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13 Best Hair Pomades & Pastes for Sleek Hairstyles

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Whether you already know about hair pomade and paste or you’re interested in discovering how to get the perfect slick and wet look that was canonized on the runway this year, this will be the perfect article for you. Pomades are a special type of hair product that can work themselves well into any morning or night out routine. Do you need a bit of extra lift? Pomade’s here. Do you want the hold without hairspray? Completely covered. An extra shine? Why not?!

A truly wondrous product with so many abilities, we understand that it can be a bit overwhelming for you to find the perfect formula on your own. Hence this list compiles all of the best hair pomades and hair pastes and the reasons why we love – or struggle to use them!

In this article:

Our Picks for the Best Hair Pomades & Hair Pastes

Quite similar to hair gel yet so different in formula and finish, both hair pomades and hair pastes are worth giving a try, especially if you are trying to create that perfectly sleek hair look. Below, we have rounded up the best hair pomades and pastes for women (and not only) to try, meant for different hair types and preferences.

1
Best Overall
Ouai Matte Pomade
Ouai Sephora.com
$24

In recent years it seems that Ouai has quickly become a cult classic beauty brand for those in the know. Often recognized as a classic and clean brand, we couldn’t help but place Ouai’s pomade at the top of our list for the best overall! From the soft and seductive floral notes to the pomade being perfect for any flyaway hairs to sleek buns, it will make your life a thousand times easier when getting ready in the morning!

Perfect for long and short hair, it gently tames unruly, frizzy hair and provides texture, shape, and separation for a long-lasting medium hold with a matte finish. Best of all, it creates a moldable texture, while the texture is very easy to work with. Pick it up from Sephora!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Matte pomade
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Petrolatum, kaolin clay, beeswax, mineral oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/No
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Floral

Pros

  • Nice matte finish
  • Perfect for a ‘model off-duty’ look
  • Great for all hair types
  • Tames unruly, frizzy hair
  • Not tested on animals

Cons

  • Strong smell
  • Too much can be greasy
  • Somewhat sticky

2
Best Budget
Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade
Carol’s Daughter Amazon.com
$8.24

If you haven’t used pomade before but are interested in trying it out, Carol’s Daughter is the perfect option to try first. An intensely moisturizing product for hair and scalp that will increase shine, this sweet-smelling product is quick to make you want more and more. While it’s not designed to help hold your hair in place, it’s great at smoothing any frizziness that might need to be dampened down day-to-day. It’s particularly great for dry hair and scalp, as well as curly, coily hair types. Get it from Amazon or Ulta!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Shine pomade
  • Size: 8 oz.
  • Holding Power: Light hold
  • Key Ingredients: Shea butter, cocoa butter, annatto seed, lavender, sage, red clover, rosemary, nettle, corn oil, orchanet
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/No
  • Hair Type: Curly, kinky, dry
  • Scent: Citrusy

Pros

  • Increases shine
  • Stimulates healthy hair growth
  • Softens hair without weighing it down
  • Moisturizes hair and scalp
  • Fights frizz and controls unruly hair edges
  • Light and airy scent
  • Produced for naturally curly hair

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold hair
  • Does contain chemicals

3
Best Splurge
shu uemura Ishi Sculpt Texturizing & Sculpting Hair Paste
shu uemura Sephora.com
$42

Whether you’re getting ready for a sock-hop or just in the mood for giving your hair a good lift with little to no frizz, this is the best product to splurge on! Coming in a small and sophisticated black jar, this creamy hair paste will look adorable next to your haircare regimen and will certainly make its foray into a part of your daily routine for controlling lift and keeping your beautiful locks in place.

It’s a sculpting product with a demi-matte finish that texturizes and defines hair for a long-lasting medium hold. The cream formula leaves a subtle shine without feeling sticky. Use it on damp or dry hair to create workable, piece-y styles that are perfectly frizz-free. Grab it from Sephora or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Demi-matte cream pomade
  • Size: 2.5 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Beeswax, mineral oil, castor oil, jojoba seed oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Warm & spicy

Pros

  • So light you can’t feel in your hair
  • Fights frizz, creates volume with a workable hold
  • Radiant finish
  • Fresh smell

Cons

  • A bit pricey

4
Best for Curly Hair
Bumble and bumble Curl Gel Pomade
Bumble and bumble Sephora.com
$32

For some reason, different hair types have always fallen in and out of fashion, but the neglect of a certain type of natural hair will never make sense to us. So as the ‘rich brunette’ look begins to become more and more popular – often featuring straight hair – why not give your curls a bit of extra love? This product will be sure to become your new go-to when it comes to adding a bit of soft shine, hydrating, and defining your curls. And with the added benefit of adding a bit of extra texture, why not treat yourself?

