair will benefit from this pomade. Whether it is straight, wavy or curly, your hair will be tamed and put in its place. It is definitely up at the top of the heap for strongest water-soluble pomade, also. Since it is water soluble, it is great at being restyled throughout the day. Just add a little bit of water to your hands and lightly run your hands through your hair. Then restyle and it will stay in place. One thing to note, though, is that since it is a water based pomade it does firm up similar to a gel. As I just said, though, it can easily be restyled. But a flexible pomade, it is not. The trade-off is the stronghold for thick hair. It gives a slightly wet look. There is a shine, but it falls between matte and shiny. As far as styles you can do with this pomade, it really runs the gamut. It is great for use when you want a sharp side part to comb over. Undercuts where you slick back your hair also benefit from the type of hold and light shine. As it is petrolatum free, it washes out easily without needing a high strength shampoo. In fact, you can even wash it out without soap if you didn’t lay it on too thick. The scent is kind of hit or miss for some guys. It has a slight fruity scent like watermelon. This may not be a bad thing, but if you are looking for a classic scent, then this may not make the grade. It does dissipate quickly, though. This may not be a household name like American Crew or Suavecito, but I think this is one of the best pomade for men out there.
Best Pomade for Thin Hair
O’Douds – Traditional Pomade
O’Douds is one of my favorite men’s grooming brands as they make all natural products like this pomade. This is definitely the best pomade for men with thin hair. It provides a light hold that won’t weigh down your hair. It is strong enough, however, that you won’t be needing to restyle throughout the day. It is definitely the best wax pomade as the hold comes from the candelilla wax so it keeps your hair in place naturally. The high shine comes from the essential oils like castor and jojoba. Since it uses good natural ingredients, it also nourishes your hair at the same time. This also makes it the best pomade for men with sensitive skin as it won’t irritate the scalp or clog pores. When you wash it out, you may notice that some does remain. So, if you are looking for some hold with a bit of a matte finish, then lightly wash it or rinse it out, then the next day, you will still get enough hold to lightly style or texturize your hair. If you want to wash it out without any traces of it then try a clarifying shampoo from Amazon.com, which is the best shampoo for pomade. These types of shampoo can strip your hair of its natural oil as well as the oils from the pomade, so make sure you condition your hair after. Though, the oils in the pomade actually do act as a conditioner if you leave it in. I don’t feel like you really have to be so diligent at trying to shampoo out every last remnant as you would a non-natural pomade. The scent is very manly and hints at bay rum. It has notes of citrus and cedar, as well. Basically, it smells like an old school barbershop. The one downside I would say about this is that the jar is small at 4 ounces. If you don’t have a very complicated style that requires a lot of product, then it should last you a while.
Best High Shine Pomade
Smooth Viking Medium Hold & High Shine Pomade
This was a tough category to make up with just one, so I will add a few to the list here. There are tons of high shine pomades that are good for any type of hair, but I really love this one by Smooth Viking. One of the reasons I love it is that it is a non greasy water-based pomade that still gives a ton of shine. Many high shine pomades are oil based and go on really thick. This is medium hold and goes on light but still gets the job done. It also lasts the whole day. And, when the day is done, it washes out easily with any shampoo. Applying it dry will give it less of a shine, so if you want that high shine then you need to add it to your hair while it is fairly wet for the wet look. Though it does harden slightly as it is water-based, it doesn’t get crunchy. The beeswax gives it the hold so it is a little more malleable than you would expect from a petroleum-free pomade. This is also one of the best pomade for men for longer hair, especially if you are really looking for the wet look. It will give enough hold to style, but still, let your long hair room to roam. It’s mainly about the shine when you have long hair. The scent is what you would expect from an old-school pomade. It isn’t really a fragrance, it just smells a bit like a hair tonic from back in the day. I almost consider it unscented with just the fragrance of the oils that it contains rather than a specific fragrance. Once it is in your hair, you won’t really notice it. For an oil-based pomade with very high shine, I recommend Anchors Hair Company Teddy Boy Slick Oil Based Pomade on Amazon.com. It’s an all natural men’s pomade that nourishes your hair and locks in the moisture while it provides medium hold and a very high shine. This is ideal for the slicked back look or a hard part. The scent is minty and fresh. Another runner-up is Goon Grease Heavy Hold also on Amazon.com. This is also oil based so it can give a wet look even when applied to dry hair. It gives tons of shine when applied to damp or wet hair. It is pliable so it can be restyled throughout the day without needing to be wet or reapplied.
