Men’s Hair Pomade, Wax, Creme and Gel: What's the Difference?


Men’s Hair Pomade, Wax, Creme and Gel:  What's the Difference?

Who knew there could be so many products for men’s hair? When it comes to men’s hairstyling products, the choices are endless and a bit confusing. What’s the difference between a hair pomade and wax? And what about hair creme and gel? How do you pick the right men’s hair product and know exactly what each one does? Read on––we answer all these questions and more.


Pomade is unrivaled among men’s hair products when it comes to high levels of gloss and shine. If you’re looking for the one tool that quite literally outshines every other men’s hair product out there, pomade is the key.

Pomade is widely considered the original hairstyling product for men. Its origins date back to the Roman Empire with soap as the main ingredient. In the 19th century, bear fat was the main component used in these giant tubs of hair grease. Eventually, and thankfully, other ingredients such as petroleum, beeswax, and lard were used to replace bear fat, and in the 1950’s pomade really hit its popularity peak. In high demand for their ultimate sheen and glossy texture, pomades coined the pop culture term “greasers” nicknaming the guys who wore it.

These grease-based products were known for their long-lasting results and never drying out the hair. In fact, pomade would withstand multiple hair washes because of the water-insoluble ingredients found in their formulas. As decades and styles changed, the demand for pomade decreased, but it is still sold today. Recently, water-soluble pomades have been developed that offer a strong hold, but can be washed out in a 5-minute shower. However, these water-based pomades lack the high shine found in traditional ones.

Why use it?

If you’re going for an iconic heartthrob look, think Cary Grant circa the 1950’s, use pomade to get the sleek shine you won’t find with any other product. This popular men’s hair product works best when you’re going for a completely polished, not-a-hair-out-of-place hairstyle. The natural greasy consistency in pomade oils up and smooths out your hair making it the perfect product for men with naturally dry hair.

But the versatility in pomade, allows you to control the effect it has on your hair––whether your hair needs more hydration or not. If you apply pomade right after the shower when your hair's still wet, then it gives your hair less hold, but more shine. If you apply the pomade after your hair is already completely dry, then it gives your hair more hold with less shine. Essentially, the way pomade works in your hair is completely up to you!

Although pomade is a rather dated product, it’s still sold and seen today, especially for traditionally formal occasions. In fact, just as history appears to repeat itself, it seems that styles do too. The modern pompadour haircut for men has brought back trends from the past with a modernized twist and has created a new demand for a modern version of pomade called hair wax.

Hair Wax

Calling all rebels, oddballs, and non-conformists out there. This is the must-have hair product if you’re not completely sold on the idea of lathering your hair with animal lard, or you’re searching for a men’s hair product that adds more character, texture, and expression to your look. Hair wax is the rebel brother of pomade––built on the same principles but has a personality of its own.  

Evolving from the grooming capabilities of pomade, hair wax still largely uses an oil base to deliver a polished look, but lacks the excessive shine and can also hold a hairstyle without hardening like a gel. Whereas pomade adds grease to the scalp, hair wax absorbs excess grease for a matte look. Recently the popularity of hair wax has been on the uprise because of its grungy look and ability to allow more room for self-expression––think mohawks, faux hawks, or hair spikes.

Because of its pliability and strong setting power, hair wax can be restyled after just one application. Business meeting in the day, but plans with the guys at night? No problem. You can easily rearrange your hairstyle without reapplying your hair wax for a natural look every time.

Why use it?

This is the best men’s hair product for guys who are going for a put-together look, but aren’t totally down to kick back with a slick back. Hair wax offers a solution for the men who want to keep a controlled hairstyle while creating a style of their own complete with different textures and personal expression.

Hair wax comes in a variety of different types, so be sure to purchase the version that works best for you depending on your desired hairstyle. For instance, if you don’t want to completely lose the radiant shine that pomade offers, look for some hard wax to still get the soft, natural control but keep a low-luster finish. If you’re more into the no-shine, no-problem look, matte wax is the product for you. This popular men’s product will add texture and definition to your hair. It works well with your hair’s natural texture without altering it too much and keeps the shine factor to a minimum.  

