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So, you’re a bit late to the world of Pomade and you’re looking for a straightforward and easy guide to just “What the f#ck is Pomade and why is it different from hair gel?!” Or maybe you’ve been using it for years but you’re not really sure why you strayed from the bubbly LA Looks so vivid from your childhood. Not a Problem! As one of the most trusted names in the Pomade world, we’ll give you the quick run down of what exactly Pomade is, how it’s different and what makes a quality product.
1. Pomade is used for Styling “Classic” Hairstyles. Pomade is to the classic side part what Elmer’s glue was to the Mohawk . In short, without one, you can’t really have the other. Born in the mid 20th century, Pomade was formulated to help style the vintage Side Part/Pompadour. This universally accepted classic cut consists of a 3-Guard or below on the sides and about 3.5”+ of hair on top. Unlike the grotesque years of “Hair Gel”, pomade is applied throughout hair to tame and style, not promote volume or spiking.
2. Pomade should contain “Beeswax” or a “Wax” base. In short, the main ingredient that provides the “Styling” aspect to pomade is the wax base. Many large companies have been quick to adapt to the rising popularity of Pomade and releasing what we would consider low end products. Most of these companies are infusing their products with strictly Hydrogenated Castor Oil (See American Crew Pomade). This, although vital to most Pomades, should not be the only oil present in the formulation.
3. Water-Based VS Oil-Based, what’s the difference? As a huge talking point in the early years of the pomade resurrection, there are two different types of pomades.
A. Oil Based Pomade is a product that found popularity through the early years of the side part movement (think Madmen era). The product is, as guessed, Oil Based. Most of these products are limited to 3-5 ingredients usually consisting of natural oils, beeswax and a fragrance. They are applied in the same fashion as a Water-Based Pomade but unfortunately are not easily removed from your hair. Many require special shampoos/conditioners for removal.
B. Water Based Pomade is the newest member of the Pomade Family. Gaining popularity in the early 2000’s, Water Based Pomades are an oil-based pomade that has been “Emulsified” to become washable. Recently, there has been a Marketing Tactic used where Oil-Based Pomade producers without access to proper manufacturing facilities are increasingly calling their products “Water Based”. Most of the time these products are just “Light” Oil Based products. A true Water Based Pomade should easily rinse out with only water and no Shampoo/Conditioner needed.
Put simply, Water Based Pomade washes out, Oil Based does not.
4. Pomade should “Firm” your Hair, but Not Harden. Helmet Head. Duck Tail. Greaser. Whatever you want to call it, it’s not flattering. A quality pomade should assist in styling your hair when slightly wet then becoming firm to hold desired style in place. Once dried, the product should never become “Hard/Crunchy” and you should be able to run your fingers through it easily without losing your desired styling.
In the end, this is just a guide. For different styles, there are of course, different products. It's also true that one product may work for one type of hair and another may work for some other. We recommend a process of trial and error, different hold for different styles.