Beyond Dapper: The 8 Best Pomades for Men

The word “Pomade” can conjure up notions of 50’s greasers with combs tucked into their jean pockets and cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves. It might also bring back memories of that tin of stuff your grandfather had next to his straight razor that didn’t taste anything like it smelled. Either way, it is associated with bygone times. Well, get ready to get vintage because pomade is coming back in a way that has men with unmanageable manes taking notice.

Pomades used to be odious, oily things that just slicked down your hair, making it stiff and unnatural. They were water-insoluble and impossible to wash out, so any time you touched your head, your fingers were coated like you’d been shoveling fries into your mouth for hours. The ones these days are much kinder. They can wash away easily, don’t leave your hair an oily mess for days on end, and can give you whatever level of hold you desire. Prepare to toss your gels and creams in favor of the 8 best pomades for men.

Murrays Original

Murray’s Original Pomade

Pro: Holds up in tough conditions
Con: Heavy

True Classic: This is the Swiss Army knife of pomades, coming in at a price point that can’t be beat. It works for any kind of hair, from the thick and curly to the limp and lifeless. Able to be used by women as easily as men this oil-based pomade hasn’t changed much since it’s inception in 1926, but still gives volume, texture, hold, and lift to short and long styles alike. Used by stylists and celebrities who respect it’s ability to keep a hairdo under control in wind, rain, or while standing in the white-hot spotlight. Runs a little on the heavy side, so use wisely. [Purchase: $3]

American Crew Pomade

American Crew Pomade

Pro: Washes out easily and cleanly
Con: Does not hold thick, curly, or wavy hair well

Medium Grade: A water-based pomade, American Crew is a shiny offering that is ideal for the guy who needs to style and re-style throughout the day without fighting stiffness. You’ll find this works best on hair that’s a little thinner and about average length for a guy. If you’re sporting around a big ol’ ‘fro or have unusually thick, lustrous hair then this probably won’t give you quite the hold you require. You’ll get a nice shine, if that is your thing, and lots of pliability at the sacrifice of some restraint. An excellent gloss if mixed with other products. [Purchase: $13]

Uppercut Monster Hold

Uppercut Monster Hold

Pro: Strong hold
Con: Petroleum-based

The Immovable Object: You’re a man who knows what he wants and expects people and things to do as they are told. That includes you hair. When you slick it down, lay it back, or part it over like Don Draper, then it damn sure better not move until you give the green light. This pomade from Uppercut is made specifically with your hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners attitude in mind. Using a petroleum base this will keep your follicles in line for days on end whether pumped up for maximum pomp, or laid down with extreme prejudice. You won’t get much shine, but for hair that won’t move during sports, hard work, or a small nuclear blast, this has you covered. [Purchase: $18]

Baxters of California Clay Pomade

Baxter of California Clay Pomade

Pro: Your choice of shine or matte finish
Con: Overkill for fine hair

Matte Man: You aren’t Gordon Gekko and as such don’t want to walk around with your head looking like it just got attacked by a shoe-shine boy. You want a product that isn’t oily and keeps your look healthy and natural without reflecting like a disco ball. Using a combination of clay, petrolatum, and beeswax you can get a nice, tight hold that isn’t crispy or hard but also offers a matte finish that is understated and sophisticated. You can get a wetter look if you use it at the right time, but it still won’t glimmer. Can be a little dense and heavy on finer hair. [Purchase: $20]

Imperial Barber Products Classic

Imperial Barber Products Classic

Pro: Revives with a splash of water
Con: Limited shine

Hard Water: Water-based pomades are easier on your hair, easier to wash away, better for your body, and gentler in general. They’re also usually weak little pansies that couldn’t hold up a line, much less your untamed locks. If you like the easy use of water-soluble pomades, but need something with a serious hold, then let Imperial show you the way. Their classic product can slap down or hold up your hair, yet is easy to manage throughout the day and clean out before you hit the pillow. You won’t get much shine, but for a versatile, changeable hold that lasts, this is king of the water-walkers. [Purchase: $22]

Bumble and Bumble Semi-Sumo

Bumble and Bumble Semi-Sumo

Pro: Softens coarse hair
Con: Light hold

Light and Shiny: Not every pomade is made with the ultimate in hold in mind. Sometimes you want to whip out a styling cream, gel, or wax, but still get that traditional pomade shine. For those of you who like it sleek, slick, and glossy, but aren’t looking for hard holds or heavy products, this will do you proud. It has a low hold that is just right for finer hair or shorter cuts when keeping errant fuzz in place. It goes on light and never makes your hair feel greasy thanks to a beeswax base and coconut oil. Fights frizz and makes hair smoother and softer. [Purchase: $23]

Mr Natty Pomade

Mr. Natty Pomade

Pro: Multi-purpose
Con: Doesn’t go through thick hair easily

Short Cuts: Buzz cuts, fades, quiffs, and pompadours all can benefit from a little pomade as much as longer and smoother cuts. For those who don’t have a ton of fur to contend with, there’s Mr. Natty. With a strong hold and a low shine that keeps everything in place, you can cruise with the top down or your hat pulled down low without worrying that your rockabilly ‘do is going to get unmanageable. Since it is wax-based, those with a shaved dome can even use it to seal in moisture and help keep their skin healthy without too much sheen or an uncomfortable residue. Will even work as a beard wax in a pinch. [Purchase: $27]

Bayolea by Penhaligons

Bayolea by Penhaligon’s

Pro: Enticing scent
Con: Expensive

Scent of a Man: Pomades used to come in two basic scents: Diesel fumes or light diesel fumes. Today they’re better, but you still have an array of fruit scents, perfumes, and other lingering odors that can turn an otherwise helpful product into a noxious aroma or skin irritant that makes your eyes water and your skin break out. When you wish for something with a scintillating scent that is as classy as you are, then pay the extra bones and get Bayolea by Penhaligon’s. They have brought their high-end odors along for the ride in this medium-hold, medium-shine pomade that has a bergamot and citrus whiff to it. Keep it on hand for first dates or nights on the town while reserving the cheaper stuff for work. [Purchase: $45]