Hair Putty vs Wax vs Pomade – Which One Should I Use and Why?
Unless you’re rocking a shaved head these days, at least a little bit of work goes into getting your hair right. Manufacturers of hair putty, wax, and pomade are all competing for your cash, but which one is going to do your mane justice? Contrary to what some guys may think, these products are not all the same. Depending on your hair, in fact, they can create vastly different results.
When choosing between these products, you’ll need to consider your style, hair type, overall appearance, and sometimes the weather outside. And even if you’re able to rock all three of these, there’s always one that’s perfect for your needs and rises above all others. We’re here to help you figure out which product meets that standard for you.
Hair Putty vs Wax vs Pomade
The best way to decide which styling cream works for you is to try them all. Of course, this typically means you’ll have several products laying around the bathroom that you’ll never use again. Even worse, that stellar Tinder date you brought home might get turned off by how many cosmetics you have lying around.
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each of these products is your best bet. Once you find the styling aid that works for you, you can start working on the hairdo that grabs all the ladies’ – and some of the fellas’ – attention.
What is Pomade?
Pomade is meant to provide a high-shine finish and a slick hairstyle. Take a look back at ‘greasers’ and Elvis, and you’ll have an idea of what pomade can accomplish. Don’t get stuck on the idea, though, that you’ll end up looking like a West Side Story reject. Those vintage hairstyles come from using a large amount of the product.
As with most styling aids, you can find pomade in strong, medium, and low-hold versions. You can also choose the level of shine your hair will have after application. Light hold provides a looser style that allows for reshaping throughout the day. If your hair is wavy to curly, medium to long length, or thin to fine, a light hold will probably work great.
Medium hold is typically best for short to medium hairstyles. It can give your look a spiky and textured appearance. And while most aren’t made with thin to fine hair in mind, fiber and clay pomades work wonders in this department. If you’ve got thick hair and want a high-volume style, though, it’s probably best to go with the strong hold.
Keep in mind that there are a variety of pomades available on the market, and depending on the particular product you buy, they can work for just about any hair type. You’ll also want to consider whether wax or water-based pomade is best for you. Either way, your hair will remain pliable throughout the day.
What is Hair Putty?
Hair putty and wax are pretty similar, but they do have some distinct differences. Putty is a matte product that can pull off that textured and tousled look you might be going for. Most are water-soluble and offer a strong hold. Guys who have tried clay but ended up with dried-out hair might benefit from the use of putty.
The great thing about this product is that it provides awesome control but maintains a conditioned look. It’s also perfect for any hair length that will be styled to look messy or slicked back. Its consistency is very similar to hair paste, but it allows for better reshaping during the day.
With all this being said, it’s important to note that many brands tend to use the words paste, putty and clay interchangeably. This can seriously drive a guy mad. After all, how are you supposed to buy what you need when manufacturers can’t even keep their product descriptors straight? This makes it a good idea to look at the properties of a styling aid before buying.
What is Hair Wax?
While many pomades are wax-based, they aren’t the same as actual hair wax. Of course, the wax of today is pretty different than what’s been used historically. Older brands still offer it as a standalone product, but hair wax is really on the way out thanks to hybrid styling aids. When using wax, you can expect a pliable style and a medium shine finish.
The standout benefit of wax is that it’s perfect for guys with naturally oily hair. It doesn’t add the additional greasy appearance typical of many other hair products. In reality, it’s a great product for styling your hair – especially if it’s on the thicker side. The major drawback is that, even though your hairdo remains pliable, it will typically dry out a few hours after application.
This will make reshaping your ‘do’ a difficult endeavor. If you’re going to use hair wax, it’s best to ensure the hairstyle you have in the morning is what you want throughout the day. Any additional styling will likely leave you with the appearance of bedhead – and not the good kind.
This basic breakdown should give you an idea of what you’re looking for in hair products, but if you need help with other aspects of nailing your style down, check out our How-To guides.
How to Apply Hair Putty
Applying hair putty is a simple task – which is awesome since it’s one of the options that allow for easy restyling throughout the day. It can also be applied before or after you blow-dry your mane. Start by rubbing the putty vigorously between your palms and fingers. This will heat it up so it can set properly.
Rub both hands through your hair from root to tip. Try to distribute the product evenly to ensure proper hold. While you could use a comb, the whole point of hair putty is to get the tousled look. This means you can style your hair as you’re applying the product.
How to Apply Hair Wax
If you’re going with a wax product, you’ll want to review our guide on how to choose the best styling cream. Wax has a very specific purpose, and if you don’t choose the brand or type that’s right for your hair, you might end up back at the store purchasing something else.
