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Hair Pomade vs. Clay vs. Wax vs. Gel vs. Mousse – What’s Right For You?

What materials are these goods constructed of, and how do they work? What are the advantages and downsides of these items? Which product will work best for your hair? Let us explore!

A photo of hair products cosmetics.

Finding the right hair styling product that meets all your requirements can be a challenging task. These five hair styling products are some of the most well-known and used products on the market, but what are these products, and how do they work?

Hair pomade, clay, wax, gel, and hair mousse are all fantastic hair products. They do have their benefits and disadvantages that you should know before using them, and you need to pick the product that will enhance your style. In this article, we will help you choose the right one for you.

What are these products made from, and how do they work? What are the benefits and disadvantages of these products? Which product will be the best one for your hair? Let’s find out!

Information About These Hair Products

When looking for a good hair product, the number of products on the market today can make this process feel intimidating and leave you feeling overwhelmed. This is only natural, especially for men.

So, let’s go through what hair pomade, clay, wax, gel, and mousse are and how they work to pick the right one for your hair.

How Pomade Works

A cropped view of man holding jar with black hair pomade.

The first product we will go through is pomade. Pomade is a creamy product that can be used on most hair types. Pomade is generally made from a water-based, greasy, or waxy substance that helps hold your hair for hours in the style you want.

The traditional pomade is an oil-based slick product, but the more modern Pomades are water-based, making them easier to get out of clothing should they be spilled onto or rubbed off onto your clothes while you get dressed.

Both types of pomade are great products and will hold your style for the entire day. This product is excellent if you want a spiked-up hairstyle, the messy “wet” hair look, or the shiny slicked-back style. But how does a Pomade work exactly, and what does it do to your hair?

The main ingredients in most Pomades are from a category called petrolatum. These are vegetable oils, coconut oil, and aloe oil. These are put into Pomades to give your hair a shiny, healthy look. Pomades also have beeswax or microcrystalline wax as an ingredient.

These waxes will help the pomade hold your hair in the style you choose and enhance the consistency of your hair. These products will not dry your hair out and won’t leave a greasy residue in your hair when you wash it out.

How Clay Works

A photo of brush for applying hair clay and a jar of cosmetic hair clay.

Hair clay is another great product used to create and hold hairstyles. This product has similar characteristics to hair wax. Hair clay is a great way to build your hair’s volume, enhancing your hair’s softness while removing tangles and absorbing excess oil and grease from your hair.

Some hair clays can also remove impurities from your hair due to the ingredients in them. Hair clay can provide your hair with a medium to high hold, so you can rock your hairstyle for longer.

Hair clay works so well with many different hair types because it has actual clay in it, the most frequent type being bentonite clay. This is fully natural clay that can help boost the structure, thickness, and body of each strand of hair.

This gives your hair a fuller look and the stability you need your style to have throughout the day. Hair clay gives your hair a semi-matte or matte texture, so hair clay is the product for you if you don’t like the shiny look.

How Gel Works

Top view of a styling hair gel and towel on wooden table.

Hair gel is one of the most frequently used hair products in the world, especially by men. Gel is made to harden your hair strands to ensure your hair can easily hold a specific hairstyle. A good hair gel can work for most hair types and hold your style the entire day.

A nice thing about gel is that you can generally apply it to wet and dry hair, so if you are in a hurry, you can style your hair no matter what. You can use gel to create various looks, including slicked back, spiky, and messy hairstyles.

Gel is often made from water, oil, humectants, conditioner, and proteins. However, the main ingredient, known as PVP or polymer sealer, helps strengthen the consistency of your hair cuticle, helping your hair hold the style you choose for longer.

The PVP in the hair gel goes through a process where it’s dissolved in water or alcohol. This allows the PVP to form a transparent film between every hair strand when used. This transparent film then dries and keeps your hair styled until you wash the gel out of your hair.

How Mousse Works

Close up view of hairstylist hand with hair mousse spray.

Mousse is very often overlooked as a hair styling product, but for some people, this product could be the best choice for your hair. Mousse has a lighter consistency compared to gels and clays, and it can add a lot of volume and bounce to your hair.

Hair mousse is mainly made from polymers or resin in water and alcohol. The alcohol helps dissolve the polymer or resin and helps produce the quick-breaking foam we call mousse. The foamy texture allows for easier and more accurate application to your hair, as you can apply it to a bigger surface area at once.

Mousse can help you get the definition you want, but with the “crunchiness” that other products can have. Mousse will give you a shiny look and feel to your style. Mousse is great for most hairstyles, and it can help control fizziness and unruly curls while keeping your hair in place.

How Wax Works

A hands of a barbershop and a jar of hair wax.

Wax is another great hair styling product that will hold your hair throughout the day. Waxes are generally made from beeswax, with a few other ingredients to help nourish your hair. The beeswax in this product gives your hair a moderate to strong hold while making your hair have a matte appearance.

