Finding the right hair product can be a pain and with so many different hairstyle, let alone the millions of unique hair types, it’s often a case of trial and error. With men’s hair products getting more expensive each year, most of us can’t afford to keep trialling products, only to throw them away a week later.
Update for 2018 : We still believe that Suavecito Firm Hold is by far the best pomade on the market. Not only does it have superior hold, it has excellent shine and isn't overpriced. Very few competitors have emerged this year, leaving Suavecito as the go-to brand for yet another year.
That’s why we decided to create this series of buyers guides, dedicated to educating you on the products and recommending the ones that we think are likely the best for most people. At the end of this article you should be ready to purchase the best pomade, and hopefully you’ll be happy with your choice.
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What is Pomade?
Pomade is a type of hair product that is usually either water or petroleum based. Pomades with a petroleum base are the original and most common type. These have an extremely greasy look and feel to them, perfect for hairstyles like a classic side part of slick back.
The second kind is water based and these are usually a little less shiny and greasy. They are also far easier to wash out of your hair because they don’t include petroleum.
Pomades are designed to give you the slick, old school look, but unlike gel they won’t dry hard or stiff. Instead, it will hold tight but still be very malleable and touchable.
Pomade vs Wax
The primary difference between (most) pomades and waxes is that wax is based upon a beeswax or a derivative, whereas pomade is based upon petroleum. This makes wax stickier, with better hold and less shine.
On the other hand, pomade is far slicker, with more shine and a ‘heavier’ hold that is ideal for side parts, but not the best pick for styles that need volume.
What Should You Look For in a Pomade?
When you’re looking for a pomade you should first and foremost be comparing the advantages of the product to your ideal hairstyle. The product might be amazing, but if you’re going for a very specific style it might not be the best choice.
The primary differences between most pomades will be in the level of hold, the shine, its washability and the price tag. In this article we’ll be comparing some of the most popular products, explaining why one might be better than the others and helping you to make a more educated decision.
Suavecito Firm Hold
If you’ve looked for the best pomade before then you’ve almost certainly heard of Suavecito, they are almost certainly the largest and most popular brand that specializes in pomade. They’ve been an integral part of the rock and motorcycle scene for years and have created a pomade that can deal with a whole weekend of head banging.
Compared to most other pomades this one has a strong hold that doesn’t solidify or crust like many other products, but stays incredibly stiff. If you do wish to adjust your style you can run your damp fingers through your hair.
The most common complaint that we hear about Suavecito is that the fragrance is quite strong. Although we wouldn’t disagree, the fragrance is relatively nice and unoffensive. Plus, it will fade within 30-minutes to the point that it’s almost undetectable.
If you’re looking for a classic pomade then Suavecito is, in our opinion, one of the best choices that you have. A classic pomade should have great hold, with a nice shine and superior longevity. Suavecito Firm ticks all of those boxes.
Not only that, but it manages to achieve all of this while being water based instead of petroleum based. The main reason that many barbers suggest a petroleum pomade is because it tends to have the longevity and hold that a water based pomade can’t compete with.
Some how Suavecito has achieved this with a water based product. The great thing about this is that you get fantastic washability, meaning the product can be removed without shampoo.
Similarly, the lack of petroleum makes this product much healthier for your hair. Water based pomades are usually made with beeswax which is body safe and is far preferable to petroleum.
Overall, this is one of the best options on the market, for all different hairstyles. With a medium-strong hold and a medium-high shine it’s ideal for the large majority of men, and at such a low price point it’s within reach of most customers.
You can often find this pomade available for less than $15, making it one of the cheapest products, especially given the amount of product that you get in a single container.
Imperial Barber Classic Pomade
Imperial Barber primarily sell directly to barbers and industry related stores, but you can also buy some of their products from online retailers like Amazon. The Imperial Classic Pomade is one of the top rated products on Amazon and for good reason, it has incredible hold, low shine and rinses very quickly.
Most pomades have a high shine but in recent years it’s been considered more fashionable to wear a matte or low shine style. This product allows you to get this semi-sheen but low shine finish, with the hold and pliability of a pomade.
