Oil based vs. water based pomades. What’s the difference?

Oil based vs. water based pomades. What’s the difference?

January 03, 2022

TLDR:

Oil based: more durable, usually shiny

Water based: easy to wash out, lower maintenance

Continue reading to know the background of each type of product so you can make the best choice on which is best for you!

What is pomade?

Pomade saw a rise in mainstream consciousness with the return of classic 20’s to 40’s hairstyles that required a heavy duty, greasy, shiny product to keep the hair groomed in place all day.

I personally fell in love with the greaser look that permeated motorcycle culture, skateboarding, and music scenes when I was a teenager. A lot of the people playing in my favorite bands had the coolest looking haircuts that had a hard part and a pompadour.

The Shiny polished look

If you’re going to pull off a slick and polished haircut, you need a product that won’t give up on you. Most people gravitated to oil based pomade for that reason because you wanted shine, hold, and durability. The only issue: it can be a pain in the rear to wash out;

Enter, water based pomade.

Mentioning gel in a pomade or barber shop could turn up some noses but you may be asking, “what’s the difference between gel and water based pomade?” In my experience, gels use alcohol to have a fast drying effect that leaves a dry, crunchy glue in your hair.

Water based pomades typically have no alcohol and are more malleable throughout the day without the crunchy “hard hair” feeling you get from a hair gel. Water based pomades were the perfect blend between gel and pomade because they wash out easily and can be easier to style with.

What is oil based pomade made of?

Oil based pomade usually contains waxes, butters, and oils. These can be all natural or entirely synthetic. Early pomades like the kind greasers used to use were mostly made of beeswax, petroleum jelly, and cocoa butter or lanolin. A lot of classic pomades are still made with those staple ingredients, especially if their intention is to keep with tradition and help you achieve a shiny, greasy look.

Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out
Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out

Our Natural Pomade is made from plant based ingredients like Castor Oil, Candelilla Wax, and Coconut Oil. These all wash out MUCH better than petroleum products and they’re better for your hair because they don’t suffocate the scalp.

What about water based pomades?

All natural water based pomades like our Matte Clay Paste share common ingredients with our other pomades, but the primary ingredient is water. Water has to blend with oil to make these pomades come to life so we use plant based emulsifiers to bind the oil and water based ingredients together.

Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out
Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out

A challenge with small batch, water based pomades that are being made in brewers’ homes and businesses is preservation. Labs that have sophisticated testing equipment and production machinery don’t have as hard of a time with this problem. Home brewers’ (like us) have only recently developed formulas that work well to keep the product stable and fresh.

The ingredients that help preserve and emulsify these products aid you when washing it out. That’s the primary reason people have migrated from the old fashioned hair pomades of the old days and over to water based products.

The matte Textured look

Why choose oil based?

If you want a relentless, heavy duty pomade that won’t let you down no matter how much you sweat and wear a hat, go Oil. There are now oil based clays like our Matte Clay Pomade that fit this bill while giving you a matte finish (no shine).

Also, if you’re going for slick, greasy, shiny and don’t mind the pomade staying in your hair a couple of days (because, let’s be honest, you’ve been wearing those jeans 18 days in a row now with plans of ending the streak), go for oil based pomades.

Why choose water based?

I reach for a water based pomade by default if someone prefers less maintenance and wants a product that’s easy to style, easy to wash out. They are usually lighter weight so thinner hair types and haircuts with lots of volume typically fair well with a water based pomade.

For curly hair, I strictly recommend our Texture Cream which is a water based styling cream. It helps lock in curls and keep down frizz. It’s also a fantastic everyday styler for people who don’t need a heavy hold.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions that weren’t answered!

Follow us on instagram: @themailroombarber

Follow me personally for haircutting education: @robertcwatkins

Written by Robert Watkins

| OIL BASED |

| WATER BASED |

Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out
Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out
Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out
Natural Pomade - The Mailroom Barber Co

Sold out


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Blog

Precision Haircut at Greenville Barbershop
What is Precision Haircutting?

November 14, 2022

Read More

Greenville Barber in Barbershop
What's different about The Mailroom?

October 07, 2022

If you’re looking for a gender-neutral barbershop in Greenville with experienced barbers and relaxed appointments, visit The Mailroom Barber Co.

Read More

What is your competitive advantage as a barber?
What is your competitive advantage as a barber?

January 10, 2022

Read More