The nice thing about this hair product is that you get all this without your hair becoming hard or stiff. Hair wax can work well with medium-length and short hair. This product is excellent for both oily and normal hair, and it can help control unruly curls and frizzy hair.

The Benefits And Disadvantages Of These Hair Products

All these products have benefits and disadvantages that you need to be aware of before choosing the one you what to use. Let’s go over the disadvantages and benefits of these products to help you decide which product you should use.

Disadvantages And Benefits Of Using Pomade

Close up photo of man applying hair ponade on his hair.

Pomade has some great benefits to offer you. This product has superior strength when compared to most other hair styling products, meaning it will hold your hair in place for longer.

This strength allows pomade to easily tame unruly hair and keep it where it needs to be throughout the entire day.

Pomade can give your hair a healthy and beautiful shiny look, and it can also give you a wet look. You can be sure that this shine is all-natural as it comes from the olive and coconut oils used in the pomade, which can also help hydrate your hair.

Pomade can also lock moisture in your hair, keeping it hydrated. Applying pomade to wet hair can make the pomade more efficient at locking in the moisture your hair needs for longer. So, not only will it help you style your hair, but it can also help improve your hair’s health.

Even though pomade has some excellent benefits, it does have some disadvantages that you need to know before you decide to use this product yourself. Pomade can be more challenging to remove from your hair than other styling products.

This can be frustrating for people because you want to shower and go to bed at the end of a lengthy day, not spend half an hour getting product out of your hair. Pomade can also aggravate acne in some people. So, be sure to test for this before you use it.

Disadvantages And Benefits Of Using Clay

Clay also has some excellent benefits to it that many people enjoy. When you use clay in your hair, it can leave your hair feeling fuller by providing thickness and body to each strand of hair. This can increase the volume of your hair, giving it a full look.

Hair clay is perfect for any hairstyle that requires volume, as it can add volume to your hair without weighing your hair down. Today, most hair clays are created using a lightweight formula that helps your hair absorb the clay better without leaving any leftover residue.

Hair clay also has natural healing properties that can heal and stimulate your scalp. This scalp stimulation can help increase hair growth. People with sensitive skin can use hair clay to style their hair as it is a more natural product.

Hair clay can help remove impurities and dirt from your hair without stripping your hair of its natural oils. This product is also filled with nutrients that will help nourish your hair and keep it healthy.

So, hair clay has some lovely benefits, but are there some disadvantages you should know before using it for yourself? Believe it or not, hair clay only has one drawback. This is because most hair clay brands are pretty expensive. After all, it’s a more natural product.

Disadvantages And Benefits Of Using Gel

A portrait of man holding red jar with haor gel.

Gel can have some favorable benefits if you use it in your hair. Gel gives you complete control over your hairstyle. You can style your hair as crazy as you want, and gel will hold it there without any issues. Gel can also lock moisture into your hair, giving your hair a healthy look with a great shine.

If you buy organic-type hair gels infused with natural herbs, your gel will help nourish your hair and give it life. This gel can also help calm dry sculps that lack these nutrients and make your hair healthy again.

Hair gel provides a great hold to your hairstyle but is also easy to wash out your hair when needed. This product helps define curls, add volume, and shine to your hair while being easy to apply.

There are some disadvantages to using hair gel, though. Hair gel can cause white flacks in your hair, and if you apply it wrong or too thick, it can make your hair excessively hard and challenging to work with.

Disadvantages And Benefits Of Using Mousse

Hair mousse can offer you and your hair some great benefits if you use it correctly. Mousse can help increase your hair’s volume and make it appear fuller and thicker, especially if you have thin hair. Hair mousse can also help protect your hair from humidity, helping keep it smooth and fuzz-free.

As mousse comes out of the can as a foam, it’s easier to apply to your hair and gives you better coverage than other hair products. Mousse can help protect your hair from heated tools like hair straighteners to ensure your hair stays healthy.

Using mousse in your hair will ensure that your style holds the entire day. Even though this product has some great benefits, it has some disadvantages that you should be aware of before using it.

Some of the ingredients used in mousse can irritate your eyes, nose, and skin if they come into contact with it and you are sensitive to these ingredients. If you use too much mousse or overuse it, this can dry your hair out and lead to damage or hair breakage.

You need to buy high-quality mousse as some of the lower-quality ones have ingredients that can lead to hair thinning.

Disadvantages And Benefits Of Using Wax

Close up photo of jar with hair wax in the hand of barber.

A great thing about wax is that this product has much better hold than most other hair products except for gel. This means you can use hair wax to create just about any hairstyle you want, and it will hold for hours.

Wax is extremely easy to remove from your hair, only requiring one wash. Wax can be used for all hair types, making it a versatile hair product. Wax also has a pleasant aroma due to its beeswax, giving your hair a lovely, refreshing smell.

Wax can be used on people with sensitive skin as it’s a natural product. This product enhances the shine in your hair and locks in moisture, keeping your hair hydrated.

