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A tin of Royal Crown Hair Dressing

Pomade (/pɒˈmd/; also regionally pronounced in the same way as the French word, pommade) is a greasy and waxy substance that is used to style hair. Pomade makes hair look slick, neat and shiny. Unlike hair spray and hair gel, pomade does not dry, and often takes several washes to remove. It can easily be removed using a high-detergent shampoo or other de-greasers such as dishwashing liquid and/ or using olive oil or oily shampoo and rinsing with warm water.

Difference between hair wax and pomade[edit]

Traditionally, the difference between hair wax and pomade was that pomade gave the hair a slicker, shinier appearance, while wax did not. Today the difference between pomade and hair wax is becoming somewhat ambiguous especially since many heavier pomades contain beeswax. Hair wax and pomade are often not marketed by those names, being labelled as "paste", "putty", "glue", or "whip". These products come in various textures and consistencies, and essentially achieve the same effects as either hair wax or pomade.[citation needed]

Origin of the name[edit]

The English word "pomade" is derived from French pommade meaning "ointment", itself arising from Latin pomum ("fruit, apple") via Italian pomata from pomo, meaning "apple", because the original ointment recipe contained mashed apples.[1] Modern pomades may contain fragrances, but they are usually not particularly fruity.


In the early 19th century bear fat was a common pomade ingredient,[2] but by the early 20th century petroleum jelly,[3] beeswax, and lard were more commonly used.[4]

Pomades were once much more popular than they are today, although they have made somewhat of a comeback in 2010 with recent additions to the marketplace that feature far less lanolin or bees wax in their formulations. They are associated with the slick men's hairstyles of the early to middle 20th century. Other more modern hairstyles involving the use of pomade include the Ducktail, Pompadour, and Quiff.

Early 20th century examples of pomade are Royal Crown Hair Dressing, originating in 1936 pictured above, or "Murray's Superior Pomade", originating in the 1920s.[5] Dixie Peach Hair Pomade was a popular pomade in the USA from World War II through the 1960s with teenage boys.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  2. ^ J. K. Crellin (1994). Home Medicine. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 88. 
  3. ^ Raymond Foss Bacon, William Allen Hamor (1916). The American petroleum industry. McGraw-Hill. 
  4. ^ Thomas William Cowan (1908). Wax Craft, All about Beeswax: Its History, Production, Adulteration, and Commercial Value. S. Low, Marston & co., ltd. p. 148. 
  5. ^ http://www.murrayspomade.com/history.php

External links[edit]