Oil Based and Waterbased Pomade - What’s the difference?

Knowledge is Power

The vast variety of pomades can be a bit intimidating at first. One of the important things to know is the difference between is an Oil based and a Waterbased pomade. In knowing the difference, you can make a good decision on what product is right for you.

 Oil Based Pomades

The first pomades were oil based pomades. They’re the real OG’s, the stuff your grandpa used to wear. They were slick, shiny, and generally stayed in the hair for days. They’ve developed a bit over time to be a bit easier to work with but definitely have a bit more of a learning curve than waterbed pomades. They tend to not wash out as easily, without maybe a couple/few shampooings (is that a word?). This can be a pro and a con. The benefit to this is that you can restyle it all day, wake up the next day and restyle again potentially without even needing to apply more product. Like George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou. They can come in a variety of holds from light to heavy, light holds generally have more oil and less wax, higher shine, while heavies tend to have more wax and less oil, and a bit less shine.

Petroleum Oil Based Pomades - Use petrolatum as the main carrier for the product. Oils are used as well, in addition to the waxes, but characterized by their petrolatum content. These products tend to be the most slick in texture. Expect a bit of a greasier feel, however some of them, like our Black Cat Pomade, are formulated in such a way where they still are very clean feeling in the hair. Petrolatum (or petroleum) oil based Pomades are perhaps the most traditional of all the pomades, the most old school.

Non-Petro Oil Based Pomades - Some oil based pomades are formulated without petrolatum. They generally use oils and waxes still, sometimes with butters such as shea butter. These products tend to feel a bit drier, a bit tougher to apply, and don’t have the same level of shine and workability of a petro pomade, but they do have some real benefits - one being that they are often a bit more natural, and tend to feel a bit less greasy.

Waterbased Pomade

Waterbased pomades were created later to mimic oil based pomades but in a perhaps more convenient way. They tend to be a bit more approachable in the way they style and also wash out of the hair much more readily than an oil based pomade. Most of our products are actually waterbased, but a particular type of waterbased pomade. They can still come in a variety of holds, and can have different levels of shine. The shine is a bit different though, and they tend to be a bit less re-stylable than an oil based pomade.

Gel type Waterbased pomade (orthodox waterbased)- Waterbased, tend to use more chemicals and alcohols which allow the pomade to wash out entirely with just water, however tend to leave the hair feeling a bit crisper like a gel as it dries. There are pros to these types of pomades such as ease of use and ability to lock in a style.

Unorthodox Waterbased Pomades - Sort of our specialty. See our Original, High Noon and Clay. These waterbased pomades still use water as the base, but with oils and waxes replacing the alcohols and chemicals found in a gel type. These products tend to be a touch harder to wash out than gel types, but much easier than an oil based - one shampooing will wash it out for sure, and sometimes even just water will do the trick. In some ways they can be seen as the best of both worlds because they’re restylable, generally more natural, can still provide great hold and endurance, but are still approachable, easy to use and water soluble. Plus they won’t crisp up in your hair like a gel type!