The only complaint that we’ve read about this product is that it feels more like a gel than a traditional pomade. This is likely because of the color and consistency of the product itself.
Regardless, it’s not going to dry stiff and crusty like a gel, it will still be slick and soft as a pomade should be. If you’re trying to go for a more modern style, this is likely a better choice than Sauvecito.
The large majority of the reviews that we read when compiling this article agreed that it washes out extremely easy, which is surprising for a product with such strong hold. It’s also water re-activatable, which means you can dampen your hands to restyle your hair.
However, the biggest plus is the price. You can find this available for less than $19 on most online retailers, and for that price you will receive a 6oz container, more than double most of the competitors, for less than double the price.
This makes it one of the cheapest on the market and also one of the most effective. Then, why haven’t we ranked it number one? Well, the main reason is that the majority of men want the traditional pomade feel and look; high shine, high hold, pliable and soft. Imperial Classic Pomade is amazing, but it’s not high shine.
That means that it’s an amazing choice for some men, but the majority of guys are probably going to be more satisfied with Sauvecito, despite its higher price tag.
Uppercut Pomade is another extremely popular option that will suit a large variety of hairstyles. Compared the Suavecito’s standard or firm product, the Uppercut Pomade has far less hold, making it better for those going for a casual style rather than something defined.
This makes it ideal for modern, looser styles, but not the best choice if you want a tight and defined classic look.
While most traditional pomades will dry to a wet or shiny look, Uppercut has a relatively low matte finish, at least for a pomade, which will always have some shine.
If you’re sensitive to scent and have been turned off by Suavecito in the past then you might want to give Uppercut a chance. Rather than having a strong cologne smell, Uppercut comes with a light coconut and vanilla scent that is lighter and likely more agreeable for many men.
Just like the Suavecito pomade, this one is extremely water soluble and that makes it easy to wash out of your hair, perfect for those men with thicker hair. Some petroleum based pomades can be tough to remove and might take multiple layers of shampoo. With Uppercut you can shampoo once and everything will be out.
The difference in price between Suavecito and Uppercut is generally very small, especially in North America. Likewise, the containers are both usually around 3oz, making them essentially the same price.
This can make it difficult to decide which to buy, let’s try and make that a little clearer. If you want a more defined style with more shine and higher hold, Suavecito the the best choice. For a modern and looser style with less shine, Uppercut is probably the right pick.
Neither is better than the other, both are excellent choices, they are designed for different styles and each is the best choice for their own desired styles.
American Crew is arguably the most well known men’s hair product company. They are the quintessential Western men’s beauty company and have tens of products in all sections of the male beauty market.
Although some of their hair products are significantly better than others, their pomade is relatively well regarded and it has plenty of impressive reviews from happy customers.
The American Crew Pomade isn’t designed to be a high hold pomade, it’s better for medium hold hairstyles that still require a nice shine. Unlike the Uppercut Pomade which is relatively low shine, the American Crew product still has a slick finish to it.
But don’t worry, just because it has a high slick shine, that doesn’t mean that it won’t wash out easily. In fact, most reviewers claim that it washes out very easily, which likely means that it washes out easier than the Uppercut or Suavecito.
This is understandable, because the hold is lower and that likely means that they are using less beeswax and petroleum based products. In fact, you could even choose to leave it in overnight and then just rinse your hair with water in the morning, before re-applying a little more product.
Overall, the American Crew Pomade is pretty good. It’s not the best pomade for most men, but it’s relatively cheap and that makes it a great entry level product for men who are on a budget.
Baxter of California Clay Pomade
The Clay Pomade from BoC isn’t a traditional, pure pomade, instead, it’s a blend of a clay and a pomade. This creates an interesting product that has extremely low shine, for a pomade, excellent hold and a thickening effect.
In a way, this is so far from a pomade that it’s hard to even classify it in the same category. However, it’s by far the best product that we have ever tried and therefore we try and recommend it wherever we can.
It’s best for guys those have finer hair because the clay can help to provide more ‘thickness’ in the same way that American Crew Fiber does. This Clay Pomade is ideal for guys who are going for modern hairstyles with plenty of volume.
