The hilariously loopy Coen brothers movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” has one of the most memorable quotes ever regarding a hair styling product. “I’m a Dapper Dan Man,” says George Clooney rather furiously when a shopkeeper offers him an inferior brand of pomade, instead of the aforementioned “Dapper Dan” brand. The story is set in the 1930s, an era when thick hair waxes and pomades were all the rage. The interest in hair waxes receded somewhat after the 1960’s greaser’s era, as more modern, water soluble hair gels arrived on the scene. With their ability to hold our hairs in an iron grip while still giving a wet look, hair gels were an excellent choice, especially for a spiky style. But hair waxes are making a strong comeback in recent years, with modern products that offer a shiny slick look and firm hold, while still being easy to wash and remove.
Quick Guide To Hair Waxes, Pomades, and Gel
There is a fair bit of confusion regarding these three hair styling products. Hair gels are the easiest to identify. They are usually alcohol based, easy to wash and offer a firm hold. But on the downside, they tend to dry out and are often accompanied by unseemly white flakes. Hair gels are good for curly hair and when you need the hair to stay up stiff, like when you want spikes.
Truth be told, there is a fair bit of overlap between hair waxes and pomades. They offer similar slick and wet look, don’t dry out, and can be easily restyled without having to wash off and reapply. Pomades can be either oil-based or water-based. In many areas, pomade is not a very well known term, and the term hair wax is used these days to refer to a wide variety of thick hair styling products.
But if you really want to split hairs (!), pomades offer a stiffer hold, while proper hair waxes give a somewhat lighter hold. Both are great if you want a shiny wet look. If your hair style can be shaped using a comb, a pomade or wax is probably what you need. Both work well if you have straighter and thicker hair. Oil based products can give a really greasy look and is not very easy to get off once you apply it.
Hair Wax Reviews (in no particular order)
For those guys who need a firm hair wax without the ultra-glossy sheen, the Bed Head B from TIGI is an interesting choice. It keeps your hair in place, but doesn’t get hard or flaky like normal hair gels. And the best part is, it is easily washed off with just water. Beeswax is the main ingredient in this styling wax, along with stuff like propylene glycol, water and cetearyl alcohol. The subdued and understated feel is maintained in the fragrance department as well. The Big Head B has pleasant and subtle fragrance, with fresh and fruity undertones. It is barely noticeable and will not conflict with your regular deodorant or perfume. This hair wax is best applied on damp hair, immediately after a shower.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
True to their name, Smooth Viking is well known for their beard grooming products. But Vikings also had long hair that needed some styling assistance right?! So these guys were kind enough to add some quality hair care products in their lineup as well. This one is a rubber based hair styling cream/wax, with a light to moderate hold. It is easy to apply and you can get decent hold with just a small quantity. The scent is masculine, light and somewhat reminiscent of good cologne. And like any other good hair wax, this one will not dry out and leave you stranded in the middle of the day with hair that looks like it has been glued together. Apply once and you can style and restyle throughout the day.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
This brand has a edgy retro feel, with a skeleton of a greaser from the 60’s sporting a shiny slick back hairdo on the label. If you like your wax with a healthy splash of shine, this is what you need. It offers a moderate level of shine, without making your hair look greasy. The Firme Hold version is for those with really unruly hair types that need some extra grip to stay in place. For guys with more workable hair, there is a medium hold variant as well. Suavecito is all American, steeped in the retro culture of Santa Ana, California. The fragrance, though quite nice and manly like a cologne, is a bit on the stronger side, if you care about that sort of thing.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
This one looks deceptively like a cream and is easy to apply on the hair. Calling it hair wax is probably a stretch to far, but don’t get us wrong, this is a really capable product. It might be more appropriate to call Redken Maneuver a modern day hair wax/cream that gives decent hold while avoiding everything that makes modern hair gels and old school pomades a nightmare: you get no drying, crustiness, flakes, greasy looks, or stains with this one. And all you need is a little cream, unless you have really long hair of course. The hold is light yet firm, but probably not enough for men with really tough or curly hair. It is water soluble and very easy to wash off. Though it says “For Men” on the label, this one works for ladies with shorter hair equally well.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
