How to Choose Between Gel, Pomade and Other Sorts of Hair Goop

The right pick is the difference between the Fonz and Alfafa

By Eric Twardzik

How to Choose Between Gel, Pomade and Other Sorts of Hair Goop
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13 October 2016

If this story were running 16 months ago, we’d start it with a Donald Trump hair joke.

But that’s not funny anymore.

So let’s cut to the chase: you’re about to be matched with that Holy Grail hair product you’ve always searched for, with a little help from one Van Capizzano.

Capizzano has been in the barber game for over twenty years, and has previously manned the clippers at the likes of New York’s Ludlow Blunt and Freemans Sporting Club. This fall, he opened his first shop, Tribe Barber, in Boston’s South End.

Suffice to say, the man knows about matching hair to its ideal product, be it gel, pomade, wax or cream. And you just became his next student.

If you have …

Thin or wavy hair, worn short-to-medium on the sides and top:
Use a medium hold, matte pomade, like Malin + Goetz Hair Pomade.

“Most guys don’t want to look like they’re wearing product everyday. They also want the ease of [their hair] doing whatever they want it to do. Like if you dry it flat against your head, you want it flat against your head. If you want it to be bigger you just push it up and it will be bigger. It’s very easy to use, very malleable, without looking like there’s anything in your hair.”

Coarse, thick hair worn in a medium length:
A medium-high hold, medium-shine clay like Baxter of California Clay Pomade

“A medium-shine product that has really strong hold. It’s particularly good with tough, coarse hair like Asian hair. Often, the more hold you get, the higher shine you’re gonna have. But Baxter’s has medium-high hold with medium shine.”

Thick, flat hair, worn up high or in a pompadour:
A high-hold, high-shine pomade like Layrite Super Hold

“If you want a really good, solid, organized pompadour, that’s where the Layrite Super Hold comes in. Whatever shape you put it in, once it’s in the air it hardens up a little bit. But it’s still malleable. You can still move it into position, and it will reharden to that position. Layrite can basically get your hair as straight as your hair can be.”

Medium-to-long hair:
A low hold, medium shine grooming cream, like Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom

“It’s like you didn’t take a shower for three of four days. But in an ideal situation where your hair has a little bit of texture to it, a little bit of movement to it, a little bit of hold. It does a better version of unwashed hair then your own unwashed hair.”

Simply way too much hair:
Shea butter, like Dr. Amikole’s Shea Butter

“For high density hair that you want to knock down. Anything below high, dense hair, I wouldn’t use shea butter on. It’s really for the guy who has way too much hair and is trying to reduce volume overall.”

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