It shouldn’t be used by men who want a slick and professional style. This product is going to give you a playful weekend look that isn’t shiny or tightly held. In this way, it’s more ideal for hairstyles that could be achieved with a pomade, wax or clay.
The reason that you might decide to use a pomade like Baxter of California’s instead of a pure clay or a wax would be the immense hold of a pomade. If you’re accustomed to using hairspray to keep your hair in check, throw it away. You won’t need it with this.
It acts most similarly to a wax, but has the hold of a pomade and the thickness and matte finish of a clay. It’s practically the perfect men’s hair product and it can be really difficult to recommend anything else.
Saying that, it’s really not a good pick if you want a slick ‘traditional’ pomade that you going to comb back into a comb over or slick back look. This product just doesn’t have the weight, hold or shine to make that look good.
In fact, Baxter of California is actually better for shorter hair, whereas most pomades work best on longer hair over 4 inches in length.
The main drawback to this option is the price. It is expensive and that makes it a no-go for many guys, purely because it’s out of their budget. In most cases you can find it for a little over $20, making it more than double the cost of cheaper options like Imperial.
However, a single container could last you between 4-6 months, depending on how much you use each day. For most men, it’s not the best pomade, but it has a specific use case where no other product can compete.
Pete and Pedro
If you’ve ever searched on YouTube for a men’s style related video then you’ve problem seen Alpha M. The man behind Alpha M, Aaron Marino, is also the man behind Pete and Pedro, a hair product company that promises “Bueno Hair”.
Pete and Pedro is generally very well received and the pomade is one of their more popular options. The main difference between this product and most of the others on this list is that it’s designed for short and medium hair, with only a medium hold.
Some might even argue that it has a low-medium hold. Regardless, it has a high shine and that makes it an ideal pomade for those who want a looser and less tight style. This is perfect for those going for a modern take on a classic side part or comb over.
That high, tight and shiny look isn’t as fashionable as in the past, making the Pete and Pedro a better option for these contemporary styles.
Unfortunately, the price is very high and that might put it out of your budget. $19 will get you a 2oz container, that size of container will likely last you a few months at most.
Although we are a huge fan of Aaron Marino and Pete and Pedro, this price point makes it hard to compare to cheaper and more effective products like Imperial and Suavecito. However, if you’re looking to try another product that has less hold, this might be a good fit for you.
Oddly, the one category that Pete and Pedro trashes the competition in is the smell. It has a very bright and fresh smell that is MUCH nicer than the strong cologne odor that most pomades use. If you’re sick of overly scented pomades, P&P could be a great pick up.
Overall, it’s pretty good, but it doesn’t stand out in the same way that the P&P Putty does, which is a category leader for sure.
Axe Clean Cut Pomade
Do Axe produce the highest quality men’s hair products? No. But they are available absolutely everywhere and that means that we need to include that. A lot of guys still don’t want to order certain products online, they just want to grab them today or tomorrow at the grocery store.
Fortunately, the Axe Clean Cut Pomade is relatively good, especially for it’s competitive price point. It still ranks at the bottom of this list because it’s not as great as the others, but it’s good enough that we would still recommend it.
We have used far worse products in the past and still ended up with decent results. The Axe Clean Cut Pomade is their classic pomade, although they also sell another option that has low to no shine and slightly less hold.
This “classic” pomade is best for short to mid length hair and it’s going to give you some shine as well. You’re not going to achieve the same gloss that you can with Suavecito or even Imperial, but you’ll notice more shine than with a wax.
On Amazon you can normally find two containers for around $14, making it $7 for 2.64oz of product. That price alone makes it a good choice for younger men and teenagers who are becoming more interested in their style.
You might be surprised at how good the reviews are, most men seem to enjoy the product and some have even compared it to Sauvecito. We were definitely shocked at how highly it was rated, but came to the conclusion that it was primarily because the quality is reasonable for an absolute bargain price.
Overall, it’s not the top choice, not by a long way. But if you need a bargain option, this is likely one of the top picks at this price point. The fantastic thing about Axe is how easily you can obtain it. Axe is for sale in almost every large drug store, making it a convenient pomade for many men.