Pomades vs Wax vs Gel vs Clay

Aside from a well-groomed beard, a perfectly styled hair is the first thing girls and guys notice on a man.

Magnificent beard and hair also show you have a sense of fashion and boost your confidence more than anything else.

However, browsing for a perfect product just for your hair type can be a daunting task and a real adventure that almost always ends with you being overwhelmed and not finding what you need.

We’ve all been there.

If you think finding the best beard care products is challenging, try finding hair styling products.

With so many options, it’s easier to win a lottery than find THE ONE.

To save you from fruitless experimentation and spending a fortune, we’ve cut it down to 4 essential, most popular hair styling products and the only ones you really need: pomade, wax, gel and clay.

We broke down each one of them to show you how they work, what look they’re best used for, how to use them properly and more.

Table Of Contents

What Is a Hair Pomade

Pomade is considered by many as a creamy product used for the hair. It is made of a water-based, waxy, or greasy substance, which contributes a lot to getting the hairstyle one wants. You can use the traditional pomade, which is slick and oil-based or the modern ones that are usually water-based.

Regardless of what type of hair pomade you use, you can expect it to style your hair just the way you want and make it last the entire day. It is an incredible hair styling product whether you prefer having shiny hair, slick backed hair, spiked-up hair, or messy yet well-styled hair.

Benefits of Using a Pomade

Boasts of Its Superior Strength

Pomade has a superior strength, which is the reason behind its ability to hold your hair securely in place. The fact that it is strong is the reason why many use it in styling curly hair, as well as those that seem to be out of control.

Makes Hair Look Shiny

Pomade can also make your hair look stunningly shiny. It gives it a gorgeous wet-look, too. The best smelling cologne for men provides the quality most users want because of its ingredients. The same is applicable for pomades as the shine it provides to your hair is due to its ingredients, like olive, coconut, and castor oils.

Locks in Moisture

Another advantage of pomade is that it is capable of locking in more moisture to your hair. Applying it on your hair while it is still wet or over a moisturizer, which is water-based, will even make the pomade more effective in locking in moisture for much longer.

How Does a Pomade Work

How Does a Pomade Work

A good pomade works by bringing your hair to shape and giving it a nice look and shine. The primary ingredients in this product are usually petrolatums and vegetable oils, like aloe oil and coconut oil. These are effective in making your hair look as shiny and healthy as possible.

Pomades also work with the aid of microcrystalline wax or beeswax, as both can help enhance the consistency and stiffness of hair styled with the product. It is also known to function in a way that does not cause your hair to dry out. It also makes for a fantastic choice, especially if you have heard bits of advice to get a hair wax that doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

Pros and Cons of Pomades

When trying to figure out if pomade is the most appropriate hair styling product for you, it is crucial to learn more about its set of pros and cons. Here are some of them:


  • Highly versatile since you can put it on dry hair if you prefer a matte finish or wet or damp hair if you want to have a slick look
  • Strengthens your style without losing your hair’s shine.
  • Can hold the style for a long period
  • Makes your hair look shiny and well-moisturized


    • Slightly difficult to remove compared to other hair styling products
  • Might aggravate acne

Types of Hair Pomades

A good spray for the body with a pleasant scent can improve your confidence. You can further boost your confidence and how good you feel about yourself by using the right hair styling product. If you prefer using hair pomades then be aware of its different types so you can better decide which one suits you well:

Water-Based Pomade

Water-based pomades are the modern versions of the product. While the water-based ones are known for having less hold compared to other kinds of pomade, they also have the advantage of being easy and hassle-free to remove. You can take them off by spending just a few minutes in the shower.

Oil-Based Pomade

This pomade is an older version, which has the advantage of giving your hairstyle a better hold than when you are using a water-based one. It also makes your hair look shiny. One drawback, though, is that it is not that easy to remove from your hair.

Hybrid Pomade

This pomade is water-soluble, which is made to be a firm version of the pomade based on oil. One advantage of a hybrid pomade is that it easily gets into your hair. It is also easy to wash. You can wash and rinse it off with just one shampoo.

What Is Hair Wax

What Is Hair Gel

Hair wax is another hair styling product that you can use if you intend to hold your preferred hairstyle. It is capable of holding your hair securely in place for a longer period. It can, therefore, give it a much better hold. Compared to pomade, some people prefer using hair wax because some pomades tend to make hair greasier.

A lot of hair waxes use beeswax as their main ingredient. This ingredient is the one responsible for providing a moderate and strong hold to your hair while also giving it a matte finish. What is good about it is that it does not cause your hair to get stiff and hard. You can expect hair wax to work well for those with short and medium-length hair as well as oily and normal hair. You can also use it in case your hair is frizzy or wavy.

