Here’s a fun fact about grooming. While your interest in fragrances, skincare, and the hair on your face has boomed in the past few years — which we’re totally thrilled about — it’s still the hair on your head you're most interested in.
Need proof? According to a trend report conducted by Google, 2015 was the first year the search engine detected more interest (by approximately 6% more searches) in men’s hair than women’s. (Pretty cool, right?)
But because having great-looking hair is a top concern for so many of you, the market is inevitably saturated with products. Whether you’re shopping at a drugstore, boutique, or online, there’s almost too many options to sort through. And, naturally, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
We’re here to tell you not to give up! To help you navigate through two of the most popular hair styling products, pomades and gels, we turned to Caeleb Bosscher and Cyd Charisse, New York-based editorial stylists and co-founders of Destroy The Hairdresser.
For starters: why do you even need a styling product? Well, regardless of your hair type (curly, straight, thick, or thin), you’ll need something “to maintain or exaggerate your look,” says Bosscher. Charisse adds, “With new trends being focused around detail in men's design, men are putting more time, effort and money into their look. While guys tend to like a more natural look, there is nothing natural about looking natural. Enter pomade and gel!”
And what are the key characteristics of pomades and gels? Because pomades never really dry out or harden, according to Bosscher, “they have a wet consistency and leave the hair with a shiny finish.” They’re also typically wax or water-based.
How do you know if gels or pomades are better suited for your hair type? “Thick, coarse hair should lean towards pomade,” explains Charisse. “The wax base in pomade will help hold your style in place, while the water base will keep it looking shiny and healthy. And if your hair is dry, pomade should be your go-to choice.” Bosscher agrees: “Curly and thick hair should use pomade. It has a wet consistency that doesn't dry out, and will help get rid of frizz and shrink down unruly hair."
Bosscher’s pro tip: “The biggest mistake for people with unruly hair is to grab gel to freeze their hair in place. Unruly hair just needs to move more freely, so give it the opportunity to do it, with a little control. That's what pomades can offer.”
Murray’s Superior Dressing Pomade
There’s so much to dig about this product. For starters, it’s affordable. The formula also strikes a fine balance between shine and hold. Plus, it’s been around for decades and still beloved by stylists and barbers alike today. In short, and in the words of Bosscher: “It’s a classic!”
$4.45 at Amazon.com
Imperial Barber Products Pomade
It’s easy to see why Charisse loves this product from the cool California-based grooming line, Imperial. It’s super concentrated, so a little goes a long way. The finish is semi-shiny, and great for guys who prefer a more natural look. You can even reactivate the product with a little water, if you need to freshen up your look during the day.
$14.25 at Amazon.com
Aveda Men Pure-Formance Pomade
“I love love love the Aveda Men Pure Formance Pomade,” says Bosscher. “It’s organic and silky, and will help any man with coarse, curly, or thick hair.” The crisp, herbaceous scent makes it a pleasure to use, and the water-based formula won’t cause product buildup, and is easy to shampoo out.
$27.68 at Amazon.com
Alternately, thin or fine hair will benefit the most from a gel because it “gives thin hair a bit of thickness, but also gives straight hair texture and hold,” says Bosscher. “A bit of hold and texture goes a long way with this type of hair.” Unlike pomades, gels are have a tendency to harden, so they impart hair with a more dry and textured-looking finish.
Gels are usually water-based and “will give you the strongest hold,” says Charisse. “If you want a look that will stay put throughout the day, I suggest gel.” But regardless of what you put in your hair, make sure your pick is alcohol-free. Charisse explains, “Don’t abuse your hair by drying it out with alcohol.”
Other properties you should keep an eye out for? Though there’s been a growing trend to move towards more natural grooming products, Bosscher believes hair gels should be the exception. “I almost feel bad saying this, but when you're purchasing gel you want chemicals! Chemicals dry and harden better than organic material.” If you’re using a pomade, though, the opposite thinking holds true. “Organic material doesn't dry easily and leaves the hair feeling a bit more silky,” says Bosscher.
American Crew Firm Hold Gel
This is Bosscher’s favorite gel because “it’s reasonably priced and offers great hold.” Plus, the formula can be used on both wet and dry hair, has Vitamin B5 to help hair look and feel thicker, and won’t flake like a lot of its comparably-priced counterparts.
$16.33 at Amazon.com
Axe Spiked Up Look Gel
Guys with shorter hairstyles who prefer a gravity-defying style should look no further than this. Not only is it incredibly affordable, its long-lasting formula maintains a strong hold all day long, and is sweat-proof to boot.
$5.64 at Amazon.com
R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Gel
This alcohol-free gel from the hip brand launched by hair legends Garren, Thom Priano, and Howard McLaren is a personal pick of Charisse’s. It boasts fantastic versatility by providing the strong hold of a gel and the shine you get from a wax. The sultry, sexy scent of bergamot, fig, and cedarwood is just an added bonus.
$26.00 at Amazon.com
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