What is Pomade?
If you have been dabbling into vintage hairstyling you may have heard of the product pomade being used. But what is pomade and why should you be using it?
Pomade is derived from French word pommade meaning "ointment". The traditional hair product dates back to the 19th century, which originally used bear fat as its main ingredient. Nowadays, this ingredient has be replaced by beeswax and petrolum and is a must have hair product for both men and women from the vintage loving community.
We have pomade to thank for the classic styles of the rock and roll era such as the pompadour, ducktail and quiff - made popular by Elvis, Chuck Berry and James Dean. This product allowed for sleek and shine whilst providing long lasting structure to the style, this is also where the term 'Greaser' came from as mens hair often gave a greasy appearance. Women were also known to pinch their husbands pomade to create smooth victory rolls and maintain their curls, before the manufacture of sweet perfumed pomades targeted specifically to women.
Some products introduced back in the 1930s and 40s are still available today using their original recipes such as Murray's Original Pomade, Brylcreem and Royal Crown Hair Dressing. Traditionally, pomade has a very waxy texture, which allows for long lasting styles, but does take some extra effort to completely remove the product from the hair. Water based pomades are now readily available which still provide the sleek finish and hold of a traditional pomade, but one that won't build up so much between washes.
So what type of pomade should you use?
For the modern vintage lady, water-based pomades are your best bet. As these products don't build up too much in your hair, you have the flexibility to change your hairstyle from day to day. Pomade is also great for adding that polished finish to your curl sets and ensures you will still be able to brush out your curls in the following days or create upstyles without the worry of a sticky or waxy residue ruining or weighing down your curls.
Now how can you tell the difference between pomade products? The term 'pomade' is used today loosly with 'styling paste' and sometimes it can be difficult to tell them apart at first glance. Look for any characteristics on the label. 'Water based' or 'water soluble' will mean a product which will easily wash out of your hair. Words such as 'paste' and 'matte finish' will generally have a more waxy texture. The most distinguishing difference between water and oil based pomades is the appearance of the product itself. Water based pomades will have a translucent appearance (almost like a coloured Petroleum Jelly - which some basicly are with a bit of fragrance mixed in). Oil and wax based pomades will be more opaque and most have a 'natural' colour due to the waxes used.
However, if you are standing in the hair care isle or shopping online, you can't really open up all the pomade tins to inspect the products' appearance can you? Then, pay close attention to the ingredients list, and specifically, the first 5 ingredients. Most pomades will include both Aqua/Water and Petrolatum (petroleum jelly). The main ingredients that will make a pomade harder to remove from your hair and will restrict your styling are Beeswax (Cera Alba), Lanolin and clays such as Kaolin. Now some malleable water based pomades may include these ingredients in their overall formula for stability and hold, however they will most likely be further down in the list and not included in the first 5 main components.
How to use pomade
When creating rolls and waves in the hair, pomade helps to keep all the baby hairs and fly aways at bay without the need for excessive crunchy hairspray. Take just a small amount of pomade and rub it between the palms of your hands. Remember that it is best to start with a small amount and build up if required, rather than getting too much. There should be just a gleen on your hand. Work the product into the section of hair you are dealing with, which should provide a nice clean finish with a touch of shine to the hair. Pomade can be applied during styling (such as before rolling a victory roll) or after styling (such as taming down fly aways).
I have personally tried out a few different brands of pomades over the years including Layrite, King Brown, Suavecita and Muk. Previously, The Sunshine Coast Pinup School stocked Suavecita pomade which had its signature 'watermelon' scent. However, due to changes in the supply chain due to Covid these past years, I have fallen in love with Australian based brand Muk and am seriously kicking myself I didnt't try the Muk Slick Muk pomade sooner. This pomade is now my go to with its soothing sweet vanilla scent and holds up to all the upstyling and curl sets I put it through.
You can purchase the Muk Slick Muk Pomade through the online shop.
Have you tried other pomades, water or oil based? Are you yet to try a pomade with your hairstyling and want to know which will be the right product for you. Let me know - I'm always keen to chat about hair :)
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