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17 Best Hair Pomades and Pastes for Men

As someone who both blow drys and straightens his naturally curly hair to achieve a sleek, side-parted pompadour as well goes fresh out the shower to embrace my curls, I'm always on the lookout for a hair product that will keep my hair in place without making it too greasy.

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In our recent article on washing out hair pomade, we briefly touched on some of the finer products available to the discerning gentleman.

Truth is, buying hair products can be something of a mind-boggling experience. Unless it's something your barber or stylist has used on your hair, it's hard to know what's going to keep that quiff high and mighty and what's going to quickly descend into a flat, greasy mess. So what are the best hair styling products for men?

pomade in hair

Clay, paste, pomade, wax or gel? Matte or shine? Big name brands or plucky newcomers? It's a jungle, but the monkeys are hurling little pucks of product instead of feces.

Luckily, we've turned our follicles into figurative guinea pigs in order to bring you a list you can depend on.

But enough with the animal metaphors, here are our favorite products to keep your hair on point. And best of all, they'll all come out with one wash.

What's the Difference?

Before we dive into this product roundup, let's define the differences between clays, pomades, and pastes:

  • Clays typically provide firm-hold, volume, and a matte finish.
  • Hair Pomade provides hold and shine simultaneously.
  • Pastes are typically thicker and provide a matte finish with a medium to firm hold.

(For lighter-hold and hands-off application, also check out hairsprays for men.)

Product Reviews

L'ANGE HAIR Salt + Séa Texturizing Pomade

L'ANGE HAIR Salt + Séa Texturizing Pomade

Reader, we've bought many, many hair products in our time on this earth. This New Zealand brand, by way of Brooklyn, was recommended by our recent interviewee Josh Ritter and Mr. Ritter knows his stuff. It's without a doubt one of the best hair pomades for men.

An incredibly pleasant-smelling concoction that spreads easily, holds brilliantly and never looks greasy. It's more towards the matte end of the spectrum but less so than a clay. A deserved winner in a strong field.

hair fibre paste

Sachajuan Fibre Paste

Sachajuan is a top-notch Swedish haircare brand brought to our attention by our barbering friend Sam Nosworthy at Ruffians. Top dog in their range is this superb fibre paste, a very pleasant-smelling hair paste that holds brilliantly and offers a subtle sheen that isn't totally matte but isn't super shiny either. If your do of choice is quiff-esque or requires a strong hold, you can't go wrong.

Sachajuan’s paste keeps your hair looking natural, shiny, and texturized. All while keeping your hair in an extra firm yet flexible hold.

Pros: Doesn't have a tacky feel
Cons: Can give a greasy look


Dapper Dan Heavy Hold Pomade

Sheffield has given the world many great things, from Ned Stark to Pulp. It's also home to Dapper Dan, a brand that makes something of a holy grail for pomade devotees: an oil-based hair pomade that washes out easily.

A lot of water-based pomades dry and hold like a gel, whereas Dapper Dan's offering feels much closer to the real deal, albeit without the necessity to rely on scorched earth tactics to remove it. The scent is also much milder than most of its contemporaries, making this one of the best pomades for men and one that is easy to recommend.

It's a very good quality pomade that offers a little shine and a lot of hold. It also isn’t prone to build up in your hair since it’s petrolatum free and won’t grease up your furniture.

Pros: Easy to apply
Cons: Pomade in the tin can look dry and cracked

Jack Black Clay Pomade

Jack Black Clay Pomade

Thankfully nothing to do with the star of School Of Rock, Jack Black is a men's skincare brand whose range runs the gamut from deodorant to moisturizer and includes this excellent clay pomade. We've experimented with a few different uses for this and found it excels at adding a flexible, messed-up texture to shorter, choppier styles.

fatboy hair putty

Fatboy Perfect Putty

We've been so overwhelmingly impressed by Fatboy that they've made our top ten twice. The Perfect Putty doesn't grip with the same vicelike hold of the Sea Salt Pomade, instead offering a bit more flexibility and ruffled scruff. If you tend to like your hair more the day after you've washed it, this putty will give that effect right out of the shower. Like its sea salt brethren, it smells amazing.