Names don’t get any more masculine than Kreiger, which is the German word for “Warrior.” This is a solid option for the more physically active, warrior type guys out there needing a firm styling cream for their hair. It will last you through the day, and has beeswax to keep the hair well in place for hours. The product is very soft and creamy to touch, and once applied to the hair, it settles down to a firm finish with zero crusting. The scent, though light and pleasant, may be a deal breaker for some since it is a tad too fruity. This particular K+S wax is better suited for men with soft and light hair. The finish is subdued and matte, with no greasy gleam or shine.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
Hair care creams and gels without alcohol are not very common, which makes this hair wax from Mister Pompadour stand out on a very crowded deck. It is all natural, and contains no undesirable ingredients like parabens, alcohol or sodium chloride, things which can do some damage to hair in the long run. Beeswax is well known for its string hold, and can have a heavy feel once applied to very wet hair. So be mindful of that apply to less damp hair only. Being all natural and alcohol free has its own minor niggles, and this one is a bit hard to wash off when compared to other lighter creams. The scent is vanilla, and it is quite strong as well.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
This is the “flexible” option in the Old Spice line up of hair wax products which also include a Swagger Gel, Pomade, Putty, and Paste. The Swagger Fiber Wax has a very grainy texture when you touch it. You need to rub it vigorously with your hands before applying. The hold is quite strong and works well for both straight as well as curly locks. This wax gives a moderate shine without and excessive greasy look when applied. If you like running your fingers through your hair through the day, this is the wax for you. It doesn’t crust or dry up too much and is very easy to restyle.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
Dashu is a high end Korean hair wax that gives a firm hold and a few unique features. It has argan oil and black bean extract for some extra nourishment to your hair. It works even on thick curly hair, but unlike many of the waxes with stronger hold in the market, this one doesn’t leave your hair looking too stiff. And it is completely scent free, which can be a really good thing if you want something that doesn’t mess up your cologne or perfume. Though it says matte finish, it has almost no shine and lets your hair show off its natural glow. The hair wax washes off easily in the shower. If you like reading the instructions on the cover, you might be in for a disappointment, since most of it is in Korean!CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
The modern man seems to have a preference for hair wax with low shine, since that is what most of the brands in our list seems to have. This particular effort from Livegain scores high in the hold department, while keeping things low key as far as shine is concerned. If you like the scent of roses, you will love this wax. But those looking for a more masculine scent will be disappointed. But on the plus side, they scent is really faint and not at all overpowering. Though it says “superhold,” tone down your expectations to something along the lines of medium hold and you should not be too disappointed with this product.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
To round off our list, we have something imported all the way from France, with this premium pomade by Jovinno. Despite being labeled a pomade, it is non greasy, and most importantly, soluble in water. It is easy to apply and has a long lasting hold, even on tough to control curly hair types. The all natural ingredient profile sports beeswax, marshmallow root, calendula, flax seed, rosemary extract and wheat germ oil, among other things. As usual, apply to damp hair for best results. The pomade is black in color and has a fresh smell that keeps things light and pleasant. It provides a matte finish to your hair and should last you an entire day, even with multiple stylings and re-stylings.CHECK DEALS ON AMAZON
There is incredible diversity and variety in the men’s hair wax market. You can get a wide variety of products, ranging from creams to thicker waxes and pomades, almost all of them water soluble, with holds ranging from light to strong, and with varying levels of shine. If you are worried about the potential impact of harsh chemicals and alcohol on your hair, there is a niche filled with natural and organic hair wax products as well. The ideal hair wax is entirely dependent on your hair type as well as your styling requirements, but it is safe to say that in such a crowded market, there is something for just about everyone out there.