As a youngster, I thought the math was simple: More strength equals more control.
Using a super strong hair styling product would help me achieve the exact hairstyle I wanted. Or so I thought..
Truth be told, it was never the case, as there were always downsides. My hair appeared oily, unnatural, it was stiff as a rock to touch, washing out product was a pain, it was way too shiny, and so on..
It wasn’t until I started to experiment with all kinds of pomades, waxes and gels to finally master to my look. What I discovered overtime was that each hairstyle required a different product. The wrong product literally equated to a bad hair day, no matter haircut or how professional your barber or stylist.
As I switched from the supermarket Got 2B Spiked Up Max Styling Gel to countless other men’s hair care products over the years, I learned quite a few things. Now, I’m sure you’re curious to know my go to product today, so I’ll spill my secret: American Crew Forming Cream.
But don’t just take bit of knowledge on a whim, because the truth is I use a lot of different hair care products. Just as I continue to experiment my own style, I encourage you to do the same.
To help you figure out what to try next, let’s break down the differences between pomade vs wax, pomade vs gel, and gel vs wax. Because while it might seem like they serve one purpose: Styling hair, there’s actually way more to it.
Pomade comes in two choices: Water-based and Petroleum (original formula).
When it comes to water-based vs petroleum, water-based has less shine and a stiffer finished, but it’s more versatile. Petroleum based pomade on the other hand, is real grease. This means a higher shine and stronger hold.
Now, when you think of grease and water, you probably already know the two don’t mix. Here’s where water-based has a slick advantage: It’s easier to wash out, plus better for the health of your scalp.
No matter which you go with, here’s the key things to know about pomade:
Better shine and luster.
Applies to wet or dry hair, your choice. (Applying pomade to wet hair will give you more shine but reduces the amount of hold. Applying it to dry hair has the opposite effect, less shine, stronger hold.)
Like wax, it’s re-shapeable throughout the day.
Pomade doesn’t dry out and get super stiff like gel. Some gels will harden your hair till it’s rock solid. But don’t confuse pomade as being weak, it still holds your style plenty tight even if it is flexible.
If you have dry, dull hair, go with pomade.
Pomade Recommendations: Find 4 excellent pomades for men here.
When it comes to wax, it can be a bit confusing if you don’t look at the ingredients first. If you take American Crew Fiber for example, you’ll see “Fiber” and “Creme”, but nothing about being mentioned about “Wax”. Marketing aside, it’s ingredients include Lanolin wax and Beeswax. There’s your answer.
Wax is best for normal to oily hair with a short to medium length.
It doesn’t last as long as pomade, but you can re-apply more easily. Even after working out a gym, you can evoke a new hair shape very easily with wax. The downside is your hair must be somewhat dry first. Wax plus wet hair won’t work.
Wax doesn’t stiffen or harden your hair at all.
While it is thicker than gel, it doesn’t feel grimy or sticky to the touch. It’s quite smooth.
The finish is less shiny, more matte in appearance.
It’s great for adding more texture and thickness.
If you have frizz or odd ends that stick up, the right wax tames them extremely well.
When comparing wax vs gel, wax offers more fine control, whereas gel clumps everything together.
Most men start off with hair gel from the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean it belongs at the bottom of the barrel. Truth be told, it’s all about moderation when it comes to gel.
Gel will give you the strongest hold and rock solid hair. Verses pomade or wax, it’s stronger, but it also doesn’t look as natural. In fact, far from it.
When applied it has a shiny, wet look that stays with you throughout the day. If you try to restyle it later on, you’ll end up combing through stuck hair strands, and your look can get a bit messy. More than often, you’ll need to wash it out before styling again.
Though wax does offer a max hold, one thing to keep in mind is if you have finer hair, use a lighter gel. It sounds funky, but using less product and going with a lower hold level produces better results.
If you are dealing with flakes and already using one of these top 12 best dandruff shampoos for men, then your next step is to go with hair gel that’s alcohol free.
Gel Recommendations: Find the top 12 best hair gels for men here.