This quintessential styler now comes in every variation under the sun, but a classic formula should give you a generous helping of hold and shine.
Try: Anchors Aweigh Hair Co. Teddy Boy Original Pomade
It may have peaked 20 years ago, but gel's still the surefire way to nail a shiny slickback and keep stray hairs on lock. To avoid looking like a #tbt, opt for a formula fortified with natural conditionersthey'll keep hair from getting crispy.
Try: Martial Vivot Gel
On the matte side of the spectrum with a firm-yet-pliable hold, wax is great for a modern polished look.
Try: Hanz de Fuko Sponge Wax
Clay functions just like you would expect: It's easy (and fun) to mold, but once you're done styling, it stays in place and dries to a matte finish.
Try: Baxter of California Clay Pomade
Surfers and seafarers alike will appreciate the soft, tousled volume from a sea salt spray. Look for one that also contains mineral-rich algae, which will condition strands and enhance texture over time.
Try: Herbivore Botanicals Hair Texturizing Spray
Offering slightly more hold and styling power than a spray, paste is a tried-and-true texturizer. A good one will lift and separate strands without locking them in place, so you can restyle at will.
Try: PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Reworkable Hold Paste
By coaxing hair into submission, cream can support complex styles with a lighter hold and softer finish than gel or pomade.
Try: V76 by Vaughn Grooming Cream Ultralight Hold
Editor's Note: The effects of any styler will vary depending on your hair type, the weather, and how you apply it (like on wet hair versus dry). We encourage you to experiment with varying products and styles before settling on a signature look. Click here for some essential hair styling tips.
Illustration by Kiersten Essenpreis