Wax vs Pomade vs Gel – Which is best?

Wax vs Pomade vs Gel

These days, men are spending more money than ever on their beauty products and are starting to catch up with their female counterparts . A large proportion of that money is spent on hair products, but what’s the difference between all of them and which is best?

Wax - What is it?

Wax is one of the most common types of hair styling products that you can find. It’ll always be solid in a tin container and is generally a white or creamy color, with a soft wax feeling. Wax offers far less hold than a gel would, but it doesn’t give you the greasy look of pomade. It almost fits the middle ground between the two and allows you to style your hair in basic ways, but it won’t allow for extreme haircuts like a gel or pomade would.

Wax is favored by a lot of guys because it can offer texture and thickness to finer hair, allowing you to create a wavy look with little effort. The main problem with wax products is that they usually only last for a few hours before they dry out and therefore, they might need to be re-applied.

How to use : To use it you should curl your finger in towards your palm and then scrape the top of your nail along the wax. This will get some of the product onto your finger without it going under the nail. Then, rub it into your hands until it feels warm and then you should apply vigorously throughout the hair (dry hair only), even deep into the roots. Once the product is in your hair you can start to style it.

Pros : Cheap, matte, not greasy and adds texture

Cons : Little staying power, lacks the strength for more extreme styles

Pomade - What is it?

Pomade has been gaining popularity in the past few years after losing it’s fame in the 70’s. Pomade is the most traditional styling product on this list and has been used by men for centuries to slick back their hair into a tight, traditional style.

Pomade offers the shiniest and most greased look that you’ll be able to find and this makes it excellent or traditional haircuts. The product is petroleum-based and it won’t wash out with water, making it great for the lazier guys among us.

The petroleum-base of a pomade is able to give it a very bright shine that can only be achieved with a pomade and it also has excellent hold. Unlike a gel, the hold is strong but not hard. The hair will remain in position but it stays very soft and can therefore be easily restyled, unlike with a gel that would need to be washed out and restyled.

How to use : Using a pomade is very simple. Apply a small amount of the product to the palm of your hand and rub your hand together until the product feels warm. You can then start applying the product to towel-dried hair. Again, make sure that the product is throughout the hair rather than just on the surface. Now, begin to style it into the look that you would like and then add more product onto your hands and finish the style. For extra hold, blow-dry your hair into the style on a cold setting.

Pros : Excellent shine, strong hold without becoming hard

Cons : Expensive, not water-soluble

Gel - What is it?

Many of us won’t have used gel since we were in high school, but there’s no need to forget about it. Gel fills a position in the market that no other product can come close to. It offers a rock solid hold that will last the entire day. The main problem with gel is that it has a tendency of becoming flaky and this can give the appearance of dandruff in your hair. Gel can be found in a range of strengths from light through to punk rocker, generally, the finer your hair is the less hold you should need to achieve the same style.

How to use : Apply a very small amount of gel to your fingers and rub them together until the product feels warm. Gel should be applied to most of the hair, but you don’t need to worry about getting to the roots as you do with a pomade or a wax. Instead, apply the gel to towel-dried hair and begin to style it instantly. Once you have the exact style that you want you should blow-dry the hair on a cold setting with the lowest strength until the hair is dry and the gel is set.

Pros : Rock solid hold that will last all day, very cheap

Cons : Flakes, difficult to restyle

Conclusion - Which is best?

Every hair product has their place, but for most of us the best option is to pick a quality pomade from a reputable brand. Pomade can be used to achieve the large majority of styles and it offers you more flexibility than other products. If you’re looking for an extreme style that defies gravity then a gel is the best option and if you want very little style, but are interested in giving your hair texture and flow then you should try a wax.

About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.