The history of pomade dates back to 1873. While folks were still using coal to generate electricity, men’s fashion trends were evolving at a blistering pace. Most, if not all, of the popular styles called for a robust product like pomade. Thanks to its versatility, men have continued using pomade since then to style their hair and prevent frizz.

Pomade has evolved dramatically over the last 150 years. Today, you’ll find options that are oil-based, water-based, and wax-based. As you might have guessed, there’s a lot more behind the little jars of product you find on the shelves at your local drugstore. Let’s take a closer look.

What is pomade used for?

Pomade is often the first choice among men looking for a long-lasting hairstyle with light hold and some extra shine.

Some oil-based pomade hair products—as we’ll get into in the next section—are so long-lasting, in fact, that some folks complain it’s impossible to get out, even after multiple washes. Luckily, more modern water and wax-based pomade options tend to be much more forgiving and easier to wash out. In terms of hairstyles, men turn to pomade when they want to rock anything from a pompadour to a brushed, laid-back flow while maintaining a shiny look all day long.

Types of Pomade

We alluded to this earlier, but you’ll typically find three types of pomade on the shelves of your local hair salon or drugstore. Here’s a quick breakdown of each, plus a few reasons why you might opt for some pomade hair products over others.

Oil-based pomade: These are the pomades your grandfather’s grandfather likely used. While these are infamous for being difficult (or impossible) to wash out, oil-based pomades also don’t dry, which allows you to keep that incredible shine all day long.

Water-based pomade: Water-based pomades are, well, made of water. Although these don’t have quite the same hold as an oil-based pomade, they still allow you to keep your hair styled the way you want for an extended period of time. Additionally, men typically like this option in warmer months because they’re easy to rinse out of your hair.

Wax-based pomade: Pomades made of wax tend to be less shiny than their water and oil-based counterparts. However, men like them because they tend not to be as sticky, which makes them easier to apply to your hair.

Is pomade good for hair loss?

This is actually a two-pronged question. We’ll start by saying this: No, pomade won’t cause hair loss. And while you might be able to point to anecdotal evidence that proves the contrary, there’s no actual research that shows you’ll lose hair by applying pomade.

Many men use pomade to make the hair on their heads appear lusher. Pomade products that are specifically formulated for thinning hair contain ingredients proven to promote hair health and growth. If you’re looking to kick start your hair growth and get the styling benefits of pomade, keep an eye out for pomades that include biotin, caffeine, saw palmetto, and green tea.

No matter which pomade you opt for, they are safe for everyday use and will not cause accelerated hair loss—so don’t be afraid to reach for it every morning.

What are the benefits of hair pomade?

In addition to supporting healthy hair growth (with the right thickening formula), there are other benefits to applying pomade to your hair. From preventing frizz to offering an all-day hold without some of the drawbacks of traditional hair gels, here are just a few reasons why you might want to figure out how to use pomade. Spoiler: If you’ve read our guide on beard balm, some of these benefits might look familiar.

  • Provide all-day hair hold: Did we mention that some pomades may seem impossible to wash out? That’s because it offers an all-day hold. Silver linings, right? Sometimes it’s worth an extra wash to get the hairstyle you’re after, especially if your hair is a little finicky.
  • Gives hair a thickening effect: The components you’ll find in any pomade can help you maximize what you’ve got on your scalp. As mentioned in the previous section, you can support hair growth with the right pomade formula.
  • Helps prevent cowlick, frizz, and fly-aways: Struggling to keep your fly-aways in check? Want to tame a stubborn cowlick? A little pomade can keep even the most stubborn hairs in place.
  • Provides shine without looking greasy: Everyone has a story about how they achieved a great hairstyle at the expense of looking a little, well, slippery. Pomade gives you a good amount of shine without making you look like you dipped your head in the deep fryer.
  • Some pomades last longer than gels: How many times have you had to reapply gel to keep your hairstyle in place? Pomades are great alternatives if you’re tired of constantly fixing your hair.
  • Works as an alternative for those who find gels too drying: Gel is great in some applications, but it can make your hair a little too brittle to the touch. Pomade has great hold while also keeping your hair feeling fairly natural. Regrowing hair is (mostly) great. But sometimes you need a little help controlling it as it comes back in. Pomade gives you the hold and flexibility you need to make your new hair look less unwieldy.

How Do I Style my Hair with Pomade?

This might not be a huge surprise, but there is a wrong way to style your hair with pomade. If done willy nilly, you could end up looking as if you applied shea butter to your scalp.

Here’s how to use pomade:

Step 1: Towel-dry your hair. You want a little bit of moisture to activate the pomade, but do your best to get your hair as dry as possible.

Step 2: Rub a small amount of pomade between your hands to get it warmed up. If you’re wondering how much pomade to use, start with a very small amount and add more as necessary.

Step 3: Dry pomade at room temperature or colder will be virtually impossible to handle, much less apply to your hair. Ensure that it’s evenly distributed across your fingertips.

Step 4: Start from the bottom and apply the pomade to the roots of your hair first. You can do this by running your fingers throughout your hair, but resist the temptation to do much more beyond this just yet.

Step 5: Apply additional pomade to the rest of your head as you figure out how much pomade to use. Repeat step 2 and ensure that the product has been warmed up and is evenly distributed across your fingertips before any additional applications.

Step 6: Distribute the pomade throughout your hair with a comb. Break apart any remaining clumps with your fingertips.

Step 7: Dry your hair fully with a blow dryer or an air dry to lock in your style.

Hair pomade has many uses and may be beneficial for giving hair a textured, volumized appearance. Not only can the right pomade formula support hair growth, it will also add a new dimension to the way you can style your hair. Plus, it’s perfectly safe to use on a daily basis—even if you are dealing with hair loss.

Photo by Malte Helmhold via Unsplash