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Pomade vs Gel vs Wax – Which Is Best For Your Hairstyle?

When comparing the pros and cons of pomade vs gel vs wax, it’s important to remember how you want to style your hair and the look that you are trying to achieve. Finding the best hair styling product for your hairstyle depends on whether you want a flexible, medium or firm hold and shiny or matte look. The problem is that with so many men’s grooming brands in the market, it’s hard to tell which ones are worth buying. Below, we will discuss the difference between pomade, wax, and gel to help guys choose the right hair products for different hairstyles, lengths, and types, including short, long, medium-length, thick, curly and wavy hair.

Whether you want the best hair products for the undercut, slick back, comb over, quiff, side part, pompadour, faux hawk, or spiky hair, this guide will help you pick a good pomade, wax or gel to use.

Hair Products - Pomade vs Gel vs Wax


Pomade is a styling product ideal for strong, yet flexible holds as well as both matte and high shine finishes. The best pomade brands for men nowadays are water-based as opposed to oil-based, resulting in a lightweight, soft texture that washes out easily. The other benefit of using a water-based pomade is that you can style and restyle your hair throughout the day because it never dries out or gets super stiff.

However, if you like greaser hairstyles such as slick backs, then you’ll want to consider buying an oil-based pomade that offers a stronger hold and higher shine. Just remember that oil-based products are harder to wash out and not as healthy for your scalp. Similarly, just get a good pomade for thick hair.

When looking for a men’s hair pomade to use every day in casual or professional settings, choose one with a matte finish. Save the high shine for special occasions and nights out. Pomades are great for most styles, including the comb over, side part, slicked back, quiff and pompadour hairstyles.

Pomade Hairstyle

Best Pomades For Men

Some of the top-rated pomade brands on the market today include Suavecito, Layrite, Baxter of California, Imperial Barber, Uppercut Deluxe, and American Crew. Which pomade you get will depend on whether you have short, medium-length or long hair, and how you choose to style your hair. A strong product can keep hair in place all day for a clean look, but a light hold with no shine can offer a cool textured finish.

These are the best pomades for men.

How To Use Pomade

To use pomade, towel dry your hair, leaving it damp enough to be malleable but not so wet it’s hard to control and style. Scoop some of your favorite pomade into your hand and rub it between both your palms and fingers until evenly coated. Now apply the pomade to your hair from both sides, smoothing into your hair as you gently style it into the hairstyle you want.


Most waxes are made with beeswax and thus offer a moderate to strong hold with a matte finish that doesn’t harden or stiffen your hair. While hair wax has a thicker feel than gel, it still feels smooth, adds texture and thickness to hair, and isn’t sticky. Further, wax is a little more difficult to wash out than a water-based pomade, so we’d recommend buying a hair wax like American Crew’s Forming Cream or TIGI Bed Head B.

Furthermore, if you have naturally oily hair, wax can absorb that excess grease. However, that means hair wax will eventually dry out after a few hours, but until then, you can restyle it as you want. This is one major advantage of using pomade you need to consider when comparing pomade vs wax.

Ultimately, wax is ideal for short or medium-length, normal to oily hair. It can also be incredibly effective on wavy or frizzy types of hair. The best wax hairstyles are ones that require strong holds and control without clumping, such as spiky hair, faux hawks, quiff, French crop and many other popular modern hairstyles.

Wax Hairstyles

Best Hair Waxes For Men

Some of the top-rated hair waxes include American Crew’s Forming Cream or Fiber, TIGI Bed Head Workable Wax, Redken Maneuver Working Wax, and Gatsby Moving Rubber. Styling wax is great if you want a light to medium hold and a textured, natural hairstyle.

Check out this buying guide to find the best men’s hair wax for your needs.

How To Use Hair Wax

To use wax, style your hair with your hands as you dry it – wax doesn’t work well with wet hair. Take a small amount of wax and rub it between your hands. Once your hair is dry, apply the hair wax to your hair, spreading it evenly throughout. It is recommended you start with the hair in the back to avoid clumping your hair in the front.


Gel is your classic hair product for men. Hair gel provides a strong hold with a “wet” look that is high shine. When pomade and wax don’t offer enough hold, gel may be your only option. Unfortunately, the downside of gel is its hardness, flakiness and inability to be restyled later in the day. Nevertheless, hair gel does wash out easily with water.

Guys can find hair gel in both light and firm holds, and as a general rule, men with thin hair should probably use light to medium hold gels – or even pomade – in moderation to avoid clumping that will expose the scalp. Given the pros and cons of hair gel, in a comparison of pomade vs gel and wax vs gel, we’d recommend gel as a last resort for truly unruly, hard-to-manage hair.

Gel Hairstyles

Best Hair Gels For Men

Some of the top-rated hair gels for men include American Crew Styling Gel, Johnny B Mode, Got2b Ultra Glued, and Style Sexy Hair Gel.

How To Use Hair Gel

To use hair gel, towel dry your hair till it is slightly damp – gel is best applied on damp hair after a shower. To avoid the dreaded white flakes later in the day, make sure to apply your gel slowly, adding more only as you need it. A quarter-size in the balm of your hand should be enough for most hairstyles, and remember, you can always apply more later.

Best Hair Products For Guys

We recommend pomade as the best all-around hair product for men, giving you hold with flexibility, both matte and high shine options, and the ability to style cool hairstyles for a sophisticated look. With a variety of affordable water-based pomade brands available, guys can buy different products and try them out to find their favorite.