How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (2023)

From “Grease” to “Mad Men,” many of us know pomade as the greasy hair product responsible for many quiffs and pompadours over the years. Pomade traditionally refers to oil-based products with a medium hold and nice level of shine.

Today, modern pomade can have an oil or water base and can achieve a variety of holds and shine. You can use pomade to hold your hair in place and create more volume and texture. It’s more lightweight than gel and has a stronger hold compared to mousse. Pomade is often used to refer to many men’s hair products, though pomade is not exclusive to men.

Although it seems simple, there’s a lot more to pomade than just working it into your hair or whatever else you might’ve heard. For starters, most pomades should be applied on slightly damp hair — not fully dry or wet hair. Take a look at our guide below so you can learn more tips on how to use pomade the right way.

1. Pick a pomade

Your first step is to pick a pomade that can help you pull off the look you want. You need to consider the hold, shine, and its base.


Pomade holds vary from light, medium, to high. Your hair type, desired look, and prior experience with pomade all factor into the hold you’ll need.

  • Stronger holds are best if you have thick hair, want a structured look, and you’re experienced with using pomade.
  • Lighter holds are best if you’re new to using pomade or you want a softer look.


You can get pomades that have low, medium, or high shine. Some products may simply say they’re matte or sheen. If you can’t find what you want, you can combine pomades for the perfect level of shine.

  • Higher shine works well if you have dry hair and if you want a shiny finish.
  • Lower shine works well with naturally oilier hair or if you don’t want a lot of shine.


Understanding the differences between bases can also help you pick out the best pomade. Below, we’ll go over oil-based and water-based pomades.

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (1)


Oil-based pomades typically have stronger holds, look shinier, and are less expensive than water-based pomades. They’re also more difficult to wash out since they’re not water-soluble.

(Video) How To Use Pomade

You’ll need special shampoo to wash it out to avoid washing your hair multiple times. Excess washing can dry out your hair. Improperly washing your hair can leave it dirty or lead to scalp acne.

You should give oil-based pomade a try if you want a long-lasting classic look or a structured style. It’s also a great option if you don’t mind the extra care needed when washing it out of your hair.

Water-based pomades

Water-based pomades are easier to wash out than oil-based and are also easy to work into your hair. You can touch up your style throughout the day by wetting your fingers and fixing your hair with your hands. Water-based pomades tend to cost more than oil-based products.

Picking a pomade sometimes requires you to try a few products before finding the right one. Ask around for recommendations from friends and family with similar hair types. You can also use tester sizes so you don’t waste money on the full-size product. Your barber or hair stylist is another great resource for recommendations.

2. Wash hair

Clean hair is the best hair to work with when using pomade. Make sure you’ve washed out any pomade and other styling products from your last hairstyle. Product buildup will make your hair feel greasy and heavy.

3. Towel-dry hair

Towel-drying is the best way to dry your hair before using pomade. You want your hair to retain a little moisture since most pomades activate with water. It’s hard to spread most pomades with dry hair, especially pomades with high hold or low shine. But if your hair is too wet, the pomade won’t have as strong of a hold.

However, the best way to work with pomade depends on the product’s formula. Read the label for instructions if you’re unsure of how you should prep your hair.

4. Prep the pomade

Each style requires different levels of product and each pomade has different instructions. If you’re not sure where to start, kick off your styling session by adding a small pea-sized drop of pomade on one of your fingers.

(Video) How To Use POMADE Properly

Rub it evenly between your fingers to emulsify it and make it easier to spread. You may need to break out a hair-dryer or rub more vigorously if it’s hard. Applying the product on your fingers first makes it easier to apply to your roots.

Starting with a small amount is better than putting too much in your hair. When in doubt, follow the instructions on the label, watch a video if you’re trying a new style, or call or see your barber or stylist for tips.

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (2)

5. Apply to the roots

Always apply pomade first to your roots while avoiding your scalp. Your roots are the base of your style and should get the pomade first before the rest of your hair.

