Pomade vs Clay vs Paste

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Hair Pomade, Clay, and Paste

Slicked-back classics, effortlessly tousled styles, modern textured looks – the world of hair styling is full of possibilities.

But with a vast selection of the most versatile hair products, each promising the perfect hold, shine, or texture, how do you find the one that truly unlocks your hair's potential?

Article at a Glance:

  • Hair Pomade: What Is It?
  • Pomade Recommendation #1
  • Pomade Recommendation #2
  • Hair Clay: What Is It?
  • Clay Recommendation #1
  • Clay Recommendation #2
  • Hair Paste: What Is It?
  • Paste Recommendation #1
  • Paste Recommendation #2
  • Pomade vs Paste vs Clay: A Detailed Overviewest
  • How to Choose the Right Product
  • Expert Styling Advice
  • TL;DR

  • Let's break down the key players – pomade, clay, and paste. We'll uncover their unique strengths, helping you find your perfect match and achieve the unbeatable style you crave.

    Hair Pomade: What Is It?

    Pomades are designed to deliver a strong, long-lasting hold while giving your hair a distinct shine. They've been a styling staple for generations, offering the control you need to achieve a wide variety of looks. And with different pomade types to choose from, there's an option to suit every hair need and style preference.

    Pomades have a long history, with early versions, known as traditional pomades, relying on ingredients like bear fat, beeswax, and lard. These oil-based pomades were fantastic for achieving that very slick and polished look but were notoriously difficult to wash out.

    Advances in formulation led to the development of water-based pomades. These modern pomades offer a similar strong hold and shine but wash out with much greater ease, offering a huge improvement in convenience.

    Whether oil-based or water-based, most pomades create a glossy, polished finish. Want a more natural look?

    Opt for a matte pomade for shine-free styling. Pomades boast a stronghold that keeps your style in place throughout the day. The consistency of pomades makes them perfect for taming thick, unruly hair or keeping sculpted styles locked in.

    Ideal Hairstyles

    Due to their high shine and strong hold, pomades excel at creating hairstyles that emphasize a sleek and neat appearance:

    Slicked Back: Pomades are essential for mastering that timeless slicked-back look.

    Slicked Back Hair Style

    Pompadours: They help you create the voluminous, sculpted look of the classic pompadour hairstyle.

    Pompadour Hair Style

    Side Parts: Pomade provides the control and definition needed for a sharp, well-defined side part.

    Classic Side Part Hair Style

    Essential Hair Pomades

    Highlighted below are our premier selections in the category of pomades, complete with an evaluation of advantages and drawbacks for each.

    Layrite Super Hold Pomade: Your Key to Classic Styles

    Layrite Pomade

    Layrite Super Hold Pomade is a go-to product for a reason: it delivers an exceptionally strong hold with a natural-looking shine, all while washing out effortlessly.

    This pomade delivers the sculpting prowess of classic formulations without leaving behind any greasy residue, making it perfect for your daily styling needs. Whether you're aiming for a timeless slick-back or seeking a contemporary look with natural texture that'll blow away the competition, Layrite ensures your hair stays exactly where you want it.

    Why It's Popular

    ●      Taming Power: Controls even the most stubborn hair, perfect for thick, curly, or unruly textures.
    ●      All-Day Hold: Keeps your style locked in place throughout the day.
    ●      Water-Soluble: Washes out effortlessly with just water, preventing buildup.
    ●      Signature Scent: Features the classic, mild cream soda scent that Layrite products are known for


    ●      A little goes a long way – start with a small amount and add more as needed.
    ●      Works best on slightly damp hair for easier application and styling.




    Super strong






    Mild cream soda


    4.25 oz

    Suavecito Pomade: Old-School Cool and Powerful Hold

    Suavecito PomadeSuavecito Pomade is a timeless icon, delivering an unbeatable hold and classic finish. Its distinctive fragrance adds a touch of old-school cool, perfect for those who want a polished, slicked-back style that commands attention. If you crave a look that won't budge, Suavecito won't let you down.

    Why It's a Classic

    ●      High-Shine Finish: Creates a glossy, polished look perfect for classic styles.
    ●      Unbeatable Hold: Tames even the most unruly hair, ensuring your style stays put all day.
    ●      Distinctive Scent: Features the signature Suavecito fragrance, a nostalgic and masculine scent.


