Grooming

Water Based Pomade: Five $10 Options put to the Test

water based pomade jax reuzel shiner gold nature hue gentlemen republic

Water based pomade has been the perfect product for my current hairstyle.

It gives me a sleek, high hold look without the crunchy feel and flakes associated with hair gels.

It provides the same holding power as a wax or oil based pomade (like Murray's), but easily rinses out with water.

Armed with this knowledge, I've been using Suavecito and Layrite Super Hold almost exclusively for the past two years.

But what's life without a little variety and experimentation?

I'm always wondering if there's something better out there, so I picked up five pomades that were within a few bucks of $10 each and gave them a shot.

Different isn't always that different

After I placed my order, I expected to receive an assortment of water based pomade in the mail, each with wildly different performance characteristics.

But what I actually received was five products that are very similarly.

So in terms of evaluating these products, I was left with just scent, packaging, application, and slight variations in hold and shine to form my opinions.

As you'll see from the photos below, they all do a pretty decent job of styling my hair, but pictures can be deceiving.

After experimenting for a couple weeks, there're a few that I think are worth purchasing, and the others…not so much.

So here's my breakdown and thoughts on these budget pomades.

Reuzel Red

reuzel water based pomade review

Packaging and appearance

Reuzel Red comes in a container that's reminiscent of an ancient tin of car wax you might find in your grandfather's garage.

The vintage automative feel is a nice touch, but as a former mechanic, it comes off as a little hokey to me.

Scent

Reuzel Red smells very much like a pina colada.

It isn't a bad scent (it's actually very pleasant), but it isn't how you would imagine a men's product should smell.

Performance

reuzel red water based pomade results

The translucent pomade is quite thick, a little sticky as it spreads between my hands, and pulls a little when applied to dry hair.

But only for a second. After a pass or two, the pomade blends seamlessly into my hair.

Reuzel Red leaves a somewhat softer hold than the initially gumminess hinted at, but this isn't supposed to hold like hair gel after all.

At the end of the day, I determined that the hold just wasn't quite high enough to account for the weight of the product.

A couple hours after application, my hair started to sag in the middle.

But they do offer other products with various shine and hold levels, I just haven't tried them yet.

Gentlemen Republic

gentlemen republic water based pomade review

Packaging and appearance

I love the way Gentlemen Republic water based pomade looks (and not just because they seem to have used my likeness on the label).

One of the reasons I'm drawn to Beardbrand beard care products is that I'm a sucker for clean, minimal packaging.

With Gentlemen Republic, not only is the jar elegant, the crystal clear pomade is a nice touch.

Most companies feel the need to add dyes to their products when it just isn't necessary.

Scent

This is where this product falls short.

It isn't necessarily a bad scent, but it smells quite strongly of nondescript cologne.

I came out of the bathroom after styling my hair, put my head down, and asked my wife to give it a sniff.

Her response was, “It's not bad…but I'm regretting getting my nose so close.”

It does fade after a while, but I wouldn't want to step onto a crowded bus within the first hour of applying it.

Performance

gentlemen republic water based pomade results

Gentlemen Republic is a top-performing pomade.

It's really easy to work with, has a nice shine, and provides a perfect medium hold that lasts until the following day.

Nature Hue

nature hue water based pomade review

Packaging and appearance

Straight away, I knew Nature Hue was a blatant ripoff of Suavecito.

Everything from the skeleton with a pompadour, to the color scheme, and even the ingredients list are nearly identical.

And with Suavecito being my go-to water based pomade, I figured this one was worth a shot.

So the label and container are similar, but what about the product itself?

Like Suavecito, Nature Hue has a root beer brown color. But where Suavecito is translucent and shiny, Nature Hue looks matte and muddy.

It doesn't evoke the same eagerness to dig into as Suavecito.

Scent

I had high hopes for this one as the scent of Suavecito has really grown on me, but this product didn't impress.

I can't pick out any notes, but the overall impression I get is of a hair salon in the 1990s.

I feel like I'm 7 years old again, thumbing through gossip magazines and waiting for my mom to get her hair cut.

This is another scent that I'm not eager to share with the kind folks around me.

