Pomade vs Wax vs Gel

It is not just women who can have bad hair days. If your hair looks good, you feel good. If it looks like crap, you feel crap. For that reason a lot of men go the route of using styling products in their hair to achieve a certain look or to keep their hair in place how they like it. The main types of styling products are pomade, wax and gel.

What is Pomade?

quif lookPomade is made mainly from things such as lanolin (which is extracted from wool-bearing animals…usually sheep), beeswax, and petroleum jelly (apparently in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries pomade was made from bear fat!). Pomade makes hair look slick and shiny, and does not dry it out. It lasts longer than most hair care products, taking up to several washes to remove. Stiffening properties of pomades make sculptured hairstyles such as the pompadour or quiff possible.

As I mentioned, pomade can stay on through several washes. But if you want to get it off, all you need to do is use de-greasers such as high-detergent shampoos, dishwashing liquids, or any shampoos designed for oily hair. Applying common olive oil and rinsing with warm water will also remove pomade.

What is wax?

mohawkHair wax is made from stuff such as beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, castor wax, emulsifying wax, japan wax, lanolin, ozokerite. You will notice it overlaps with pomade in that it can have beeswax and lanoline. Some stylists do actually make their own waxes with their own secret recipes that have unique ingredients.

Pomade vs Wax – so what is the actual difference?!

Typically the difference between pomade and wax is that pomade gives your hair a slicker and shinier experience, while wax has a more matte look to it than pomade. However as modern pomade now contain more beeswax the difference between pomade and wax is becoming less significant and are actually very closely related.

Pomade/Wax vs Gel

Now that we know that pomade and wax are very similar things, we can look at how they differ from gel.

The big difference between pomade/wax and gel, is in pliability. With pomade and wax, you can restyle your hair after it has been applied. However as gel contains alcohol, it stiffens the hair which makes it non-pliable once the gel has dried. Gel will also dry your hair out more than pomade or wax does.

crazy hairUsing Pomade vs Wax vs Gel

Pomade – Typically you will use Pomade if you want a darker, slicker, shinier look that will stay in your hair longer. If you want to go for that slicked back 1920’s style of look, Pomade is the way to get it. It is also a good choice if you tend to struggle with dry hair as it does not dry your hair out as much.

To apply pomade, put a small amount in your palm and warm it up by rubbing your hands together before applying it to slightly damp hair.

Wax – Wax is similar to pomade, but is the better choice if you want a matte finish rather than the shiny look. It is also a lot more flexible…as in you can change your look even after applying it as it does not get as hard as gel and remains pliable. If you have naturally oily hair, wax might be a better option than pomade as the pomade will make your hair even more greasy.

To apply, put a small amount in your palm and warm it up by rubbing your hands together before applying it to completely dry hair (never wet hair).

Gel – If you want something that will style your hair and keep it like that (i.e. strong hold) while also having a shiny look, you need to go the gel route. Think styles like the spikey hair look that can withstand a gale force wind!

To apply, put a small dab onto your fingers and rub it together before applying it to damp hair.

Wrapping up

If you want your hair to look good, you are going to have to style it. And by styling I do not mean just parting it on the side! You can use pomade, wax and gel to style your hair in way that you like and to keep it like that. Before you go out and buy any products, first figure out what kind of hair you have (thick/thin/dry/oily, etc) and also what kind of style you want to go for. Once you have figured out your hair and what style you want to go for, you can start looking at what styling product is best for you. Good luck!


Hey! I am Andries and I am the owner and curator of this blog.

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