There are a variety of products available for hair styling on the market, and in all honesty, they offer a lot more confusion than options. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of this confusion and shed a light onto what is out there. We have a variety of choices, and they only been loosely defined by the manufacturers. These brands like to describe their product in fancy and illustrative terms, but they often fail to practically explain what their product literally is. So, here is just what you need to know in order to navigate today's market.
Oil-Based Pomade (Grease)
This is typically considered to be the classic pomade -- the one with lots of history and rooted in tradition. But to us, who cares? History ain't going to make your hair look better. This is a hair product. This is not some relic of history that must be held on a pedestal.
These products are typically made of three things: petrolatum (solid), wax, and oil (liquid). Petrolatum is solid at room temperature and so, it acts as the foundation or carrier. This component of the formula is commonly replaced by hydrogenated castor oil in petrolatum-free pomades. The wax then provides the hold, and the oils offer shine and consistency. This is obviously a highly simplified explanation of the formulation that goes into an oil-based pomade.
The advantage of oil-based pomades are that they tend to be very slick, offer great control for styling, and all at a reasonable price. However, the downside of these products are that they very inconvenient. You can't wash them out and are usually very greasy.
It's commonly accepted that Layrite was the first company to introduce this product to the market. At the time and up until this year, these gel-pomades were the accepted water-based alternative to traditional grease.
The characteristic that separates this product from a hair gel is its ability to provide instant hold. With your average hair gel, the product comes out as a piece of goop and later provides hold after it dries. A pomade, on the other hand, does not need to settle or harden in order to give you the ability to style a pompadour. However, these gel-pomades do eventually harden up like a gel.
These products offer the convenience of hair gels. You can wash them out at the end of the day, and they never feel greasy or uncomfortable like a greasy oil-based would. The downside is that they harden up in less than an hour, which makes them difficult to restyle and gives your hair a very unnatural look.
Water-Based Pomade (Unorthodox)
This year, O'Douds All Natural introduced a homebrewed water-based pomade that performs just like an oil-based with the convenience of a water-based pomade. This pomade literally gathers the advantage of every product without the disadvantages.
These products are still in development, but in their current state, they perform as well or maybe even better than an oil-based pomade. The lack of greasy petrolatum gives the product a drier and more controllable feel as one styles with this product. Also, like a water-based pomade, they can be fully washed out in one or two showers without ever being discomforting like a normal oil-based pomade. The one downside is that these products have yet to match the strength and hold of a waxy grease.
The difference between a clay pomade and a standard pomade is the amount of slickness or texture it provides the user. The purpose of a texturizing product is to generate hair separation and allow the user to create a more relaxed and free-form type of hair style. Ideally, a clay pomade will provide the same capabilities of any other pomade except it works against shine and slickness. The clay in the product removes any sort of stickiness, which then makes it difficult for the hairs to stick together.
The name of the game here is to find a clay pomade that causes JUST ENOUGH separation. Many of the current texture products offered by hair salons are too weak and make everything fall apart. Whereas many of the ones cooked up in the lab for small-batch labels end up being just like a normal pomade.
These are essentially the same exact thing as an oil-based pomade. Simply put more wax in the product than anything else and the name should technically change to a wax-based pomade. Most companies and labels do not care for this technicality. The only time it truly applies to those few products that are literally made of just wax and oil.
They tend to be SUPER sticky. That's the characteristic of wax when mixed with oil. Usually, you'd think that this allows for the tall and slick pomp, but it is so unbelievably sticky and the hair catches on anything. As the comb leaves, it will drag out a few hairs and mess it all up.
These are obviously not the only hair products available on the market. However, in regards to styling a pompadour, contour, slick-back, or a loose variation of any of these hairstyles, these are the go-to products. Other products such as hair gels, mousse, and sprays are a clear no.
Alternative, there are other reasonable products such as fiber pomades and cream pomades. They are a cool idea in concept but have yet to be executed properly. There are usable products under these names such as Admiral Fiber, but they are not good for their fiber or cream aspects. Thus, we just watch and wait.
Now, go off and be happy that you know a little more about what is available to you on the market. Whenever I find a great pomade, I work with that label to get a promo code for you guys, so be sure to check out the promotions page to get nice discounts on these products.