Monday, February 2, 2009

How To Style A Pompadour – The Good Kind Of Grease

Now before you go calling the Geek Police to check the cred of this article, hear me out.

Personal appearance takes up the mouth portion of the Pac-Man pie chart for personal geek equity. Some geeks prefer the low-key approach to fashion. Some geeks have a closet full of band tees. Some geeks rock the full print Dragonball/Spider-Man/Batman/Naruto short-sleeved button up (not that there's anything wrong with that). Some geeks have the long hair. Some geeks have the short hair.

Just close your eyes and imagine geeks worldwide, of every color and shape and walk of life.

Everyone holding hands and singing in unison, celebrating our diversity and our physical differences and limitations. And the food... my God the food we all brought to the feast was of the most succulent varieties. And there was peace, love and goodwill all across the land. And the clouds, they rolled warmly in glorious technicolor. Where the hell am I going with this... oh right... the hair.

I've been doing my hair pompadour style for a few months now, and I want to show you how to do it.

Pompadour For Dummies
The Pompadour, or “pomp” was an incredibly popular hairstyle in the 50's among rock and country musicians, actors, and residents of Hill Valley. The style is characterized by its clean, slicked and combed sides and back and coiffed, full front and top. Think Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Morrissey and Silvio Dante.

The Cut
Although the pomp is very simple in design, it is a rarity to find a barber or stylist that can properly cut one. Having a precise cut is imperative to the structural integrity of the pomp. The nature of the pomp is short on the back and sides and long on the top, but if you get the wrong cut, you could end up with some renegade hairs once the grease is in. Finding a seasoned pomp veteran is key. Here's a picture of what mine looks like sans product. Hold your applaud ladies, it only gets better.

Pay close attention to the length on top – you cannot, I repeat CANNOT have a pomp with short hair on top/front. It should go at least to your eyebrows, even longer. The sides and back have a bit more room for length. Some people like to have more length on the sides to slick back, some like it close cropped. You know, to make the top look bigger.

What You Will Need
Contrary to belief or what a lot of modern fancy stylists will tell you, one does not need a lot of products to get a good, high pomp going. You don't even need a blow dryer or hairspray. All you need is one comb (or brush) and a few finger tips of the proper pomade. And folks, the pomade is the most important part.

These drug store pomades? Don't work. Stuff from the salon? Won't cut it. You need the real stuff, the good stuff, the stuff they used in the old days. There are a few brands sworn upon by rockabillies and greasers everywhere, like Dax, Black & White, Royal Crown (the one Elvis used) and the ever popular Murray's Superior Pomade. These brands are the true stock for any pomp, but I'm telling you they are a killer to get out of the hair. You see, they are meant to be left in the hair for the short-term. My first time with Murray's left me a weepy mess on the shower floor until it eventually came out after three washings with liquid dish soap and olive oil.

I'm the exception as I like the full wash daily, which is why I swear by Layrite, a pomade created by the “World Famous” Hawleywood's Barbershops. This stuff is water soluble, meaning it will rinse out easily with water alone. But if you're in it to win it, any of the aforementioned pomades will do the trick. For the true hardcore to the pomp scene, even beeswax or petroleum jelly will work in a pinch. But there you go, you can put the myth of drawers full of products and procedures behind. Now all that's left is time, a little patience and a bit of finesse.

Step I – Butter It Up
Now you're ready to take the plunge into the sexy end of the pool. With DRY hair, get about two fingertips of the pomade and run it through your luscious mane. You will no doubt end up using more than this, but you don't want to put too much in at one time as this will weigh down your hair making the pomping process a bitch. Its a lot easier to add then to subtract when it comes to the grease.

Step II – The Slick Back
So far, pretty easy... grab your comb (I prefer red ones, they go faster) and thoroughly comb your hair back. If you feel the need to add some more pomade at this point, go ahead - I find that generally I use 2-3 small applications in total. You can use a brush if that's what you prefer, but I find a finer toothed comb will yield the best results when you get to the next step. A pomp will work with a part or without, its entirely up to you. Experiment like you're in college and see what works best. I prefer no part, because otherwise I look like a life insurance salesman. But, different strokes...

Believe me, it is much easier performed than written, so you're going to need some practice. I find that if you loosen up your wrists and relax you get much better results. When I first started I was so paranoid about every hair getting out of place, but in truth if you haven't used too much or too little pomade, you can refine it once the general shape is to your liking.

The biggest problem area here is the corners of your hairline. More often than not, when you get that lift in the front, these two spots above your temple don't cooperate and you get a chink in the armor. If you get this space between your sides (which are still slicked back) and the pomp in the front, with a delicate hand use your comb to blend these sections in. One little trick I've learned, is to go back and comb the upper sides of your hair, right below your part area. Comb them back but swoop the hair near the back of your head up. It sounds incredibly confusing I know, but think of the way a duck's wings meet its tail. Having your sides gradually coming up will often provide some support to help anchor those problem front corners and keep them up. All heads and hair are different though, so you will need to take some time to figure out whats best for your hair.