6. Apply throughout your hair

The next step is to work the pomade throughout the rest of your hair. You can use the palm of your hands to apply and more evenly distribute the pomade throughout your hair. Don’t forget to apply it to the sides and back of your head. Some styles may not need a lot of hold, but you may still want to have shine all over.

If you’re going for a neat and combed-through look, use a comb to get the product more consistently spread throughout your hair. You can also achieve a similar effect by combing the product through the rest of your hair with your fingers.

7. Add any finishing touches

This second to last step is your opportunity to style your hair with your fingers or a comb to get the look you want. We’ll go over styling tips later in the post.

8. Dry your hair

Blow-drying your hair secures your style, helps it last longer, and gives your hair some volume. A little lift can help if the pomade flattened or weighed down your hair. You can quickly blow-dry with cold air afterward to help lock in the style.

Not a fan of heat or not worried about your style holding throughout the day? Feel free to skip the blow-dryer and let your hair air-dry.

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (3)

Tips for using pomade with short hair

With short hair, you can easily style your hair with just your fingers or a comb. For example, you can get a textured and piecey look by pulling sections of your hair apart. You can use your fingers to comb the pomade through and push your hair in one direction for a tousled look.

(Video) Slicked Back Hair Styled with Gel and Pomade Tutorial

Tips for using pomade with medium-length to long hair

You can still use pomade if you have longer locks. Use a light amount of pomade to slick back your hair when tying it up in a ponytail, bun, or any other updo. You can also work some pomade throughout your hair and your ends to tame frizz and split ends. If you have layers, you can lightly work some pomade into your layers for more texture and volume.

Does pomade work with all hair types?

Pomade can work with all hair types and hair textures — it all comes down to picking the right pomade for your hair. For example, if you have curly and dry hair, a pomade with strong hold and high shine may work best for you. A pomade with low shine and high hold can be the best choice for long and oily hair.

Does pomade thicken hair?

Some pomades are specially formulated to help hair look thicker and fuller. Many pomades also come packed with nutrients that are great for healthy hair. However, pomade alone isn’t a quick fix for thicker hair.

If you want to naturally grow and thicken your hair, start with eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated, and getting regular haircuts. There are also many hairstyles that are flattering for men with thin hair and women with thin hair.

Can I use pomade every day?

You can use pomade every day if you’re diligent about washing it out and keeping your scalp and hair healthy and clean. It also depends on the type of pomade you use.

Using oil-based pomade every day can strain your hair’s health if you’re aggressively washing it out each time. Water-based pomade isn’t as hard to get out, but still needs to be washed out like any other product.

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (4)

Applying the least amount of pomade possible and keeping it off of your scalp can make it easier to wash off. Clarifying shampoo and other hair cleansers are great for removing excess product from your hair and scalp. Deep conditioning is a good idea if you notice your hair drying out from the excess product and washing routine.

If that sounds like a lot, give your scalp and hair a break every once in a while from pomade and other hair products. You’ll still need to keep your hair and scalp clean, but you’ll have less buildup since you’re using less product.

Does pomade dry out hair?

Poorly formulated pomades can dry out your hair. Your hair may also become dry as a result of excessive washing. To avoid the woes of bad pomade, read reviews on pomade products and ask for recommendations. Switch to high-quality water-based pomade if you’re having too much trouble washing oil-based pomade out of your hair.

(Video) sleeked bun tutorial *with ouai matte pomade*

Hairstyles using pomade

The beauty of pomade is that the different holds and shines available can help you achieve different styles. You can use pomade to create a slick comb over or a high-volume quiff. Below are just a few examples of these styles.


How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (5)

Don’t confuse a quiff with a pompadour. The main difference is that quiffs have short backs and sides, but the top is long enough to create a pompadour-esque look. You can follow the same steps for getting a pompadour to give yourself a voluminous quiff. If pomps aren’t your thing, you can also push your hair over to one side.

