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Pomade Vs Gel: How to Choose the Best Hair Styling Product for Your Needs (2024)

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pomade vs gelWhether you’re styling spikes or a pompadour, a quality product shapes your look.

We’ve teased gravity-defying styles with both gels and pomades.

Gels excel at sculpting precise edges that withstand wind and activity.

Pomades lend movable hold with a subtle sheen, easily restyled throughout the day.

Balance your hair needs and aesthetic to decide if water-soluble stiffness or reworkable pliability suits your ‘do.

Key Takeaways

  • Pomade provides a natural, flexible hold for casual quiffs and messy hairstyles.
  • Gel provides a strong hold for a vintage wet look or glossy finish.
  • Pomade is easier to restyle than gel.
  • Pomade is more difficult to wash out than gel.

What is Hair Pomade?

What is Hair Pomade
When it comes to men’s styling products, pomade is a classic.

As your stylist, I often recommend pomade over hair gel thanks to its pliable hold and versatile finish – it works for both neat, slick looks as well as messier, undone styles.

Pomade comes in water-based and oil-based varieties, each offering different levels of shine and washability.


You’ll find pomade comes in two main types: water-based and oil-based.

Water-based pomades wash out easily with water, allowing effortless restyling throughout the day.

Oil-based pomades contain waxes and oils that provide a wet, slicked back style. However, they don’t wash out easily, requiring vigorous shampooing.

Consider water-based pomades if you want restylability and easy washout; choose oil-based for a polished, greasy style.


Since pomades come in water-based and oil-based forms, you can use them to style your hair in a variety of ways while adding shine and pliability.

  • Achieve a classy, slicked-back style with a strong hold using an oil-based pomade
  • Get a textured, messy look with a pliable hold using a water-based pomade
  • Style your hair into a pompadour or quiff with either pomade type

Both oil-based and water-based pomades enable endless styling versatility based on your desired look and hold preferences each day. Play with different application techniques and amounts to style your hair just how you envision.

What is Hair Gel?

What is Hair Gel
When it comes to hair gel, you know it offers maximum hold for structured styles, almost freezing your hair in place. However, it can leave hair crunchy or flaky if you don’t wash thoroughly, which you’ve noticed over years of testing gels on client hair.

Still, for styles requiring rigid shaping like spikes or sleek looks, you find quality alcohol-free hair gel invaluable compared to more flexible pomades.


The hold hair gel provides is generally stronger than what you’d get with pomade, allowing you to lock hairstyles in place for hours.

With gel’s firm hold that dries rigid, you can sculpt wet hair into gravity-defying shapes that withstand all-day hold.

Pomades offer more flexible hold – oil-based kinds add greasy look and moisture while water-based pomades deliver matte finish and moderate hold.


Following its strong hold, gel’s ability to sculpt hair into place creates distinctive looks.

  • Natural finish
  • Greased-up styles
  • Styling versatility
  • Matte appearance
  • Hair texture

Gel provides a range of finishes – from natural to heavily styled greased looks. It offers versatility for different textures and styles like slicked-back or matte finishes.

Pomade Vs Gel

Pomade Vs Gel
When it comes to restylability and shine, pomade and gel differ quite a bit.

Pomades allow you to restyle hair throughout the day while still providing flexible hold, whereas gel sets hard, locking hair rigidly in place with an immovable hold.

With pomades you’ll get a nice natural shine whether your hair is damp or dry, but gels really bring out the shine best on damp hair.


When deciding between pomade and gel, you’ll find that restyling your hair throughout the day is more achievable with pomade than with gel.

Restyling Techniques Product Longevity Styling Versatility
Easier with pomade, provides flexibility Gel hardens, limits restyling Pomade adapts to various styles
More natural-looking restyles Gel maintains initial style Works for messy or polished looks
Works well with oil-based pomades Gel may flake upon restyling Suitable for various hair types


To achieve varying levels of shine in your hairstyle, pomade and gel offer distinct approaches without compromising hold or style.