Benefits of Using a Wax

Offers a Better Hold

One major benefit of hair wax is that it has a much better hold compared to other hair styling products. This hold is one of the reasons why it also works well for spiked hairstyles – those with hair that stands on the head. In terms of hold, hair wax works better than a pomade.

Easy to Remove

Another favorable benefit of hair wax is that you can easily remove it. In fact, you can do so with just one wash of a shampoo.


It is because a hair wax works for almost all types of hair, whether thick or thin. You will also be able to use it regardless of your current hair length.

How Does a Wax Work

You can expect your hair wax to work depending on the set of ingredients used in creating it. One ingredient that makes it work is the wax itself, more specifically beeswax. It works by offering assistance when it comes to holding your hairstyle for quite a long period.

It aids in putting texture on your hair while retaining the shine and adequate control. Just like a shaving kit with basic shaving tools, hair wax is also being used by a lot of men as part of their grooming routines. It is because it allows them to style their hair in a specific way – one that they prefer for proper grooming and their daily life.

Pros and Cons of Waxes

What can you further expect from a hair wax? Here is its set of pros and cons so you can better decide if it will work for you:


  • Has a nice smell – Like a great cologne with an affordable price, most hair waxes also produce a nice scent due to its all-natural ingredients.
  • Enhances shine and moisture of your hair
  • Perfect for those with sensitive skin
  • Allows you to sport a more professional hairstyle or a messy one
  • Can be restyled throughout the day


  • Might cause dryness after several hours
  • A bit hard to distribute evenly on hair

What Is Hair Gel

A hair gel is also another of the most frequently used hair styling products by men. It is made in a way that it can harden or stiffen your hair strands, so it holds a specific style. It often consists of water as well as proteins, oil, conditioners, and humectants.

You can expect a good hair gel to work for the majority of hair types. It is also made in a way that you can apply it to dry or wet hair. You can also use this product in creating hairstyles ranging from spiky, messy, and slicked-back.

Benefits of Using a Hair Gel

Benefits of Using a Hair Gel

In a similar way as when you can hide skin imperfections with a dark spot corrector, a hair gel can provide plenty of favorable benefits for your hair – among which are the following:

Allows You to Control Your Hair

A good hair gel makes it possible for you to obtain full control over your hairstyle. It lets you have the kind of hairstyle you want no matter what it is.

Provides Hair With Proper Nutrients

You may also find hair gels that supply proper nutrients to your hair. You can often get that from the organic type – those fused with natural and organic herbs. With the presence of these herbs, your hair and scalp will be nourished. This benefit is particularly helpful for those with somewhat lifeless hair or dry scalp caused by insufficient nutrients.

Capable of Holding Moisture

This can make your hair look as attractive as possible. The fact that it can hold moisture also ensures that your hair will have life and shine.

How Does a Hair Gel Work

A hair gel works by shaping your hair. It performs such a function by strengthening the consistency of your hair cuticle. This is the role played by the hair gel’s primary ingredient. In most hair gel products, this ingredient is known as the PVP (a polymer sealer). This ingredient’s polymers undergo a process that dissolves them in either alcohol or water, resulting in the formation of a clear film found in between every strand of hair.

This can attach all your hair strands together. Applying the hair gel to wet hair also leads to the main ingredient absorbing water more quickly. Once the hair gel dries up, expect it to create a fixed and firm connection between each strand, allowing it to deliver its promised benefits.

Pros and Cons of Hair Gels

For you to decide whether hair gels are indeed good for you, you should gather as much information as you can about its pros and cons, including the following:


  • Guarantees to provide users with a very strong hold
  • Highly flexible hair styling product as it works well for various styles
  • Easy and quick to wash
  • Can help define and enhance curls
  • Adds shine, body, and volume to your hair


  • In some cases, it might cause your hair to become excessively hard.
  • Causes white flakes

What Is a Hair Clay

What Is a Hair Clay

Hair clay refers to a hair styling product with traits and characteristics quite similar to the hair wax. It is created in a way that can enhance your hair’s softness and remove its tangles. It is also useful in building hair volume as well as absorbing grease and oil. Some hair clays even have properties designed to get rid of impurities.

Many prefer styling their hair using hair clay because it results in a better density and a cleaner feeling. It also supports sculpting highly versatile hairstyles. It is a good choice if you do not want to experience the sticky feel often caused by pomades and hair waxes.

