Hair » Hair Pomade & Hair Paste: What They Are and How to Use Them

Hair Pomade & Hair Paste: What They Are and How to Use Them

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Often overlooked, hair pomade allows hair to stay in the coiffeur you desire while also helping it hold its natural shine. Used by everyone from Marie Antoinette to Elvis, hair pomades and pastes are THE styling products that you will want to keep in your hair care repertoire. Somewhat similar to hair gels, pomade is often healthier, considering the bases consist of either beeswax or petroleum, elements that will intensely hydrate your hair while the style retains its shape.

Whether you are striving to achieve that sleek wet look copied from the runways or simply want to give this hair styling product a go, here is all you need to know about hair pomade, hair paste, and how to use them.

In this article:

What Is Hair Pomade?

Over the past few centuries, barbers and hairstylists alike have crafted various forms of pomades to meet their clients’ needs. Always in a waxy consistency, hair pomades are styling products made with lanolin, beeswax and/or petroleum that will provide your hair with a flexible but strong hold, allowing you to mold your hair into the shape you desire.

Of course, there is the important factor of choosing a pomade that aligns with the hairstyle you want and the hair type you have. The main types to choose from are:

  • Water-based pomades provide a strong hold and wash off easily. However, they dry quickly, so you need to work fast to achieve the style you want.
  • Wax-based pomades have a medium hold and a matte finish, and they dry after a few hours.
  • Hybrid or clay-based pomades also provide a strong hold and a matte finish, but they can be quite tacky to deal with and wash off with difficulty.
  • Fiber-based pomade is a thicker product with a strong hold, matte finish, and a texturizing effect. It’s great for bedhead hairstyles.
  • Gel pomade is a hybrid of hair gel and water-based pomade. Although it applies lighter and smoother than a typical hair gel, it still dries and stiffens too.
  • Light-hold pomades are great at conditioning and sculpting your hair while retaining movement.
  • Medium-hold pomades are perfect texturizing products that still allow some movement although keep hair in place.
  • Strong-hold pomades create perfectly molded hairstyles that don’t move throughout the day.
What Is Hair Pomade?

A Look Back

Famously used by many actors in the ‘50s, there is no need to worry that hair pomades are only for men. After all, the elaborate hairstyle of Madame de Pompadour – mistress of King Louis XV – was well known for her hair being both silky smooth and strongly held together. Perhaps, an early version of this hair product was used? Though one can only imagine what ingredients were involved and how difficult it would have been to remove.

Coming from the French word for ointment, hair pomades were a crucial part of hairstyling in France. After all, how else would everyone from the Sun King to Marie Antoinette achieve those foot-high hairstyles? Slowly, hair pomade faded out of popularity as the popular hairstyles of the times became less complicated.

It wasn’t until the late 1920s that pomades began to be produced again as Italian actor Rudolph Valentino began using it as a styling tool for his hair. As the decades passed and the popularity of the product waned, it was once again male celebrities that brought it to the spotlight. From the rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis to heartthrob James Dean, pomade became the key to many men’s morning routines. For women, the more lifted hairstyles of the ‘50s and ‘60s also opened the door to pomade’s popularity.

Thankfully, hair products have evolved since the 1700s, and the removal process is much easier. The modern-day formulas often are a combination of either water or oil bases, making it easier to wash it off by simply shampooing and the once-in-a-blue-moon edition of a clarifying wash.

What Is Hair Paste?

Hair paste has no exact definition, however, there are similarities that allow you to recognize hair paste when you see it. Retaining a consistency thicker than pomades but tackier than toothpaste, hair paste is a versatile hair product that will retain a medium to strong grip on your hair. Often adding a touch of shine as well, hair paste is perfect for every type of hair length, style, and type.

