I’ve had the same haircut going on four or five years now. I know exactly how to order it up at the barber. (“Classic side part, with volume to build height at the front. Number three to taper at the sides and back.”) It’s uncomplicated, it looks good, and I’ve had enough practice that I can style it into its customary coif with my eyes closed. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you, like me, are a creature of habit. My grooming product, pomade, doesn’t deviate much, either. But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck without any options when I want to switch it up.
Whether you reach for a light, medium or high-hold pomade, that can your holding isn’t just the key ingredient to Mad Men-era swagger – it’s one of the most versatile items in your medicine cabinet and fully capable of fixing your ‘do in a variety of styles. It often depends on how (or rather, when) you use it.
How much pomade to apply
The key to applying pomade is coverage. For most styles, you’ll want to rub a dime-sized amount of pomade between your hands, then tousle your hair all the way through. If it doesn’t look like a disaster before you reach for the comb and clean it up, keep going. Even application ensures a consistent style and even hold.
For structure (high hold)
My go-to, and best for classic side parts or modern pompadours with structure and/or height. For me, a hairstyle with high hold begins when you step out of the shower. Apply pomade to towel-dry hair – not waterlogged, mind you – and comb through with a classic barber’s comb. Allow to air dry. The end result will be clean, sculpted and uniform.
For extra texture (medium hold)
For men with medium-length hair or longer (and, sure, guys who might not be regulars at a Scotch lounge), a little less hold is in order. After toweling dry, wait a few minutes until your hair’s just north of damp. Apply pomade and finger comb into your desired look. The hold will still be there, but you’ll have achieved a more casual look that can still be restyled during the day after a splash of water.
For a more natural look (soft hold)
For when you want a shorter or low-maintenance style to stay put, but still want it to remain wholly touchable. Comb your hair into place after you wash up, then let it fully air dry. Take a smaller amount of pomade at first —you can always add more later — and lightly (lightly) finger comb your hair into your desired style.
Gentleman’s word: This advice applies to many types of pomade. But you may be wondering about the glacier clay pomade in the photo at the top. It was part of a sample pack sent my way by Wise, a new men’s care line with a focus on sustainable, eco-friendly products. I use it, I enjoy it, and even though this blog’s not about it in particular, it makes for a great photo, doesn’t it?