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5 Best Water Based Pomades In 2023

The best water-based pomades will give you a strong hold, a great scent, and keep your scalp and skin oil and acne-free. Here’s a list of my top 5 this year. You can’t go wrong with any of them on the list. They’ll have your hair looking, feeling, and smelling great.

Table of Contents

Layrite Superhold Pomade (Our Top Pick)

Layrite is one of my favorite brands. Their products are created by former barbers who have the skill and expertise to create some of the best hair products around.

What I really love about this pomade is that it’s great for your hair. It’s water-based so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores and scalp with gunky oil––the cause of acne and dandruff.

But then there are the ingredients. 

It’s created with Castor and Coconut Oil. These are some of the best essential oils around. These oils will keep your hair nourished and moisturized––the key to a healthy head of hair. 

But they also give your hair a nice sleek look, too.

And the hold is outstanding, too. 

No matter what style you’re rocking, you can be sure it won’t fall or get screwed up when you use Layrite Superhold Pomade. It’ll even keep a strong hold in humidity. 

Think of how perfect your hair will look even on those scorching-hot August summer days in a NYC subway station. Nobody’s hold lasts in the NYC subways. But Layrite’s does. 

That’s how bomb it is.


  • The essential oils in this pomade are *chef’s kiss*. They keep your hair moisturized, hydrated, and healthy. They keep your hair looking great, too.
  • Gives you a great hold. I love that it keeps whatever style you’re rocking held together for hours without falling.
  • Doesn’t cause flakes like some of the other brands and is easy to wash out.


  • The scent is super strong. It smells like shampoo and that can be a turn off.
  • It’s not the best for people with straight or fine hair. It’s made much better for people with thick, curly, or coarse hair.

Redken Brews Pomade

Redken Brews Pomade is one of the best water-based pomades that won’t dry out your hair or have you leaving the house looking crazy AF. I love this brand because they just get it. They’ve been around for more than 50 years and have almost every hairstyling product award to show for it.

My favorite aspect of this pomade and why I think it’s one of the best water-based pomades, is two-fold. There’s the shine, which is a sleek shine that’s not too much. I love that you don’t have to worry about your hair looking crunchy and hard or like you’ve put way too much product in it.

But there’s also the hold. It’s one of the best holds I’ve seen from most water-based pomades. It’s long-lasting and won’t dry your hair out by the end of the day.

That’s what all pomades should do if you ask me. But unfortunately, big box brands like Axe or Suave don’t. They will dry your hair out by the time you get in the car and have you looking crazy within the hour.

And of course, I have to mention the ingredients. 

There are some of my favorite oils here, namely Castor Oil and Olive Oil. Those are some of the best essential oils that will keep your hair shiny, healthy, lively, and smelling good AF.


  • I love the natural ingredients Redken Brews uses in this pomade. I can never stress enough how good for your hair natural ingredients like the essential oils in this pomade are.
  • It doesn’t dry your hair out or look too crunchy.
  • Doesn’t make your hair look too greasy or overly processed. Nobody likes that look.


  • It’s super sticky. That’s annoying when you’re in a rush in the mornings and just want to throw it in your hair and dash out the door. You’ve gotta stop to wash your hands several times to get the feel of the pomade off.
  • If you have thin or fine hair, the hold won’t be as strong. This is a lot better for guys with thick, curly hair.

Billy Jealousy Pomade

There’s a gentleman in all of us. And that’s who Billy Jealousy caters to. They’ve been around since 2004 and have been featured everywhere from GQ and Esquire to Forbes and Men’s Health.

And they have one of the best water-based pomades for those of us with that frizzy, curly hair that’s hard to control.

With the Billy Jealousy Pomade, you can throw it in your hair, and it’ll keep the frizz to a minimum.

It also gives a really cool wet look when you apply it. That’s great because it doesn’t dry your hair out or make it look like you’ve used one of those cheap brands.

But more than any of that, I really dig that this pomade has Saw Palmetto extract in the formula, which the dudes over at Billy Jealousy claim slows hair loss. It also boosts testosterone to encourage hair growth.

And that’s awesome if you’re one of the guys who’s fighting with thin hair or trying to slow your hair loss.


  • I love how much it controls frizz and curly hair that can be hard to tame. Just throw some of this pomade in and watch the magic happen. You’ll walk out the door feeling like a new man when you use this pomade.
  • It has Saw Palmetto Extract which helps hair grow and slows hair loss. Great for the brothers who are dealing with thinning.
  • Less is more. You only need a small nickel-sized amount to get a good hold.


  • I wish the scent was stronger. It’s a little too light. Products that have a stronger aroma give that extra umph you need.
  • The hold isn’t that great if it’s humid outside. Who wants to worry about that in the summer? I’m sure you don’t.

American Crew Pomade

American Crew has some of the best pomade around. Their heavy hold pomade is even one of our best pomades for thin hair. Why? Because they know their shit. And their products are awesome.