Best Smelling Pomade
18.21 Man Made Pomade
Scents are very subjective things. Some people can rave about one while another can’t stomach the smell. In the shop where I work, there has not been a person that has said they don’t like the smell of this pomade, and I get a lot of requests for it when I ask what one they want to put in their hair. If you love many smelling fragrances in your pomade, then you will love this one. It has a lot of scents going on at once. It starts with a little bit of spicy tobacco like you would expect from pipe tobacco. Slightly sweet with honey and vanilla and then it tones down to reveal a smoky, woody scent. I love it and think you will too. Aside from the scent it also works very well. It is best for short hair but can be used even for pompadours. The thing is though, the jar is small at 2 ounces, so for a pomp, it might end up using quite a bit. If you use it on damp or wet hair it will add a high shine and almost wet look. Applied to dry hair, it is more of a medium shine. A little goes a long way, so for shorter styles, you really only need a dime size dab to get your style right. This is an all natural pomade from some high-quality ingredients. The hold comes from wax and some kind of fibers, but it is easily washed out with any ordinary shampoo. The hold is high, yet it is pliable and can be restyled many times without any drop off on performance.
Best Matte Finish Pomade
Mythical Pomade for Men Medium Hold – Matte Finish
Described as a water-based pomade paste, it kind of seems like an oxymoron. It definitely straddles both definitions as it gives the hold you would expect from a pomade, but with no shine for a natural look. So, this makes it a very good strong hold low shine pomade. This is the best pomade when you just need it styled and to stay in place. Whether you are looking for spiky or smooth, whether your hair is curly or straight, it will work. Your hair will also end up nourished, healthy and moisturized by using this best pomade for men. It has argan oil which is like a miracle ingredient in skin and hair care products. Argan oil is the best at keeping hair moist and repairs any damage from sun, sea, heat or pollution. You can apply it to damp or dry hair, but if it is damp then expect some shine. Moderate shine, though. Apply it to dry hair for no shine at all and a natural look. You will need to make sure it is really subbed into your hands before you apply to dry hair to make sure it goes on evenly. A few seconds and your body heat will warm it up enough to go on smoothly. The scent is very clean and refreshing with a slight pine or cedar aroma. It dissipates quickly, though. Mythical is made by Beard and Lady so it is a unisex product meaning the scent is neutral for either sex.
Best Texturizing Pomade
Hanz de Fuko Claymation Pomade
When you have the messy look going on and need texture to achieve it, you don’t want a heavy pomade weighing it down. This clay-based pomade by Hanz de Fuko is ideal for getting that texture without it looking greasy or wet and doesn’t harden up on you. With a matte finish for the natural look, it won’t add any shine to your hair. Even complicated styles like a curly pompadour will come out looking great and have enough strength to last the whole day. It is all natural and washes out easily without needing a special shampoo. Applying this takes a little trial and error. It is quite hard but you only need a little. Dig some out, about the size of a dime, with the top of your fingernail. Then spread it around in the palms of your hands. The body heat will emulsify it and then it is easier to apply. Even though it is very thick, the clay actually keeps it fairly lightweight so it works on any type of hair. If you have thin hair that needs texture, this is the best pomade for men you can use. It may feel a little oily going on, but it won’t feel greasy once it is absorbed by your hair. It is virtually unscented as the only smell comes from the natural ingredients. If you are looking for a fragrance-free pomade, this may be just the thing.
How to Apply Pomade
Depending on what kind of style you want to achieve there is a specific way to apply these best pomade for men. If you want a lot of volume and a high style like a pompadour, then the best thing is to apply a gel or other product to wet hair and use a blowdryer to get the style in place and then add the pomade. Put the recommended amount in the palm of your hands and rub it around to get it liquified. The just spread it into your hair being careful to not ruin the style. Then brush it or comb it into your style. If you want to be able to restyle or move your hair around during the day then you won’t need to use multiple products or blow dry your hair. Decide how much shine you want before you’re ready to apply it. If you want high shine, then you need to apply it while damp. A more natural finish should be applied when dry. Again, you want to emulsify it in your hands before applying. This time, work your way from the back of your head to the front to make sure it is evenly applied. To slick back your hair, then use a comb or brush to get it in the direction you want it to go. To add texture, you can apply it will dry and scrunch your hair into your hands after you have made sure it is applied evenly. Also for texturizing, you can add a bit to a comb with wide teeth and then comb it into your hair. If you want a lot of shine and for it to act more like a gel that goes on easier, you add a little water to your palm when you add the pomade and rub it together to make it more liquidy.
Wrapping up Our Best Pomade for Men Reviews
This really just scratches the surface of what the best pomade for men are. Since there are literally hundreds we could have added to the list, we definitely expect some questions about which pomade you should use depending on the style you are going for. Drop any questions you have about the best pomade for men below in the comment box and we will answer as soon as we can. Do you have a favorite pomade that you want the world to know about? Let us know and we will try to feature it in another review article!