When it comes to crafting cool haircuts of the past alongside more modern styles and spins, a fine pomade is key. However, choosing the right one can often be harder than picking out a cut to go with in the first place.
If you’re just venturing into the world of men’s grooming, there’s a few things to know first.
Pomade comes in two types: The modern approach, water-based pomade and the traditional approach, oil-based.
While I won’t get into the full comparison right now, there’s a good reason why you might prefer water-based.
It rinses out far easier. Water-based pomade offers a wide variety of hold strengths and shines to choose from. It will help cut back the chances of break-outs and acne. Not to mention, it stays dry while keeping your hold exactly where you want it to be, all day long. On the downside, it doesn’t build up which means you’ll need to use more product more frequently.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a collection of the top 15 best water-based pomades for men below. You’ll find details on how they shine, smell, wash out, hold and more.
Imperial Barber Matte Paste
If you like pomade but dislike the radiant shine that often comes along with it you’re in luck. Imperial Barber’s matte paste features a more natural looking finish, making it well suited to any male with a messy and loose hairstyle. However, that’s not to say that a sharply polished businessman won’t benefit from it. The matte pomade paste still offers a light to medium hold which works exceptionally well across most styles. Aside from the benefit of not weighting your hair down, the formula also helps to strength, retain moisture, add volume to your head of it.
A few notable ingredients include green tea extract, sunflower seed extract, bamboo extract and more.
Control, definition and slicked back style. Three things you’ll acquire with Uppercut Deluxe Pomade. It features a strong hold suitable for high pompadours, side parts and the classic slicked back look. Shine is moderately high and quite comparable to most, however, it lasts up until you wash it out. In terms of hair length, this grooming product works best for men with medium-length hair.
Surprisingly, this pomade is as easy on the nose as it is to wash out. The fragrance features soothing notes of coconut and vanilla.
Baxter Of California Hard Water
Not too heavy, not too light. Baxter of California’s Hard Water Pomade is right in the middle with a firm hold. While it doesn’t make your hair crunchy or leave behind any gunk-like reside aside from the high shine of course, it still makes your hair quite stiff to the touch. (Which is a good thing)
This blue goop encased in a nice glass container keeps your hair looking great even on the windiest of days. However, even though it’s pliable enough to rework and shape your head of hair at first, you should know that one it sets, it’s not going anywhere. That means you must wash it out. The good news is unlike other water-based pomades one washout will do it, not two, three or more.
Before applying it, just remember that wet hair equates to a wet looking finish. Dry hair offers a more matte natural style, although, you’re still going to get a good deal of that classic pomade shine with it.
Baxter Of California Soft Water
You could consider Baxter of California’s Soft Water Pomade as the lighter approach when compared to their Hard Water formula. It features a light to medium hold without the unwanted greasiness for a more casual, relaxed approached to men’s hair care.
However, it’s important to note that the amount of product you use matters with Soft Water significantly. A little dollop spread throughout your hair nets you a natural look, while a sizeable plop on your palm leads to hair that’s a bit crunchy.
For fragrance, this pomade revivals the aroma of a fine cup of coffee in the morning. The subtle citrus and lime fragrance slowly wakes up the nose with pure delight.
Imperial Barber Blacktop
Blacktop Pomade by Imperia Barber offers more than you’d expect at first glance. Aside from the industrial strength hold, it also features a black tint in the formula to conceal pesky light and gray hairs. Surprisingly, it works as well as they claim. However, just know it can leech onto pillowcases and stain clothes when you’re drenched and stuck out in the rain. On the plus side, this men’s grooming product washes out cleanly and easily.
In terms of shine, it’s quite low. For fragrance you’ll find yet, another surprise, as it as smells just like bubblegum.
John Allans Pomade
For a more natural head of hair just consult John Allans’ Matte Pomade. As the name implies, the end result features a matte finish with the shine attached to it. However, that doesn’t mean this product is dull, in fact, it goes a long way in helping with separation and texture. If you are looking for a really light hold that still has a bit of flexibility to it, you’re found the answer.
When it comes to the formula you’ll be glad to know it’s alcohol free, and hosts a bunch of great things like orange flower, lemongrass, grapefruit and lime to nourish both your hair and scalp. For taming your hairstyle, it’s quite versatile, working wonders for men with both thick to thin hair.
Ginger root, hemp seed oil and yucca vera can all be found in Woody’s Pomade. Ingredients aside, you’ll like the medium hold that lets you run your fingers through your hair without it breaking or falling apart. For shine, this men’s pomade features a low sheen.
