How to Style a Pompadour

A good pomp requires the right tools.

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Of course, a great looking pompadour starts with a great cut. You may have a bit of trouble finding a barber who can do one well, so call around and ask. The hair is clipped very short on the sides and back (I love to take them nearly skin tight on the sides and back, so there's a nice contrast with the long top). The top is left with considerable length—and according to our expert barger Chris Brownless, "The key to achieving a great pompadour is getting some height in the front, and making sure it stays there all day."

Often, if the top is left very long, there will be minimal blending with the sides. If combed straight down, the style would resemble a bit of a bowl cut, but the line will go away once the hair is slicked back.

Keep reading below for a step-by-step tutorial of how you can style a pompadour in no time!

Meet the Expert

Chris Brownless, Owner of Northwest Barber Co and Uppercut Deluxe Ambassador and Education Manager.

Wash and Towel Dry Your Hair

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"One of the main things that kills a pompadour is excess product build up, so a good shampoo routine is the first step – washing with Uppercut Deluxe Strength & Restore Shampoo ($16) followed by Strength & Restore Conditioner ($16) will give you a solid foundation for styling the perfect pomp," explains Brownless.

After a shower, towel dry your hair.

Dry the Hair on Top

Janelle Monae wearing pompadour hairstyle

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Brownless explains the crucial next step — blow drying. "The next step is blow drying – locking in that height requires a hair dryer and a brush. Hold the hair in place with your brush, and blast the hot air in the direction you want the hair to go (in this case, up and back). When the shape is set in place, finish with a cold shot from the hair dryer to make it silky smooth."

Apply Pomade

Ruthie Alcaide wearing a pompadour hair style

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Once the hair is dry, apply about a pea-sized amount of pomade to the palm of your hand and work your hands around a bit to warm it up and emulsify it. "The final step is locking it in with styling product. A pompadour needs a strong hold, but nothing too heavy to weigh it down over the course of the day," says Brownless. Smooth the product through the hair until it is evenly distributed.

Slick Hair Back

Now, take your brush and slick the hair straight back on the sides and back and towards the center on top. If the hair isn't slicking back, you can add more pomade. At this point, you've got a decision to make. Part or no part? For a pompadour, either works, but we prefer unparted pomps.

Get Some Volume

Alicia Keys wearing pompadour hairstyle

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Take the hand not holding the comb and place it on top of your head right in the middle so your entire hand comes in contact with the slicked back hair. Carefully push this hand forward while brushing the hair in front straight up. What this is going to do is help you get more height and volume at the front. This is probably going to take a bit of practice but keep at it.

Fine Tune Your Style

Once you've got some height on the front (viewed from the side, your hair should form a ramp from the crown to the front), you can now brush the hair near the top on the sides straight back. You can also use a comb to very lightly direct any hairs which may be out of place back to where they need to be. Once everything is in place, you may want to set the hair with a light coating of hairspray.

Final Thoughts

The pompadour isn't for everyone, but if you've got the hair and face for it, the style will certainly set you apart. If you want to see some very cool pompadours, check out the website for the Dutch barbershop site Schorem Haarsnijder en Barbier (hint: Google Chrome will translate this site for you). Now, run down and get a sleeve of tattoos and join a Rockabilly band or grow a beard and go adopt the hipster look. You're ready to rock the Pompadour.

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