Slick-Back Throwdown: Which Pomade Does It Best?

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The weekend is coming and you’ve got a hot date — or maybe just a night out with the boys. In either case, your hair needs help. You reach in your bathroom cabinet and come out with a jar of pomade. Not a bad option, especially if you have thick or coarse hair. But not all pomades are created equal, and not all work equally well on every hair type or style. We put two of the most popular options to the test. Here’s what we found.

American Crew Pomade ($15)

Who wants it: Gents with coarser or curlier hair.

What you’ll get: A medium hold with high shine.

Pros: If you’re going for a look that’s slicker and straighter than your normal styling, this will provide what a paste or cream can’t: Structure with a glossy finish.

Cons: Our tester found this pomade to be a little more flexible than he’d hoped. While that good news for guys who want some control to their look without feeling like their hair is permanently mounted in place, if you’re going for that super-slick Rat Pack thing, this might be a little too soft for your head.

Bonus: American Crew claims this stuff will shampoo out easily without leaving residue in your hair. Our tester gave the suds-out claim two thumbs up.

Imperial Barber Classic Pomade ($22)

Who wants it: All hair types, but especially good for men with long or unruly hair.

What you’ll get: “Industrial strength” hold with medium shine.

Pros: Because Imperial Barber Classic Pomade is water-based, guys can adjust the strength of its hold by applying on damp (lighter hold) or dry (strong hold) hair. Applied no dry hair, this stuff is no joke: It will lock your strands in place for tonight’s festivities. And maybe tomorrow’s, too.

Cons: The pomade rinses out, but it took two washes to do it. That said, its hold power was awesome, so for men who want that slick, super-polished appearance, it’s probably worth another five minutes in the shower.

Bonus: Imperial Barber stresses that the pomade can be reactivated by adding water to your hair during the night, and styling again. Our tester found this to be mostly true, although re-styling his hair in the bar bathroom proved slightly awkward and less convenient than he’d hoped.

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