    ●      Thorough Washing: Due to its oil base, Suavecito Pomade requires a clarifying shampoo for complete removal.
    ●      Potential for Buildup: Regular scalp cleansing is essential to prevent product buildup.




    Firm (Strong)




    Oil-based Formula


    Suavecito Original


    4 oz

    Hair Clay: What Is It?

    Hair styling clay is an incredibly versatile tool for crafting effortlessly cool, textured hairstyles. It delivers a natural-looking matte finish, unlike the high shine of a pomade or hair gel – a major reason for its popularity. Its firm hold, texturizing power, and workability open up possibilities for modern tousled styles and added volume.

    Plus unlike hair gel, you can restyle throughout the day without the stiffness. Many hair clays also contain natural clays like bentonite and kaolin, which absorb excess oil for a shine-free look, boost volume, and even offer nourishment to the scalp and hair.

    It's no wonder clay is so popular – it helps create the illusion of fuller, healthier hair with a natural finish and flexible hold.

    Ideal Hairstyles

    Messy, Textured Looks: Achieve that effortlessly styled, "undone" aesthetic.

    Messy textured men's hair style

    Modern Bedhead Vibes: Get that perfectly tousled, just-rolled-out-of-bed look, but with controlled hold.

    Modern Bedhead Hair Style

    Short and Medium-Length Styles: Works wonders on shorter cuts, adding definition and volume.

    Short and Medium-Length

    Top Hair Clay Options for Volume and Texture

    Presented below are our foremost recommendations, including a detailed analysis of their benefits and potential limitations.

    Effortless Volume: Honor Initiative's Solution for Thin Hair

    Honor Initiative hair clay pomade
    Buy honor initiative hair clay on amazon

    Honor Initiative Clay uniquely harnesses the power of natural oils and ingredients, meticulously crafted to facilitate the creation of textured, voluminous hairstyles boasting a natural, matte appearance. This clay emerges as the prime selection for individuals yearning for a contemporary, effortlessly chic look, particularly beneficial for enhancing the volume of fine or thin hair with the nourishing touch of natural oils.

    This clay's lightweight formula provides the hold and texture you want without weighing down your hair, crucial for achieving volume.

    It specifically addresses the challenges of styling thin or fine hair while promoting a fuller, thicker appearance.

    The matte finish delivers a natural, understated look, while the workable hold allows for shaping and adjustments throughout the day without feeling stiff or crunchy. For added volume, apply to dry hair and blow-dry with a pre-styler before using the clay.

    Ideal For

    ●      Thin or fine hair types
    ●      Modern, tousled styles
    ●      Short to medium-length haircuts
    ●      Achieving a natural, matte finish








    Oil-based Formula


    Tea Tree & Lavender


    1.7 oz

    Hanz de Fuko Claymation: Your Hair's Artistic Medium

    Hanz de Fuko ClaymationKnown for its ability to tame even the wildest hair, Hanz de Fuko Claymation is a premium hair clay offering an exceptional balance of hold, texture, and a natural matte finish.

    Its unique hybrid formula sets it apart, blending the best of clay and hair wax with a touch of Quicksand for remarkable pliability and control.

    With Claymation, you can achieve defined, tousled styles and create an effortlessly cool aesthetic. Unlike stiff gels or drying clays, it allows for restyling throughout the day. Plus, it's infused with nourishing botanical extracts for added benefits to both hair and scalp.

    Perfect For

    ●      Short to medium-length hairstyles
    ●      Thick, textured, or unruly hair types
    ●      Achieving modern tousled looks
    ●      Boosting volume and fullness 








    Water-soluble (hybrid formula)


    Botanical and woodsy


    2 oz

    Hair Paste: What Is It?

    Hair paste, with its water-based formula, strikes an ideal balance, delivering a medium hold, subtle shine, and versatility to achieve various styles.

    It artfully blends the characteristics of both pomades and clays, offering more hold and control than a styling cream, but less stiffness than traditional pomades or strong clays.

    With a low to medium shine, paste provides a natural-looking finish, avoiding the high gloss of pomades or the extreme matte look of some clays.

    It's also incredibly easy to use and wash out, plus it allows for effortless restyling and reshaping throughout the day without feeling stiff or greasy.

    Paste delivers a "your hair but better" look for everyday styling, and a little goes a long way, making it a cost-effective option.

    Hair paste works exceptionally well for:

    Textured, Casual Styles: Effortlessly creates a tousled, piecey look with a bit of definition.

    Textured, Casual Styles

    Controlled Volume: Adds body and volume without weighing down your hair.

