If you are after keeping your hair tight and slick - whether it be rocking a modern pompadour or just a classic comb over, pomades should generally be your hair product of choice.
These days though, there are two main types of pomade to choose from the traditional classic oil based pomade and the new modern uptake: the water based pomade.
Why I prefer water based, rather than the traditional classic (oil pomade):
The same level of hold is there just it is so much easier i to rinse out your hair once you’re done with it - literally just washes out straight away, but as for a classic you could be spending up to 30 minutes to trying to get it out of your hair.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about it drying up in your hair nor have to deal with frequent spot breakouts where the edge of your face and hair meet.
Now onto the list, I’ve selected 7 of the best water based pomades out there (at least from the 15 or so I have tested so far) and share with you my experiences of them:
[Side Note: this is another of my live page, so expect changes as I change my opinion, so you might seem me add some extra pomades and take away — as well as change the reviews]
#1 Shear Revival | Crystal Lake
Honestly, I freaking love this pomade.
And if I had to choose a single water pomade that I would regard as being ‘the’ best, then it’s gotta be this one (I pretty much use in day in day out). Just a quick side note: in classic Shear Revival style, naming their products after popular TV and film culture, Crystal lake is in reference to Friday the 13th.
Packaging & Appearance
C’mon it’s pretty classy to look at isn’t it?
A 4 oz amber glass jar with a gorgeous minimalist graphic vinyl label and assorted metal lid - it’s really a top of the draw finish. A little piece of art in my bathroom cabinet.
For me this is easily, one of the best looking pomades (if not general grooming products out there), full stop.
A slight and subtle citrus aroma that blends in and out between coconut and vanilla, a quite soothing sweet smell. Certainly a natural fragrance that gives off a lemon sherbet type vibe to it with a tinge of burn.
I wouldn’t really class it as an outright masculine sort of scent, but for me it does work rather nicely.
The substance to it is sort of like a paste a little different than your standard water based pomade that is more of a gel. It scoops nicely into my palm and working it between my palms is a breeze.
Working it damp hair (at around 10% wet) is literally no trouble at all, you find with cheaper and basically lesser quality pomades that they tend to pull you hair and can be a bit of a challenge just ‘getting it in’. Crystal lake though is pretty much easy as you like.
It’s not designed to give you a strong hold with a traditional ‘slick back look’ it’s a “medium hold, medium shine” product that basically has helped keep my hair looking and flowing naturally. That said, it does a fantastic job of holding everything together - that lasts well throughout the day, even on a early morning application.
To get across just how much I’ve enjoyed using it, just from the ease of use and versatility it has to offer. If you are looking for something to try, then certainly give this a go - the only trouble you will have is getting hold of it when it is in stock, they seem to often end up running out.
#2 O’Douds Apothecary | Water Based Pomade
O’Douds was the first wave of these new type of water pomades that have a sort of paste type texture to them. An innovative grooming company for sure. So hats off there.
Packaging & Appearance
In many respects, it takes on a similar sort of design to the Shear Revival range.
It’s packed in a amber glass jar again, but takes on a dark vinyl coverage. It just takes on a slightly more minimalist design (given the numerous redesigns that it has undertaken).
It’s the one I’ve actually been using recently, it sort of reminds me of a mellow lemon herb with like a little bit of citrus fruit. It’s soft on the sense, the smell is quite potent by any means but is pleasant nonetheless.
Just like Crystal Lake, it’s incredibly easy to apply (they are quite a like in a few ways). It’s a little smoother actually as a paste which is a good thing and the control is again impressive. You can basically style your hair any which way you want which is cool — whether you are gunning for the straight and slick or the more natural comb over.
What it won’t give you though is the endurance that you would really want from the pomade — give it 2/3 rds of a day and you will want to restyle it (although that’s not exactly much of an effort either). Other than though, it’s hard to fault.
The main plus, is just how easy it is to use regardless of the situation of how you want to style your hair just adjust how much you are applying. A solid versatile type pomade.
#3 Daimon Barber | No. 1
A water based pomade that’s crafted all way from London, England. Daimon Barber is a pretty innovative company that’s torn up the rule book so to speak with hair pomades and have gone about it pretty much their own way.
