Pomades usually fall into two categories; oil-based and water-based.
Oil-based generally has a stronger hold, and gives a “greasier” look. They call it oil-based because it contains petroleum.
Water-based pomades, as the name says, are made mostly using water. This means that they are easier to wash out, being more soluble in water. They give more of a matte finish on application; depending on how damp or dry your hair is when you put it in.
A major drawback of oil-based pomades are that they’re really difficult to wash out. You might even need to use small amounts of washing up liquid to emulsify out the leftover product.
One thing which you’re bound to notice when shopping around is that there’s a major price difference between oil and water-based pomades. This is mainly because water-based pomades are more expensive to make, when accounting for the ingredients which go into it.
All in all though, the extra investment is likely worth it. Oil-based pomade has been shown to block off skin pores; which can lead to things like acne or dandruff. Which is something no-one wants.
Some water-based pomades can have a weaker than ideal hold. This is often because it is being applied to still-wet hair, and because it’s so soluble in water, it just dissolves straight back out.
Hard, shell-like holds are also often the result of pomade being applied to hair that is more damp than is ideal. It’s a balance that you have to reach, but it’s more a case of trial and error. We can cover how to properly apply pomade in more detail in a future article.