This putty is excellent to use on long hair - resulting in a soft, full and a matte finish that’s malleable; but also on short hair - creating that messy bed hair look. Hair will have the greatly sought after matte and gritty appearance, thanks to the clay mineral, Kaolin.

Pros: Economical - you'll need only the size of a nickel for one use
Cons: Some find it overly sticky

matte pomade

Uppercut Deluxe Matte Pomade

There's a weird time machine thing that happens when you open a tin of Uppercut Deluxe Matte Pomade. Instantly, the smell transports you back to that small barbershop where a much younger you got your locks shorn among black and white photos of high-cheekboned men with gravity-defying haircuts. At least, I was. Performance wise, this is a medium hold hair pomade that is true to its word, providing a great blend of movement, hold and texture.

It’s also silicone free, non-greasy and soluble with water and so washes out fairly easily. It’s good to use with any length of hair.

Pros: Holds all day
Cons: Scent could be more pleasant

hair clay

Aveda Men Pureformance Clay

What Aveda's clay offers over the others on this list is an abundance of volume. So, if you like a bit of pomp in your pompadour, reach for this fragrant clay and watch it pump up the volume. It might be a bit much for gents whose hair is already quite thick, but it's manna from heaven for anyone with finer locks.

This amazing clay provides a strong hold and adds volume and body to even fine hair. Although it’s quite a lightweight product, you’ll only need the smallest amount to style your hair and have it emanate a subtle lavender and citrus fragrance.

Pros: Lightweight
Cons: Pricey

Murdock Vintage Pomade

Murdock Classic Pomade

Murdock deviates from the standard pomade smells with this fresh, citrusy, water-based hair pomade, a pleasingly gooey orange hair paste that looks and smells like it might taste of Starburst (it doesn't). If your style of choice is a slicked back, glossy quiff then this is just the ticket. It spreads through the hair well, holds steady and doesn't dry stiffly. It also works nicely when used sparingly to take the dullness of a more matte product.

baxter pomade

Baxter of California Clay Pomade

Baxter have a range hair pomades, all of which can be used individually or combined to create the perfect look. Whether you prefer a matte, natural or high shine look, the Clay Pomade makes the perfect base to create the style with a firm hold. If you then want a bit more sheen, you can choose from the natural shine of the Cream Pomade or the super glossy Soft Water Pomade.

This specific unscented and silicone-free pomade will hold your hairstyle all day long. Using it on dry hair will give you a natural bed head look with minimal crunch and a matte finish.

Pros: Good hold
Cons: Must wash hair well to remove product

classic pomade

Imperial Classic Pomade

One for fans of watermelon flavor Jolly Ranchers and firmly fixed styles. Imperial's water-based hair pomade keeps your hair exactly where you want it, although it dries a little stiff. It can be reactivated by just running a wet hand through your hair and it washes out without fuss.

This pomade’s claim to fame is being completely adjustable in terms of shine and hold depending on how wet or dry hair is on application. It can also be “reactivated” after a few hours and - with a splash of water - you can restyle your hair.

Pros: No crunchy feeling hair
Cons: Holds only for a couple of hours

euchrisma hair clay

Truefitt & Hill Euchrisma Clay 

I really liked this Texture Clay and it's great for when you want a little more movement in your hair but still want a strong hold.

The unique thing about this Texture Clay is that it is made with Bentonite Clay which has stimulating and healing properties to promote scalp health!  

I will say this product is very similar to the Baxter of California Clay Pomade but the product does have a little more play and is less stiff.

R+Co Continental Glossing Wax


R+Co's CONTINENTAL Glossing Wax is easily one of the most versatile hair products I've ever used.

I work about a pea-sized amount of the shimmering blue water-based wax between my hands and run it through damp hair before I blow dry.

The product is super lightweight and gives shine without making my hair look greasy. 

I also love to use this product when I'm wearing my hair curly. Again, I apply a pea to dime-sized amount of product between my hands and then to damp hair.

I then define my curls and the glossing wax helps give shine and also definition to my curls.

