Pomade vs Gel: Which One Is Best for Your Hair?

Journeying through the labyrinth of hair styling products can feel like a Herculean task, especially when you're bombarded by a seemingly infinite spectrum of choices. Hair gels, mousses, clays, waxes – you name it, there's a product for every hair type and style under the sun. But how do you uncover the one that's just right for you? In this all-encompassing guide, we'll delve into the versatile world of hair pomade and gel, both products that have caught the eye of both men and women in recent years.

What is Hair Pomade?

At its core, hair pomade is a gender-neutral styling product crafted to bestow hold and control, much like its brethren in the grooming aisle. Yet, pomade distinguishes itself through its unique composition and versatility.

Pomades usually consist of a concoction of waxes, oils, and other components. Although the precise recipe varies from one brand to another, the essential elements remain constant. These ingredients harmoniously work together to provide a pliable hold that's a breeze to style, along with a natural finish that can range from matte to shiny, depending on the specific pomade in question.

Though pomades have been around for ages, they exploded in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, becoming the go-to styling product for slick, suave looks. Nowadays, pomades continue to be a fan favorite for those chasing a myriad of styles, from the classic to the contemporary.

Dissecting Pomade's Uniqueness

Now that we've got the basics down, let's dissect what makes hair pomade stand out among other styling products.

  1. Hold: A crucial difference between hair pomade and its counterparts is the level of hold it provides. Pomades typically deliver a medium to strong hold, letting you chisel your hair into your desired style without feeling imprisoned or weighed down.
  2. Finish: Another key aspect that differentiates pomades from other styling products is the finish they bestow. While certain products, like gels or sprays, tend to leave your hair with a wet, crunchy appearance, pomades offer a more natural, pliable finish. This makes it a cinch to restyle your hair throughout the day while maintaining your preferred look.
  3. Restyling: As hinted at earlier, one of the prime advantages of using hair pomade is its restyling prowess. Pomades are designed to be malleable, so you can effortlessly modify your hairstyle throughout the day without needing to slather on more product or fret about your hair turning stiff or unmanageable.
  4. Water vs. Oil-based: Pomades manifest in two primary forms – water-based and oil-based. Water-based pomades wash out more easily and tend to be less greasy than their oil-based kin. Conversely, oil-based pomades boast a stronger hold and a higher level of shine, making them perfect for more refined, vintage looks.
  5. Ingredients: Last but not least, the ingredients employed in hair pomade are generally less abrasive than those found in other styling products. This means that, when used judiciously, pomade can actually be a boon for your hair, delivering moisture and nourishment while helping to stave off breakage and damage.

What is Hair Gel?

As we traverse the vast landscape of hair styling, one must remain ever-vigilant, for there lies a wealth of options, each vying for the opportunity to sculpt our glorious manes. Hair pomade, that suave, debonair contestant in the styling arena, faces a plethora of worthy opponents, each striving to claim their rightful place in the pantheon of hair care legends. Among these challengers, one stalwart contender emerges, standing tall and resolute, refusing to yield: hair gel, a formidable foe that has waged countless battles against pomade both in the market and upon the battleground that is the human scalp.

And so we ask, what is it that bestows upon hair gel its place as a true contender in the ceaseless struggle for hair styling supremacy? 

Hair gel wields a potent combination of weapons: the unyielding strength of its hold, the versatility of its styling prowess, and the wet, glossy sheen that has become its trademark. These attributes, honed to a razor's edge, have allowed hair gel to carve its own niche in the ever-evolving tapestry of hair styling.

  • Composition and Texture: Hair gel is a water-based concoction that usually includes alcohol, polymers, and other ingredients that enable it to dry swiftly and establish a strong hold. The outcome is a clear, sticky substance that can vary in consistency from thin and watery to thick and viscous. In contrast, pomades are typically crafted from a blend of waxes, oils, and other ingredients that give them a creamier, butter-like consistency. This composition allows pomades to be more nourishing for the hair, unlike gels which can strip hair of its natural oils.
  • Hold and Finish: Hair gel delivers a high level of hold that often dries to a hard, crunchy finish. This powerful hold is fantastic for maintaining structured hairstyles or taming hair in humid conditions. However, this unyielding hold makes it difficult to restyle your hair throughout the day without adding more product or washing your hair first. Pomades, on the other hand, provide a more flexible hold that allows your hair to retain its shape while still being touchable and soft. The finish of a pomade can range from matte to shiny, depending on the specific product, providing users with more options for their desired look.
  • Application and Restyling: As previously mentioned, hair gel does not lend itself to easy restyling due to its hardening properties. Once applied and dried, it becomes challenging to rework the hair without risking flakes or an uneven appearance. Pomades, however, can be restyled effortlessly throughout the day, allowing you to modify your hairstyle as needed. Their pliable hold and smoother consistency make them a more forgiving option when it comes to application and adjustments.
  • Hair Health and Moisture: The ingredients in hair gel can often be more desiccating to the hair and scalp. The alcohol content in many gels can result in dryness, irritation, and potentially hair damage over time. Pomades, with their wax and oil-based compositions, are generally gentler on the hair and can even provide some nourishment and moisture. This makes pomades a healthier option for those concerned about the long-term effects of hair styling products on their hair.
  • Suitability for Hair Types: Hair gel can be an appropriate choice for those with fine or thin hair seeking a strong hold, as well as those with thick, unruly hair in need of added control. However, due to its drying nature, it may not be the best option for individuals with already dry or damaged hair. Pomades are more versatile in their suitability for different hair types, providing a flexible hold that works well for various hair lengths, textures, and conditions.