Comb over

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (6)

A classy comb over is a great choice if you’re not a fan of high-volume looks. It also takes less steps to achieve. You just need to define your hair part and comb your hair over for a neat look.


How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (7)

You can add spikes to a quiff and other short men’s hairstyles. When you use pomade, you’ll create spikes that are soft and flow naturally in your hair. Gel and other products are responsible for the defined (and sometimes bleached) spiky hair of the early 2000s.

Faux hawk

How to Use Pomade for a Sleek Look (8)

A faux hawk works best if your hair is cut with the intention of styling it as a faux hawk. Your hair is ideally short on the sides and long in the center, with some hair that hangs over your forehead.

To style a faux hawk, start by working pomade through your hair. Then you’ll use your hands to push your hair on the sides and back either forward or down. You’ll form the faux hawk in the center by pushing the longer hair up and toward the front.

Pomade should be your go-to product if you like intricate styles without the added weight of other products. Picking the best type for your hair and properly applying it is key to getting a long-lasting look. If you’d like to first see what a StyleSeat Pro can do with your hair and some pomade, look through our community of stylists and barbers to find someone near you.

(Video) How to use pomade


How do you use pomade for natural look? ›

When applying pomade, you will want to rub a small amount (dime-sized) between your palms until the pomade warms up and melts. Once melted, you simply spread it evenly through your hair, and then style your hair with either a comb or by just using your fingers.>

How much pomade is enough? ›

Use a knuckle or two size amount: Rub the pomade between your palms to soften it. Remember, a little goes a long way and you can always add more, if needed. Once your hands have an equal coating of pomade, you're ready for application.

Do you put pomade in wet or dry hair? ›

Towel-dry your hair (and leave it slightly wet)

There are a few exceptions, but generally pomade is best applied to towel-dried hair. That's because pomade is activated by water, which differentiates it from dry-application products like waxes and fibers.

What style is pomade good for? ›

Made from grease, wax, or sometimes water-based, pomade is a long-lasting styling tool that is used by men the world over to achieve sleek and intricate hairstyles, such as the pompadour and faux hawk. Unlike spray and gel hairstyles, pomade does not dry.

Do you brush after applying pomade? ›

Brushing your hair after applying pomade can be beneficial to your hairstyle. Brushing helps to evenly distribute the product throughout your hair and gives you better control over the style you are trying to achieve.

Does pomade give a shiny look? ›

Pomades are primarily designed to showcase your hair in a slick, neat manner while providing a high shine finish (ie pompadours, ducktails, slickbacks, or classic side parts). Basically, pomades work extremely well for hairstyles that are formed using a comb.

Does pomade look shiny? ›

If you're a dapper man, you already know the sleek shine a good pomade can create. Pomade has persevered through the years because it can be combed and restyled throughout the day. It adds a shine like no other hair product, making your hair appear healthy and hydrated. Pomade is also pliable and flexible.

What happens if you use too much pomade? ›

Too much pomade can leave your hair looking oily and weighed down, so it's better to layer the product in your hair until you have the desired result. Wet or dry application? It depends on the product and desired look. If your hair is wet, it can dilute a water-soluble pomade by reducing its hold level.

What are the disadvantages of pomade? ›

Because pomade gives your hair a wet, oily look, it can also make multiple strands of your hair stick together. This may make your hair look thinner and any diffuse thinning on your scalp and crown easier to notice.

Should I use medium or heavy pomade? ›

Typically heavier pomades are good for thick, curly, bushy, and longer hair. These pomades are great for quiffs, wedges, tall pomps, and sharp straight slick backs. Medium pomades are good for thick, wavy, fluffy, and medium-long hair.

How long can pomade stay in your hair? ›

As a general rule, water and clay-based pomades come out with a single wash, but oil-based products require two to three shampoo sessions.

Do you need hairspray after pomade? ›

This step is optional, depending on the hold of your pomade. If you opted for a light or medium-hold pomade, you may want to set your style with some hairspray once you've perfected your 'do.

