Pomade vs Gel: The Definitive Buying Guide

In this article, we look at pomade vs gel – which is best for your hair? Our handy guide will tell you all there is to know about how to achieve the perfect style.

Pomade vs Gel

So which is best, pomade or gel? The answer can only be determined by your type of hair and styling preference. Gel is the best product for hairstyles that require maximum hold and long wearability while pomade offers a firm hold that adds volume and flexibility to your hair.

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What is Gel?

Gel is a hair product that can be used when styling your hair and helps to hold your strands in place for extended periods of time.

It offers maximum hold and hardens your hair which allows it to keep it in place throughout the day.

This product can be easily washed out of your hair using water.

An added benefit is that hair gel won’t clog your pores if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin thanks to its water-based formula.

The disadvantage to using hair gel vs pomade is that these products are often alcohol-based and may include harsh ingredients such as isopropyl. This may lead to the gel drying out your hair after continued use over time.

Who Is Gel Best For?

We recommend using gel vs pomade for those with thin or fine hair as it helps to create texture and the illusion of thickness.

If you enjoy styling your hair and would like to prevent the style from going flat, hair gel is the ideal solution. It will help to keep styles such as spikes, a mohawk or even a ducktail in place.

How Do You Use Gel?

It’s best to use gel on damp hair to achieve a long-lasting effect:

  1. Simply wash your hair and place a small amount of gel into the palm of your hands.
  • Apply the product directly on to your hair and style as normal.

If you haven’t washed your hair, simply add a splash of water on to your hair to dampen it and this will help to achieve the best results.

What is Pomade?

Pomade is a creamy hairstyling product that is an alcohol-free alternative to gel.

It is designed to help keep your hairstyle in place while offering additional volume and high shine. While it offers a strong hold it still allows for some flexibility and movement as opposed to the ultra-hardening effects of gel.

Pomade is available in two distinct types of hold styles, namely water-based and oil-based. The added advantage of this product is that it offers a flake-free texture.

Unlike gels, pomades don’t harden your hair allowing you the opportunity to restyle your hair after its initial application.

Who Is Pomade Best For?

We recommend using pomade vs gel for those with thick or curly hair as it will help to lock in your style while adding moisture and shine.

Pomade is beneficial in that it acts as a source of hydration to your strands and helps to tame flyaways. It is also suited to most hairstyles making it a versatile addition as a styling product.

How Do You Use Pomade?

For effortless application, simply place a small amount of pomade in the palm of your hands and then work it into your strands and style as desired.

If you would like to achieve more shine, simply apply the product to damp or wet hair. To achieve a stronger hold with less of a shine, we recommend applying the product to dry hair.

Also Read: Can Gel Cause Hair Loss? Everything You Need To Know!

What Are the Differences Between Pomade vs Gel?

There are a few key differences to note between pomade vs gel:

  • Pomade is formulated in two diverse ways – one is water-based and the other is oil-based
  • Most gels contain alcohol in their formulas which may dry out your hair
  • Petroleum-based pomade is more difficult to wash off unlike most gels
  • Gel washes off with water
  • Pomade offers more shine vs gel
  • Gels may cause the appearance of visible white flakes when the product becomes dry
  • Pomade is known to be flake-free
  • Gels offers maximum hold
  • Pomade add texture and volume while still offering a fairly strong hold

Pomade vs Gel for the Best Hold

If you are trying to decide which product offers the strongest possible hold between pomade vs gel, our winning choice is gel.

For a gel so firm it will stay in place overnight we suggest Hard Up Hard Holding Gel by SexyHair. This sleek gel formula promises all-day shine and offers a refined look for your sculpted hair.

Hard Up Hard Holding Gel

We also recommend Pinaud Clubman Styling Gel for a versatile gel that offers a strong hold with a touch of movement for a more natural-looking result. 

Pinaud Clubman Styling Gel

Pomade vs Gel for Thin Hair

Looking for the best product ideally suited to styling thin or fine hair between pomade vs gel? Our winning product is pomade as it offers a firm hold with added texture.

For easy styling we recommend you try Imperial Barber’s Classic Pomade. While it’s suitable to use on most hair types, this water-based formula will help to strengthen, thicken, and add volume to fine or thin hair.

Imperial Barber’s Classic Pomade

It also offers an industrial strength hold so you can achieve slicked back styles and side partings with ease.

For a paraben-free clay type pomade, we suggest trying out this natural product from Baxter of California.

It is ideally suited to those with fine hair and is formulated with ethically sourced natural ingredients including clay and beeswax.

paraben-free clay type pomade

Pomade vs Gel for Short to Medium Hair

If you are trying to decide which product is ideal to use on short to medium length hair between pomade vs gel, the winning hair product is gel.

Power Play Firm Finish Gel by Bed Head for Men is a strong hold gel that will offer a non-greasy shine and effortless styling.

Play Firm Finish Gel

This hair gel also protects your strands from humidity and frizz. For a helpful styling tip and an effortless way to add more texture to your hair, blow dry and style your hair after applying the product.

Pomade vs Gel for Curly Hair

If you are trying to decide between pomade vs gel for styling wavy or curly hair, the winning product in our book is pomade.

We recommend American Crew Hair Styling Pomade as it’s ideal for creating classic and modern hairstyles.

Pomade vs Gel for Curly Hair

This product provides a medium hold and shine in the final result and functions as a flexible alternative to hair gel.

Receiving rave reviews, it was also used by the cast of the tv show Mad Men and actors such as Neil Patrick Harris and Jeremy Piven.

Pomade vs Gel for Flexible Styling

Pomade is our outright winner when it comes to choosing between pomade vs gel for flexible styling.

This product will enable you to restyle your hair after your first application and won’t dry out and harden as a hair gel would.

Another added benefit of using a pomade is that you can go from the office to after work drinks or even the gym and restyle your hair to suit the occasion.

Easy Hold Hair Putty for Men by Uppercut Deluxe is a lightweight, water-based pomade. It provides a natural, matte finish for fuss-free styling.

Pomade vs Gel for Flexible Styling

Your hair will look natural and dry with no product residue. The formula was specifically designed to give texture and volume while providing flexible movement and a light to medium hold.

Pomade vs Gel for the Best Shine

If you’re looking to achieve an incredible shine with a strong hold, we recommend choosing a pomade over a gel. It will also give you the chance to hydrate your hair during styling which is an added benefit.

This water-based pomade by The London Grooming Company is created with moisturizing ingredients such as lanolin and glycerin and can be easily rinsed out of your hair using water.

Pomade vs Gel for the Best Shine

It’s gentle on your strands leaving no damage and can easily be restyled. It offers a strong hold for any hairstyle and is ideally suited to medium-length hair.

Pomade vs Gel for a Natural Look

Pomade is our product of choice when it comes to choosing between pomade vs gel for the most natural-looking style.

This type of product will give you the freedom to create a messy, natural-looking hairstyle with volume.

We recommend looking for a water-based pomade as opposed to an oil-based one to create a matt finish effect.

Lucky Knuckles by Mobsters Pomade provides a long-lasting hold with the freedom to restyle offering the best of both worlds. The formula is quick-drying and is absorbed quickly without leaving a sticky, unwanted residue.

Pomade vs Gel for a Natural Look

For a just stepped out of the shower look we recommend applying this pomade to damp or wet hair as this will increase the level of shine.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee Poulsen

Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she's always happy to recommend you her favorites.