Performance

nature hue water based pomade results

Nature Hue was easy enough to apply, has a decent hold and a medium shine.

The interesting thing is that this is the only water based pomade that I have ever used (with my current application routine) that has lost it's hold by the end of the day.

Normally when I wake up in the morning, the majority of my hair is still “gelled” in place.

Nature Hue, however, left my hair almost completely soft by morning.

Shiner Gold

shiner gold water based pomade review

Packaging and appearance

Shiner Gold has a cleanly designed silver screw top tin with a black label.

It looks great, is easy to hold in the hand, and the screw top is easy to use and secure.

Not much to dislike here.

The product itself, as the name suggests, is actually a pleasant gold color.

Scent

If I couldn't smell them side by side, I would think that Shiner Gold and Ruezel were the same product, with both smelling strongly of pina colada.

But in a direct comparison, Shiner Gold has more coconut and less pineapple.

It isn't what I would call a manly scent, but it is really nice, though I'd rather drink it than wear it on my head.

Actually, it smells like a drink that I would tell my wife to order and hold on to while I stole sips when no one was looking.

Although it is very sweet and fruity, it isn't offensively overpowering.

Performance

shiner gold water based pomade results

Shiner Gold is very gelatinous as you scoop it out of the can. It's nice and slick, and applies easily.

It provides the perfect medium hold, as I've come to expect as standard with water based pomade.

And you can't say they don't accurately represent their product – not only is Shiner Gold actually gold, it also provides quite a nice shine.

Jax

jax water based pomade review

Packaging and appearance

Just one look at Jax water based pomade and I can sense another ripoff in out midst.

American Crew is one of the original men's grooming product companies (and actually the first kind of hair gel I ever used) and Jax looks suspiciously similar.

Regardless of who got there first, this is a very sophisticated looking pomade that you can be proud to display on your bathroom shelf.

The pomade itself, despite looking black in the picture, it actually clear. It's a little cloudy, but clear, nonetheless.

Scent

Scent has such a profound effect on memory as I explained in my Best Fall and Winter Colognes guide.

Not only does the packing look surprising similar to the timeless design of American Crew, the fact that this scent is very similar really takes me back.

Performance

jax water based pomade results

Where the Jax and American Crew water based pomade differ is in the hold.

The American Crew pomade with the gold label has almost zero hold. It's more like a hair dressing than a pomade.

I actually had a unique opportunity to test this pomade.

Recently, Chicago had some seriously windy days where some streets had to be closed to pedestrian traffic due to flying construction material.

On the very windiest day, I happened to be wearing Jax and I'm happy to report that it performed admirably.

As I was walking down the street, a guy pointed out to me that my beard was “blowing majestically like a shampoo commercial” (ah, the shit people say).

It was then that I noticed, despite being repeatedly blown off balance, that my hair was almost entirely locked in place.

On top of its durability, Jax water based pomade has great workability and a really good shine.

Which water based pomade will I buy again?

Definitely

Rather than telling you what I think, let me share with you what I actually did.

In the last two weeks, I attended a grand opening for the Chicago Knot Standard Private Showroom and a meet and greet at Peter Field Custom Clothier to mingle with some other local bloggers and industry guys.

Obviously, I have to represent Iron & Tweed the best I can and therefore needed a reliable, high performing hair product.

Before heading out to these events I had a myriad of products to choose from…but I reached for Shiner Gold both times.

My next favorite would be Jax water based pomade.

It has a great, almost malleable hold and the scent and packaging are top notch.

Maybe

I may buy Gentlemen Republic water based pomade again.

The packaging is great and looks right at home on my stainless steel shelf and it's a great performer.

But because of the initially overpowering scent, I won't be applying it right before I need to be in a crowded area.

Probably not

With the scent of Reuzel Red and Shiner Gold being very similar, I can't help but to compare them.

Since Shiner Gold is my favorite of the bunch, I have to say that there's nothing that would sway me to choose Reuzel over it.

And aside from the strong, albeit temporary, hold of Nature Hue, there really isn't anything to like. I would much rather pick up another tub of Suavecito.

Final advice

Keep in mind, I only reviewed these products based on how I style my hair.

You may want to use a pomade to create a soft hold you can run your fingers through and Reuzel may be perfect for that.

