Men’s Hair Styling Product Guide Pomade vs. Wax vs. Clay vs. Cream — everything you need to know when picking a hair product

Your hair is just as much a part of your look as that tailored suit you’re wearing. How you choose to style it will no doubt determine how people see you. Consider the difference between spiked hair and a classic a side-part. One screams “Jersey Shore” while the other suggests “gentleman.” Your hairstyle will ultimately be determined by the overall look you’re working to achieve. Getting that desired hairstyle can pose a challenge, however. Thanks to the plethora of hair products available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming and confusing.

With that in mind, we put together this guide to hair products to help you narrow down the right one for you.


High hold, high shine, not pliable

Hair Product Guide - Styling Gel

All hold. All shine. All day. And then some. Gels are the epitome of hold and shine. They give you the same pliable control that a pomade would, but only while wet. As the product dries it hardens, leaving your hair stuck almost frozen in time. Until you wash it out, that is.


Medium hold, high shine, moderately pliable

Hair Product Guide - Styling Pomade

A classic. True pomade is composed of a mix of oil and wax. Its never-drying nature makes pomade ideal for a slick and still-wet look that can be restyled throughout the day.

Pomade is ideal for those with thicker hair. It acts much like water right after a shower, providing similar control and aesthetic, but with less of the whole water-dripping-from-your-head issue.

Classic pomades like Murray’s Original and Royal Crown will provide a better hold than any newfangled water-based pomades. However, do keep in mind that the less water a product contains, the harder the product will be to wash out.


High hold, low shine, very pliable

Hair Product Guide - Styling Wax

Waxes are like pomade’s older, grittier brother — all hold, little to no shine. If you have found that most hair products don’t seem to do the trick when it comes to styling your hair, wax will take care of that.

Waxes will essentially tame any type of hair, from straight to wavy.  They provide the ultimate control and make it so that your hair can basically be styled indefinitely; or until you shower, at least. Be aware, however, that unless you get a wax with a water base, it may take 1 or 2 shampoo sessions to remove.


Lowest hold, high Shine, frizz control

Hair Product Guide - Styling Cream

In terms of being good for your hair, cream will be the healthiest option. Cream will usually contain some type of conditioning element that moisturizes your hair.

Whereas pomade and wax provide slick looks, creams allow your hair to keep its more natural look. Its styling power isn’t as much as a wax or oil product. You can style, and to a degree restyle, with a cream, but your hair will not be as pliable. By giving up pliability, your hair gets to keep volume that would otherwise be weighed down by a heavier product.


Don’t forget, gentlemen. Your hair is just as much a part of your look as your outfit. How you choose to wear it will play a role in how people see you, so mind it and take care of it.