The only two disadvantages to wax are that it might cause your scalp to dry out after a few hours of wearing it, and it can be difficult to spread it evenly on your hair.

The Daily Differences Between These Products

When choosing a product to use in your hair, you need to know what it’s like daily to ensure you get the desired results and have the best style possible for the entire day. Let’s go through the daily differences these products have.

The Hold Of The Products

A man holding jar with wax and comb for hairstyling.

Most of us live busy lives and need a hair styling product that can keep up. If you are running from business meeting to meeting and running around, you need your hairstyle to hold. Ideally, you need to have it look like it’s just been styled at all times to look fresh and ready for anything.

Hair gel is the product on this list with the most hold. All the other products can still hold your hairstyle well, but they might require a few touch-ups throughout the day if you are extremely busy.

So, if you don’t want to worry about your hair moving, then gel should be your go-to hair styling product on busy days.

Workability Of The Products

When you are looking for a product to use in your hair, you need to find one that suits your hair and is easy for you to work with. If you need to change your look from business to party, you need a product that can allow you this change easily.

For workability, gel, wax, and mousse are the most workable of these products. These three products are easy to apply to your hair, and you can easily change your look throughout the day whenever you need to.

If you use the right mousse, wax, or gel, you won’t get that crunchiness or hardness that could make restyling your hair more challenging.

Shine Or Matte Finish

Above view of clean clear modern ideal hairstyle.

Many people prefer the shiny finish in their hair, while others prefer the matte look. Whichever you choose, there is a product on this list for you. If you want to have the shiny professional hair look that many people prefer to have for work, you can use gel, mousse, or pomade hair products.

These products can give your hair that healthy shine that most people are after. However, if you want more of a matte look to get you through your day, plus something that will help nourish your hair from all the abuse you’ve put it through already, hair clay or wax are the ones to go for.

Which Product Is Best For You?

Deciding which of these products is the one for you can be challenging. You need to account for several factors when choosing the product to use in your hair. Let’s go through these factors to make the best choice for you and your hair.

How You Style Your Hair

How you style your hair is an essential factor when deciding on which hair product to use. If you want spiky hair with a wet or shiny look, then pomades and gels should be your go-to’s. If you want to give your hair more bounce and volume, hair mousse will be your best bet.

If you want a matte look, clay or wax would be your choice. All these products have a good hold, so your hairstyle won’t go anywhere.

The Time You Have To Style Your Hair

A side view portrait of man hairstyle.

If you are always rushed in the mornings before you go to work or have been invited to something last minute and only have an hour to get ready, you need something that can style your hair fast and still have it look decent and hold well.

If this is what you need, you should go for a gel, wax, or clay product. Most gels can be used on wet or dry hair, and they can have your hair styled in minutes.

Some clay and wax products can also be used on wet hair and will have you ready to go in no time. All these products have excellent hold and will keep your style in place for the day.

The Hair Type You Have

When choosing which of these hair products to use, you need to take into account the type of hair you have. Different hair types will react in a different ways to certain products. If you use a hair product not meant for your hair type, you won’t get the style or look you’re going for.

You are pretty lucky if you have straight hair, as most hair products will work for you. So, the product you choose out of these five will only depend on the style you want to achieve.

Alternatively, you can pick a product that will add extra volume to your hair, like gel, mousse, and pomade. These will give your straight hair some extra life and bounce.

If you have curly hair, you will need to be a bit pickier about the hair products you use. You need to use a product that enhances your already lovely curls. You should also use products that will give your hair enough hold without drying out your hair and scalp.

If you have curly hair, pomade or wax would be your best product choice out of these products. The other products could dry your hair out and cause damage.

Your Available Budget

A photo of hair cosmetics for men in a dark room.

Another thing you need to consider before choosing a hair product from this list is your budget. Different hair products will differ in price, and some of them can get pretty expensive. You need to decide on your budget and find a product that fits this budget.

Pomades are relatively cheap products, so if you prefer pomades, they should be able to fit in almost all budgets. Gels, mousses, waxes, and clays have a wide price range, with some brands being relatively cheap while others can be expensive.

However, with these three products, you need to consider the quality. If you want a quality product that will help your hair and have a good hold, you will need one of the higher-quality products that cost a bit extra.

You Want Natural Ingredients

If you want to ensure that the product you use on your hair is all-natural, or at least made partially from natural ingredients, then you should go for the pomades, waxes, and hair clays. These products are usually made with all-natural ingredients, making them the safest products to use.

The other products on this list contain some unnatural ingredients that could cause some people to have an allergic reaction if they aren’t careful.


These products are excellent to use in your hair as they all offer great hold to your style. You will need to use the guidelines above to determine which product would best suit your needs and hair before you buy one.

It’s crucial to use the right product for your hair, so go through everything with an open mind, and don’t judge a product too soon as it might be the perfect one for you. Good luck choosing the perfect hair styling product for your hair!