Step IV – The Once Over
You're pretty much done at this point, but if you're like me, you gotta have it perfect. You don't want to be doing any drastic resculpting at this point – though believe me you may be tempted. Giving your sides and back one more slick back will make sure that your wings are tight, making the pomp that much more glorious.

Depending on the caliber of your barber or stylist, you may get some renegade strands popping out near your crown or sides. If a few flicks of the comb doesn't put these punks to bed, wet your hands with a little water and softly smooth it out. You don't need any hairspray. Put that down.

For more reference, Murray's website has a great pomp gallery, as does Hawleywood's.

Step V – Find A Brick Wall... Lean
Step back and take a long look at yourself. Good God you're handsome. If you've used one of the aforementioned brands of pomade, after ten minutes nothing will take that hair down. Wind? Forget about it. Hoody? Laughable Man. Bullets? Yeah, these will cut through the hair, you're not Superman.

So there you have it, Daddy-O.  Meet you at the malt shoppe. You want a Pepsi kid, you're gonna have to pay for it.



  1. DUDE! finally someone leaves something like this! I prefer High Life Voodoo Brew pomade by the way, you should try it!

  2. Outstanding Brutha!! Excellent pictures and instructions, now if I could only find a barber in OK who knows how to cut a pomp. I use the Super Layrite, it is awesome stuff.. The pomp is a keeper, don't cut it off.

  3. Great pictures and wonderful walk-through, thank you so much! And I agree with Molly, you really rock that pomp. Gorgeous!

  4. The pomp suits you well, and so does that Dr. Manhattan tattoo.

  5. Alright boss, this nerd has sported the pompadour for a while now after dropping the Javert look.

    One thing I gotta ask: how the hell do you clean your comb? I eventually throw them away and buy another cheap one.



  6. ryan, thanks so much for this. i just joined a rockabilly band and needed to get the requisite haircut. yours is the only page I've found that really showed me not only how to style my hair, but how to get it cut.

    well done, you!

  7. Nice post! You have no idea how much you have helped to find a better barber!

  8. OMG. Seriously - thats hot!

  9. thank you. good explanation, especially the cut-instructions were helpful!

  10. Thanks brother! I've been looking for a good guide to show my cutter for months. Leather jacket weather is coming and its time for a leather jacket cut. peace.

  11. ur look is awesome :)!

  12. Good guide! My hair is really just above the eyebrows right now, but I still slick my hair back, sometimes parting it a bit, and raise the front to form the pompadour "quiff." I'm nearly there, just got to have a bit more length.

    I use Dax Wave & Groom, Royal Crown Pomade, and Brylcreem, often in combination.

  13. Post a youtube video! I've seen some of the pomps on youtube, but none look as clean as your's :D

  14. Thanks for the Dax mention! Many people use Dax Pomade to make thier pomps. We also have a shampoo that was formulated to take wax out of your hair. Dax removing shampoo and restoring conditioner. Look us up on Facebook or our website.

  15. My nerd boy friend that wears his gray hair in an ugly pompadour with little wire glasses needs this website...He looks in the mirror and sees George Clooney...please help

  16. What a transformation. I would have walked right by you with your hair down and glasses on. BUT with your pomp, I'd be all over your ass.

  17. Layrite is awesome! If you can get to Hawleywood's either in Costa Mesa or HB it is definitely worth the trip.

  18. Thanks for the article, always wondered about the secrets behind the awesomeness of pompadours

  19. I just ran across an email I sent to all my rockabilly friends that had the title "Pomp tutorial from a HI-larious guy. Read it is a riot!" With a link to this article. The other day, by happenstanceb I was telling a story about awesome writing style since I blog and I was quoting this article because I think the subtitle sarcastic humor is to die for. Anyhow, I would love to read more of your stuff but I am not even 100% sure of the name of the author. Help a sista out! Please comment me at my blog and let me know so I can entertain myself with some more of your word-smithing! My public blog is It is the only way I can think of getting in touch. Thanks!

  20. Thanks for the Support - GREAT BLOG!

    Layrite Guys....

  21. You could be the coolest guy ever. Great walkthrough, I think I'm going to go to the hairdressers sometime next week and ask them to cut my hair for the ideal pomp! Can't wait to get my hands on that wax.

  22. Awesome tutorial. Really like your humor. Btw, you look sexy in glasses ;)

  23. Thank you for sharing the product info and techniques. Brylcreem alone was leaving me a bit too dapper/businessy. The addition of Murrays and your instructions made all the difference. It only takes three washings (bar soap and 2 diff shampoos) to get back to clean hair, but that's a small price to pay.

    Best wishes on your life' journeys.

  24. Haha! You're so cute! Thanks so much for this! I'm in hair school and I really want to get this look down and this was extremely helpful and easy to follow.

  25. Excellent tutorial. American Crew Grooming Cream (blue label) is an awesome product with high hold and shine that is also water soluble. No problems washing it out, and it does everything for my pomp that Murray's did. It's the only product my barber recommends.

  26. THANK YOU!! I have been searching for ANY helpful info on how to keep my hubby's pomp last all day, and I found it. Plus, you're humorous! Thanks!