It’s a silicone-free formula with a glossy finish that creates bouncy curls and defrizzes, providing hold and definition. Moreover, the added UV filter will protect your hair from harmful sun rays. Shop for it at Sephora or Ulta!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Shine gel pomade
  • Size: 3.4 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, glycerin, castor oil, avocado oil, cocoa seed butter, jojoba seed oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: Curly
  • Scent: Fresh

Pros

  • UV protection
  • Curl-enhancing
  • Perfectly hydrating
  • Great for chemically treated hair
  • Frizz-fighting
  • Silicone-free formula
  • Shine-enhancing

Cons

  • None

5
Best for Natural Finish
Malin + Goetz Hair Pomade
Malin + Goetz Nordstrom.com
$24

Sometimes a bit of a natural flair is all you need, and when you reach for a gel, that won’t be what happens. As much as we might adore gels, pomades are a dream when it comes to avoiding that ‘crunchy’ after look that no one likes with gel. Along with the smooth finish, this Malin + Goetz pomade is great at keeping your hair in the shape and volume that you desire with the concentration of natural beeswax and fatty acids. Of course, this might give it a bit of a grease factor, so just be careful with the amount of product you use. Get it online at Nordstrom or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Pomade
  • Size: 2 oz.
  • Holding Power: Strong hold
  • Key Ingredients: Natural beeswax, fatty acids, glycerin
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Citrusy orange

Pros

  • Isn’t too tacky
  • Nourishing and hydrating
  • Long-lasting natural finish
  • Good hold
  • Light scent

Cons

  • Can be a bit heavy for some

6
Best for Flexible Control
Pureology Style + Protect Mess It Up Texture Paste
Pureology Ulta.com
$29

A bit of flexibility never hurt anybody – especially when it comes to hairstyling because there is nothing more beautiful than softly flowing hair that is delicately held up by the strength of a mostly natural hair paste. Holding a soft grip – almost barely there – this product will heighten both the texture and shine while giving your hair that bit of pizazz and perfect color protection. Beware of the incredible blend of tuberose, almond milk, and cedarwood notes that might be intoxicating! Find it online at Ulta or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Styling paste
  • Size: 3.4 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Vegetable protein, castor oil,
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type:
  • Scent: Woody floral

Pros

  • Non-greasy
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Color protection
  • Provides soft texture with flexible control
  • Good for hair growth

Cons

  • Barely-there grip
  • Might be heavy for thin hair

7
Best for Frizzy Hair
Aveda brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade
Aveda Nordstrom.com
$28

If your hair is naturally frizzy or simply has become so due to using hot tools over time, this Aveda product will be the best pomade to tame those pesky little flyaways. A smoothing pomade that was created to repel moisture from your hair and thus dampen down the likelihood of any frizz, this will be perfect for those of you that live in humid areas or are planning to travel to any soon! Pick it up online from Nordstrom or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Satiny pomade
  • Size: 2.6 oz.
  • Holding Power: Light hold
  • Key Ingredients: Castor oil, rice bran oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Floral

Pros

  • Great for textured hair
  • Fights humidity
  • Prevents frizziness

Cons

  • A little goes a long way, so be careful of grease
  • More chemicals than other pomades
  • Some may dislike the smell

8
Best Light-Hold
Baxter of California Pomade
Baxter of California Ulta.com
$23

While there have been other products on this list that boast a light and barely-there hold, this pomade is so airy you won’t even be able to tell it’s there! Made with natural ingredients, this favorite product will take away any frizz in your hair while heightening its natural shine and increasing the overall definition of your natural waves. It’s especially great for styling natural, bedhead hairstyles. Grab it online from Ulta or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Cream pomade
  • Size: 2 oz.
  • Holding Power: Light hold
  • Key Ingredients: Glycerin, beeswax, candelilla wax, lanolin
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/No
  • Hair Type: Wavy, curly, straight
  • Scent: Lemon