Perhaps you're not looking for the kind of shine in the Shiner Gold (which I personally liked).

And you may enjoy the aggressive scent of Gentlemen Republic.

So don't automatically count any out.

And at only ten bucks apiece, it's worth the gamble.

All the best,

Nate

You Might Also Like

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Kyle [ThisIsTrouble.com]
    February 26, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Ever tried Murray’s?

    http://www.amazon.com/Murray-MRSHP-Murrays-Pomade-oz/dp/B000EVGPC2

    By far the best one I’ve found for making your hair stand up straight!

  • Reply
    Darren
    February 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    So have you switched from Suavecito (my current brand) to shiner gold permanently or just till you’re done using the jar you bought to test out?

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 26, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I’ll definitely buy another tin of Shiner Gold when I run out (might be a while, haha) but I don’t see myself giving up Suavecito for ever since it’s probably the best all around pomade I’ve found. Actually, when my hair is shorter I think Layrite Super Hold works best and smells fantastic.

  • Reply
    Andrew Marshall
    February 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Awesome, thanks for doin’ this man! Shiner Gold is one of my favorite’s too, also, try their psycho hold! It’s my go-to product. I do feel that Shiner Gold has an almost oily quality to it though it’s water-based, meaning that I really like how it doesn’t get super brittle like with Suavecito after a day of use.

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 26, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Glad to help, Andrew. When my hair is longer and I use higher hold pomades (like Layrite Super Hold) it tends to make my hair really straight and lay flat against my head when I comb it. It creates more of a slicked back look rather than creating a nice round arch. Do you think that Psycho hold would have that same effect?

  • Reply
    Jason
    February 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Personally I’m a Dapper Dan man.

  • Reply
    Ryan
    February 26, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    You should definitely check out Anchors hair co! Their Teddy Boy original is hard to beat. It has a light bay-rum scent, medium hold-medium shine. I have a pretty similar hairstyle to you, but my hair is wavy, and the product is strong enough to keep my hair up in position while letting a bit of my wave show through. Might not hold up to such a windy day in Chicago, but it’s my favorite pomade so far.

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Bay Rum? You said the magic word! I love using Dominica Bay Rum aftershave as a cologne in the summer. I’m going to do a $15-$20 pomade review in the future and will make sure to include that. Thanks!

  • Reply
    JMeza
    February 26, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Never heard of these definitely gonna try the better ones. Checkout a brand called Johhny B.

  • Reply
    Ozair
    February 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Just started reading your blog so (it’s great by the way) I don’t know if you’ve already tried this but you should definetly try out Hanz de Fuko products, specifically their pomade. I personally have not tried it yet (plan to order it in the near future) but have heard great reviews about it!

  • Reply
    Gregory Rodriguez
    February 29, 2016 at 4:28 am

    What pomade do you recommend to use for men with curly hair?

  • Reply
    Adam
    March 1, 2016 at 11:24 am

    You should take a look at some of the non-traditional water based pomades like O’Doud’s and Crystal Lake by Shear Revival. They really have a different feel to them and they don’t harden up at all throughout the day, which I appreciate. The only downside is that you have to use shampoo to get them completely out instead of just running water through your hair.

  • Reply
    Dwayne
    March 11, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Hey Nate! Thanks again for a fine article. I am looking for something that shines slightly less than a pomade with the same amount of hold and thought wax would be a good starting point. Would you tend to agree? Could you suggest a product that suits my needs? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sergio
    March 13, 2016 at 1:36 am

    Give Bonafide Pomade a try! I too used to be strictly Suavecito (that scent is amazing), but once I got my hands on a tub of Bonafide, I have not looked back. It goes on easier, and hold is comparable.

  • Reply
    Ebrahim
    May 4, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Why not give O’douds a try? They have pretty good pomades. Here is the site: http://odouds.us/. I use the water based pomade.

    I have never used this company but seen great reviews about it called Shear Revival. Link for it: http://www.shearrevival.com/

    Check this site out http://www.the-pomp-official.com/. He reviews pomades and does collabs. Moreover, he has an approved list which you should check out.

  • Leave a Reply

    About Me

    Casual Style 101

    Free style guide