Pomade: The Revival of a Styling Classic for Personal Expression and Control

Pomade – The Slickest Hair Product Around

The world may seem chaotic and uncertain, but we find solace and stability in our daily tasks. Like many, we seek control and steadiness in our routines, finding comfort in simple actions like tidying our homes. However, there’s another aspect of maintaining control that we value: personal grooming.

A few years ago, we stumbled upon an article discussing the revival of pomade as a hairstyle product. Pomade offers both a strong hold and a sleek appearance, appealing even to those with conservative tastes. Though we may not align with conservative views, we decided to give pomade a try.

Personally, we have thick, low-maintenance hair that naturally forms curls. But occasionally, we like to experiment with our look, and that’s where pomade comes in handy. Unlike a visit to the barber, all it takes is a can of pomade to switch things up. Similar to fashion, changing hairstyles is a fun way to express ourselves, and even our daily dressing routines feel like playful activities, reminiscent of children preparing for Halloween.

For us, slicking back our hair with pomade signifies two different states of mind. It could indicate the brink of losing control, as mentioned earlier, or it could simply reflect a day of feeling confident and self-assured. Pomade grants us a sense of control over our hair and acts as our personal statement—an armor to face the world while looking undeniably sharp.

Who wouldn’t want to emulate the iconic Austrian music legend, Falco?

I surely do.

Even the Joker, one of pop culture’s most recognizable villains opted for pomade, when he returned in the future-set Batman Beyond (2000) movie.

What sets pomade apart from other styling products, such as gel or hairspray, is its non-drying nature. Pomade remains wet, delivering a shiny and dark look that can endure multiple washes (unless we use a specific de-greasing shampoo).

The history of pomade dates back to Roman times when soap was used to achieve a sleek appearance. In the 18th century, pomade primarily consisted of bear fat or lard, but nowadays, it contains oils, petroleum jelly, or beeswax for the desired effect.

There is no wax like DAX

Our journey into the world of pomade began with DAX Wave and Groom, a product we discovered at our local African hair salon. For excellent pomade options, we recommend checking out your local Afro shop or exploring heritage stores that offer classic hair styling products alongside denim and boots. Rockabilly culture has played a significant role in preserving pomade’s popularity over the years, but we’ll delve into that further on.

Personally, we switch between two favorites: DAX Wave and Groom, and DAX Green and Gold. The red can of Wave and Groom delivers a perfect hold, allowing us to comb our hair throughout the day if stray strands decide to misbehave. It’s not the easiest to wash out, so we highly recommend using a specialized shampoo for optimal results. DAX offers its own shampoo, a vegetable oil-based care product that adds shine and effectively removes any pomade residue. Using a regular shampoo would require several washes to achieve the same effect.

DAX also offers products that provide easier daily removal. If you’re seeking a versatile option, we recommend trying DAX Hair Wax, which also features a delightful citrus-like scent, evoking the essence of summer. Speaking of scents, we once experimented with DAX High & Tight Awesome Hold, which had a potent cinnamon aroma. If that appeals to you, give it a go.

DAX, a company founded in Brooklyn almost half a century ago, specializes not only in pomade but also in waxes, creams, shampoos, and conditioners. Their products are available in over 10,000 stores across the US and 50 countries worldwide.

How To Style Your Hair

Now, let’s explore how to style our hair using pomade. When it comes to pomade, three classic hairstyles come to mind: the ducktail, the pompadour, and the quiff. A comb is an essential tool for achieving these looks, so we always make sure to keep one handy.

In the 2010s, we witnessed the resurgence of the undercut hairstyle, also referred to as the “Hitler Youth” style. This trendy look featured short clipped sides and a long, pomaded top. It gained popularity not only among actors portraying soldiers in war movies but also mainstream figures like Brad Pitt and David Beckham. However, other subcultures have significantly contributed to the legacy of pomade, which we’ll explore later on.

The Rise Of The Greaser

One such subculture is the “greaser” movement that emerged in the 1950s and early 1960s. Originally used derogatorily towards Greek, Italian, and Latin Americans, the term was reclaimed by working-class youth to define themselves. Despite their limited economic resources, they took great pride in their hair.

Greasers are now a part of nostalgia and found portrayals in movies like The Outsiders (1983), Grease (1978) or TV shows like Happy Days.

While John Travolta and his peers in Grease became pop culture icons and synonymous with pomade, it’s crucial to acknowledge the historical context of the Zoot Suit Riots in 1943. These riots targeted Latin and Mexican American residents based on their clothing and hairstyles, but the events are often overlooked. Zoot Suiters were rounded up, beaten, had their suits burned, and their hair cut by service members and the police.

Racist cop arresting a Pachuco during the Zoot Suit Riots in 1943.

To gain deeper insights, we highly recommend watching a short documentary by The History Channel on this subject. The Pachuco lifestyle also has strong connections to the history of pomade, and movies like Blood In Blood Out (1993) and American Me (1992) greatly influenced our choice of hairstyle. In fact, American Me begins with a personal retelling of the aforementioned racist attacks in 1943.

The Zoot Suit Riots exemplify how a hairstyle can become a political statement. It’s fascinating how this exploration of beauty and personal control has evolved into a history lesson.

On a personal note, today was one of those days when we slicked back our hair with pomade, and we can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. So, visit your local shop and grab one of those iconic tin cans that have become part of history.

We would also like to highlight the vast universe of Black hairstyles that can be achieved with pomade. While we may not possess the expertise to delve into them extensively, we would be grateful if you reached out to us via email to participate in a follow-up piece.