Benefits of Using a Clay

Promotes Hair Fullness

One great advantage of using hair clay is that it ensures that your hair feels fuller. It does so by providing body and additional thickness to each strand. With that, expect your hair to showcase the kind of volume you want.

Uses a Lightweight Formula

The fact that most hair clays today are created using a lightweight formula is also a big advantage. It is because this formula makes it possible for your hair to have an easier time absorbing it without any leftover residue.

Ideal for Hairstyles Needing Volume

Due to the fullness provided by a high-quality hair clay, expect it to work well for you if you want a hairstyle that has volume. It promises to provide you with such volume without causing your hair to be weighed down.

How Does a Hair Clay Work

Just like when you can expect to hide skin imperfections with a dark spot corrector, it is also possible for a hair clay to work wonders in solving some hair issues and imperfections. One thing that it can do for your hair is giving it a nice matte or semi-matte texture.

It also works by providing your hair with a medium to high hold and retaining it for quite a long time. One reason why hair clays work is that it contains clay in its formulation. The most frequently used one is called bentonite, a fully natural type of clay.

The presence of this ingredient makes the product work in boosting the thickness, structure, and body of each strand. With that, it is possible for your hair to obtain the structure and stability you want it to achieve throughout the day.

Pros and Cons of Hair Clays

Here is a shortlist of the pros and cons of hair clays that will let you determine if these products are worthwhile to use:


  • Comes with natural healing properties that can stimulate your scalp and shaft – This makes it ideal for men who have sensitive scalp and skin as well as those who want to stimulate hair growth.
  • Rich in nutrients and minerals that can nourish your scalp and hair
  • Maintains and controls frizzy hair
  • Helps remove dirt and hair impurities without losing its natural oils
  • Offers a matte finish, allowing your hair to appear more natural


  • Some brands are expensive.

Pomade vs Wax vs Gel vs Clay Feature Comparison

Now that you have gathered some relevant information about the hair styling products highlighted in this article, namely the pomade, wax, gel, and clay, it is time to compare them based on the individual features they have.

By comparing their features, it would be easier to pick one of the mentioned products truly appropriate and suitable for you. Here are some features to focus on when trying to make comparisons:

Shine or Matte

Pomade vs Wax vs Gel vs Clay Feature Comparison - Shine or Matte

When it comes to having more shine or getting a matte finish, some say that pomade, specifically the water-based one, as well as the hair wax seem to take the lead. Both of these products are known for having a matte finish.

The two also have properties that seem to make your hair look shinier. Hair wax, though, has a more texturized and looser finish. With that in mind, it is advisable to go for pomade if you wish your hair’s finish to have a high level of shine.

Long-Lasting or Not

If you want to use a hair styling product with a much longer-lasting result, then consider going for pomade. It would be best to pick the water-based type as it has a strong hold that lasts long. Hair wax is also another great choice.

Although it is not as long-lasting as pomade, it is still a great choice because it is easier to reapply compared to the other products. Even after each of your workouts, it is still possible for the wax to help you sport a new hairstyle or shape with ease.


In terms of workability, the hair wax and pomade are also among the top choices of many. Note that hair wax is thicker in comparison to gel. This makes it capable of providing a hold similar to a gel, but without causing dryness often triggered by the alcohol content in most gels.

Hair wax is, therefore, more workable as it lets you change your hairstyle as you deem fit even after you have applied some of it earlier. The same kind of workability can also be expected from pomades. It is because it lets you provide your hair with the structure and body you prefer. Furthermore, you can use pomade to use your creativity when styling your hair.

Does it Dry or Flake the Hair

When deciding which one to choose from pomades, wax, gel, or clay, it is also advisable to find out which one will and will not cause dryness or flaking. If you do not want to deal with excessive dryness and flaking, it would be much better to pick either pomade or hair waxes.

Avoid hair gels as much as possible as they often have a drying effect on your hair because of their alcohol content. This dryness might lead to your hair’s brittleness and stiffness over time. Hair gels also tend to develop white flakes on your hair.


When it comes to the hold, the strongest is probably the hair gel. It has the strongest and firmest hold out of the many hair styling products in the sense that it helps your hair stay in place the entire day. The problem with this is that such a strong and firm hold is also the reason why it is not that workable.

If you want the hold to be medium to medium-hard then consider choosing the hair wax. It lets your hair stay in place while still providing relative ease when it comes to restyling it at any time of the day. Pomade, on the other hand, provides medium to high hold. As for the clay, many noticed that it has the weakest hold out of the different hair styling products.