What I love about this pomade is that it gives a super sleek shine that isn’t too shiny. The hold isn’t too strong either. It’s a great medium hold which is perfect for guys with a thinner, more fine hair type.

I also love that it’s super easy to rinse out. There’s no washing your hair three and four times trying to get this pomade out like other less quality brands. No. This American Crew Pomade washes right out on the first go.

And there’s also fibers in the formula that makes your hair look fuller and thicker.


  • Works really well for most hair types and won’t dry your hair out.
  • It gives a really great shine that isn’t too much or looks fake.
  • Has really good ingredients like Castor Oil which is great for nourishing your hair and keeping it moisturized.


  • The hold could be stronger. It’s a little too light in my opinion.
  • I don’t like the scent. It smells like medicine or a cleaning solution.
  • The formula has alcohol in it which is not good for your hair because it can dry it out and leave it looking dull.

Imperial Barber Pomade

What I love about Imperial Barber products is that they’re made by long-time master barbers who know what it takes to make great hair care and grooming products for men.

These dudes have a combined thirty years of experience and they’ve put it all into their all-natural products.

Their “Classic” pomade is most definitely one of the best water-based pomades around, too. It has one of the strongest holds of most of the pomades I’ve tried, and it doesn’t flake up or look like dandruff once it dries.

But I also love that it’s a great pomade that works for all different hair types. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got thin, thick, coarse, or curly hair, this pomade will work for you.

I also really love that you can adjust the shine and strength of the hold with this pomade, too. Depending on how strong or shiny you want your hair to look, just add more water before applying the pomade and you’ll have the perfect look you’re going for.


  • Has one of the strongest holds I’ve seen. And it lasts literally all day.
  • The shine is great. It’s not too shiny or overly processed and fake looking.
  • Washes out super easy. Nothing like those other brands that take forever to get completely out of your hair.


  • It can leave your hair feeling dry and looking dull if you don’t wash it out before bed.
  • Your hair can become frizzy if you use too much. Remember less is more.
  • If you have straight, fine hair you’ll need to use a lot to make sure the hold is strong. That can be annoying and cause you to run out quickly.

Is Water Based Pomade Better?

I always choose a water-based pomade over an oil-based pomade because there are key differences that I find important. First, a water-based pomade has a lot less chemicals in its formula. So, unlike oil-based pomades, there aren’t many chemicals that’ll damage or dry out your hair.

I also think water-based pomades are better for you because they don’t cause breakouts or acne. A lot of oil-based pomades can break you out along your hairline or cause scalp acne because the oil can clog your pores.

And that sucks.

Plus, water-based pomades dry a lot easier, and they wash out a lot easier when you’re ready to get it out of your hair. Oil-based pomades are much harder to get completely out of your hair.

Is Water Based Pomade Good for Hair?

Yes! A lot of water-based pomades are made with the health of your hair in mind. They usually have some of the best ingredients in their formulas, too.

There are essential oils that keep your hair moisturized and nourished, there’s no oil that’ll clog your pores and cause scalp acne or breakouts, and because there aren’t those harmful chemicals, it’s less likely to damage your hair.  

There are good water-based pomades and there are bad ones. The good ones will have great ingredients that’ll feed your hair and keep it moisturized rather than dry it out and damage it.

As always, it’s all about the ingredients.

Can You Use Water Based Pomade Every Day?

You can definitely use water-based pomades every day. The ones that are high-quality won’t do any damage or harm to your hair. As long as you are using a water-based pomade that is made with natural ingredients (or as close to natural as possible) you don’t have to worry about any long-term damage.

Just be sure to wash the pomade out every night. Leaving it in could cause your hair to dry out or look dull. That’s the main thing to remember if you are going to use it every day.

Other than leaving it in your hair overnight or for way too long at one time, you don’t have much to worry about.

Does Water Based Pomade Cause Acne?

Water-based pomades do not cause acne. They are not made with the ingredients (name oils) that oil-based pomades are made with. It’s also a lot harder for a water-based pomade to clog your pores which is what causes acne.

And because there are less harmful chemicals in water-based acne, they don’t irritate the skin which can cause you to break out or get acne along your hairline.

How To Use Water Based Pomade

Water-based pomade is super easy to use. Just follow these directions and you’ll be good to go.

  • Shampoo and condition your hair.
  • Towel-dry your hair but be sure to leave it a little damp so the pomade can set properly.
  • Get a finger’s length of pomade into your palm then rub your hands together.
  • Apply it evenly to your hair. Make sure you get the back, too! A lot of guys forget the back when they’re applying pomade.
  • Style your hair in whatever look you’re going for.
  • Let your hair air dry.

Andrew Phillip Kennedy is a men's style & grooming specialist who has spent years testing his knowledge in the real world on himself to land jobs, get girls, and improve his life overall. Andrew's advice is regarded as the some of the most well-researched and well-grounded in the game. For the perfect combination of men's grooming theory and real world results, you'll want to follow Andrew.