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10 Best Water Based Pomades For Men – Easy Styling In 2023

  • Aug 10, 2023
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10 Best Water Based Pomades For Men – Easy Styling In 2023

Pomade formulations have come a long way since the 18th century. Instead of weighing down hair in greasy oil, water based pomades are now considered the way to go for a variety of reasons. The very best water based pomade is going to care for the hair in addition to styling it.

Where oil-based pomades are formulated with mineral oil or petroleum and can dry out the hair while being difficult to wash out, water-based pomades use water as the main ingredient. This makes them easy to rinse out and doesn’t accumulate build-up. They’re light, highly workable, versatile, and work on essentially all hair types.

Where oil is slick, pomade is considered more natural-looking. And yet some water based pomades hold even better than the strongest hair wax. I like that different brands provide slightly different results, and work better on certain hair types. If you’re wondering which is best for your specific hair type, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 water based pomades money can buy.

Key Takeaways 

To find the best water based pomade, I pored over dozens of products, paying attention to hair type, texture, moldability, and smell, to whittle it down to my top 10 picks.

Imperial Barber Classic Pomade is the most approachable in terms of price and workability across all hair types. It’s got a strong hold and is water-reactivable, for continuous styling throughout the day. If you have particularly thick and curly hair, you’ll love the great-smelling LayRite Superhold Pomade.

Why it’s Great: It was tough to pick the best pomade as all of the ones on this list are great, but Imperial Barber took the top spot for me for a couple of reasons. Not only does it work on all hair types, even curly hair, and across most hair styles, but it provides a super strong hold with that sweet in-between sheen that is neither too matte nor too shiny. Perfect for the natural look. But the coolest feature has to be that it’s water-reactivable. This means you can simply add water throughout the day to re-style.

How it feels: Apply a pea-sized amount to towel-dried hair and comb into shape. Feel free to tousle with your fingertips afterwards, as it’s nice and workable.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you’re going for the high-shine look, you might be better off with something a little more glossy.

Scent: Watermelon | Hold: Strong | Finish: Matte | Size: 6 oz | Free Of: Gluten

American Crew Pomade

Why it’s Great: In the words of my husband, who has thick, wavy hair: “It holds my hair together.” Simple, yet true. He’s been using American Crew for years because it’s cheap but gets the job done. If your hair is dry and frizzy, you’ll like that it moisturizes and conditions the hair while taming it down. It’s especially great for creating that piecey look—just don’t use too much. This is a nice, high shine water based pomade that doesn’t have that greasy vibe.

How it feels: Apply a dollop evenly throughout the hair and enjoy the light, never-sticky feel in your hair. Very workable.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It has a medium hold, though some reviewers wish it was stronger. Probably not the best for haircuts that require rigorous styling.

Scent: None | Hold: Medium | Finish: Shine | Size: 3 oz | Free Of: 

Suavecito Pomade Original Hold

Why it’s Great: Easily the best-selling pomade on this list, Suavecito pomade knows how to craft one sexy hairstyle. The Original hold provides a fierce grip that’s great for slick backs, parts, and pompadours. The shine here is considered medium, which means you can play with the dampness/dryness of your hair for different results. A must-have staple for your bathroom for a great price.

How it feels: A jelly-like consistency with a strong hold, that never has that crunchy, greasy feeling. Hair stays touchably soft.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s known for having a strong smell, which is fine if you’re into that, but is something to keep in mind.

Scent: Unique | Hold: Strong | Finish: Medium Shine | Size: 4 oz | Free Of: Harsh chemicals

Woody’s Pomade for Men

Why it’s Great: If you’re looking for the best water based pomade to run through your hair every morning, you need an easy, workable pomade with medium hold. Woody’s is light and moldable, and builds texture instead of falling flat. While it should never replace conditioner, it does nourish and treat the hair if you’re styling in a rush. Ingredients like ginger, hemp seed oil, rosemary, and panthenol prevent breakage and promote hair growth.

How it feels: A water-soluble, gel-like pomade that looks the most like water. It’s going to give you a shiny finish.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The hold on this bad boy is medium, so go for something stronger if you need your locks stuck in place all day.

Scent: None | Hold: Medium | Finish: Shiny | Size: 3.4 oz | Free Of: Cruelty

LayRite Superhold Pomade

Why it’s Great: This is the best pomade if you would describe your hair as unruly. Just as the name implies, LayRite pomade has a super strong hold on all types of hair, especially if it’s coarse and curly. It’s great for natural hair because it defines curls and has low shine, giving a beautiful matte-like finish to the hair. And it smells like cream soda. Unexpected, but light and delicious.

How it feels: When applying, you want to start out small and use a dime-sized amount, building as you go for greater hold and shine.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s a bit on the pricey side, and hardly natural, but if you have thick, curly hair, it’s a must.

Scent: Cream Soda | Hold: Strong | Finish: Matte | Size: 4.25 oz

Billy Jealousy Lunatic Fringe Pomade

Why it’s Great: Is your hair’s volume on the decline? There’s a pomade for that. Billy Jealousy’s Lunatic Fringe is a vegan, strong hold pomade that builds texture and, thanks to saw palmetto extract, an herbal DHT blocker, slows hair loss. And because it’s free of sulfates, it’s suitable for color-treated hair. And I have to note the vanilla peach pineapple scent, which sounds aggressive, but smells like a soft tropical delight.