Pros

  • Lightweight, moisture-rich formula
  • Light hold for messy styles
  • Low-shine natural finish
  • Frizz-fighting

Cons

  • Scent fades quickly

9
Best Medium-Hold
American Crew Pomade
American Crew Ulta.com
$18.50

If you want a medium-level grip when styling your hair, this water-based pomade will be the best option to try. This product is easy to wash out given the water base, leaving you no reason to fear using it each day because your scalp will not become either too oily or too dry. Along with this fantastic feature, the extra hydration that comes in this product will make your locks look like a hair commercial! Pick it up at Ulta or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Water-based shine pomade
  • Size: 3 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Castor oil, lanolin, coconut oil, ginseng root extract, sage leaf extract
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Industrial

Pros

  • Light product considering its strong grasp
  • Easy removal
  • Moisture-rich product perfect for taming hair

Cons

  • Strong scent of men’s cologne
  • Slightly sticky

10
Best Strong-Hold
Redken Brews Clay Pomade
Redken Ulta.com
$18.50

If you’re planning to go clubbing all night and need your hair to stay in place, this will be the pomade that you want to turn to. Designed to have maximum control over your hair with a bit of volumizing technique, this long-lasting blend will provide a matte finish. While it’s perfect for all hair types, the matte finish isn’t for everyone, so please know exactly what style you’re going for before purchasing. It has a gritty finish some will like, while others will hate. Get it from Ulta or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Clay pomade
  • Size: 3.4 oz.
  • Holding Power: Strong hold
  • Key Ingredients: Beeswax, mineral oil, castor oil, kaolin clay
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Malty

Pros

  • Great hold
  • Clean scent
  • Gritty matte finish
  • Long-lasting style
  • Volumizing

Cons

  • If not worked thoroughly through, it can become clumpy

11
Best for Long Hair
R + Co Mannequin Styling Paste
R + Co Nordstrom.com
$28

As someone who had long hair for years, R + Co has always been one of my favorite haircare brands, and thus it comes as no shock that their styling paste is one of the best options when it comes to long hair. Created for both men and women, this hair paste is great when you want to give your hair a bit of extra texture and moisture – which who wouldn’t want? Scented with one of R + Co’s five signature scents of ‘Love Bite,’ there is nothing stopping you from falling fast and hard for this hair product. It applies like a cream and works like a traditional paste. You can find it online at Nordstrom or Amazon.

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Matte styling paste
  • Size: 5 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Aloe leaf extract, ginger root extract, glycerin, castor oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Fruity floral

Pros

  • Moisturzing, smoothing
  • Removes static
  • Great for textured blowouts

Cons

  • May be a bit messy to apply

12
Best Multi-Purpose
Virtue 6-in-1 Styling Paste
Virtue Nordstrom.com
$36

If this list hasn’t helped narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in a styling cream – or maybe you’re just looking for a lot, then this 6-in-1 styling paste is a dream come true. A medium-hold hair paste that will add moisture, texture, shape, and shine to your hair, there is nothing that this product can’t seemingly do. Except, maybe, attract millions of dollars your way – but given the fantastic citrusy scent and natural ingredients, you might be lured into not really caring at all.

The alpha keratin complex softens and strengthens hair, visually making it look thicker. It’s especially great for short or layered hair. Grab it online at Nordstrom, Sephora, or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Universal styling paste
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Panthenol, cypress, glycerin, strengthening polymers, citric acid, alpha keratin
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Citrusy

Pros

  • Hydrating, strengthening, polishing, heat-protecting cream
  • Lightweight formula
  • Fights frizz and dryness

Cons

  • May not work for fine hair

13
Best for Texture
Aveda Control Paste
Aveda Nordstrom.com
$32

Who doesn’t want a bit of extra texture added to their hair for summer to get those beautiful beachy waves? If you live far from the beach but are looking for that untamable perfection, try Aveda’s control paste. A texturized hair paste with a matte finish and medium hold that will hold your hair and give a bit of a lift, this is always a great choice for all hair types. From the soothing floral scent to pliable hold, it’s a perfect product for creating effortless textured styles. Get it from Nordstrom or Amazon!