In terms of flexibility, with a little dab of water the soluble wax-like nature let’s you remold your hairstyle effortlessly. All without leaving behind the grease or crustiness. To please the nose, it has a fragrance that reminds you of a traditional barbershop mixed with notes of citrus. When it’s time to wash Woody’s Pomade out the process is extremely easy.
Redken 03 Water Wax
Consider it a wax pomade hybrid if you will. Redken’s latest 03 Water Wax Pomade gives you the control of a wax with the benefits of having great flexibility. Not to mention, the high shine too. On the downside of things, this product won’t defy gravity so if you need a super strong hold you won’t get it.
The hold is lighter and more natural, however, it still serves an excellent purpose. For gentlemen with frizzy or wavy hair that tends to get out of control, 03 Water Wax will impress. It will easily keep any unruly hair strands in a straight direction.
For fragrance it smells as good as it feels after applying it. You’ll find there’s no gunk, grease or grime leftover making it one of the ultimate lightweight male grooming products out there.
Blind Barber 90 Proof
Meet the moonshine-inspired 90 Proof pomade by Blind Barber. It arrives with a heavy hitting strong hold and sleek matte finish. Just about any 1920s to 1950s hairstyle can be mastered with a small dollop of product, however, mohawks and more spiky styles are a tad out of reach.
You’ll also find a nice addition of hops added to the mix which act as a natural thickening agent and dandruff-fighting antiseptic. Not to mention, the protein-rich pomade has a fine old-barbershop smell to it which I’m sure you’d like as much as I do. Of course, it doesn’t leave behind a bunch of gunk or immovable grease either.
Should you like Blind Barber’s 90 proof but need a lesser hold, you might want to consider their 60 proof pomade.
Imperial Barber Classic
Imperial’s Classic Pomade is a lot like their Blacktop version just without the black tint and a higher semi-sheen to it. The hold will remind you of an ultra-firm gel without all the leftover crunchiness. Though, the product itself is rather thick. Needless to say, once it sets, it sets. Your hair won’t budge and inch until you take the time to wash it out at the end of the day.
When applying it on wet hair, you’ll notice a foamy-like texture to it and get a light scent of a fruity watermelon fragrance. Though, keep in mind the scent is very subtle and lasts only for a short duration of time period it vanishes from the nose.
American Crew Pomade
American Crew Pomade features a water-based formula with a high shine and fairly medium hold. In terms of flexibility you get a lot of it; making just about any type of hair far easier to control in the morning. Best of all, it leaves behind no grease or gunk and rinses clean in the shower.
The Free Byrd Light
There’s a good reason you haven’t heard of Byrd yet. The company entered the men’s grooming industry back in 2012 with a home base located in Newport, California. Their latest Light Pomade features a light to medium hold with a moderate sheen to it. Once applied you’ll notice a rather soapy aroma to the formula, some men like it some don’t. Regardless, it’s still super easy to comb through and doesn’t harden, which gives you control throughout the day to easily adjust your hair as needed.
Layrite Super Shine Deluxe
For crafting the classics, it’s hard to beat Layrite’s Super Shine Deluxe Pomade. It features a high hold with a super high shine for a finely polished look. However, don’t let the high hold fool you. While it’s definitely a performer and will tame even the most unruliest of hairs, this pomade still refuses to get stiff or leave your hair feeling all dried out.
To the touch it feels somewhat tacky, while to the nose it has virtually no fragrance. Applying it is almost effortless thanks to the soft and creamy like texture. Speaking of which, you can easily run your fingers through your hair long after putting it in. Sure, the sheen tends to wear off a little bit later in the day however, the hold remains near flawless.
While the container resembles an old-school throw back, Fiber Grease Pomade is quite a luxury for any man to own. The water-based formula arrives with a tropical fruit fragrance and strong hold. After applying it you’ll notice it doesn’t turn your head into a hard shell. In reality, it’s exceptionally easy to restyle plus, washes out super cleanly. Best of all, even though the name implies grease, you’ll be surprised it leaves absolutely none behind.
Billy Jealousy Lunatic Fringe
For wild manes Billy Jealousy Lunatic Fringe is a wonder. The humectant-rich formula found in this water-based pomade offers ample control, anti-frizz benefits and exceptionally manageability. While it’s claimed to be a strong hold, you might find it more conservative, and along the lines of being more medium strength.
If you are in search of texture and volume but you have finer hair, Lunatic Fringe works exceptionally well. It doesn’t weight your locks down nor does it feel overly tacky nor greasy after applying it. You’ll also get a high shine with a citrusy fragrance that includes notes of pineapple, peach and vanilla. And while rinsing it out is truly a breeze, your nose might not want you to!