Hair Pomade & Hair Paste Benefits

Differences Between Hair Pomade, Hair Paste, Cream, Clay, and Wax

As more and more hair products are perpetually created, a bit of confusion is sure to settle on your brain. For instance, if you’re on the hunt for a product to hold your hair up, you’re certain to run into the long list of items that boast the ability to be better than other products. And depending on your hair type, that can be true. So below is the breakdown in differences between the most popular products you will find on the shelves.

Hair Pomade

Pomade is a term used to describe a thick styling cream. Often an oil-, water- or wax-based product, this hair styler is used to keep hair intact for many hours. Along with this, hair pomades can provide moisturizing benefits to your hair and will not become dry and crunchy as most hair gels do. The only downside to pomade is the removal process (particularly if you choose an oil-based option) because it will then require multiple washes – something that can damage your hair over time.

Hair Paste

Unlike pomades, hair paste is strictly a water-based hair styling product. Hair pastes are generally thicker and much more consistent than pomades. These products give your hair a firm or medium grip and a beautiful matte finish. Although pastes may not be as dynamic as pomades, they still work for your hair no matter the length or type.

Hair Cream

Hairstyling cream or lotion is a hair product with a pasty consistency that is great for moisturizing your hair so that the strands stay together. Due to the more liquid consistency, it’s easy to work into your hair and involves little effort. However, if you’re looking for a product that will hold your hair in place for a while, then this isn’t the best option for you. But taming a few stray flyaways? Then it’s perfect!

Hair Clay

Hair clay comes into existence with the combination of pomade and gel. This combination will lend to the thicker consistency that is thought of when the topic of hair clay is brought up. The downside of this strong-hold hair product is the fact no shine will be added to your hair, and the natural sheen might be dampened down as well.

Hair Wax

Wax-based pomade will also have the same result as clay – a matte finish. Still, the fact this pomade will last longer than other styling products is something that certainly lends it a favor. Before jumping completely onto the wax-based hair pomade train, be aware the one catch is a big one. After drying fully – the process of a few hours – this type of hair product will become much harder to remove than others.

Differences Between Hair Pomade, Hair Paste, Cream, Clay, and Wax

Hair Pomade & Paste Benefits

Hair paste and pomade have benefits beyond that of the strength to hold hair in place. Chief among those is that the product is actually healthy for your hair, being based around natural oils – the longer you leave it in, the more likely that your hair will be hydrated. Another popular benefit of hair paste is that it can increase the shine of your hair – a fact that is particularly true if you simply apply the smallest amount of oil-based pomade to your hair after each shower.

  • They both represent a healthy way to style your hair. Hair pomades and pastes don’t contain alcohol, so your hair won’t lose all its moisture and suffer any form of damage. Moreover, they are pretty moisturizing. You can style your hair whatever way you want without getting dry flakes.
  • Hair pomade and paste are versatile products. Whether your hair is dry or wet, straight, curly, or coiled, you can still get the benefits of using a pomade or paste.
  • They are also great for achieving effortless bedhead hair. You can use a pomade or a paste to get that beachy, messy texture you like.
  • Both products are also great at taming frizzy hair and keeping flyaways in place, especially in summer with high humidity.
How to Use Hair Pomade?

How to Use Hair Pomade and Hair Paste?

Most pomades will come in a small tin, making it easy to scoop with your fingers.

  • Scooping up a dime-sized amount, apply the product to your damp hair (though dry hair can work too, just be cautious because the pomade can make your hair greasy), and work it evenly through, starting at the roots and then going downwards.
  • When you use an oil-based pomade, finish off the process by combing it through your hair, however, other pomades will be fine with a casual ruffle of your fingers to give your hair the perfect ‘I just got out of bed’ look.

When it comes to removing hair pomade, you’ll want to start by wetting your hair and then using either a clarifying shampoo or oil-cutting dish soap. Depending on the amount used, you may need to wash your hair once or twice – so be careful of the amount of sulfates and other chemicals in the shampoo you choose.

Photos via @natalieannehair, Instagram