Key Features:

  • Product Type: Matte styling paste
  • Size: 2.5 oz.
  • Holding Power: Medium hold
  • Key Ingredients: Flax seed extract, marshmallow root extract, camellia leaf extract, castor oil
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Hair Type: All
  • Scent: Floral

Pros

  • Pliable medium hold
  • Perfectly texturizing
  • Nice scent
  • A little goes a long way

Cons

  • A bit heavy for some


What to Look for in the Best Hair Pomade for You?

When it comes to finding the best hair pomade for you, several small details will play a crucial role. The first step will be to figure out what you’re looking for in pomade. Is it simply to tame your hair, slick it back or hold it up? Some pomades will only manage to be a healthier version to gel, while others are a glossy and enhanced version of hairspray.

Types of Hair Pomades

Modern pomades are formulated with a wide range of ingredients, offering different results and appropriate for different hair types. So, first of all, these are the main types of hair pomades and what each of them offers:

Water-Based Pomades

A relatively new type of pomade, water-based pomade is perfect for nights when you want to fix your hair up quickly and then rinse it out the next morning. Completely water-soluble, there’s no need to worry about drying out your scalp with multiple washes. It applies and removes easily and usually offers a great lasting strong hold, especially perfect for quiffs. However, the downside to this product is that it dries quickly, so you have to work fast when styling.

Oil-Based Pomades

Pomades usually differ between two basic types – water-based and oil-based. Oil-based pomades are the old-school classical version that has been around for centuries, giving it plenty of credibility. This base also allows the product to have an extra grip to the hair, giving both lift and staying power. Mostly made of petroleum jelly, it creates a coating on the hair that locks in moisture and reduces split ends. It doesn’t dry like the water-based one, instead creating a shiny wet look and letting you restyle your hair throughout the day.

The downside to using this type of pomade is that an easy rinse out just isn’t possible! Along with this, if you have sensitive skin, the oil from your hair may make it more likely that you develop acne.

Wax-Based Pomades

Wax-based pomades are great when it comes to adding texture and volume to your hair with a medium hold and a matte finish. It provides a stronger hold than the oil-based counterpart, yet without feeling crunchy like gel. It doesn’t dry as quickly as the water-based option, thus allowing restyling. The added lift to your hair with this type of pomade is sublime – just be wary of the fact that this can be one of the hardest types of pomades to remove due to the thicker consistency.

Clay Pomades

Also known as a hair paste or putty, based on a combination of both gel and hair pomade, clay-based pomades have a thick consistency that will keep your hair up for ages. It delivers a matte finish and a strong hold, yet it feels a little tackier to deal with. Best for those with medium or short hair, this is an easy go-to to add to your hair routine. Still on the trickier side to remove, the added texture to your hair will most definitely be worth it!

Fiber Pomades

Fiber pomades are made of extra-long fibers that have a texturizing effect without feeling heavy. They are usually water-based with a strong hold, a matte finish, and flexibility. Because it’s very thick and waxy, a little goes a long way.

Gel Pomades

Gel pomade isn’t the same as the traditional hair gel, but it’s rather a hybrid of water-based pomade and gel that applies much smoother and lighter than gel. Although it offers more precise hairstyles, it still dries quickly and stiffens like gel.

What to Look for in the Best Hair Pomade for You?
@virtuelabs

Holding Power

As you’ve probably already guessed when reading the product reviews for our favorite pomades, the holding power of some can differ greatly compared to others. So, when looking for the best pomade for you, please think about not only the styles you want to create but also styles that you often do that can be enhanced by a bit of pomade.

  • Light-Hold: Light-hold pomades are the type that is perfect for using in a blowout or other looks where you want a bit of extra volume added to your hair to create a messy and sultry look.
  • Medium-Hold: Medium-hold pomades are the perfect combination of the fiercely intense strong-hold and light-hold pomades. Standing somewhere in between, medium-hold pomade is perfect for dulling any frizz, adding texture with some movement, or sticking down any flyways.
  • Strong-Hold: A strong-hold pomade is perfect if you’re looking to recreate any heavy-duty retro hairstyles or planning to spend the entire night at a rave. The goal of this product’s grip is to hold on tightly and refuse to let go!

