Wax vs Pomade vs Gel – What’s The Difference?

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Have you ever had your hair professionally styled only to walk out wondering how in the world you’re ever going to be able to recreate the look at home?

You’re not even sure what the hairdresser rubbed into your hair to give it that perfect sheen and hold, and you walked out without asking.

So you head to your local drug store to browse their products in hopes of finding the one in the black round container.

Or was it dark blue?

Was it even gel?

And what the heck is pomade?

So if you want to know the difference between wax, pomade, and gel, you will love this article

Let´s dive right in…


Pomade vs Gel & Wax vs Pomade – The debate is over


Pomade vs Gel & Wax vs Pomade – The debate is over

When it comes to styling your hair you may be surprised to find out you have more options than you thought. We’re here to simplify things for you! Between wax, pomade, and gel, we can tell you which product is going to give you that fresh-out-of-the-barber look. 

Let’s take a look at the differences.


Gel is an age-old hair styling product that you probably used in your early years of high school. Remember all those old school photos where you look like you just came out of the shower but your hair froze in place? Yup. That’s our good friend gel. That wet look is a result of applying gel while your hair is damp, which is exactly how you should do it. The tricky part is not applying too much. You know that old saying “A little dab will do ya”? Yeah, well no kidding. The trick to gel is only using as much as you need which isn’t a lot, about the size of a dime in fact.

How to use: Apply a small amount of gel to your fingers and rub together before applying to damp hair.

  • A long-lasting hold
  • Easy to refresh if the look starts to diminish
  • Easy to use and a heck of a time saver when you’re a man on the go
  • Accentuates your natural hair patterns
  • Great choice for slicking back longer hair
  • Easy to wash out
  • The ingredients – Most gels use alcohols that can do some damage to the health of your hair.
  • Alcohol also has a drying effect so your hair may become stiff and brittle over time.
  • White flakes – It’s not dandruff but it might as well be. As gel dries it sometimes flakes off of your hair onto your shoulders and back a lot like dandruff.

Best gel for men: American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel / Johnny B Mode Styling Gel


Wax vs Pomade


Hair wax is a thicker styling product compared to gel. Picture the characters from the movie Grease. While the title implies the actors used styling grease in their hair, the truth is it was probably just wax and maybe a bit too much of it at that. Wax holds a lot like the gel without all the dryness caused by the alcohol in the gel. Wax is literally made out of wax plus a few other ingredients but we’ll get to that in a second.

How to use: Take a small amount of wax and rub it between your hands. Then apply the wax to your hair, but always use it on dry hair, never wet.

  • A long-lasting hold
  • Gives the hair volume
  • You can change your hairstyle even after applying wax
  • Hair is still malleable and not brittle
  • Easy to wash out but you may need to rinse, lather, and repeat as wax tends to be water insoluble.
  • A lot of hair wax products use chemicals that can be damaging to your hair.
  • After some time your scalp and roots may start to look greasy and oily. A shower is the quickest fix for this one.
  • Wax can build up if not properly washed out. This can actually cause dry scalp, itchiness, and redness.

Best wax for men: Redken Maneuver Working Wax / Gatsby Moving Rubber / TIGI Bed Head Workable Wax


This one is essentially a scented ointment for your hair. But don’t let the word ointment scare you. Our grandparents were using this stuff before it was “in”. Okay, let’s be honest here. Pomade was always “in”. Pomades are recommended for use if you want your hair to stay neat or be styled in a slick manner. This hair product offers the shiniest and most greased look which makes it excellent for traditional haircuts. Currently, there are two major types of pomades: petroleum-based and water-based. The petroleum-based pomades are the traditional option but most of the new ones are water-based.

How to use: Take a small amount to your palm and warm it up. Just rub your hands together. Then apply the pomade to slightly damp hair.

  • Gives hair body and structure
  • Give you the option to get creative with your hair
  • Your hair can still blow in the wind
  • Safer ingredients – Most pomades just use vegetable oils such as aloe oil and its hip cousin coconut oil.
  • Does not dry out
  • Some pomades actually reverse and heal damage to split ends and dry hair
  • Because of its increasing popularity, pomade can be a little pricey.

Best pomade for men: Suavecito Pomade / Baxter of California Clay Pomade / Layrite Pomade

Here is what we can sum up for you: POMADE IS THE CLEAR WINNER, GUYS. Here’s why.

Pomade vs Gel & Wax vs Pomade

Pomade is safer and much more natural ingredient wise. With pomade, you can say goodbye to dry, brittle hair. In fact, pomade has nourishing effects for your hair and scalp. Pomade leaves your hair soft and natural looking but with just enough hold to get you through the day looking sharp. It does not leave visible residue in your hair or on your shirt. Pomade is good for all hair types. Even thick and unruly hair can be shaped easily with pomade.

At the end of the day, pomade wins.


Do you need a visual explanation? Here is a nice video from Youtube channel alpha m.



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