Best Pomade for Men: The $21 Miracle Hair Paste GQ Readers Can’t Stop Buying

We test quite a lot of grooming products here at GQ. We have an entire walk-in closet full of them—shelves spilling over with of an ever-rotating cast of balms and body sprays, from designer deodorant to drugstore toothpaste (only a couple editors have a key to this sacred self-care library, and, unsurprisingly, they smell 25% better than everyone else at the office). Point is, we do a lot of testing. And we make a lot of well-considered recommendations. Especially when it comes to haircare. But among all the hair goops and potions we endorse, there’s one that grabbed hold of our reader’s hair with the strength of a ’90s-era gel, being added to more carts than any other styling product.

V76 by Vaughn molding paste

And that’s because unlike the crispy-dry hair gels you’d have been likely to find on the No Strings Attached tour bus, v76 by Vaughn’s molding paste is a super-flexible all-tools player. It’s gentle on hair and rinses out easily. It give hair flexibility and texture. It can be applied dry or towel-dried hair to generate totally different effects. It’s good for a wet slick back, a dry morning tousle to add texture, and pretty much everything in between. It’s what a hair paste should be in 2023.

What makes it so good?

The man behind v76, Vaughn Acord, is something like a men’s hair whisperer (his styling client list includes heavy weights like Richard Gere, Michael J. Fox, Tom Brady, Al Pacino, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, and even Bill Clinton—when he was in the oval office). What sets his molding paste apart is that it’s a hybrid cream and gel concocted through microfiber magic, so it hits square in the middle of the pliable-sculptable Venn diagram. They also added some Irish moss and birch leaf extract into the formula to strengthen and thicken hair. The more you work it in, the better those fibers bend and settle into that medium-strength hold.

Who is it best for?

Guys with medium-to-long hair, and guys with fine, thick, or curly hair, too. The length will play a bigger factor here, though: It’s a little heavier than a cream and it’s not as potent for super short, choppy styles (it will just weigh those styles down).

How do you use it? 

Work a dime-size amount into towel-dried hair for best results. The more you massage it in, the more flexible and loose the style becomes. You’ll get a medium hold, some very subtle shine if you apply to dry hair. Apply to damp hair and you’ll see a bit stronger hold and shine.

More Hair Pastes We Love

Dove Men+Care Sculpting Paste

Mot as science-y as v76’s paste , and not quite as flexible, but if you want textured and touchable hair (it’s a thing!) without the shine, it’s as no frills as you can get.

Fatboy Hair perfect putty

Paste won’t be as effective for shorter styles (anything under an inch). But if you have a short style and want some choppy texture to it, get a denser product, like this putty from Fatboy. It’s heavier set, so it works better to control short styles.

The Best Paste natural shine firm hold pomade

Suitable for all hair textures, this GQ grooming awardee features a mix of hydrating oils and strengthening rice powder to get your hair seriously slicked back, with a hold that lasts all day and washes right out at night.

STMNT high shine hair paste

With notes of creamy coconut and earthy sandalwood, this paste will leave your glossy (not greasy) locks smelling oh-so good.

American Crew defining paste

Since 1994, American Crew has been keeping hair on the heads of guys around the world looking polished and in place. The defining paste is great for a natural hold that will stamp out flyaways while giving added texture.

Sachajuan hair paste

Ideal for short, thicker hair, this lightweight paste is great for minimizing frizz and maintaining a style that requires a little movement (when you want it).

Ouai matte pomade

Despite the name, the kaolin clay-based formula of this pomade resembles more of a paste. The creamy texture is great for dudes who want their hair to maintain a softer, full appearance.

Sun Bum hair paste

We’re a few months closer to salt-water slicked back hair. In the meantime, fake it with this paste.

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