Matte or Shiny Finish

Given that any hair product will give a finish to your hair – either matte or shiny – it’s crucial to know which style you’re aiming for. For instance, if you’re looking to create the textured beach look when using pomade, you’ll most likely stray away from any products that promote a heavy shine. However, when heading towards the ultra-sleek look that was promoted by many runways this season, hunting down a pomade that will give a satiny finish to your hair is perfect.

Ingredients

When picking out the best hair pomade, obviously checking the ingredients list and finding the item with the fewest chemicals is key, but you also will want to make sure that there is nothing that you’re allergic to in the product either. Additionally, look for hydrating ingredients in the base, such as glycerin, coconut oil, castor oil, and shea butter to make your hair healthier. Personally, I always stick to the rule of thumb that the smaller the ingredients list, the better.

  • Traditional hair pomades have a base of mineral oils, waxes, and scents. They resist humidity and stay put yet give a wet, often oily appearance.
  • Modern pomade formulations are based on soft natural waxes – typically beeswax – plant oils and are scented with natural essential oils. They are less damaging to hair, wash out easily, and still provide an excellent hold.
  • Last but not least, mineral oil on the ingredients list means that you’ll get a precise styling effect, which is what you might prefer to get for dramatic hairstyles, like quiffs.

Scent

There’s a reason that scent is one of the strongest of the five senses, and that would be because it lasts in the air and has the power to remind us of old memories. For this reason, picking out the scent of your hair pomade can be a personal process. Since you’ll most likely want it to pair well with your normal perfume or shampoos, look to find a pomade with both similar undertones and overtones as our favorite scents. For instance, if your normal scent is a floral perfume with a vanilla base, find a pomade with a similar floral or sweet base.

Additionally, if you have a sensitive nose, you might prefer unscented or lightly scented products.

Hair Type

Last but not least, your hair type and texture are going to influence your choice of hair pomade a lot, as you want a product that would work well with your hair.

  • Generally, those with thinner hair should give their preference to lightweight formulas with a light or medium hold, as a thick strong-hold pick will make your hair flat and greasy.
  • On the other hand, the heavier formulations will work best for those with thick, coarse, dry hair.
  • When it comes to straight hair, hair pastes and water-based pomades will be best for your hair because of the good grip and easy removal. Of course, most forms of pomades can be worked into straight hair easily to create different styles.
  • Curly hair often works best with pomades with an oil base because it’s natural and nourishing to your hair and can increase the bounce that already exists. While this might be a bit trickier to remove, the added moisture to your hair will be well worth the few extra washes!
How to Choose in the Best Hair Pomade for You?
@natalieannehair

Hair Pomade FAQs

If you have found your perfect formula and still have some doubts, here we answer some common hair pomade- and paste-related questions for you.

What Is Hair Pomade?

Both hair pomade and hair paste are hair styling products in a thicker, waxy consistency, meant to sculpt hair and keep it in place. They come in different formulas, finishes, and holding powers, each meant for different hair types and personal preferences.

Is Hair Pomade Only for Men?

Of course not! While pomade is often advertised for men, no product is ever exclusively for one gender. So, if you’re on the hunt for a volumizing product that will keep hair where you want it, why let assumptions change your mind?

How Do I Remove Hair Pomade?

The best way to remove pomade is through thorough washing. Think of using either clarifying shampoo or an oil-cutting herbal soap in order to remove all traces of the (often) oily product.

What Makes Pomade Different from Gel?

Pomade differs from gel because the hold on the hair will be a bit looser, giving more flexibility rather than rigidity to the style. Along with this, pomade is often made with oils or waxes, giving a smoother and more hydrating texture to gel’s crisper one created from alcohol bases.

How Should I Apply Hair Pomade?

Applying pomade or paste is an easy process. Simply scoop a small amount onto your fingers and apply to damp hair for best results. Dry hair will also work as well, particularly if you’re eager for a textured effect that is a bit more matte.

Photos via Nordstrom, Sephora, Instagram