Packaging & Appearance
Another glass jar. I must really have a ‘thing’ for then, but it looks pretty neat (certainly better than the old design), a more formal looking product than the two above, not to say that’s necessarily a good or a bad thing mind (I reckon I still prefer the look of the other two).
Upon screwing open the lid you get a sort of hint of raspberry, but the scent is pretty weak actually. I’ve literally just picked up now and taken a big inhale and there’s not much to it all — nor does linger on with you throughout the day.
Can’t say I even particularly like, what I can smell to be honest. I’m not asking for an ‘outright’ man scent, but raspberry? I’m not so sure.
Not up to scratch in my book, especially when compared to the two above.
It’s really like a mix between a paste and your typical jelly like pomade — really is sort of an odd texture to say the least. That said, it applies quite nicely into your hair.
It will offer you a solid level of hold right through the day, it doesn’t dry up — isn’t greasy at all, and in all offers a decent performance. Is it worth shipping from the United Kingdom? Probably not, but still an all around very decent pomade to say the least.
What I do like is that they have infused ingredients in there to help look after and protect your hair, with some conditioning aspects, that’s not to say other pomades haven’t done the same - just Daimon Barber makes you aware of it.
#4 Uppercut Deluxe | Pomade
Originating from down under, Australia. Uppercut Deluxe is probably one of ‘the’ most famous hair brands out there, and for good reason too.
Packaging & Appearance
It comes in a metal tin of sorts which they have seem to have pressed it into a plastic one so I’m led to believe — with some pretty neat graphics on and has that completely vintage edge to it.
The pomade itself has a sort of black dark brown, sort of a “Coca Cola” look to it with a slight glisten. The only other black water based pomade I’ve personally come across is the one by Imperial Barber, black top (however, this isn’t ‘that’ black).
I know this might read a little strange:: but it really doesn’t smell like how it looks. It’s got a coconut aspect to it, rather pleasant actually — not heavy at all, but you can definitely tell it’s on the more potent side.
If you have tried many water based pomades before, you will get a sense of this one being a little more viscous than others, and this should already give bearing to how much hold it will offer. Despite it’s thickness, it’s actually fairly simple when it comes to application. Not as easy as the above ones to apply directly but that’s expected.
The slight down side is you’ve got to be fast when styling, cause once it sets, it sort of just sets and the re-styling aspect is a little limited. If you do need, to it’s best to add some water into the mix.
It’s great at keeping a proper pompadour in place, but is just a little old school compared to the new wave of products that Shear Revival, O’Douds and what Daimon Barber seem to offer. It certainly the strongest one of the bunch so far, that’s for sure. It offers a proper glisten to my hair too, which after the more natural ones that I have been applying, I’m not a massive fan of. Plus, there is barely any flow to my hair whatsoever.
Still a pretty good pomade though for what it’s intended for.
#5 Imperial Barber Products | Classic Pomade
I think Imperial Barber was the very first water pomade I bought actually, and although I’ve found many that surpass it — in terms of strength it still goes down as the one of the better ones out there for sure. I find the name a little confusing too, calling it a classic pomade when it is water based.
Packaging & Appearance
The packaging is relatively okay. I mean I like the typography (typewriter sort of look) and the aesthetics of the label are pretty minimalist but the fact it comes in a plastic container — it doesn’t really exude that ‘premium’ aspect that the first three do — or any of the others actually.
On the plus size, it does come in literally a plus size than you’re expecting. All the ones here tend to offer either a 1 oz or 2.5 oz size and then the 4 oz being their full size. This classic pomade comes at a 6 oz, so worth bearing in mind when considering the price.
It’s got that ‘manufactured’ sort of smell to it. You can tell it’s not a natural product, that chemical citrus clean and fresh smell. Not necessarily a bad as such, just not as good as some of the others.
Imperial Barber actually claim for it to be the world’s strongest water pomade and to be frank, I think they might be right. It will keep your pompadour, side parting and slick back extremely tight. The finish is a little bit too shiny for my liking and my hair is sort of rigid after use as well
Right from the volume to the sides.
