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Smiling man styling his hair with a comb in front of a mirror, contemplating the difference between pomade vs gel for his grooming routine.

Pomade vs Gel: Which is Right for Your Hairstyle?

When it comes to styling your hair, understanding the difference between pomade vs gel is crucial for achieving the perfect look. Both pomade and gel have their unique benefits and are suited for different hair types and styles. Whether you’re aiming for a classic, shiny finish or a bold, defined look, choosing the right product can make all the difference.

In this guide, we’ll explore difference between pomade and gel, breaking down their key benefits, and best uses to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in and discover which styling product is right for you!

What is Pomade?

Pomade is a classic hair styling product that has been used for decades to create sleek, polished hairstyles. Unlike gels, pomades offer a flexible hold that allows you to restyle your hair throughout the day without losing its shape.

Open container of amber-colored pomade with a white lid and a black comb beside it on a wooden surface, illustrating hair styling product choices and the difference between pomade and gel.

Types of Pomade

Pomades come in two main types: oil-based and water-based. Each has its unique properties and benefits:

  • Oil-Based Pomade:

    • Long-Lasting Hold: Stays put all day.
    • High Shine: Gives your hair a glossy finish.
    • Difficult to Wash Out: Requires more effort to remove completely.
  • Water-Based Pomade:

    • Easy to Wash Out: Rinses out with water.
    • Flexible Hold: Allows for restyling throughout the day.
    • Less Greasy: Provides a more natural look without the heavy feel.

Benefits of Pomade

Pomade is loved for several reasons, making it a staple in many grooming routines:

  • Long-Lasting Hold: Keeps your hairstyle intact from morning to night.
  • Versatility: Suitable for various hairstyles, from slick backs to pompadours.
  • Restylable: Allows you to tweak your style without losing hold.
  • Shine: Adds a healthy, glossy finish to your hair.

Best Uses for Pomade

Wondering if pomade is right for you? Here are some ideal hair types and styles:

  • Hair Types:

    • Thick Hair: Pomade helps manage and style thick hair effortlessly.
    • Curly Hair: Tames frizz and defines curls with a smooth finish.
  • Hairstyles:

    • Slick Back: Perfect for a clean, professional look.
    • Pompadour: Ideal for adding volume and height.
    • Classic Side Part: Achieves a timeless, polished appearance.

In the debate of pomade vs gel, pomade stands out for its flexibility and shine, whereas gels are known for their firm hold and quick-drying properties.

Understanding the difference between pomade and gel can help you choose the right product for your desired look and hair type.

By knowing what pomade is and how it works, you can make an informed decision on whether it's the best styling product for your hair needs.

What is Gel?

Hair gel is a popular styling product known for its ability to provide a strong hold and a sleek finish. Unlike pomades, gels are typically water-based and dry quickly, making them a go-to for creating structured hairstyles that stay in place all day.

Tube of men's hair gel placed on a blue towel with a wooden hairbrush and a purple flower, highlighting hair styling options and the difference between pomade vs gel.

Definition of Hair Gel

Hair gel is made primarily from water, polymers, and alcohol. These ingredients work together to create a product that hardens upon drying, providing a firm hold that keeps hair in place.

Types of Gel

Gels come in various formulations to suit different styling needs. Here are the main types:

  • Light Hold Gel:

    • Soft Control: Provides a natural look with slight hold.
    • Flexible: Ideal for styles that require movement.
  • Medium Hold Gel:

    • Balanced Control: Offers a moderate hold without being too stiff.
    • Versatile: Suitable for a variety of styles.
  • Strong Hold Gel:

    • Firm Control: Ensures hair stays put all day.
    • Defined Styles: Perfect for spikes and structured looks.

Benefits of Gel

Hair gel offers several advantages, making it a favorite among those who need reliable styling:

  • Strong Hold: Keeps hair in place regardless of activity level.
  • Quick Drying: Sets quickly, perfect for busy mornings.
  • Versatile: Suitable for a wide range of hairstyles.
  • Volume: Can add volume and lift to hair.

Best Uses for Gel

Gel is particularly well-suited for certain hair types and styles. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Hair Types:

    • Straight Hair: Provides hold and structure without weighing hair down.
    • Fine Hair: Adds volume and thickness.
  • Hairstyles:

    • Spikes: Ideal for creating edgy, defined spikes.
    • Sculpted Styles: Perfect for mohawks or other sculpted looks.
    • Sleek Styles: Achieves a wet, sleek appearance.

