Believe it or not there is a science to applying hair product. There are thousands to choose from and each has its own characteristics. It's kind of like rolling 6 DnD dice at once, the combinations are virtually endless between shine, hold, thickness, stickiness, amount to use, smell and etc. With so many variables involved its hard to tell what is the best method for you and what you use. My method may not be your method or the best method but as a professional in the hair industry it has served me well for over 10 years. So here we go!
First we need to break it down. The two big categories are: Water based / Oil based products. Oil based is the way simpler made category of the two and is best applied to dry hair. Since oil and water don't mix you would find it hard to run these products through wet locks. They come with varying degrees of thickness and consist of only a handful of ingredients. They are best used for slick backs, and pompadours. The lighter oil based products can achieve decent volume but with their heavier weight it can be a battle to keep it throughout the day without restyling. Water based, on the other hand, consists of many ingredients in order to pull off all their characteristics like ease of wash out. In order to make sure ours rinses out with ease we use orange peel extract which acts as a light astringent when water is applied.
To break down the water soluble market and styling let's start with these categories: thick gels, clays, pastes and creams. The sticky, thick gel products are usually the heavier holds, clear in makeup. They come in many colors and scents. These products are best applied to wet hair as their thickness make an even application tricky. They are most akin to the classic gel's of the 80's and 90's just thicker. They contain alcohols to help them dry once applied which gives you that crispy finished texture. They don't spread well on dry or even damp hair and the weight of these products make them tough for achieving any volume unless applied very lightly. Usually these products provide a decent amount of shine and are poor with restyling throughout the day due to high holds. Best for those gents looking to lock their style down.
Clay products are typically a light to medium hold but there are exceptions. These are best applied to damp hair. Many shorter hair styles do well with clay products. Because of their consistency, clays can clump together. Use a small amount and increase slightly as needed. Dryer hair provides a texture to which it can stick to better but moisture does aid in an even application. Always spread the product over your hands before applying so it does not get stuck in one place on your head. These products are usually a matte finish and are great for photos to cut down on that unwanted hair shine from the camera flash.
Pastes and creams I would classify as the lighter hold products, usually used on hair that needs little taming. Any cowlicks would easily defeat the paste or cream products. These products can be great for those longer hair styles that still need a clean polish but want to remain natural looking. Also great for the ultra thick hair as a paste or cream will smooth through heavy hair with ease. Apply as liberally as needed to dry hair and if you're looking to achieve volume, finish with a light aerosol hairspray to add some staying power to your look.
Like I said before there are exceptions to everything stated here. I have seen a pomade for every occasion and I know I haven't even scratched the surface of the world of hair products. What's your go-to pomade? What do you like best about it?
-Chop Shop Shane
Photo's by @ericplatzke / www.youtube.com/user/EricP36