Allure April 16, 2024



11 Best Hair Pomades for Slick, Sculpted Styles


We're hair pomades—of course we're going to leave your hair looking snatched.

There's nothing worse than spending time styling your hair only to have it fall hours later. Enter the best hair pomade, a water- or oil-based product that has earned a coveted spot in hair routines for those who prioritize hold, control, and texture. Different from the often stiff, straw-like feeling that occurs when using other hairstyling products (cough, hair gel), hair pomades are "styling products used to give hair a slick, shiny, and groomed appearance,” says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Davontae Washington. “They also give the hair a waxy texture and provide a medium to strong hold, depending on the formula.”

Generally speaking, hair pomades boast a thick yet pliable consistency that allows you to shape, set, and maintain your hairstyle, but there's lots of room for customization when it comes to these nifty formulas. They come in several different finishes and forms—matte, shiny, stick, and tub—and have varying flexibility and strength, ranging from light to firm hold. Plus, the best hair pomades are often chock-full of beneficial ingredients that help maintain overall hair health, like argan oil, castor seed oil, and aloe extract.

Now you know the basics, it's time to shop the best hair pomades, according to editors and hairstylists.

Best Overall: Jillian Dempsey Roadie Hair Pomade

Why It's Worth It: This Allure 2023 Best of Beauty winner is a stick version of Jillian Depsey's coveted Roomie Hair Pomade. While this travel-friendly iteration is small enough to fit anywhere from your everyday satchel to your glove compartment, its formula stacks up to the original by providing tousled, separated texture and a warm, earthy, slightly nutty scent.

Editor Tip: Make sure you warm this up in your hands before working it into your hair—this makes it easier to maneuver.

Key Ingredients: Argan kernel oil, sandalwood oil | Who It's For: Those looking for a travel-friendly pomade

Best for Beginners: Bumble and Bumble Sumotech Flexible Cream Solid

Why It's Worth It: Just entering the world of hair pomades? Try this easy-to-use forgiving formula from Bumble and Bumble. “This hybrid product combines the hold of a wax with the flexibility of a cream, making it perfect for creating a wide range of styles,” says Washington. “It also adds high shine and definition to the hair without stiffness, and is a favorite among people with various hair lengths and textures.”

Editor Tip: A little goes a long way so start with a small amount.

Key Ingredients: Beeswax, polymers | Who It's For: Those wanting flexible texture

Best for Flyaways: R+Co Dart Pomade Stick

Why It's Worth It: Washington recommends the TikTok-viral Dart Pomade Stick from R+Co, noting that it offers a medium hold that allows for flexibility and re-styling throughout the day. The oil-based pomade also helps to “tame frizz and flyaways while maintaining natural movement in the hair," Washington notes. The stick form also makes it especially handy to keep in your gym bag for post-workout topknots.

Editor Tip: If you're looking for more of a pomade-mouse hybrid that delivers bouncy, second-day hair, go for the R+Co Aircraft Pomade Mousse.

Key Ingredients: Castor seed oil, candelilla wax

Best Luxury: Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax

Why It's Worth It: As with all things Oribe, you'll be proud to display the elegant Rough Luxury Molding Wax on your bathroom vanity. As for what's inside? The water-based pomade “provides a soft hold and adds texture to the hair without weighing it down,” says Washington. He also says it's suitable for creating tousled styles specifically for those with medium to long hair. Raven Hurtado, a Chicago-based hair stylist at Maxine Salon is also a fan. “I like this product because it's flexible enough to mold a hairstyle, yet strong enough to hold it in place.”

Editor Tip: The formula protects colored hair from environmental conditions that would otherwise cause color depletion or dryness.

Key Ingredients: Watermelon, lychee, edelweiss flower, chamomile flower extract, yarrow leaf extract | Who It's For: Those who want shine, luster, and moisture

Best Shine Booster: Stmnt Grooming Goods Shine Paste

Why It's Worth It: For mirror-like shine and some serious hold, we're calling on the Stmnt Grooming Goods Shine Paste as being the best hair pomade to help you mold your hair without the risk of frizz. It can be used on dry hair to shape your desired style or on damp hair pre-blow drying or air drying. Another thing we're a fan of? The irresistible coconut-sandalwood scent.

Editor Tip: Want to tone down the shine? Combine it with the brand's Matte Paste for ultimate versatility.

Key Ingredients: Olive fruit oil | Who It's For: Those who don't want a matte finish

Easiest to Rinse: SexyHair Style Polished Up Pomade

Why It's Worth It: The only thing standing in the way of using a hair pomade for some people is the mere thought of having to rigorously rinse it out. Thankfully, that's a non-issue with the SexyHair Style Polished Up Pomade—yes, it'll give you an impressive 72-hour hold, but once you're ready to wash out, it slips right off.

Editor Tip: If you live in a humid climate, this will ensure your style remains frizz-free.

Key Ingredients: N/A | Who It's For: Anyone who wants an easy-to-rinse yet long-lasting hold, including kids

Best Matte Finish: Ouai Matte Pomade

Why It's Worth It: Think of Ouai's Matte Pomade as a thicker version of your favorite leave-in conditioner, offering a firm yet malleable consistency along with a medium hold that's perfect for curly hair looking to enhance texture or any hair type to smooth down baby hairs. Plus, because it's matte, it gives off more of a natural look.

Editor Tip: Can't get enough of the scent? Ouai bottled it up into a dedicated perfume called Rue St Honore.

