Pomade is one of those products that’s been around for quite some time, and probably isn’t going anywhere.
Seriously, people have been using pomade since the early 1900’s, and for good reason. Pomade is an amazing option for many different hair styles out there.
Did you know old school pomade was made from lard or bear grease? What’s even crazier is that men have been using bear’s grease for hundreds of years as a hair loss supplement.
While it’s likely this method of hair loss prevention is entirely ineffective, it’s still interesting nonetheless to see where pomade has evolved from.
So, how does pomade work, why does it work, and do you need it? First, let’s figure out exactly what pomade is today, and why people use it.
What Is Pomade?
There are many different kinds of pomade, but one thing most traditional pomades have in common is their greasy nature. This was done intentionally, because the added greasy feeling gives a certain style to hair that you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise. Modern, water-based pomades can achieve the same result without being overly greasy, however.
Furthermore, even matte-finish, non-greasy products nowadays call themselves pomades. This illustrates the fact that there is no specific formulation that makes a pomade a pomade. It’s actually just a universal term used to describe a hair styling product.
What actually goes into a modern pomade though? Surely modern pomades aren’t made from bear grease anymore!
You’d be right, the highest quality pomades are water-based solutions that are easier to get out of your hair. There are pomades out there that still use petroleum based ingredients, but you’ll find that you probably don’t need the extra grease unless you are going for difficult hairstyles like the pompadour, famously re-introduced by Elvis Presley. Even then, we don’t recommend using these types of pomades.
Why Should You Use Pomade?
Pomade isn’t the end all for hair products. There are plenty of other hair products that do different things. Good pomades should be pliable, meaning they provide hold but allow you to move your hair. If you prefer a stiffer hold that doesn’t move as much, a top quality men’s hair gel works best.
Typically, old school pomades are high hold, greasy, and extremely high shine. Whereas newer, higher-quality pomades for men gear more towards a pliable hold and a natural, healthy shine.
If shininess isn’t your style, and you’re looking for something with a pliable and firm hold that doesn’t look quite so formal and shiny, texture paste matte pomade might be right up your alley.
For that ultra confident, old school or modern look that you want to show off, pomade might be just the thing you need. Here’s how you use it.
How to Use Pomade
So, you’ve finally made it here. Now that you’ve learned about the different types of pomade, it’s time to get down to business. Here’s how you use pomade, the right way.
Choose Your Pomade Type
Are you going for a more formal style pomade with a nice sheen, or a more casual and versatile pomade with a matte finish? Avoid the greasy, overly-shiny products. Those are usually lower-quality and difficult to work with.
Go with a water-based pomade with plenty of natural ingredients, it’s just not worth the struggle of showering multiple times to rinse out low-quality pomades. Not to mention the damage those products do to your hair and scalp. The top tier men’s pomades not only help you create a style, they can actually improve the health of your hair and scalp.
Choose Your Pomade Hold
Now it’s time to close in on the type of pomade you want. In the hair styling industry, factors like hold and shine are great indicators of what a product can provide for you. These are usually presented on a scale of 1-10. So, for example, a hold of 7 would be classified as a mid-high hold.
Matte pomade (sometimes called texture paste) is going to be a safe choice for some guys with short hair, because it creates a natural and casual look. That said, however, a nice sheen on a short cut looks clean, sharp and formal.
Most products on the market are a mix of both, offering variations of low hold and medium shine, high hold and high shine, and other variations.
Wash Your Hair Before You Use Pomade
Get dirt, grime, and old styling products out of your hair before you begin. Usually this involves taking a shower and using a shampoo that can naturally remove excess oils from your hair without completely stripping your hair of necessary oils.
Many shampoos will completely strip your hair of all of its oil, which will lead to problems when you try to style your hair. To combat this, use a conditioner. Even better, a leave-in conditioner
Just make sure your hair isn’t too oily. If your nickname was “oil slick” or “oil field”, or if someone has recently asked if you’ve combed your hair with buttered toast, your hair may be too greasy.
In this case, wash your hair thoroughly every day, and use a conditioner with Tea Tree Oil, a natural ingredient proven to absorb excess oil.
Applying Your Favorite Pomade
Now that you’ve found the pomade you want to use, and have washed your hair, it’s time to apply your pomade.
Before you begin, there are a few schools of thought as to when you should apply pomade. While your hair is still damp from the shower? What about completely dry hair?
In our experience, the most common and effective time to apply pomade is after you’ve towel dried your hair and when it is barely damp. You should have enough moisture to apply a healthy dose of pomade without overdoing it.
Certain styles will require applying to dry hair, however. Generally speaking, applying to dry hair will increase the hold of the product (since there is less water present to dilute it).
Begin by rubbing the product between both of your hands.
Take both your hands, and begin rubbing in the pomade near the roots of your hair. Start from your scalp and slowly work it into the ends of your hair. The reason you want to start near the roots is because that is where the direction of your hair comes from. The roots decide where that strand of hair goes, so if you can manipulate the roots, the rest of your hair will surely follow.
Styling Your Hair
Once your pomade is applied, start shifting hair in the direction you want it to go. For a clean-cut, formal look, use a higher-shine pomade and comb or brush your hair in the desired direction.
For slicked back hair, play to the strengths of your hair line. One option, for example, is to style the sides of your hair downward and the top of your hair backwards. This may take an extra dose of pomade, so don’t be afraid to grab more if you’re not achieving enough hold.
For a more casual look, comb or brush your hair first, then style with your hands and fingers. This method works very well with a matte finish, pliable texture paste pomade. Using your fingers after the comb or brush will allow your hair to lay more naturally.
Everyone’s hair is different, so styling is going to be unique to your specific head of hair and desired look. If you apply product correctly to the roots of your hair, you can usually get your hair to do whatever you want. At the end of the day, however, it’s usually best to consult a Barbetologist.
Blow Dry Your Hair (Optional)
Sometimes, you won’t have time to actually blow dry your hair after you’ve just styled with pomade, but if you do, we recommend blow drying afterwards as a grooming tip.
Think about what you’ve just done to your hair. The product that is now in your hair is currently weighing your hair down. A great way to lift your hair back up is with a hair dryer.
In addition to lifting your hair back up, it also helps lock in the style you just created. If you blow dry your hair, it will stay in its current style for longer because the hold will be much stronger. This could be especially useful if you’re using a pomade with lower hold.
Depending on your style, blow drying may or may not be necessary. For instance, if you like patted down and slicked back hair with a strong hold, a blow dry doesn’t fit into the equation.
But, if you’re using a water based pomade, have a slightly slicked hairstyle that needs some lift, and want an even stronger hold, blow drying may be perfect for you. Another added benefit to blow drying your hair after applying pomade is that it will make your hair appear thicker.
Pomade Can Be Ridiculously Awesome
Ideally, you’ve now got pomade in your hair, and you’re ready for your next date, family outing, work party, or other excursion.
Pomade is one of the best tools to look like a spiffy, well kempt individual. If you’ve showered, applied deodorant, put on snazzy clothes, and slapped some cologne on, the cherry on top is your pomade. Everything combined makes for the perfect look, for that important occasion.
We hope you enjoyed our guy’s guide to pomade. If you run into trouble, refer back to this guide to see where you may be going wrong. If you have any more questions about other types of men’s grooming products, we’d love to educate you more to become the ultimate groomed man.