by McKenna Ruzga

There's a lot of info out there about how to choose the right type of styling product for your style of hair - but if you're considering a pomade, you might be wondering: Is pomade actually good for your hair? (Or skin? Or body in general?) A quick glance at the ingredient labels of most hair pomades will reveal ingredients like petrolatum, ethylhexyl stearate, fragrance, propylene glycol, and a bunch of other mysterious synthetics. (Plus, a study in Environmental Research showed that in 18 hair products tested, 84 percent of the chemicals found in the products weren’t listed on the label, which means it's important to choose transparent brands with high quality standards.) With thousands of pomades on the market, it's tough to make blanket statements, so let's dig into a few things to look for to find a pomade that's good for your hair.

Pomade ingredients to avoid

Synthetic or unfamiliar ingredients don't always = harmful, but there are a few ingredients you probably want to avoid.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) + sodium laureth sulfate (SLES): You'll probably find these two shady characters in a lot of hair and body products, but it doesn’t mean they’re safe. They're notorious for drying out your hair and skin (and hey - your scalp IS SKIN), but more importantly, the EPA has actually recommended companies stop using these because they can interact with other chemicals in super harmful ways.

  • PVP/VA Copolymer: It's derived from petroleum and used as a styling aid, but it's been known to cause scalp irritation and can even lead to respiratory problems for some people.

  • Sulfates: This group of ingredients strips the natural protective oils from your hair and scalp, which can lead to dryness or overproduction of oil.

  • Parabens: Multiple studies have linked parabens (i.e. any ingredient ending in paraben such as isobutylparaben) to hormone disruption because they act like estrogen in the body. They're potentially linked to certain cancers. They're prohibited in personal products in the EU. Basically, you don't want to be putting these on your head every day (or any day).

  • Phthalates: Not so fun fact - even if a label doesn't specifically list these, they're often found in those mysterious "fragrance" ingredients. They're another known endocrine disruptor and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. 

  • Dimethicone: You'll see this in almost all hair products because it's cheap and creates synthetic softness and smoothing. But long term, it actually dries out your hair, and the build up can cause greasy roots or even an itchy, burning scalp.

Does it even matter since it's just going on my hair?

Yeah, all those ingredients are questionable at best, dangerous at worst, but if it works well, do the health effects really matter when it's just going on your hair? Think of it this way: You use pomade almost every day. Most pomade users don't wash their hair every day. Product is going to start building up on your scalp. It gets on your pillowcase at night, and therefore on your face and skin. You're rubbing it on your hands.

In short, you're trading temporary style for long term build up, drying, and even health risks.

Is there a pomade that's actually good for your hair?

Funny you should ask 😏 If that ingredient list had you feeling WTF, you're not alone. We felt the same way when we saw the ingredient list on our own conventional pomade, which is what led us to start JACK HENRY. We wanted something that wasn't just safe, but also beneficial for your hair and scalp.

Here's how our CLAY POMADE ingredients give you insane texture, hold, and matte finish while also nourishing your hair.

  • Organic Coconut Oil: What doesn't coconut oil do? In our pomade, it's used to soften the beeswax and to make your hair feel full and healthy.It also moisturizes your scalp, promotes hair growth and thickness, and helps fight dandruff. It even helps protect your hair from harsh UV rays.
  • Bentonite Clay: Aka volcanic ash. It adds texture, thickness, and hold and has been used for centuries for its positive effects on skin and hair. 
  • Beeswax: Our double filtered beeswax comes from a small family bee farm in Ohio and is used for styling, hold, and volume. Surprisingly, it washes out super easily and leaves your hair feeling thick but still natural and light. All while giving you the control you desire and added protection from the elements so your style holds up even in the rain.
  • Organic Lavender Essential Oil: Forget the mystery fragrances. Lavender essential oil provides a light and refreshing scent without being overbearing. We also added it for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which helps keep your scalp health in check and promotes hair growth.

So is pomade good for your hair?

Bottom line: rarely, but it can be. Check your ingredient labels. A traditional pomade probably isn't going to make you bald or anything, but you also shouldn't have to compromise the long-term health of your hair (or your health in general) for temporary styling.