    Controlled Volume

    Most Hair Lengths: Suitable for short, medium, and even some longer hairstyles.

    Hair Paste

    Multiple Hair Types: Works well for straight, wavy, and even thick or curly hair, depending on the specific paste.

    Curly Hair Paste

    Two Essential Hair Pastes: Your Go-Tos for Effortless Styling

    Here are our leading selections in the realm of hair pastes, accompanied by a comprehensive review of their advantages and disadvantages.

    Redken Brews Molding Paste: Control and Style, Minus the Fuss

    Redken Brews Molding PasteRedken Brews Molding Paste stands out for its focus on effortless styling and a touchable, natural finish. Its medium hold is designed for reliable control without sacrificing a soft, textured look – you won't get that stiff or hair-crispy feel common in some pastes.

    This emphasis on a natural appearance is further reinforced by the matte finish. The formula is exceptionally easy to work with, distributing smoothly and washing out without fuss.

    Redken Brews Molding Paste is perfect if you're looking for a low-maintenance product that helps you achieve modern, textured styles without a lot of effort.










    Light, fresh


    3.4 oz

    STMNT Grooming Goods Matte Paste: Uncompromising Hold, Extreme Definition

    STMNT Grooming Goods Matte PasteSTMNT Grooming Goods Matte Paste sets itself apart with its unwavering focus on maximum hold and an intensely matte finish.

    For those who want absolutely zero shine and a style that won't budge, this paste delivers unparalleled control. It's perfect for sculpting bold, modern looks with dramatic definition and texture.

    Unlike some matte products that can feel dry, STMNT's formula helps keep hair workable throughout the day.

    Plus, it infuses your style with STMNT's signature scent – a sophisticated blend of coconut, sandalwood, and orris – for a subtle touch of refinement.










    STMNT Signature (coconut, sandalwood, orris)


    3.38 oz 

    Pomade vs Paste vs Clay: A Detailed Overview

    For your convenience, we've organized a comparative table that allows for quick scanning and easy comparison of each product's key features.


    Hair Pomade

    Hair Clay

    Hair Paste


    Low to High

    Medium to High



    High (water-based) / Medium to High (oil-based)


    Low to Medium


    Smooth, defined

    Textured, matte

    Textured, natural






    Easy (water-based) / More difficult (oil-based)

    Easy (water-based) / More difficult (oil-based)


    Type of Hair

    Most hair types

    Thick, thinning, coarse, or unruly

    Most hair types


    Slicked-back, pompadours, classic styles

    Messy, textured, casual

    Textured, tousled, casual styles


    Water or Oil

    Natural Clays (Bentonite, Kaolin)


    What Matters Most: Choosing Your Product

    When choosing between pomade, clay, and paste, your hair type is a critical factor. Thick, unruly hair thrives with the stronghold of pomade, allowing for control and defined styles.

    Alternatively, clay's texturizing power can create a thicker, fuller appearance. If you have thinner or finer hair, however, paste's lighter hold and texturizing abilities become your best friend. It provides control and definition without weighing your hair down.

    For curly hair, pomades, especially water-based options for easier washout, can help define and tame curls.

    Select clays can also offer frizz control, but it's important to choose one that won't dry out your hair type. Pastes work well for adding subtle definition and light hold.

    Finally, wavy hair benefits from hair clays that excel at creating tousled, beachy waves while adding volume and texture. Pastes are another great choice, offering a natural, defined look for waves that avoid stiffness.

    Personal Preference

    Your aesthetic preference plays a big part in choosing the right product:

    ●      The Glossy Look: If you love a high-shine finish for classic, polished styles, pomade is your go-to. Pomades offer a range of shine levels, from subtle to a full-on slicked-back sheen.
    ●      Modern & Natural: For a more understated, natural appearance, hair clay is the clear winner. Its matte finish creates effortlessly cool styles without any unnatural gloss.
    ●      The Best of Both Worlds: Pastes offer a middle ground. They typically have a low to medium shine, giving your hair a defined look without being overly shiny. This versatility makes them adaptable to various styles and preferences.
    ●      Extra Considerations: Some matte clays can make hair feel dry or less pliable. To avoid that, look for clay products formulated with moisturizing ingredients.

    Scalp Sensitivity

    Traditional oil-based pomades can sometimes clog pores and lead to buildup, causing issues like scalp acne or irritation, especially if you already have sensitive skin. For a gentler option, water-based pomades and pastes are generally better choices.