The most important step when learning how to apply hair wax is to start with a small amount (i.e. pea-sized). Seriously, a little of this stuff goes a long way. It’s a hard product, so warming it up between your palms is very important. Once it’s all melted, start at the back of your head and run your palms forward.
At this point, you’re not trying to get the wax throughout your hair. You want to start with a thin top layer so you don’t have to deal with the clumping of the product. Once this is done, you can begin running your hands through your hair to style it.
A slick back or sleek side part is perfect for hair wax, but you can also achieve other similar styles. There’s a good chance you’ll have some rogue hairs flying out at this point. You can use a little more wax to tame these pricks. If you really want your style to stick throughout the day, you can apply some hairspray when you’re finished.
How to Apply Pomade
Our guide on how to apply pomade goes more in-depth based on the product type (e.g. cream, dry, wet/gel), but we’ll give you a general idea of how this should go down. You’ll want to start with towel-dry hair. If it’s wet, the pomade won’t grab onto your hair strands. If it’s too dry, however, it won’t work through your mane properly.
Just like with hair putty and wax, you’ll rub the product between your palms to warm it up. Some experts recommend applying the pomade to the back and sides of your hair first – and then using the remaining product up top. Of course, this can differ depending on the exact style you’re trying to achieve.
Starting with a pea-sized amount of pomade is ideal. After all, you can apply more later if necessary. Like hair putty, you should start at the roots of your hair and work your way up. The consistency of pomade means most of it will remain near the root, but once you do a proper comb through to style, the product should get everywhere and make your hair fairly easy to shape.
Got Hair Issues?
Your hair type plays a huge role in whether wax, pomade, or hair putty is right for you. In some cases, though, you might have bigger issues to deal with. While there are countless products geared towards your everyday guy, not everyone falls into that area of perfection. Fortunately, styling aids can assist with many hair problems as well.
The Sea Salt Pomade from Fatboy, for instance, has coconut oil as one of the main ingredients. This can help to heal split ends you’ve experienced due to hair damage or the mere passage of time. If dandruff is a concern for you, the artichoke extract in Neville Hair Putty can combat this while providing light to medium hold. In essence, there’s a specialty product for just about any concern you might have.
One of the most disastrous things that can happen to your ‘do,’ however, is losing your hair. You need to take immediate action the moment you notice thinning. The HCO1 Pomade from Barber Surgeons Guild contains the BSG Trichoanagenic Factor – packed with ketoconazole, saw palmetto, caffeine, biotin, and other ingredients that can help you attain a fuller-looking head of hair.
The phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ has fallen out of use lately, but when it comes to hair styling aids, there’s always a product for that. Feel free to grab hair putty, wax, or pomade based on your general needs. If you’ve got any issues going on with your hair, though, do a little more research and find something that helps.
You can also find a ton of assistance with hair issues on BSG’s Clinical Grooming Services page.
What to Look for in Styling Aids
By now you’ve hopefully decided whether hair putty, pomade, or wax is right for your style. Of course, there are countless brands out there offering innumerable types of each styling aid. Just walking down a Wal-Mart aisle featuring these products can make you feel overwhelmed. And since you’re not 7 years old anymore, your mama isn’t going to do this for you.
There’s no doubt that there are many great products out there – whether you use hair putty, wax, or pomade – so your final decision should come down to what’s on the ingredient label. Start out by looking for the most natural and organic product you can find. Don’t get bogged down by the idea that ‘organic’ magically means you’re a hipster. It’s obviously popular for a reason.
You’ll also want to do your best to avoid styling aids that use any of the following:
- SLS/SLES: Can dry out skin and hair.
- Sulfates: Strips the good stuff out of your hair.
- Parabens/Phthalates: Can decrease male fertility. Yeah…
- Animal testing: Because why be a prick?
Each of these should be important factors when choosing between hair putties, waxes, and pomades. In fact, you should dodge all styling aids that utilize any of them. They can be damaging both for you and the environment. Take a look at the BSG Products page to see a full range of items that meet these criteria and can make your hair look healthier.
Find What Works and Stick with It
Whether it’s hair putty, wax or pomade, there are ways that each of these products can make your mane up top look great. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t strive to find the best. Like everything else in life – ranging from cars to ladies – there’s a ‘special one’ out there that will make you forget all the others. At least until a better one comes around!
If you’re having difficulty figuring out which products work best for you – or if you need help with your hair in general – get in touch with us at Barber Surgeons Guild today.