Do you rinse out pomade? ›

How often should you wash pomade out of your hair? There is no hard and fast rule, but regular hair shampooing recommendations are every three days or so. If you style your hair regularly you'll want to experiment. Many pomade users only de-grease once a week but may rinse and condition their hair every 1 to 3 days.

Is pomade good for a messy hair look? ›

You Want Messy Textured Hair and No Shine – Texture Pomade

To give hair a matte finish, try using a texture pomade. Use your fingertips to apply it all over damp or dry hair.

Why use pomade instead of gel? ›

While pomade offers a pretty good hold, it isn't as strong as gel, which makes it more pliable throughout the day. If your hairstyle is a little simpler and doesn't require a strong hold, you will find that pomade is the better fit. It adds a bit of volume and hold while also maintaining a bit of flexibility.

Is pomade better than styling cream? ›

The product will last longer and provide more of a weightless hold than shaped creams which are heavier and thicker because they contain waxes or oils. Pomades shine better than shaping cream, so this is perfect if you like something shiny without any heaviness on the scalp from using thickening agents.

What happens if you use pomade on wet hair? ›

It will give the hair a higher shine when finished, and a little bit of a looser hold. Pomade can be quite a strong hold, but when a water based Pomade is applied to wet hair, the water will thin the product a little more than usual, giving a looser hold in the hair.

Is pomade good for daily use? ›

Yes, but you will need to take a few precautions to keep your hair looking healthy. They include: Use pomade sparingly. Keep it away from the scalp and roots of your hair.

What is the secret to smooth shiny hair? ›

How to get shiny hair
  • Use a clarifying shampoo once per week. Clarifying shampoos are designed to clear product buildup. ...
  • Rinse with cold water. ...
  • Use a silk or satin pillowcase. ...
  • Load up on hair-healthy foods. ...
  • Add temporary shine. ...
  • Use a boar bristle brush. ...
  • Use shine-enhancing hair color. ...
  • Add highlights.

What makes pomade shine? ›

Try Oil Based Pomade

Oil-based pomades, made using petroleum jelly, are some of the most commonly used. They offer the highest shine. The more you use the shinier your hair will be. Oil-based pomades lock in moisture, and that's what keeps your hair shiny all day long.

What makes hair look wet and shiny? ›

Spritz On A Glossing Spray

Make the bottom of your hair blend with the top by using a glossing spray. While you'll want to work some gel through your lengths, adding most of the wet-looking shine from a glossing spray will ensure the hair isn't too heavy.

What are the three types of pomade? ›

Types of Pomade
  • Oil-Based Pomade. You don't have to be in the Jets or the Sharks to rock an oil-based (or petroleum-based) pomade. ...
  • Water-Based Pomade. Water-based pomade is an excellent solution to the stickiness of oil-based pomade. ...
  • Wax-Based Pomade. ...
  • Clay Pomade. ...
  • Fiber Pomade. ...
  • Gel Pomade. ...
  • Light. ...
  • Medium.
Mar 16, 2020

Why does my hair look greasy after pomade? ›

Fine or thinner hair: “On finer and thinner hair, dry application is best so you can see the effect of the amount of product you use,” Niko says. “Too much pomade on these hair types can make the hair look weighed down and greasy, so go sparingly. You can always go back for more.”

What happens if you use pomade on dry hair? ›

However, most pomade users don't use it this way; pomade is really thick, and your hair might feel kind of lumpy and uneven if you work it into dry hair. You also won't get that classic shine most folks are looking for with pomade.

Does pomade make your hair smooth? ›

Pomade can do wonders in terms of giving hair texture, smoothing down frizz and keeping things nice and tidy overall. But pomade can also get dry, hard, flaky and clumpy, sabotaging every effort that you've made to achieve a flawless style.

Do you use hairspray before or after pomade? ›

Always apply hair product before using hairspray, be it wax, pomade or gel. You still need to style the hair the way you want it to look by using your product of choice.