Smell and Ingredients

It is also advisable to check out the smell and ingredients of the different hair styling products introduced to you. That way, you can better decide which one can satisfy you in such aspects. If a nice scent and an all-natural set of ingredients are what you are after, then go for pomades. It is because pomades are often scented.

Pomades also have the safest set of ingredients because they are usually all-natural. Among the ingredients used in this product are vegetable oils, like coconut oil and aloe oil.

When it comes to hair waxes, you have to be extra careful when choosing. It is because some of them contain chemicals that might damage your hair. Gels also often contain alcohol that might lead to your hair getting excessively dry.

Pomade vs Wax vs Gel vs Clay - Smell and Ingredients


The prices for different hair styling products also seem to differ. If you prefer to use pomade, then you will be glad to know that most of the products here are relatively cheap, ensuring that styling your hair with it will not break the bank.

You may also go for hair waxes if you want more variations in terms of the price range. It is because you can find a hair wax sold at an extremely low price while others are being offered at excessively high price tags. High-quality hair waxes may also cost roughly twenty dollars.

Hair gels are also available at low and high prices, so be extra cautious when it comes to shopping for one. Probably, the most expensive out of the different hair styling products is the clay. With its high price tag, it is advisable to study the ones being introduced to you before making your choice, so you will know if it is worth it.

Choosing the Right Hair Styling Product Based on Your Hair Type

Your hair type matters a lot when it comes to selecting the right hair styling product for you. Here are some things to take note of when it comes to selecting a good hair styling product that perfectly suits your hair type.

Straight Hair

If you have straight hair, then you will surely feel glad to know that almost all styling products are appropriate for you. The one you should choose will now depend on the style of hair you have. Also, remember that there are instances when straight hair looks slightly flat and thin.

If that’s the case, consider picking a hair styling product that can add more volume to it. Gels and pomades can often provide a finish with a wet look. Hair waxes and clays, on the other hand, can offer more volume while retaining its natural-looking matte finish. It is also advisable to use hairspray as a means of holding your hairstyle securely in place.

Curly Hair

While most curly hair types already look appealing on their own, you can further enhance the style by using certain products. Go for those that can provide it with enough hold without removing the natural moisture from both your scalp and hair.

If that’s the case, then go for pomade as it allows your curly hair to have a more textured and healthier look. It might not be a good idea to use wax, clay or gel if you have curly hair as it might only cause it to get too dry.

How to Use a Hair Pomade

Step 1 – Dry your hair with a towel first

It should still be damp enough in the sense that it is also malleable. However, be extra cautious and ensure that it is not too wet that you will have a hard time styling and controlling it.

Step 2 – Put some of your chosen pomades to your hand

Rub this product between your fingers and palms. Do so until it is coated evenly.

Step 3 – Apply the pomade

It should be applied from the two sides. Smooth it to your hair while gently styling it the way you want.

How to Use Hair Wax

Step 1 – Dab a small amount of your chosen hair wax to your palm

Just like when you apply your face cream, make sure that you are using just the right amount of wax to maximize its benefits to your hair.

Step 2 – Spread the wax throughout your hair

Rub it through your hands than warm it up. Do so until you get the kind of look that you are eyeing for. When spreading the wax, begin at the roots then move to the ends to ensure proper distribution.

One thing to remember when using hair wax is that you need to apply it while your hair is still wet if your goal is to give it better hold. If you wish your hair to have less hold, then put it on when it is dry.

How to Use Hair Gel

Step 1 – Squirt a bit of the hair gel into your hand

A wise recommendation is to begin with a dime-sized amount of the gel. You can then increase it if necessary.

Step 2 – Rub your hands together

Let the gel spread through all your fingers.

Step 3 – Spread it evenly through your hair

Do it similarly to when you spread hairspray evenly across the hair. Continue spreading to style your hair the way you want.

A wise tip is to apply the gel while you still have wet hair if you want to achieve more hold. If you want to obtain less hold, then putting it on once your hair is already dry is necessary.

How to Use a Hair Clay

Step 1 – Put around a pea-sized amount of the clay on your hands

Make sure that your hair is already clean before you start the process, though. It should be free of any residue. Also, remember that the hair clay needs to be layered, so just a small amount will do. You can just put on more if necessary.

Step 2 – Rub both your hands once the clay is already on your palms

This is necessary for warming it up. This step should not leave any bits or clumps of clay on your hands.

Step 3 – Put it on your hair for styling

In case you want to push back your hair, then begin coating the top of it. You can find this on the underside. Let your hands work through your hair, starting from the root to the tip. Let the product coat your hair evenly. Make it a point to focus on making your hair more defined and obtain volume when doing so.