In the pomade vs gel discussion, gel is preferred for its strong hold and quick-drying capabilities, making it ideal for more rigid, structured styles.

Understanding the difference between pomade and gel is key to selecting the right product for your hair type and desired look.

By recognizing what gel is and how it works, you can determine if it's the best fit for your styling needs, ensuring your hair looks great and stays in place all day.

Key Differences Between Pomade and Gel

Understanding the key differences between pomade vs gel can help you choose the right product for your hair styling needs. Here’s a breakdown of how they compare in various aspects:

Hold and Flexibility

  • Pomade:

    • Hold: Offers a flexible hold that can be adjusted throughout the day.
    • Flexibility: Allows for easy restyling without losing its grip.
  • Gel:

    • Hold: Provides a strong, firm hold that locks your hairstyle in place.
    • Flexibility: Less flexible, as it hardens and keeps hair rigid.

If you need a hairstyle that can be touched up and modified throughout the day, pomade is your go-to. For a more structured, all-day hold, gel is the better choice.

Shine and Finish

  • Pomade:

    • Shine: Known for adding a glossy, shiny finish to hair.
    • Finish: Creates a smooth, polished look.
  • Gel:

    • Shine: Varies from high shine to a more matte finish, depending on the formula.
    • Finish: Can create a sleek, wet look or a dry, stiff appearance.

Pomade is perfect for those who want a shiny, polished look, while gel can offer both glossy and matte finishes depending on the product.

Application and Restyling

  • Pomade:

    • Application: Easy to apply, works well into the hair without drying too quickly.
    • Restyling: Can be restyled throughout the day without needing water.
  • Gel:

    • Application: Quick-drying, requires precise application to avoid flakiness.
    • Restyling: Once set, it’s challenging to restyle without reapplying.

Pomade provides greater flexibility for application and restyling, whereas gel is ideal for styles that don’t need frequent adjustments.

Hair Health and Ingredients

  • Pomade:

    • Ingredients: Typically includes waxes, oils, and sometimes water.
    • Hair Health: Oil-based pomade can be harder to wash out, potentially leading to build-up. Water-based pomade is easier to rinse out and less likely to clog pores.
  • Gel:

    • Ingredients: Usually contains water, alcohol, and polymers.
    • Hair Health: Can sometimes dry out hair due to alcohol content, but many modern gels are formulated to minimize this effect.

Pomade, especially water-based, is generally gentler on hair, while gel can provide excellent hold but may require more care to avoid dryness.

When choosing between pomade vs gel, consider your styling needs, hair type, and desired finish. Pomade offers flexibility and shine, perfect for classic, restylable looks. Gel provides a strong, enduring hold, ideal for structured styles that stay put all day.

Understanding these differences helps you make an informed decision, ensuring your hair looks its best, no matter the style you choose.

How to Choose Between Pomade and Gel

Deciding between pomade vs gel can seem daunting, but it becomes much easier when you consider your hair type, desired hairstyle, and lifestyle. Here’s a friendly guide to help you make the best choice.

Hair Type Consideration

  • Pomade:

    • Thick Hair: Pomade is great for thick hair as it provides control and manageability.
    • Curly Hair: Helps to tame frizz and define curls without making hair stiff.
  • Gel:

    • Fine Hair: Gel can add volume and lift, making it perfect for fine hair.
    • Straight Hair: Provides structure and hold, ideal for creating defined styles.

If you have thick or curly hair, pomade is your friend. For fine or straight hair, gel can offer the volume and hold you need.

Desired Hairstyle

  • Pomade:

    • Slick Back: Achieves a smooth, polished look.
    • Pompadour: Adds volume and height with a glossy finish.
    • Natural Look: Offers flexible hold without looking stiff.
  • Gel:

    • Spikes: Ideal for creating sharp, defined spikes.
    • Sculpted Styles: Perfect for mohawks and other precise styles.
    • Sleek Styles: Gives a wet, sleek appearance that stays in place.

Choose pomade for classic, versatile styles and gel for bold, defined looks.