Does pomade make hair look thicker? ›

Pomade can actually give your hair a volumizing effect, making your hair look more thick and dense. Some pomade formulas actually include a thickening agent to support hair growth and prevent future hair loss, making it an ideal option for men with finer or thinner hair.

Does pomade cause hair thinning? ›

Does Pomade Cause Hair Loss? Fortunately, pomade does not cause hair loss. Some people who use a lot of hair products worry that they may be causing their hair to fall out, but there is no research that directly links the use of pomade to excess hair loss.

Can you remove pomade with just water? ›

Water-based pomades don't contain petroleum, so they wash out easily with water. While it's true that they don't give you as much hold as petroleum-based pomades, they are much easier to deal with at the end of the day.

Is pomade just hair gel? ›

Pomade is a styling product with a waxy, slippery feel. It offers a flexible level of hold for a more natural texture that'll blow in the wind. Unlike gel which leaves your hair frozen-stiff, pomade gives you a more touchable, manageable finish. Pomades are typically water-based, although oil-based versions exist too.

Does pomade keep hair looking wet? ›

Pomades are great for creating a wet look since they don't stiffen your hair much. A pomade will hold your hairstyle in a shape, useful for slicking back hair or creating a pompadour. Don't use too much though or your hair will look greasy.

When should you use pomade? ›

Pomade looks best when it's styled in hair that is slightly damp. After washing your hair, lightly dry it with a towel before styling. You want your hair to be just slightly damp but not dripping wet. This will allow the pomade to mix into your hair easily and look great when it dries.

What are the benefits of using pomade? ›

Pomade offers more flexibility and pliability to your hairstyle, making it perfect for those who want to touch up their hair or change their hairstyle slightly during the day. This also means that pomades make it easier for you to style your hair.

What happens if you don't wash out pomade? ›

Even though it may be helpful to your hair to keep it tame, they are often thick and oily and if you aren't washing your hair that often, the use of pomade on your hair near the scalp can cause clogged hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.

Does pomade get rid of frizz? ›

Just apply a little bit of pomade to your hands and stroke very light amount through the hair. Pat the hair down, brush through it and you'll notice how the pomade calms the frizzes and flyaways, and leaves hair silky and shiny looking.

When should you put pomade in your hair? ›

Thick, coarse or curly hair: “It's better to put a pomade on your hair when it's still somewhat damp,” says Niko. “Hair is like a sponge. A damp sponge absorbs more than a dry one. The product will penetrate the hair a little more deeply.

Do you use pomade before or after brushing? ›

For a more casual look, comb or brush your hair first, then style with your hands and fingers. This method works very well with a matte finish, pliable texture paste pomade. Using your fingers after the comb or brush will allow your hair to lay more naturally.

Do you apply pomade to scalp? ›

Make sure not to get the pomade onto your scalp. This will cause your hair to look very greasy and is bad for the natural oils on your scalp.

How do you slick your hair back with pomade? ›

Coat your hair with pomade.

Use your fingers to apply a liberal amount of strong-hold pomade to your hair, focusing on the top and sides. Pomade is the classic product used to create this look. A strong-hold pomade is essential to keep your hair slicked back until you wash it out. Pomade was classically oil-based.

Can you use too much pomade? ›

Too much pomade can leave your hair looking oily and weighed down, so it's better to layer the product in your hair until you have the desired result. Wet or dry application? It depends on the product and desired look. If your hair is wet, it can dilute a water-soluble pomade by reducing its hold level.

Is pomade better than gel? ›

Is Gel or Pomade Better? For a product that offers maximum hold and support and leaves a shiny finish, go with gel. For a product that's gentler on hair but still provides an adequate hold, pomade is a better option.

What are the disadvantages of hair pomade? ›

Because pomade gives your hair a wet, oily look, it can also make multiple strands of your hair stick together. This may make your hair look thinner and any diffuse thinning on your scalp and crown easier to notice.


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