Key Ingredients: Beeswax, kaolin clay | Who It's For: Those who don't want shine

Best Strong Hold: Black Wolf Nation Hair Styling Paste

Why It's Worth It: Hairstyles that require super-strength hold will fare well with this styling paste from Black Wolf Nation. It's one of the best hair pomades that's water-based, meaning it's ultra-malleable and you won't have to tug at your hair—plus, it offers loads of refined texture and volume that thinner hair types will appreciate.

Editor Tip: This comes in three different holds (light, medium, and firm) for all your styling needs.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin | Who It's For: Oily hair types looking to smooth their hair without adding additional grease

Best Hydrating: Verb Sculpting Clay

Why It's Worth It: With ingredients like avocado oil, sunflower seed extract, and argan oil, Verb's Sculpting Clay sounds more like a haircare product that than a styling product. The formula is ideal for faking volume and definition—especially helpful for those with short, fine, or medium hair. When it comes time to apply, the brand recommends heating the product with a blow-dryer (or in your hands) for 15 seconds to ensure an ultra-smooth application.

Editor Tip: Nothing from Verb is over $20 for our budget-conscious shoppers. May we suggest prepping your hair with their Hydrating Shampoo?

Key Ingredients: Avocado oil, sunflower seed extract, argan oil | Who It's For: Those with oily hair, as the clay will absorb excess oil for a shine-free look

Best Natural: Moroccanoil Texture Clay

Why It's Worth It: Moroccanoil's Texture Clay Pomade isn't too much of anything (not too shiny, too sticky, or too matte), and that's why we love it for natural 'do days. It certainly won't leave your hair feeling stiff or hardened despite having clay in it—in fact, it'll do quite the opposite since it's formulated with conditioning shea butter and vitamin-rich aloe leaf juice.

Editor Tip: This takes a few minutes to dry before it sets, giving you ample time to perfect your style.

Key Ingredients: Bentonite clay, shea butter, aloe leaf juice | Who It's For: Those having trouble controlling wispy baby hairs

Best for Edges: Maui Moisture Lightweight Curls + Flaxseed Edge Control Pomade

Why It's Worth It: Tame stubborn edges with this medium shine pomade from Maui Moisture, which will conveniently infuse thick hair types with a nourishing blend of flaxseed, coconut water, and citrus oil as it holds. Aside from being a mainstay for edges, the formula also boosts texture for those with waves, curls, and coils without weighing it down.

Editor Tip: This doesn't contain any alcohol, so it's ideal for those with dry hair.

Key Ingredients: 100% aloe vera, flaxseed, coconut water, citrus oil | Who It's For: Curly hair that needs moisture

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are hair pomades best for?

Pomades are best for classic hairstyles like slick backs, side parts, and pompadours, but truthfully, you can use them for any style you're looking to add piecey, lived-in texture. Anyone can use a hair pomade, too, as Washington says there's no real difference between styling pomades for men’s and women’s hair, and most formulas are universal. “It all just comes down to your personal preference, hair type, and styling needs,” he says. For instance, for those with curly hair, Washington says you wouldn't necessarily use a pomade on your entire style, but rather to tame the edges and minimize flyaways. For people with straight hair looking to add lived-in texture, Washington says you'll have more wiggle room. “This is because pomades make the hairstyle touchable, not stiff,” he says.

How should I use hair pomade?

The way in which you use a hair pomade will differ based on your desired look. For sleek, pulled-back ponytails and buns, tie your hair up and emulsify a small amount of product onto your fingers tips, afterwards rubbing it gently onto the roots or wherever you have flyways, such as around the hairline, says Hurtado. You can also use a boar bristle brush (Hurtado likes the Rpzl Polisher Brush) to brush down stubborn flyaways. To dame down tiny baby hairs, Hurtado recommends applying a small amount of hair pomade onto a clean mascara wand and pressing it into the roots. Regardless of your specific hair texture and length, both Washington and Hurtado recommend always starting with a pea-size amount and adding more as needed.

Hair pomades are thick and can be sticky, which can cause product buildup on the scalp and hair, not to mention it can transfer onto your pillowcase. This is why Hurtado suggests washing your hair out thoroughly after styling with a hair pomade. “A clarifying shampoo will work to remove any buildup and can help loosen up any oils on the scalp,” says Hurtado. To add hydration back into the hair, you can follow up with a moisturizing shampoo or conditioner.

Meet the experts

Davontae Washington, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist
Raven Hurtado, a Chicago-based hair stylist at Maxine Salon


How we test and review products

We always enlist a range of testers for our makeup vertical, but hair-care products and tools are another story. While there are certainly products that can be used across different hair textures, lengths, curl patterns, thicknesses, colors (natural and unnatural), and needs, hair products are often created with specific consumers in mind. Many are created in order to address a concern (dandruff, breakage, brittleness) or to work most effectively for a specific hair type (4C curls, wavy hair, gray hair). You wouldn’t want to pick up a purple shampoo that’s only been reviewed by someone with, say, auburn hair, or a diffuser that’s never been tested by anyone with curls — right?

For our review of the best hair pomades, we enlisted the help of multiple editors, writers, and contributors with various hair types and needs, as well as professional hairstylists who have worked with a wide breadth of clients. Testers considered performance across four primary categories: efficacy, texture and experience, fragrance, and packaging. For more on what's involved in our reporting, check out our complete reviews process and methodology page.

Our staff and testers

A beauty product is a personal purchase. You might be searching for a face cream to address persistent dryness or a new nail product to add to your Sunday self-care routine; you may simply be browsing around for the latest launches to hit the hair market. No matter what you seek or your individual needs and concerns, Allure wants to ensure that you love anything we recommend in our stories. We believe that having a diverse team of writers and editors — in addition to the wide range of outside testers and industry experts we regularly call upon — is essential to reaching that goal.