Whether it's the relaxed textured crop or a combed-through coiffure like the quiff, a.k.a. the modern pompadour, this hair wax does just what you’ll need it to.

Grooming Creme

It’s no secret, and all ladies can agree, that there truly is nothing quite like a well-groomed man. So keep your girl swooning or catch the attention of the one you’ve had your eye on for months with a well-groomed hairstyle. Grooming creme is all that and more with a low-medium hold and a soft glow finish.

Grooming cremes are typically the middle-of-the-road hair products because they don’t offer the gloss or shine of pomade, they don’t add the powerful texture of wax, and they keep styles intact without the strong hold of gel. Instead, grooming creme is the humble product perfect for adding a bit of life to fine strands without tangling or damaging the hair.

Designed specifically for the dudes with curly or wavy hair, grooming creme provides the perfect combination of separation and hold to tame the wilder hairs and get those sleeker-looking locks with flexible control. The oil-based product conditions the hair while repelling moisture to keep your style intact. But even for the guys who have straighter hair, grooming creme can be used for one-minute styling to get a natural hold without feeling sticky, waxy, or heavy.  

Why use it?

Looking for a simple, barely noticeable product that offers a dependable, lightweight hold and a natural-looking finish? Grooming creme is the men’s hair product for you. Made with the men in mind who don’t want their hairstyle to look like it requires effort but still want to get that well-groomed effect, grooming cream offers a sleeker, more lively look without the heavy shine and hold of any other hair product.

To get a Christian Bale 2012 inspired look, use grooming cream to style longer haircuts and successfully tame flyaways and frizz without the stiffness found in hair gels and hairsprays.

If you’re looking for a daily hairstyle lifesaver, check out FS for Men Grooming Creme. It’s the best men’s hair product to offer subtle molding and sculpting to finish off any hairstyle with a barely-there touch. This miracle product offers all-day texture in just a few minutes.

Hair Gel

From volcano-boarding to cliff-diving, you never back down from an extreme challenge—and neither should your hair gel. Hair gel is for the men who want to take their look to the next level, but don’t want to worry about their hair while they’re busy pulling off their dare-devil stunts––or just living their everyday life.

Hair gel was originally invented in the 1920’s with a combination of water and mineral oil as a product to keep combed hair in place while providing a glossy, wet appearance. The appealing idea behind the new hair product was anyone could purchase hair gel, lather it into their hair, and style it any way they wanted instead of walking into a hair salon to get the very same look. Essentially, it was the professional hair product for the common man.

Today, hair gels contain more complex ingredients to create a wide variety of different gels for different hair types. Hair gel is still the most bulletproof hair product on the market to provide every man with an ultra-firm, stiff, and long-lasting hold and a wet, sleek look.  

Why use it?

If you need a heavy-duty product you can rely on even in the most intense situations, look no further. Hair gel is used to create hairstyles from mild to extreme, simple to elaborate. It effectively works to keep curls in place, it restrains straight hair from frizz, and even holds tousled hair for an all-day messy look.

Hair gel, like FS for Men X-treme gel, creates a flake-free, natural gelled look that will stay put all day—and all night. This easy-to-use, ultra-firm gel has the versatility to create an intense mohawk or pull off a classic slicked back pompadour hairstyle. It’s the best men’s hair product you can find to create that sleek look with a 100% guaranteed hold.

Once you know the difference among the most popular men’s hair products, you’ll know exactly what products you need to pull off your look and get it right everytime. Whether you want an ultra-firm hold or just some added texture, there’s a product out there to finish off every hairstyle for every man.

Bonus: Because Fantastic Sams’ new FS for Men packages are more sleek and streamlined, you can fit more in your briefcase or backpack.


Did you know that Fantastic Sams Cut & Color is a full-service, "no-appointment-needed", hair salon with convenient locations located almost everywhere?  

For the full line of FS for Men products, be sure to check out the Fantastic Sams Men’s Hair Care  or find a Fantastic Sams Cut and Color Hair Salon near you.