Lifestyle and Maintenance

  • Pomade:

    • Restyling: Allows you to restyle your hair throughout the day, making it great for active lifestyles.
    • Maintenance: Oil-based pomades require thorough washing, while water-based are easier to rinse out.
  • Gel:

    • Durability: Provides a set-it-and-forget-it hold, perfect for busy days when you don’t have time for touch-ups.
    • Quick Application: Dries quickly, so it's ideal for those who need to style their hair in a hurry.

Consider pomade if you prefer a product that allows for restyling and flexibility. Opt for gel if you need a durable, all-day hold with minimal maintenance.

Choosing between pomade vs gel depends on your hair type, the style you want to achieve, and your daily routine. Pomade offers flexibility and a natural finish, making it ideal for classic styles and active lifestyles. Gel provides strong hold and structure, perfect for bold, defined looks and those who need a quick, lasting solution.

By understanding the difference between pomade and gel, you can select the right product to keep your hair looking its best, no matter the occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to pomade vs gel, many people have questions about which product is best for their hair type and desired style. Let’s address some of the most common queries to help you make an informed decision.

Is Pomade Better Than Gel?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question—it really depends on what you’re looking for in a styling product.

  • Pomade:

    • Flexible Hold: Great for restyling throughout the day.
    • Shiny Finish: Adds a glossy look to your hair.
    • Natural Styles: Ideal for achieving natural, smooth looks.
  • Gel:

    • Strong Hold: Keeps your hairstyle intact all day.
    • Quick Drying: Perfect for those who need a fast, no-fuss application.
    • Defined Styles: Best for creating sharp, structured styles.

If you want flexibility and shine, pomade is better. For a firm, lasting hold, gel might be the way to go.

Is a Gel or Pomade Better for Thin Hair?

Thin hair requires special consideration to avoid looking flat or greasy.

  • Gel:

    • Volume: Can add lift and thickness to thin hair.
    • Strong Hold: Keeps thin hair styled without falling flat.
  • Pomade:

    • Lightweight Formulas: Water-based pomades can add control without weighing hair down.
    • Natural Look: Provides a more subtle hold and finish.

Gel often works better for thin hair by providing volume and hold. However, a lightweight, water-based pomade can also be a good choice if you prefer a more natural look.

Should I Use Pomade or Gel for a Slick Back?

The slick back is a classic hairstyle that can be achieved with both products, but each offers a different finish and hold.

  • Pomade:

    • Shiny, Smooth Finish: Perfect for a traditional slick back.
    • Flexible Hold: Allows for restyling and adjustments throughout the day.
  • Gel:

    • Strong Hold: Keeps hair firmly in place, even in humid conditions.
    • Wet Look: Provides a sleek, wet finish that lasts.

For a classic slick back with a shiny finish, pomade is the better option. If you need a firm hold that won’t budge, go for gel.

By understanding the difference between pomade vs gel, you can select the right product for your hair type and styling needs. Whether you’re looking for flexibility, shine, strong hold, or volume, knowing which questions to ask can help you find the perfect hair styling product.


Choosing between pomade vs gel doesn't have to be a daunting task. By understanding the differences between pomade and gel, you can easily find the right product to suit your hair type, desired style, and lifestyle. Here's a quick recap to help you make your decision:

  • Pomade:

    • Best for: Thick or curly hair, classic styles like slick backs and pompadours.
    • Benefits: Flexible hold, shiny finish, restylable.
    • Types: Oil-based for long-lasting hold and shine; water-based for easier washout and a lighter feel.
  • Gel:

    • Best for: Fine or straight hair, structured styles like spikes and mohawks.
    • Benefits: Strong hold, quick drying, adds volume.
    • Types: Light hold for natural looks, medium hold for versatility, strong hold for firm control.

When considering pomade vs gel, think about:

  • Your Hair Type: Thick and curly or fine and straight?
  • Desired Hairstyle: Sleek and shiny or bold and defined?
  • Lifestyle and Maintenance: Need flexibility for restyling or a set-it-and-forget-it solution?

Whether you choose pomade for its flexibility and shine or gel for its strong hold and structure, you now have the insights to make an informed choice. Both products have their unique advantages, and the best one for you depends on your individual needs and preferences.

Thank you for reading! We hope this guide has helped clarify the difference between pomade and gel and assisted you in finding the perfect hair styling product. Happy styling!

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