Ever since I watched the Coen Brothers’ ‘O brother, where art thou?’, I’ve been obsessed with pomade. There’s this moment in the movie when George Clooney runs out of his favorite one and proclaims, “but I don’t want Fop, Goddamn it. I’m a Dapper Dan man!” That passionate loyalty to his beloved brand of pomade cut straight through the Bieber bangs I had at the time and instilled in my 14-year-old brain the idea that using a great pomade makes all the difference. (And I proceeded to cut the Bieber bangs off.) While on tour, there’s not a day that I don’t put pomade in my hair, even if it’s long and grown out.
For those thinking, “WTF is pomade?” it’s a type of grease, cream, or wax-like substance used by dudes to slick back or otherwise style their hair. (But ladies, feel free to use it too. Women power. Fuck the patriarchy.) It comes in various “hold” strengths and smells. I’ve spent years trying to find my very own “Dapper Dan” – a pomade that would drive me to Clooney-level insanity if I didn’t have it. So far, I’ve found 5 exceptional brands that each deserve a Best of 2017 award. So read up…grab your comb, brush, fingers, or whatever freaky tool you use to style your hair and channel your inner greaser.
I’ve known Byrd’s founder, Chase, for a few years now. He just gets it. And it really reflects in the way the company markets and positions themselves. So classic and cool. If you follow them on Instagram you’ll see what I mean…Beautiful beaches and even more beautiful people. I can say from personal experience that all three of their styling products are top notch, but I particularly love the matte pomade. It smells great. It’s not very shiny. And stays in all day.
Embodies: Steve Mcqueen, Paul Newman, Jay Gatsby.
Pros: Fresh Scent, honest hold, great packaging, and good for travel.
Con: Not available in many stores.
Price: $14 for 1 oz. tin, available here
2. “Matt Pomade” by Hairgum
Made in France, this is one of my favorites. I don’t remember how I found it, but I’ve gotten a bunch of my friends hooked. I tend to like pomades that stay in all day, but don’t have a helmet-esque strong hold (honestly the adjective coming to mind here is “crunchy”). That’s a tough combination to find, and I think Hairgum strikes a great balance. It doesn’t smell bad, but it’s not the greatest in terms of scent. I’d say it’s greatest strength is functionality…works great for simple dudes who just want some texture on a normal day.
Embodies: Less James Dean, more 90’s Leo. Not a bad problem to have.
Pros: Stays in all day, functional, casual, good for travel.
Cons: Mediocre scent, hard to find.
Price: $15 for 1.3 oz tin, available here
The name says it all. If you’re looking for that old school, barber shop-style slick, this is the one. It has a stronger hold than the rest of these pomades, and it’s significantly more shiny. But don’t be fooled, it’s not thick and dense like you’d expect. It’s surprisingly light and easy to put on. This pomade was a recommendation by Cable Car Clothiers, a great little shop in downtown San Francisco that serves the likes of many other musicians and artists (Elvis Costello and G Eazy to name a couple). It smells like victory with a hint of coconut, and makes you feel like your grandpa in his prime. (I mean that in the best way possible.) I don’t wear it all the time because it’s pretty hard to wash out, but it’s great to have on hand for those certain occasions or when I just want to feel old school AF.
Embodies: James Dean, Little Richard, Elvis Presley.
Pros: Slick, dapper, strong hold, smells fantastic. Good deal.
Cons: Harder to wash out, requires more than the suggested use.
Price: $13 for 4 oz tin, available here.
I was recommended this pomade by a fan about a month ago (I think it was Daniel Duffy on Twitter?) and Admiral was kind enough to send me a tin to test it out. I was very impressed. The vanilla scent is delicious but still masculine. And depending on how much you put in, you can do different things with your hair, which I’ve found isn’t always the case with pomades. This is a great beginner’s pomade for those who are less experienced because it has a light to medium hold and isn’t too shiny. Stays in for about 4-6 hours. They also offer a matte clay and a classic pomade.
Pros: Light, smells great, honest hold. Good price.
Cons: Solid amount in the tin but I had to use a bit more than I thought. Doesn’t stay in all day.
Price: $14 for 4 oz tin available on the admiral website.
5. “Texture Paste” by Fellow Barber
When we were on tour with Fidlar a few months back, I went to a barber shop in San Diego looking to try something new and different. They recommended this matte-esque pomade. It’s tougher to put in, but stays in all day. This is one of my girlfriend’s favorites, largely due to the smell. The best way to describe it would be fresh fennel and spearmint… unique and ridiculously good. Definitely try this if you want texture but feel strange with shiny hair.
Embodies: Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender.
Pros: Smell, hold, good for travel.
Cons: Harder to apply, kinda pricey.
Price: $22 for 2 oz tin found here.
Though I’d argue that these are the best five pomades out there right now, I’ll never stop searching. So if anyone has any hot tips or recommendations, hook a brotha up.