august 26, 2020

What is Pomade?

by JOSH HESTER

The word "Pomade" carries a great number of meanings depending on who you talk to. And yet to some it doesn't mean anything! (Or the term is unclear). Chances are, if you are reading this, you fall into the second category.

Merriam-Webster defines the word pomade as; “po·made | "A perfumed ointment—especially: fragrant hairdressing". And gives the pronunciation respelling as "pō-ˈmād". Well, that doesn't tell us much.

Let's look to the hair world. Ask someone at a barbershop or salon and you'll probably get a definition more like; "a greasy, waxy, or a water-based substance that is used to style hair that generally gives the user's hair more of a shiny and/or slick appearance with a firm of hold.” Ok, maybe they won't get that in depth with the definition but that's how Wikipedia defines it and we think they're pretty spot on.

That tells us a bit more about pomade, but there's still more to find out. Simply knowing the definition and pronunciation of a word that describes a very tangible and experiential product doesn't quite do it justice.

A History of Pomade

To best understand something it's good to know about its history. We'll discuss both the history of the tangible product we refer to as "Pomade" as well as where the name comes from.

The word itself comes first appears in the 1560s in the French word pommade (ointment), and the Italian word pomata (from pomo which means "apple") both of which have roots in the Latin word pomum for "fruit; apple". The original ointment recipe allegedly contained mashed apples which speaks to how the Latin for the word was formed.

The word doesn't take significance in culture (that we can tell) until the 19th century when it begins to describe not just an ointment but one specifically made for the hair. During this time the main pomade ingredient took a weird turn from apples to bear-fat. Not only should that seem strange to a 21st-century reader but just imagine the process it would take just to make the product! The things people did for good looking hair.

By the early 20th century either they realized that risking their lives for the sake of their hair or that the killing of bears just wasn't worth it. At this time we begin to see pomades and pomade companies pop up making their pomades from petroleum jelly, beeswax, and lard. During this time companies like Murray's and Royal Crown come on the scene with their signature greasy pomades that give the hair an extremely shiny look and ushered in the famous greaser hairstyles we saw pop up in the mid-20th century.

Pomade Today

Pomade, up until the end of the 20th century, had become somewhat synonymous for any hair product that wasn't a spray or gel (alcohol base) as it gave a very distinctive look and never fully dried in the hair as its counterparts did. However, as the beauty and grooming industries began to skyrocket with the emergence of online retailing and with the resurgence of barbershop culture we saw the popularity of hair products begin to boom in the beginning of the 21st century.

Given the growth of all of these things, we saw a whole slew of hair products hit the market with much more complex formulas and a broadened use of ingredients that offered a plethora of finishes and holds. These changes made "pomade" less of a categorical name and more of a distinct product; a greasy or waxy substance used to style the hair that is made from either an oil-base or water-base and gives the hair more of a shiny or slick appearance and a high hold. (Wikipedia)

Firsthand Pomades

Pomades have not traditionally been made in such a way that promotes hair health. I mean, covering your hair in a by-product of the oil industry (petroleum) doesn't scream "Hair Health" to me. As the hair industry continues to press forward into more territory it is so important that we do so keeping people's health, and the health of the planet, in mind.

Firsthand is committed to formulating pomades and other hair & body products that are made using only the cleanest ingredients and that are produced and packaged sustainably. At the end of the day it's YOUR hair and the way that YOU want to look that matters most. We just want to give you the cleanest products possible to make that look a reality.

We currently offer two pomades; a more traditional pomade called the All-Purpose Pomade, and a clay-based pomade called the Clay Pomade. While they're both water-based and called "pomades" the main distinction is that the Clay Pomade formula uses clay (big surprise there) which helps to give the hair more of a matte finish while still achieving a high hold. The All-Purpose, however, is more traditional in the sense that it gives the hair a bit of shine while also delivering that high hold pomade lovers every where desire.

Being that the products are water-based they wash out incredibly easily. Depending on the usage some have found that it only takes water to wash out while others have found the need to use a shampoo to aid in the process.

Whichever product you choose, choosing one that is made using clean ingredients will help ensure that your hair not only looks amazing but also retains its health. No matter how you style your hair, doing so in a healthy way is what Firsthand is here for.

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