On top of its performance, the fragrance is fantastic with a bright and earthy composition with notes of eucalyptus, green tea, tree moss, and crisp amber.

hair paste

Martial Vivot Paste 

The Martial Vivot Paste is a versatile styling product that provides a soft to medium hold. I use this when I'm going for a more disheveled, curly style.

The paste provides a nice texture and definition to my curls without being too sticky, greasy, or crunchy. One thing I really love about this product is the packaging.

The sleek, matte black container looks great sitting on my bathroom counter. Additionally, it's full of ingredients that are good for you scalp and hair like hemp seed oil, castor seed oil, and Vitamin B, to name a few.

It's an organic aloe based paste will sculpt your and de-frizz your locks whilst adding volume and body to your style. It also helps to moisturize your hair and won’t cause your skin to breakout.

Pros: Nourishes hair

Cons: Pricey

18.21 clay

18.21 Man Made Clay

Typically, when I use a hair clay, I expect the product to be stiff and waxy when I'm scooping it out of the container.

One surprise with the 18.21 Man Made Hair Clay was that it was much looser and wetter than I was expecting.

However, once I rubbed it between my hands, it started to quickly dry down and behave like other hair clay.

This clay will help give a thicker look to hair so it’s perfect for use on thin and fine hair. It also gives a natural, matte look and gives your locks a separated, texturized look. And it's great for blow drying.

Pros: Creates a natural look
Cons: Not recommended for those with thicker hair

18.21 hair paste

18.21 Man Made Paste

This hair paste is a bit firmer than other hair pastes I've used in the past, but it smoothes down nicely when worked between the hands.

This is the perfect balance of shine and hold. It's especially great for when you've just washed your hair and want to get some moisture and shine back into it without being heavy on the hair.

It's a lovely smelling paste will create a natural look with its soft hold but it also boasts a medium shine. It can work with all hair types and you’ll only need the smallest amount to get your desired look.

I'm definitely on a convert from always using hair wax to using this hair paste!  

Pros: Sweet tobacco scent
Cons: Could add more body

18.21 pomade

18.21 Man Made Pomade

Of the three different hair products, the pomade provides the highest shine and the lightest hold.

The hair pomade is all about providing flexible hold and shine which is perfect for creating that classic, sleek, side-parted styles.

My favorite thing about all the 18.21 products is the scent.

Their signature Sweet Tobacco oil blend is rich and not overpowering with initial notes of spicy saffron and dried fruit dry down to reveal notes of manuka honey, dark-toned vanilla a touch of tobacco, exotic woods, and powdery musk. 

For that classic look, choose this which will help you shine without the greasiness. It provides a medium hold that allows your hair to be flexible and is good to use on all lengths and textures.

Pros: Flexible hold
Cons: Could have more hold

IGK BEACH CLUB Soft Texture Paste

IGK Beach Club Soft Texture Paste

I'm a huge fan of the IGK Beach Club Texture Spray so I was excited to try the Broken Dreams Texture Paste.

One thing I hate is after I wash and dry my hair, it looks dry and a little frizzy and doesn't cooperate.  

This texture paste is a medium hold and gives freshly cleaned hair that second-day, lived-in look.

The paste also includes argan oil which naturally strengthens and nourishes hair while providing a light shine.

The scent is also great with sophisticated notes of black pepper, blackberries, dewy violet, geranium, and leather accord.

L’ANGE HAIR Salt + Séa Texturizing Pomade
  • Pleasant smell
  • Spreads easily
  • Holds hair brilliantly
Sachajuan Fibre Paste
  • Offers a subtle sheen
  • Top-notch Swedish brand
  • Popular
Dapper Dan Heavy Hold Pomade
  • Mild and clean scent
  • Washes out easily
  • Affordable

While applying pomades or clay is one thing, getting them out is another - check out our guide on removing pomade easily or get some inspiration on easy hairstyles you can re-create at home.

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17 Best Hair Pomades and Pastes for Men

Mark Grassick joins us with over 17 years' experience as a journalist covering pop culture in the UK and Ireland. He's interviewed everyone from Alan Rickman to Iron Maiden and is currently a bearded, music-mad father of two and husband of one residing in London, England.