    Many modern hair clays even include beneficial ingredients like bentonite and kaolin clays, which absorb excess oil and can soothe the scalp.

    If you notice any itching, redness, flaking, or discomfort after using a hair product, switch to a different formulation, especially one designed for sensitive skin.

    Remember, even with sensitive-skin-friendly products, regular and thorough scalp cleansing is essential to prevent buildup and potential irritation.

    Frequency of Use

    How often you style your hair impacts the best product choice in terms of long-term hair health:

    ●      Daily Styling: If you restyle your hair every day, using heavy pomades or a hair styling product with harsh chemicals frequently, it can potentially cause issues. These might lead to hair breakage, dryness, or long-term buildup.
    ●      Healthy Hair Choice: For daily use, opting for clays with nourishing ingredients or water-based pastes is a wiser choice. These generally contain more natural ingredients that support hair health over time.
    ●      Occasional Styling vs. Daily: If you only style your hair occasionally, product choice becomes less critical for long-term hair health. You have more flexibility to use heavier products when needed.
    ●      The Importance of Cleansing: Regardless of hair care product choice, proper scalp and hair cleansing is essential when you use styling products for men regularly. This reduces buildup and keeps your hair healthy.

    Ease of Washout

    When it comes to washout, water-based pomades and pastes offer a distinct advantage. They're designed for easy removal, with a simple rinse and your regular shampoo usually doing the trick.

    Traditional oil-based pomades, on the other hand, are known for their staying power. This translates to requiring more effort for removal, often needing multiple washes and a clarifying shampoo to fully cleanse your hair.

    It's important to remember that frequent use of oil-based pomades without proper cleansing can lead to buildup on your scalp. This buildup can weigh hair down, making it look greasy and potentially causing irritation.

    A quick tip: Even with water-based products, leaving them in for extended periods can make removal slightly more difficult. Always rinse thoroughly and wash your hair promptly after styling for the best results!

    Expert Styling Advice for Each Product


    ●      Pomades: Start with a small amount, distribute evenly through damp or dry hair, and style as desired.
    ●      Clays: Work a small amount into dry hair for the best hold and texture. Apply evenly from root to tip for a thicker, fuller appearance.
    ●      Pastes: Apply to dry or slightly damp hair. Use a small amount and add more as needed for desired hold and style.

    Finding the Right Product

    ●      Read the Labels: Look for ingredients that align with your hair needs. If you have oily hair, search for clays with absorbent properties or oil-free pomades and pastes. For thicker hair, stronger-hold products might be necessary.
    ●      Experiment: Don't be afraid to try different hair styling products! Experiment until you find one (or a few) that work perfectly for you, your hair type, and your desired looks.

    Styling Suggestions

    ●      Pomade: Perfect for classic slicked-back styles, pompadours, or any defined look.
    ●      Clay: Ideal for textured, messy styles, bedhead looks, and adding volume and definition.
    ●      Paste: Extremely versatile for tousled looks, beachy waves, or adding light control and definition.


    This comprehensive guide dives into the world of hair styling, focusing on the key players: pomade, clay, and paste. Each product offers unique benefits tailored to different hair types and desired looks.

    ●      Pomade is perfect for those seeking a strong, long-lasting hold with a shiny finish. It's great for slicked-back styles, pompadours, and side parts. Modern formulations include water-based options that are easier to wash out than traditional oil-based pomades.
    ●      Hair Clay offers a matte finish and is ideal for achieving natural-looking, textured styles. It's versatile for modern tousled looks and adds volume while maintaining a natural appearance. Clays often contain natural ingredients like bentonite and kaolin, which absorb excess oil and promote scalp health.
    ●      Hair Paste offers a harmonious mix of control and adaptability, delivering a medium hold complemented by a natural luster. It's adept at catering to a spectrum of hair lengths and textures, presenting the flexibility to sculpt textured, laid-back looks minus the rigidity often associated with hair gel locks. This ensures a versatile approach to styling, from smooth sophistication to effortlessly tousled appearances, without compromising the hair's natural movement or shine.

      The guide also includes recommendations for top products in each category, highlighting their specific benefits and features. Choosing the right product depends on your hair type, preferred style, and personal aesthetics. Whether you're aiming for a sleek, polished look, a natural, textured appearance, or something in between, this guide helps you find the perfect styling product to achieve your desired outcome.

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      A Side-by-Side Comparison