Though hair gel boasts a strong hold and rapid-drying properties, it might not be the optimal choice for those searching for a more natural finish, easy restyling, and better hair health. Pomades offer a flexible hold, a range of finishes, and nourishing ingredients that make them a versatile choice for a variety of hair types and styles.

Which is Best for Your Hair?

  • Fine Hair: For those with fine hair, hair gel takes center stage as it is lightweight, providing the essential hold without burdening your delicate strands.
  • Thick Hair: Hair pomade shines in its mastery over thick hair, offering control and manageability that tames those rebellious locks without rendering them rigid.
  • Curly Hair: Generally, hair pomade emerges as the superior choice for curly hair, delivering a flexible hold that defines curls without stiffness or that dreaded crunch. Pomades also have the prowess to combat frizz and bestow much-needed moisture upon curly hair.
  • Oily Hair: For those battling oily hair, hair gel is the knight in shining armor, avoiding any greasy residue. Embrace alcohol-free gels to steer clear of dehydrating your hair and scalp.
  • Dry Hair: Hair pomade, particularly water-based or those with conditioning ingredients, is the ideal companion for dry hair, as it imparts moisture and ensures your hair remains nourished throughout the day.

Which Product Fits Your Style?

  • Sleek, Timeless Styles: Hair pomade excels in sculpting classic, slicked-back hairstyles like pompadours, side parts, and quiffs, granting a flexible, enduring hold and a polished finish.
  • Edgy, Disheveled Looks: Hair gel is the ultimate accomplice for crafting spiky, chaotic hairstyles, providing a potent hold that dries rapidly, enabling you to attain the desired texture and volume.
  • Refined Curls: Hair pomade distinguishes itself in the realm of curl definition, holding curls in place whilst offering hydration and banishing frizz.

The Perfect Pair: Finding the Ideal Hold and Finish for Your Hairstyle

  • Formidable Hold: Hair gel asserts its dominance in the strong hold arena, best suited for hairstyles requiring unwavering stability all day long.
  • Pliable Hold: Hair pomade is the answer for those seeking a more adaptable hold, allowing you the freedom to revamp your style throughout the day sans product reapplication.
  • Radiant Finish: If your heart desires a gleaming, impeccably groomed aesthetic, look no further than hair pomade.
  • Understated Finish: For those preferring a matte, organic appearance, the answer lies in a matte hair gel or a matte-finish pomade.

The ultimate decision to side with hair pomade or hair gel hinges upon the trinity of your hair type, desired coiffure, and personal inclinations. Each contender brandishes its own distinctive arsenal of advantages and drawbacks, awaiting your discerning judgment. Pomade, that suave and sophisticated maestro of the hair styling realm, excels in crafting classic, slicked-back masterpieces, its flexible hold and gleaming finish the stuff of legends. Hair gel, on the other hand, the tenacious and unyielding gladiator of the hair care coliseum, emerges triumphant in the quest for formidable hold and wet, glossy splendor, making it the go-to champion for tousled, rebellious locks.

As you embark on this hair-raising journey of discovery, a thorough comprehension of each product's attributes, and their synergistic dance with your unique hair type and styling demands, will light the way to the ideal choice. With the aid of this all-encompassing guide, you stand poised to navigate the nuanced landscape of pomade and gel with aplomb, equipped to select the perfect weapon for your arsenal of hair styling armaments. Remember, the path to coiffure nirvana is paved with exploration and experimentation; embrace the challenge, and allow your hair to become the canvas upon which you paint your signature style.

Comparison Table


Hair Pomade

Hair Gel





Shiny (some matte)

Wet/glossy (some matte)

Hair Type

Thick, Curly, Dry

Fine, Oily

Ideal Hairstyles

Slick, Classic, Defined

Spiky, Messy, Volume


Varies (easy to hard)


Alcohol Content

Low to None

Varies (some contain)

Pomade vs Gel: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I mix hair pomade and hair gel?

A: Yes, you can mix hair pomade and hair gel to create a custom styling product with the desired hold and finish. However, it's essential to test a small amount on your hand before applying it to your hair to ensure that the products mix well and do not cause any adverse reactions.

Q: How do I apply hair pomade or hair gel?

A: For both hair pomade and hair gel, start with a small amount and rub it between your palms to warm up and evenly distribute the product. Then, apply it to damp or dry hair, starting from the roots and working your way to the tips. Use your fingers or a comb to style your hair as desired.

Q: How do I remove hair pomade or hair gel?

A: Hair gel is easy to remove with regular shampoo, while water-based pomades can also be washed out effortlessly. Oil-based pomades may require multiple shampoo sessions or a degreasing shampoo to remove them completely.

Q: Can I use hair pomade or hair gel on color-treated hair?

A: Yes, you can use both hair pomade and hair gel on color-treated hair. However, it is essential to choose products that are free from harsh chemicals and alcohol to prevent color fading and hair damage.