Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/27/2021
Have you ever noticed a few too many stray hairs on your brush, comb or hands after styling your hair with pomade?
Pomade and other styling products are useful for giving your hair a smooth, shiny appearance and holding it in place throughout the day. However, it’s far from uncommon to find extra hairs on your hands, in the sink or elsewhere after using these products.
While using pomade might make your hairline more obvious, there’s currently no evidence that pomade, wax, gel or other hair styling products are linked with hair loss.
With this said, pomade can have downsides for your hair health that you should be aware of if you often use pomade to style your hair.
Below, we’ve explained what pomade is and the effects it may have on your hair health. We’ve also explained the different factors that can cause hair loss, from male pattern baldness to hair damage linked to medications, stress and more.
Pomade is a popular men’s hair styling product. It’s generally made from oil or wax, although some modern pomades are water-based.
Unlike hair gel, which is designed to stiffen your hair and hold it in a specific style, pomade is more of an old-school hair styling product that’s designed to give your hair a shiny look, along with enough hold to keep it in place.
Pomades can be unscented or available in a variety of different scents. Just like wax and gel, you can buy pomade in countless different strengths to suit just about anyone’s preferences.
Currently, there’s no scientific evidence to show that pomade or other hair styling products can cause hair loss in men.
Hair loss can occur for several different reasons. The most common form or hair loss in men is male pattern baldness, which develops as the result of a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.
Male pattern baldness is common. In fact, research shows that 16 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 29 and 53 percent of men in their 40s have moderate to extensive hair loss.
While pomade doesn’t directly cause male pattern baldness, styling your hair with pomade can make the effects of male pattern baldness easier to see, particularly if you use pomade to slick your hair back and expose your hairline.
If you have a receding hairline, styling your hair this way could make your forehead look larger and any thinning around your temples more obvious.
Because pomade gives your hair a wet, oily look, it can also make multiple strands of your hair stick together. This may make your hair look thinner and any diffuse thinning on your scalp and crown easier to notice.
Finally, although pomade doesn’t cause male pattern baldness, using a pomade with a strong hold may cause you to accidentally pull out your hair when you style it using a brush, comb or your hands.
Since some pomades can be quite difficult to wash out, the extra tension that’s applied to your hair may also increase shedding.
Luckily, any hair that you accidentally pull out while applying pomade will eventually grow back, meaning this type of hair loss isn’t permanent.
Although pomade doesn’t directly contribute to hair loss, several different forms of hair loss can affect you throughout life, each with its own specific causes.
The most common form of hair loss in men, male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of your genetics and a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Your body produces DHT as a byproduct of testosterone. If you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, DHT can damage your hair follicles and cause hair loss that worsens over time. We’ve talked about this more in our guide to DHT and male hair loss.
Hair loss caused by male pattern baldness is permanent, making it important to act quickly if you notice a receding hairline, thinning crown or other common early signs of balding.
This form of hair loss usually occurs after a stressful event, a sudden change in your hormone levels or after you start using a new medication.
Telogen effluvium usually affects your entire scalp, causing hair loss in a diffuse pattern. Unlike the permanent hair loss caused by male pattern baldness, telogen effluvium hair loss eventually grows back.
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Other forms of hair loss include anagen effluvium, alopecia areata, traction alopecia and tinea capitis hair loss.
Some of these forms of hair loss are caused by diseases, including autoimmune diseases and infections. Others are triggered by medications or damage to your hair follicles caused by tight hairstyles or harmful styling products.
We’ve talked more about the factors that can cause hair loss in our detailed guide to the types of alopecia.
Dealing with hair loss can be frustrating, especially if you’re used to styling your hair in a way that makes a receding hairline or thinning crown easy to see.
Luckily, hair loss caused by male pattern baldness is treatable. By using the right medications, it’s possible to slow down or stop DHT-related hair loss. In some cases, you may even be able to regrow hair in areas of your scalp with noticeable thinning.
Currently, the following medications are available to treat and prevent hair loss caused by male pattern baldness:
Minoxidil. This topical medication stimulates hair growth. It’s available over the counter as a liquid or foam and is designed to be applied directly to areas of your scalp with hair loss. Research shows that it has significant positive effects on hair growth. We offer minoxidil online. You can learn more about how minoxidil works and how to use it in our detailed guide to applying minoxidil.
Finasteride. This prescription medication works by reducing levels of DHT, the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. It comes in tablet form and needs to be taken daily to maintain and protect your hair. We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Research shows that minoxidil and finasteride are most effective at treating hair loss when used together. We offer both medications together in our Hair Power Pack.
Currently, there’s no scientific research showing that pomade causes male pattern baldness or speeds up hair loss.
With this said, styling your hair using pomade might make a receding hairline or other signs of hair loss more obvious. It’s also important to be careful when you use or wash out pomade, as being a little too hands-on could result in you accidentally pulling out a few extra hairs.
If you’re starting to lose your hair and want to take action, talk to a healthcare provider to learn more about your options.