The ointment has an old-fashioned name and old-fashioned beginnings. The name comes from the French word ointment, meaning ointment, and this category of grease-laden grooming aids dates back to the 19th century. Of course, today’s millennials have their fair share of problems, but having to style our hair in bear grease or lard like the Victorians thankfully isn’t one of them. Nowadays, the dog will be less interested in licking his head because of the water soluble herbal ointments that are available.
So what exactly is the ointment? “Typically, I would classify ointment as much looser than wax in terms of consistency,” says Jonny Long, co-founder of premium skincare brand Saunders & Long and the London salon. LOCKONEGO. “Classic pomade is designed to create more shine than hold, with a wet look. If you want a glossy, smooth finish, then the pomade is for you. Of course, there are plenty of matte versions too, so you can always turn off the gloss and maintain precision.
How to apply the ointment
Like any product, you get better results when you know how to use it. Long says it’s important to know that “a common mistake apply too much, without understanding the purpose of the product and what you want to achieve by using it. Many men tend to apply ointment, take a shower the next day, and then apply more product, creating a buildup. So if you are a regular ointment user, make sure you arm yourself with a decent clarifying shampoo to completely remove all traces of the product, like Davines Solu Shampoo or Saunders & Long Detox Shampoo.
And one thing to remember during a heat wave: “With your body temperature, the heat passes through the scalp and softens the product, which can make hair greasy.” Take it easy in the heat, as the slick can sometimes turn into a slope with high temperatures or humidity.
“Pomade is the perfect hairstyling aid to reach that golden age, Fred Astaire, Rat Pack polished look,” says Jonny. “Apply a small amount to a damp, wrung-out towel, then work through the hair. Complete the look with a spray of hairspray to maintain the shine. You can also blow dry and then warm up a bit in your hands to work through the hair (in a shampooing action) – this ensures that it doesn’t just sit on the hair and has been worked up from the roots at the tips. Again, complete the look with a little hairspray.
The best ointments for men
Now that you know the best technique, let’s take a look at some of the best ointments available.
Uppercut Luxury Matte Pomade
Housed in a shoe polish style box, Uppercut Deluxe Matte Pomade offers a very firm hold with absolutely zero sheen and can create smooth or textured styles. It has a rather appetizing Creme Brulee scent and works well to inflate the appearance of thinning or thinning hair.
It may be harder to rinse for longer short styles than other products, so wash twice to make sure you have rinsed thoroughly.
American Crew ointment
Ideal for curly hair and drier hair types, this creamy pomade gives medium hold with high shine that you can always run your fingers through. It has a very popular scent, but it contains lanolin, so it is not suitable for vegans.
Reuzel’s blue ointment
Lard is the Dutch word for lard, a nod to the origins of hair fat. Fortunately, this orange jelly-shaped ointment is made with castor oil instead, with a strong woody-vanilla aroma.
Genuine Pluko black and white styling pomade
The all-time classic hairdressing aid for men will celebrate its centenary next year. It has a sweet coconut scent like suntan oil, and it’s affordable because it’s made with cheap ingredients, petroleum jelly, and paraffin, so it won’t earn any points for being green or long-lasting.
However, it does absolutely what it says on the tin, so if you want a reliable hold, light control, and superb shine, a little goes a long way.
Pure-Formance Ointment Aveda Men
Holistic scents are standard at Aveda and this has a rich, natural aroma with citrus, vetiver, lavender, and spearmint from organic essential oils. Aveda has upped its sustainability game as well, and this vegan ointment comes in 100% post-consumer HDPE recyclable plastic packaging.
Super shiny without being tacky, Pure-Performance produces a smooth look with a good hold and adds definition to curls.
Malin + Goetz Hair Pomade
Ideal for sensitive scalps and frizzy hair, this light matte ointment from New York apothecary Malin + Goetz contains meadowfoam seed extract, yucca and aloe extracts to nourish the skin. It can add volume, shape and texture with a firm hold.
With a scent of beeswax barely present, this is a good choice for those who prefer an understated scent.
Baxter of California Hard Water Ointment
Baxter of California Memorable Bright Blue Citrus Scented Pomade is designed to create slicked back styles. It’s great for unruly curls and thicker, more wavy hair types that require a firm grip to align them. It gives high shine for those who prefer a wet gel style look.
It doesn’t move but remains soft, giving control all day long.
Patricks M2 Medium Hold Matte Finish Pomade
This is a fairly expensive ointment from the Australian brand Patricks, due to its sophisticated formula which contains acetyl tetrapetide-3 and red clover. These active ingredients have been proven to stimulate hair growth and protect against hair loss, if that’s a problem.
Ultra-matte, with a reworkable hold, it has a scent of bergamot and sandalwood much like cologne. It is also UV resistant which will be a bonus as summer approaches.
Horace Ointment Gel
Like all Horace products, this pomade has a high concentration of natural ingredients, with vegetable glycerin and cottonseed oil to keep hair soft. It has a pleasant tangy citrus scent, it is paraben-free, silicone-free and mineral-oil-free, and it gives long-lasting, shiny hold.
Daimon Barber Original ointment
This revitalizing ointment contains raspberry seed oil and bee propolis to keep scalp and hair healthy and prevent hair loss. It has a good scent without being overwhelming and offers strong hold and a natural look.