Pomade’s reflective properties deliver a glossy finish, especially the oil-based variants, giving a classic, greaser look.

Gel provides a classic shine, ideal for structured styles.

Balancing your haircare routine with these styling techniques offers versatility in achieving your desired look without compromising on hold or shine.

Choosing Between Pomade and Gel

Choosing Between Pomade and Gel
Having worked extensively with both pomade and gel across various hair types, determining the right fit boils down to your hair type and the desired style.

Pomade offers versatility, especially for curly or thick hair, providing a pliable hold and a natural finish.

On the other hand, gel excels in locking styles for thinner hair, delivering a firmer, structured look that lasts all day.

Understanding your hair’s needs and the look you want helps pinpoint the ideal choice between pomade and gel.

Hair Type

Consider your hair type as the pivotal factor in determining whether pomade or gel will best suit your styling needs.

  • Texture Preferences: Fine hair often thrives with gel, while pomade adapts better to thick or curly hair, offering enhanced texture.
  • Styling Challenges: Gel suits spiked hairstyles; pomade handles frizzy hair more effectively.
  • Moisture Levels: Pomade’s moisture benefits cater to healthy, dry-prone scalps, while gel tends to suit those preferring a drier finish.

Desired Style

Considering your desired hairstyle, selecting between pomade and gel hinges on achieving either a natural, relaxed look or a structured, defined style.

Pomade offers a natural, flexible hold for casual quiffs and messy hairstyles, while gel provides a strong hold for a vintage wet look or glossy finish.

Applying Pomade

Applying Pomade
Once you’ve chosen the best pomade for your hair, applying it’s easy to do.

  • Warm a small amount between your fingers.
  • Apply to dry hair for a messy look or damp hair for a shiny finish.

You can use a finger comb to slick back your hair or style it however you like.

Pomades are great for thick hair because they provide a strong hold and can be restyled throughout the day.

Water-based pomades are easy to wash out, making them a good option for people with sensitive skin.

Applying Gel

Applying Gel
To apply gel, rub a small amount between your fingers and palms and distribute evenly through your damp hair.

The amount of gel you use will depend on your hair type and desired hold.

For thin or fine hair, use a small amount of gel to avoid weighing your hair down.

For thick or curly hair, use a medium to large amount of gel to achieve a strong hold.

Gel can be used to create a variety of looks, from a slicked-back style to a messy pompadour.

If you want a shiny finish, apply gel to damp hair.

For a matte finish, apply gel to dry hair.

Gel is a great option for people who want a strong hold that will last all day.

However, gel can be difficult to remove, so be sure to use an alcohol-free gel to avoid flaking.

Washing Out Products

Washing Out Products
After applying gel to your hair, you can wash it out with soap and water.

Water-based gels are the easiest to wash out, requiring minimal effort and rinsing thoroughly.

Alcohol-free gels are also easy to wash out, but may require more effort than water-based gels.

Oil-based pomades are the most difficult to wash out, and may require multiple shampoo cycles.

Water-based pomades are easier to wash out than oil-based pomades, but may still require multiple shampoo cycles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between hair pomade and hair gel?

Pomade provides flexible hold with a natural look, while gel gives a strong hold with a wet look.

What are the pros and cons of each product?

Pomade provides flexible hold and shine, while gel offers strong hold and a wet look.

Pomade is better for thick or curly hair, while gel is better for thin or fine hair.

Which product is better for my hair type?

Pomade is better for your hair type because it provides:

  • A flexible hold
  • A natural look

How do I apply pomade or gel to my hair?

To apply pomade or gel to your hair,

  • Rub a small amount between your palms.
  • Work it through your hair from roots to ends.
  • Use your fingers or a comb to style your hair into the desired shape.

How do I wash pomade or gel out of my hair?

To wash pomade or gel out of your hair, simply shampoo your hair twice.

The first shampoo will remove the product, and the second will remove any residue.


After considering your hair type, desired style, and activity level, you can select the right pomade or gel to achieve your perfect hairstyle.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.