Clay vs. pomade vs. gel: Here’s a hairstylist-approved guide (CONTEST)

Jan 2 2020, 8:22 am

You hop out of the shower, towel dry your hair, give it a quick comb over, and run out the house. Sound familiar? If so, you’re missing the secret ingredient to a great ‘do: hair product.

And no, we’re not talking about the half-empty bottle of gel stashed under your bathroom sink for the past five years. We’re talking pomades, foams, and clays — a whole world of hair products that’s out there at relatively inexpensive prices.  

But which product is the right one for you? For an expert opinion, we went to Pete Goupil, an ambassador for American Crew and the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) 2019 Men’s Hairstylist of the Year

Where do I even start? 

“There is a product for literally every person in the world, for every hair type possible, no matter your origin,” Goupil says. This includes hair ranging from thin to thick, dry to oily, and straight to curly. What differentiates most products are hold (from none to firm hold) and shine (from natural shine to extremely shiny).

There are hair products for any wallet size, but in general, you can buy a great product between $20 and $30.

Which hair product should I use?

Matte Clay/American Crew

Products can be used in all kind of ways; use the same product in damp or dry hair and you’ll achieve different results. The same product will look different in various hair types. Here’s the general breakdown.

A clay will give you a natural, messy look, as if you just rolled out of bed. American Crew’s Matte Clay, with its texturizing formula, provides a workable, medium hold and a matte finish.

If you’re aiming for a more classic style — sleek, shiny, and defined — go for a pomade. Heavy Hold Pomade is ideal for a strong hold and shine. 

Defining Paste/American Crew

Pastes are thicker than pomades and produce a matte, dry finish for a more natural look. They’re also usually water-based (instead of oil-based pomades), meaning it’s easier to wash out of your hair. American Crew’s Defining Paste Allows for easy styling.

Gels can get a bad rap (think spiky tips in the ’90s), but the key is using them in the right way. Use them in moderation and when your hair is dry — and don’t just gel the tips. When blow dried, gels can help you achieve fullness and volume for both classic and modern styles. 

If you’ve got medium-length or longer hair, foams can be really versatile. They’re also great for reducing frizz and defining curl on curly and permed hair. The Fiber Grooming Foam is particularly suited for medium to long hair. Meanwhile, powders are perfect for looks that defy gravity and help thin hair look thicker.

When should I apply the hair product?

Anytime works, Goupil says, and you can also apply more than once a day. “From my experience, I would have to say that most people style their hair in the morning.” 

Can I use more than one product?

Definitely. “I try to make sure that my clients have at least two different styling products at home they can use for diverse occasions,” Goupil said.

For instance, you can use one product for work for a more professional, chic look, then switch it out for another in the evenings or weekends for something more casual or edgy.

Pete Goupil, international barber and educator/Benjamin Tremblay

Communicating with your hairstylist what you want out of your hairstyle is key. They can help you experiment by trying different products every appointment and showing you how to apply them at home. “Don’t hesitate on giving your stylist positive and negative feedback afterwards,” Goupil said. “It’s the most efficient way of figuring out what products work.”

To help you craft your new look for 2020, American Crew is giving away an assortment of their styling products to one lucky winner, a $150 value!


To enter for your chance to win an assortment of American Crew styling products, do the following:

  • Follow American Crew Canada on Instagram — @AmericanCrewCanada and leave a comment on the following IG post tagging a friend, alongside the hashtag #dhcontest (multiple entries allowed).


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Contest entries will be accepted from the time and date of publishing until 11:59 pm on January 21, 2020. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted through the platform they used to enter. Contest only available to Canadian residents outside of Quebec.

Contest Guidelines

To learn more about the various products offered by American Crew and get expert tips for your hairstyle, visit their website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.