Pomade is a greasy, waxy, or water-based substance that is used to style hair.

Pomade generally gives the user’s hair a shiny and slick appearance. It lasts longer than most hair-care products and often requires multiple washes for complete removal. The pomades of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries consisted mainly of bear fat or lardLanolinbeeswax, and petroleum jelly have been used extensively in the manufacture of modern pomades. The stiffening properties of pomades make sculptured hairstyles such as the pompadour waves (hairstyle) possible.

The re-emergence of popular pomade use coincides with the rise in popularity of the disconnected undercut hairstyle. The hairstyle is characterized by buzzed or faded sides and a much longer top that is disconnected from the side hairs. The undercut hairstyle was first popularized in the early 20th century as affordable barbershops used the newly invented hair clipper to quickly and cheaply shave the sides of men’s heads; leaving long top hairs that would be styled with pomade. During the 2010s, the style was featured in many popular period movies, especially World War II films, and in shows such as Peaky Blinders. Celebrities such as athlete David Beckham and actor Brad Pitt were seen donning this style of hair.

The heavy hold and slick look of pomade are very well suited to control the long hair of most undercut styles. Today’s pomades fall under two main categories with some subcategories, the traditional oil-based pomade and the newer water-based and gel pomades. Traditional oil-based pomades are generally subdivided into three more groups: heavy hold, medium hold, and light hold. Heavier pomades generally have a higher wax content and better hold their shape throughout the day. The higher wax content usually results in a lower shine pomade. Light holds, sometimes called brilliantine, have a higher oil content and therefore are usually more shiny. This type of pomade has a wet look and a lower hold. Some prominent modern oil-based pomades are Reuzel, Lockhart’s, and Murray’s.

The water-based pomades are split between gel-based pomades (Orthodox) and water-based (Unorthodox) pomades. Gel pomades come in different degrees of hold. Firm-hold pomades dry much stiffer and are better at holding a particular style. However, they are generally less malleable and can only be restyled during the day by wetting the hair. These pomades generally contain hardening agents such as polyvinyl pyrrolidone or vinyl pyrrolidone. Some popular gel pomades include Suavecito, Layrite, and Imperial. Unorthodox water-based pomades mimic the malleable qualities of oil-based pomades while still being able to be easily washed out like a gel pomade. Popular unorthodox water-based pomades include O’Douds, Shear Revival, Lockharts, and Flagship pomades.

The rise in popularity of pomade led to the emergence of an online pomade community. The online pomade community is centered around YouTubeEtsy, and Reddit. YouTube channels centering around pomades and hair culture center around reviewing different pomades and discussing hair styling tips.


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