Step 4 – Finish or fix your hair

You can do so by spraying it with a good hairspray. If possible, use a bit more of the clay, too, as a means of sweeping over your hair’s surface. This aids in picking up and fixing flyaway strands. Some people say that aftershave balm revitalized irritated skin and the same premise applies to the clay as you can use it for fixing any flaw on your hair.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

When it comes to hair styling products, you do not have to go for those sold at extremely high prices. Note that there are various factors that should influence your decision aside from the price. Among them are the ability of the product to last long, suitability to your hair type, hold, and scent and ingredients.

While it is also advisable to consider the price, avoid using it as your sole basis for your decision. Also, once you have selected from pomade, wax, gel, or clay, make sure that the final product you picked has the proper balance of quality, effectiveness, and price.

Do’s and Don’ts With Hair Styling Products

Put on the Right Amount of Product

It should be enough to style your hair as an excessive amount might only weigh it down. To determine the right amount of product to use, consider the length of your hair as well as the style you are after.

View the Amounts in the Sizes of Coins

For instance, if you have short hair, then a dime-size of gel or pomade will already work. If it is shoulder-length, then go for a nickel-sized amount. Longer hairstyles might need more, around a quarter size of any product you have chosen to use.

Make Sure to Massage It to Your Hair

Do this to ensure that it reaches your strands. It also helps your hair get fully coated and increase the product’s staying power. Do not forget to massage your scalp to relieve tension, too.

Use a Lightweight Gel

If your hair is short, then make it a point to choose a lightweight hair gel if you are planning to use one. This will prevent your strands from getting excessively clogged up.

Apply Serum If Your Hair is Damp and Coarse

This can add more moisture to your hair. Apply the serum before using your chosen hair styling product and blow-drying your hair.

Don’t Use Styling Wax Without Warming It First

Make sure to use warm hands when handling the wax to add warmth to it. This warmth promotes ease in using and controlling the product.

Don’t Use Spirit-Based Hair Styling Products

You have to avoid these products, especially if you are dealing with damaged or dry hair. It is because the spirits might also lead to excessive dryness.

FAQ About Different Hair Styling Products

FAQ About Different Hair Styling Products

Which one is better: Hair wax or gel?

Hair wax and gel both provide benefits to users when it comes to styling their hair. This is the reason why the better choice between the two will fully depend on your preferences, the type of hair you have and your preferred hairstyle.

If you want to gain more fine control, though, hair wax is a much better choice than gel.
It is because the gel tends to clump everything together.

If you want a rock-solid hairstyle, go for a gel as it provides a much stronger hold between the two.

What is the difference between clay and wax?

If you want to choose between a clay and hair wax, then take note that the two have a few differences.
Hair wax can be expected to provide more hold and shine to your hair.

Clay, on the other hand, tends to be more specialized as it focuses on helping those who intend to increase the volume of their hair using a natural and matte finish.

Hair clay is, therefore, more effective in enhancing your hair’s volume and adding body to it.
Another difference between the two is that hair wax tends to have a higher shine compared to clay.

It has a glossy and sleek finish that makes it perfect for a formal event or night-out.

How is pomade different from gel?

When shopping for a hair styling product it is crucial to remember that pomade is different from a gel.

Pomade actually serves as a great substitute to gel if you do not want to deal with the negative side effects of the latter, including dryness and flaking.

You have two basic options for the pomade – the water-based, which is water-soluble, allowing you to wash it easily with water, and the oil-based, which usually consists of greasy ingredients, such as petroleum, beeswax and lanolin.

As for the gel, it is different in the sense that it has a translucent color and comes with a thinner consistency compared to pomade.
However, you can still view it as either heavyweight or lightweight based on its hold.

Gel also differs from pomade in the sense that it hardens on your hair, giving it a wet and shiny look and a somewhat stiff feel.


Pomade, wax, gel and clay are probably among the most popular hair styling products you can use right now.
hey are effective when it comes to styling one’s hair and giving it the kind of look the user wants.

However, the result of these products will depend on their suitability to your hair. That is why it is really advisable to pick your choice from these products based on your hairstyle and hair type, as well as the result you are aiming for.

Hopefully, you will have much luck in picking the best out of these hair styling products with the information that we have provided in this article.

Anthony Giannotti

About the author: Anthony Giannotti

Anthony Giannotti is a senior writer and editor for Beardoholic and a licensed barber for more than 13 years. He owns 3 barbershops and has his own hair care product line that is sold in barbershops worldwide. Known for his impeccable technique and skills, Anthony is an expert in hair and beard care and he knows the best products and tools to get rid of all beard problems and have an amazing beard.

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