The Men's Room

Pomade & Paste: What’s The Difference And Which Should You Use

Pomade or Paste

Oftentimes I hear pomade and paste being used interchangeably, as in “I’ll style my hair with pomade/paste.” Well guess what. Pomade and paste are not interchangeable, in fact they are quite different as each is designed to achieve a distinct look. And, depending on your hair type one – not, as many think, both – may be the best option for you. 

With the popularity of styles going as far back as the 50’s and more recently the 70’s80’s, pomades and pastes are getting a lot of attention. But with their popularity their can sometimes be some confusion about which one to buy.

So here’s a simple breakdown:

Pomades typically consist of water, oils and waxes. They were originally designed to create control (think Pompadours, and Afros). Because of its high oil content, pomades are the go-to for adding shine and highlighting texture in the hair.

Pastes typically consist of water, oils and silicone (one of many options). They were created to also deliver hair control. But with the missing ingredient of waxes and the higher water content, the appearance of “no shine” & effortless style is it’s highlight. In many cases the paste is the easier of the two to wash out.

So if you’re in the market for attention grabbing high shine, the classic pomade is always the right choice. For a more subtle approach consider the paste.

Popular Pomades – Murray’s Original Pomade, Blu by John Allan’s, Pomade Slick by Baxter of California

Popular Pastes – Texture by Bumble and bumble, Defining Paste by American Crew, Shape Paste by Shu Uemura

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  1. Brendan March 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Light Hold Texture Lotion by American Crew is great for the summer I have found out. Not as much hold as the others, but the lightness of the product in the summer heat, especially during the day and it’s ease of use make it totally worth it. Easy to re-style too by just wetting your hair slightly with a comb or your fingers.

  2. rick simmons October 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I gotta go with the classic pomade, who didnt use murray’s growing up .fyi they also have a great murray’s tee shirt i just cant seem too get it in a xxl

  3. Henry December 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Layrite Pomade is by far my favorite. Like it says on the can, It goes in like pomade, washes out like gel. honestly amazing

  4. Mark February 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    What about “hair tonics?” Some have oil, some don’t, and they’re supposed to hold too, right? But they are more liquid than solid.

    • Craig the Barber February 19, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Hi Mark, great question! Most hair tonics are more of a liquid consistency than pomades and pastes like, Tres Flores/Three Flowers & Layrite. However, many of these types of products harden once they are applied to the hair. The easiest way to spot these types of products in action are hairstyles similar to what was worn in the 1950’s. Commonly seen in today’s “Rockabilly” culture, think the movie Grease!

  5. Gates October 8, 2015 at 8:35 am

    This post is perfect timing for us. We’ve just starting experimenting with making an all natural pomade. We’re using shea butter, refined beeswax, avocado oil, & light essential oils for scent, and looking for a medium hold. Do you think there would be issues with a wax build up, & getting the product out of the hair?

    • Craig the Barber October 10, 2015 at 8:38 am

      An all natural pomade sounds like a great idea! The refined beeswax may be a bit of a challenge to get out of the hair but based on the other ingredients it my provide just enough balance to be ok. Give it a try. And when you’re ready for a tester, let me know and I will test it for you!

  6. james October 19, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Hi Craig what kind of pomade would you use on your hair
    i have the same hair style as you and I’m black your hair looked great when you was at bloomandales. what would you
    recommand to use for my type of hair.

    • Craig the Barber October 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Hi James thank you! There are two hair products I always keep handy: 1) Grooming Creme by Bumble & bumble. (This is generally the only product I use 80% of the time.)

      2) Matte by John Allan’s would be my go-to pomade. It provides a great hold and it offers very little shine, since the natural oils in my hair does a pretty good job on their own.

      James, I hope that this information helps!

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