There are certain classic men’s hairstyles that may fall slightly out of favour and recede from the popular imagination, but never quite go away. In fact, slicked back and neatly parted looks have seen resurgences in recent years, in part due to the popularity of TV shows like Mad Men and Peaky Blinders. Such classic hairstyles require classic products to bring them to life, and the king of these classic products is the Pomade.
In this article, we take you through the whats, whys, and hows of Pomade, giving you everything you need to know to make the most of it in your hair care routine.
In its earliest incarnations, pomades were practically always a thick, oil based product with a high shine. Pomades functioned not only to give shape to unruly hair, but to add gloss as well. A natural finish was not something men were as concerned about, if at all, when it came to hair styling products in years gone by. On the contrary, a glossy finish acted as a visual indication of the ability to take care of your appearance, and therefore the financial means to do so. For this reason, some early incarnations of the pomade came were designed to create the highest shine possible.
As glossier looks became less popular, and a greater variety of hair men’s styles became commonplace, pomades have adapted to the changing needs of men. For this reason, you can get hold of a number of pomades that have lesser degrees of shine in the present day. As well as this, hybrid pomade products are common place.
What ties all of these strands of the Pomade category together is their pliability. Pomades are non-sticky, usually low-hold, and highly remouldable. What this results in is the ability to easily comb the hair. This, without question, is the defining characteristic of the pomade, and how best it should be used to create old-school looks that will stand out from the crowd.
Whatever style you’re looking to create, there are a handful of things it pays to remember whenever you use a pomade:
1. Apply wet or dry depending on hair type – your hair type will give the best indication of how you should apply the pomade. If you have coarse, thick, or afro hair, applying to wet hair will help lock in moisture and condition the hair. If you have fine or thinning hair, applying to dry hair will stop it from appearing drowned, and will help to ensure you’re applying evenly through the hair.
2. If you need to build body for your style, do it first – if you’re using Pomade to create a pompadour, a 90s boyband middle parting, a James Dean quiff, or any other style that requires volume, then you need to build this first. Apply a mousse or pre-styling thickening spray to damp hair, blow dry, and then you’re ready to go.
3. Don’t just slap it on, coat the hair – with waxes, clays, and similar products, you can get away with applying onto the hair and blending in. Pomades on the other hand will significantly darken and dampen the hair, as well as weighing it down. For the best effects therefore, apply at the roots and thoroughly distribute through the hair. This does not mean you need to apply huge quantities, just that you need to be methodical and consistent with what you use, which brings us to our next point.
4. Be conservative – drowning your hair by weighing it down and making it to appear too ‘wet’, is a common mistake. Avoid this by using sparingly, but employing a tactical approach. Use a small quantity to begin with and build with a number of equally small applications until you reach the perfect level.
5. Comb the hair – pomade’s main advantage is how combable it is compared to other products, and really, you’re not getting the most out of the product without a comb. What’s more, to get the proper effect, you need to comb any hair that’s long enough to comb. That means if you have a fade or a taper, you need to comb flat or comb back sections at the sides and crown that are long enough
6. Lock in the style – pomades are usually low hold, but you can lock your style in place by finishing off with a hairspray.
If you like this content, read more about our Favourite Pomades here, our favourite Hair Waxes, the Best Hair Gels, and lastly our Top Hair Clays. For more male grooming expertise, as always, keep up to speed with the Mankind blog.
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