The Old-School Styling Product That Saved My Color-Treated Curls

Hint: guys use it all the time.

Everyone goes through hair woes, but sometimes I feel like curly hair is a next-level struggle. For example, when I transitioned back to my natural texture I spent a lot of money trying to find suitable styling products.

Then, right before my brother’s wedding, I colored my hair several shades lighter. Not only were the results damaging, the products I'd worshipped before no longer yielded any results. Gels made my hair feel crunchy and stringy, and mousse made my strands look like a tumbleweed. Seeing as I'd broken up with my straightening iron, I went on a serious search for a solution.

Balancing moisture and protein in addition to weekly hair masks was a walk in the park. It was the sorting through the bottles of products promising to restore my natural curl that was a sick joke. In the end, the unexpected secret weapon for my damaged, colored culrs turned out to be...pomade

Not what you were expecting, right? Pomades are usually the go-to product for styling shorter hair, and the Holy Grail for every man. (I gave it a try when I noticed that my partner's curls were looking better than mine.) Guess what? Pomade made a bigger impact than any of the gels and mousses guaranteeing hold and minimum frizz. Of course, no coil is the same, and not everyone is a fan of the texture of pomades, but if you’re struggling for a substitute until your hair reaches the promised land, there’s no harm in trying.

Pomade has come a long way from back in the day--and by that I mean, from the movie The Outsiders. The formulas are lighter and less greasy, and some have replaced petroleum jelly with natural and organic ingredients, which can help with hair growth.

Two types to be aware of are oil- and water-based pomades. The latter provides extra shine, easy distribution, and seamless removal. Meanwhile, oil-based pomades only require a pea-size amount to combat frizz and create definition. And while it may not be a moisturizer, the inclusion of oils and butters do help to seal in moisture.

I recommend John Masters Organics Hair Pomade, which is formulated with beeswax, mango butter, and essential oils. It’s great for moisturizing locks, providing hold, and preventing frizz.

Carol's Daughter also makes a great Mimosa Hair Honey Pomade that conditions, adds shine, and improves breakage with shea and cocoa butters. But note that there are a million other pomades on the market, all at different price points. Plus, plenty of local barbers make and sell their own pomade.

As far as application, don't use too much or you might weigh down your curl formation. Also know that product build-up is guaranteed to happen, and I do not recommend using pomade if you suffer from acne. (Increase the number of times you wash your pillowcase to prevent breakouts.) Just trust me when I say a little goes a long way.

And if the oil-based pomades are too heavy or shampooing is proving too difficult, try switching to a water-based formula. Check for “water-based” or “water-soluble” on the label to make sure you’re purchasing the right product. Again, there are millions out there to pick and choose from.

Have you used pomade before? And if yes, which brand gave your curls life after a professional dye? Or are you just a special unicorn who experienced no damage?