Men's Hair Gel vs Pomade - Which One Should You Buy?

We've all seen a new hair style on our favourite men's style icon and thought "how do I get hair like that?"

It's not all about personal stylists and $500 haircuts - hair styling products also have a huge impact on how hair looks when styled. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve tried styling your hair with a product or you’ve never used any styling product before, the choices can be confusing. 

hair gel vs pomade which should you use

There are hundreds of hair products for men on the market - so going into detail about them all would be a tricky task. However, if you’re wondering about the difference between men’s hair gel vs pomade, you’ve come to the right place.

What is hair gel?

You’ve probably been familiar with hair gel since your school days when you glopped on a huge dollop to make a crunchy hair sculpture on your head before the big dance. 

Hair gel is thinner than pomade and is usually clear. It’s typically styled into wet hair and dries to look wet and shiny. 

For guys looking to spike their hair (not that we'd advise doing this) or gents looking to slick their hair back, a hair gel is likely what you'll use. 

When should men use hair gel?

Hair gel is great for when you don’t want your hair to move a centimeter (or an inch, for you yanks). Gel provides maximum hold and lots of shine. 

Gel is also good for a wide range of men’s hair types, especially thinner hair, but may be difficult to use in the thickest hair.

The best hair gel for men is made without alcohol, like our natural styling gel for thinning hair, which also doesn’t have any strong unpleasant fragrance like cheap store-bought gel and won’t flake off and make a mess.

What is pomade?

Pomade has been around forever. It’s what your great-grandpa used to quiff his hair before he took your great-grandma out on the town, and it’s what all those hip greaser types used on their pompadours.

Pomade is a thicker, creamier product than gel. It is usually made with a thick or waxy ingredient such as lanolin, petroleum, or beeswax. 

You may have never used pomade before, as it lost popularity over the last few decades. However, pomade is making a comeback, though, due to the newfound popularity of vintage hairstyles like the undercut. 

When should men use hair pomade?

Pomade is great for thicker hair as opposed to thinner hair, which can clump up with thick pomade. Pomade is the best for slicked-back hairstyles. 

Hair that has been styled with pomade doesn’t turn hard and sticky like hair that has been styled with gel. Pomade gives medium hold to hair, meaning it can still move a little. It also adds shine.

Is pomade or gel better for men’s hair?

If you’re talking about hair type, gel is more versatile. Because gel has such a strong hold, it can be used on most thicknesses of men’s hair. But pomade really only is a problem in the thinnest hair, which can be weighed down by the thickness of the product. 

If you’re talking about potential damage to the hair, it depends on the ingredients of the products. As we said, a lot of cheap store-brand gels are made with alcohol, which can strip the oils from your hair and scalp and do a lot of damage, so stick with water-based gels.

It’s a similar story with pomade, which can be oil-based or water-based. Oil-based pomades are harder to wash out of hair and can be damaging, stripping the hair and scalp of its natural oils. That’s why a water-based natural hair styling pomade made with organic ingredients is generally a better choice.

So that’s gel and pomade for you. Curious about clays and creams and muds for hair? We explain even more styling products with our guide to the best hair styling products for men.