You can apply it to dry hair, but I like to use when slightly damp. The application is fairly easy, but because it’s a like sort of gel type product it’s not going to give a completely natural look to your hair — it will give you a shine initially, but as it dries out it does tone down.
#6 Mister Pompadour | Peppermint Pomade
I’m a big fan of these guys. I like pretty much all their hair products especially their natural beeswax texture paste too. The peppermint pomade, however is a little disappointing for me.
Packaging & Appearance
Mister Pompadour change the look of their line up quite often, but they seem to always been a glass see through jar (currently with a blue tinge). I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t quite do it for me looks wise.
I prefer the more traditional or minimalist look, it seems rather corporate like it should be blending in with L’Oreal and the like.
I think the clue is pretty much in the name with this one, you guessed it. Peppermint. It’s quite bold as well, perhaps overly so, still not a bad smelling product by any means — but I think I prefer the more subtle tones offered by a lot of the other water based pomades on this list.
It does a decent enough job. In terms of strength and hold is sort of lives in between that of the Uppercut Deluxe and more natural O’Douds sort of free flowing texture. So it’s good for those who are after a little more than a mid level of shine.
The hold isn’t all that great, granted it will keep everything lying flat but if you are wanting to rock a pompadour (ironic given the name really, it’s not going to do anything special). It’s pretty easy to apply though, if you are just after the combover then it would be fine for the job.
I’m going to try out over the next week or so and see if I change my mind at all, but at the moment it’s really not on the same footing in terms of ‘end finish’ like some of the others.
#7 Anchors Aweigh Hair Co. | Teddy Boy Original
Anchors Aweigh hair co. is one that hasn’t been on my radar for not very long at all actually, in fact I’ve only recently got this jar and I’m yet to try the matte and slick. In honesty, it probably deserves to be higher up this list, but for limited usage — I don’t feel like I’ve given it enough time one on one to be any higher (just yet).
However, from what I have used of it so far - I have really enjoyed using it.
Packaging & Appearance
You know, I love the amber glass jar.
It’s got some rather lovely typography, I can see why it might not be to some people’s taste but it is right up my street— easily goes alongside the likes of Shear Revival and O’Douds as being one of the best looking pomades i my collection for sure.
It’s got a really rather complex scent to it. The Teddy Boy gives me that nostalgic aspect of a traditional barbershop, it’s really quite difficult to put it into words. Think of bay rum with a slight twist, certainly a great smelling pomade for sure.
Like I said above, really — it will probably end up being higher on this list — was it not for the limited us I’ve had out of it. It’s very similar to the likes of O’Douds actually being a sort of paste.
I won’t say I prefer it to O’Douds, I’m going to have to get them side by side to compare more closely but they are both I think in the same sort of ball park.
I can see this being a few people’s favorites for sure, offering a couple of notches above neutral in the shine aspect.. It’s got the easier application factor, doesn’t give an unnatural shine to your hair, holds well and as I’ve said already smells rather good.
Which water based pomade is my go to?
I made it pretty obvious from the start in truth, so it sort of makes this section a little redundant.
But, for me, the way I style my hair — in a casual side part.
Crystal lake, is hands down the easiest to work with, best looking and just doesn’t require a big performance. It probably goes down as my all time favorite water pomade that is for sure.
That said, I would happily turn to O’Douds or Teddy Boy as a second or third option.
I can see the Uppercut Deluxe pomade having its place when I’m in need of a stronger hold in my hair for when it grows longer and thicker. Others might prefer the Imperial one though and as said I’m going to give Mr Pompadour’s Peppermint pomade more of a chance to see if it can sway my mind a little.
The other six are actually really good water pomades in their own right too — and I would still be using a mix between them had I not come across Shear Revival almost accidentally. There’s certainly a lot worse you could pick from.
Which one do you like the look of?
Remember though, I have chosen these pomades on how I like my hair to feel, a mid shine with a natural wave to it, you might want to do it differently - so it could be the case that other water based pomades will appeal to you. Plus, I have only tried so many but plan on trying out more in the near future (and will update this post accordingly).