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The Grooming Manual

Pomade Vs. Hair Styling Gel For Men: Which Is Right For You?

Pomade Vs. Hair Styling Gel For Men: Which Is Right For You?

You’re walking down the street, watching a movie, or maybe even scrolling through social media, and you find it - the perfect haircut for you. You head to your barber and get the cut. 

But that’s only half the battle. Now you have to keep it up - which, for many longer or more voluminous styles, is going to require some kind of product. 

Should you choose a gel or a styling pomade? It depends on the style and look that you’re going for.  Here are some things to consider and how to find the right product for your look. 

Hair Gel 

Gel has been a go-to styling product for men for years. It’s probably the first kind of hair product you used as a kid.

On the one hand, it’s widely considered to be the best maximum hold hair product for all-day wear - you could probably go skydiving with a hair full of gel and find that it doesn’t really budge.  

That part’s true: hair gel is super effective when it comes to styles like spikes or occasions when you want a totally hard, shiny, all-day look.

Alternatively, it’s the perfect product if you don’t have time to dry your hair before you style. Plus, it’s water-based, so it’ll wash out easily when you hit the shower. 

But gel may not be the best product if you’re looking for something for gentle, everyday use. Hair gel has developed a major reputation for causing flakes, particularly if it’s an alcohol-based gel product (not a good look). Plus, it can create an overly stiff appearance, and you can’t restyle it throughout the day once it’s already in your hair. 

Pomade 

Pomade is a flake-free, flexible alternative to gel that comes in three varieties: wax pomade, clay pomade, and classic gel pomade

Unlike with gel, you can find a pomade to suit just about every hairstyle. It all depends on what you’re going for: 

For a Matte Look 

If you’re going for a matte look that doesn’t really look like you have any product, consider a clay pomade

best clay pomade for men

Clay pomades provide a matte finish and a strong hold, meaning that you can get a lot of style without any shine. They can also condition the hair, tame frizz, and encourage hair growth - which means they’ll help your hair look better and stronger over time. 

For Slick Hair 

For a slick, high-gloss finish - similar to what you’d get with a gel - you should go with a gel pomade. The right gel pomade - usually water-soluble and formulated with non-comedogenic, healthy ingredients like argan oil and vitamin E - will provide a strong hold and polished shine without damaging your hair or drying it out. 

best classic gel pomade for men

In other words, it won’t cause the flakes and damage you might get from a traditional gel product. 

For Wavy Hair 

If you have short, medium-length, or wavy hair, try a wax pomade or a strong hold fiber pomade. Formulated with natural ingredients like beeswax, vitamin E, and castor oil, a great wax pomade will provide a medium, flexible hold while still allowing for some natural hair movement and re-styling. 

best wax pomade for men

Similarly, a fiber pomade will provide a strong, texturized hold for unruly hair without any shine -- perfect if you want the perfectly undone, textured look. 

best texturizing pomade for men

For a Lifted ‘Do 

Trying to achieve some volume and lift? We recommend the Styling Clay Pomade or the Classic Firm Hold Pomade. The bentonite clay in the former will provide strong, pliable hold and a naturally clean, matte look, while the latter will give you the height you’re looking for with a little extra shine and strength. 

You can apply pomades to either wet or dry hair - depending on the look you want - and they’ll provide your hair with the structure and texture that you're after.

SEE ALSO: How to Choose the Right Pomade For Your Hairstyle 

Ready to get started? Here’s a chart summarizing how each product works: 

Brickell pomade comparison chart best hair product for men

You can also find every pomade option here. Here’s to good hair! 


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