How it feels: The thin, jelly-like consistency, gives you lots of control, and won’t weigh down fine hair.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because it’s thinner than most pomades, it’s not going to be great for coarse, thick hair.

Scent: Vanilla, peach, pineapple | Hold: Strong | Finish: Shiny | Size: 3 oz | Free Of: Sulfates, cruelty

Fiber Grease Pomade

Why it’s Great: Despite the name, there’s nothing greasy about Fiber Grease Pomade, but it does contain fibers that thicken hair. This is great news if your hair is straight. I love it because it accomplishes the difficult task of holding the hair without feeling too heavy or drying hard.

How it feels: It spreads well and provides a nice, light tack with plenty of movement that’s a breeze to re-style throughout the day.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: While many fiber infused pomades are matte, this one stays shiny which is something to keep in mind.

Scent: Tropical fruity | Hold: Medium-Strong | Finish: Matte | Size: 7 oz

Uppercut Deluxe Pomade

Why it’s Great: Possessing a cult-like following amongst the pompadour-minded, Uppercut Deluxe packs a punch when it comes to control, definition, and hold. Firm but not stiff, it’s the best water based pomade for holding both adventurous hairstyles and timeless, classic looks in place, especially if your hair is medium length. It’s highly durable with moderate shine, and of course, it’s easy to rinse out.

How it feels: Start with clean, dry hands and work evenly through dry hair using your fingers followed by a comb if you want definition. If you want extra hold or shine, don’t glob it on, rather, build up the product as you go.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Not the best hold for particularly thick hair, unfortunately. Consider LayRite if you have lots of hair.

Scent: Smooth coconut  | Hold: Strong | Finish: Moderate to high | Size: 3.5 oz |

Smooth Viking Pomade

Why it’s Great: Even though it’s thick and creamy in texture, Smooth Viking Pomade sculpts hair with a matte finish. It’s an easy to work with pomade with medium hold, and works for both tousled separation and sleek business styles. And because it never leaves a crunchy residue behind, it’s great for beards as well.

How it feels: Because it has a lotion-like consistency, there’s no need to emulsify before working through hair. Dries naturally matte. Apply to damp hair for more shine.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: For such a small size, it seems to go a bit fast for the price. But if you have short hair, which it’s best for anyways, it should last longer.

Scent: Mint | Hold: Medium | Finish: Natural | Size: 2 oz | Free Of: Parabens, sulfates, silicone

Church California Volcanic Clay Pomade

Why it’s Great: You know I had to give you a bit of luxury when it comes to pomade. Church California makes all their pomades by hand in small batches and packs them with 26 totally natural and organic active ingredients like avocado, coconut, and seaweed. But its main ingredient is bentonite clay, which binds the hair follicles together to add gorgeous shape and volume. Excellent for fine hair that craves a little bit of life. As you might imagine with clay, it provides a matte-finish.

How it feels: A dime-size amount is best when emulsified in the hand and massaged into clean, damp hair. Apply to dry hair for a matte finish, or damp hair for a stylized look.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: You’re not getting very much product for the price here, but if you have the budget and want a natural pomade, it’s perfect.

Scent: Cedar atlas, red mandarin, blue tansy aroma notes | Hold: Medium-Strong | Finish: Matte | Size: 1.7 oz | Free Of: Lab-made ingredients

Buying Consideration for Water-Based Pomades

Size/Price

The ratio between size and price can help you determine which is the best water based pomade for your budget. At least three ounces is going to give you enough product for a few months. $10-20 is a standard price for around this size. High quality natural ingredients will cost you a bit more, but can be worth it.

Hold

If you don’t want your hair going anywhere, you’ll need a pomade with a strong hold. But you also want to make sure the strong water based pomade you choose is still highly workable, like Imperial Barber Classic Pomade. Medium holds are the most common and best for everyday, more casual environments. Low hold won’t keep an entire style together, but is great for light texture and some piecey-ness.

Finish

You’re either going to get a matte or shiny look out of your best pomade. Shiny can read professional, formal, or even lean retro if used for a pompadour. It can also help you achieve the wet look which is great for summer. Matte, on the other hand, is natural-looking. Textured. It’s probably not the best for coarse, frizzy hair. There’s also in between, which is slightly shiny and hydrated-looking, which can usually be controlled by the dampness of your hair before applying.

Why you should trust us

As a fashion and grooming writer at Fashionbeans, I combine my love of research with fifteen years in the fashion and beauty industry to bring you the best of every product. I use reviews, trusted sources, and my own personal expertise to ensure that the best water pomade is out there, regardless of your hair type and texture.

Final Verdict 

When searching for the best water based pomade to add to your kit, pay attention to the hold and hair type it’s best for. It needs to be highly workable, apply smoothly, but never look greasy and rinse out easily. Fortunately, Imperial Barber Classic provides a strong hold on all hair types. It’s water-reactivable so that it’s easy to re-style.

FAQ

    • Water based pomades are better in terms of versatility and giving you a more natural look. They also rinse out easily, and often don’t even require shampoo to remove.

      • Water based pomades are better for the environment and are less greasy, while oil-based pomades have the strongest hold (and can also dry hair out).

        • People love to use water based pomades daily because they’re light and water-soluble. They wash out like a charm and don’t build up on the hair.


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