Your Grandpa’s Hair Products: 5 Old-School Hair Grooms to Give You That Cary Grant Shine

by Brett & Kate McKay on February 16, 2011 · 185 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair

So you’ve decided to upgrade your hairstyle from your boyish, middle school spiky in the front get-up to a manly Mad Men haircut with a nice taper and a sharp, crisp part. Bully for you! But to get that handsome, Cary Grant shine, you’ll need to man-up your hair products from the sticky blue hair gel you’ve been using since you were first sprouting armpit hair.

Below I’ve compiled a list of five old-school hair products that are guaranteed to give you that shiny, silver-screen leading man look. Chances are your grandpa used (and maybe still uses) these same products. Not only did Gramps know a thing or two about shaving, he also knew how to get a smooth do to match his smooth swagger.


For nearly 90 years, Brylcreem has been a staple in men’s medicine cabinets. Its mineral oil/beeswax base provides maximum sheen and all-day hold, while keeping your hair soft and pliable. Plus, it leaves your hair smelling delightfully clean and manly. This is my favorite old-school groom and the one Kate says looks best in my hair.

According to the makers of Brylcreem,  just “a little dab will do ya” to get maximum shine and hold. In my experience, I’ve had to use more than just a little dab.  It might be because I have pretty thick hair. So you’ll have to experiment to find the amount that works for you.

To use Brylcreem, simply rub a little (or large) dab into your hair while its still damp. Style as desired.

A big tube of Brylcreem will set you back about $7, but it will last you a fairly long time. When I was using Brylcreem regularly, a tube lasted me about 6 months. Pretty good value, if you ask me.

On the downside, Brylcreem (and many of these old-school hair products) can leave your hair feeling greasy on account of its oil base.  If you do use Brylcreem, wash your hair every day or else you’ll get a super thick build up of grease in your hair. I found that it would take two or three hair washes to completely rid my hair of it.

The extra oil in Brylcreem can also cause acne flare-ups around your hairline. I’ve had this problem with Brylcreem in the hot and humid Oklahoma summers. I end up sweating Brylcreem out of my hair and onto my face, and I start looking like a pimply 16-year old. Consequently, I just use Brylcreem during the winter months.

Vitalis Hair Tonic

Touted as a greaseless alternative to pomades and other grooming products, Vitalis Hair Tonic was the go-to hair product for up-scale gents who wanted shiny hair without looking like some greasy punk kid. (Fast Fact: Vitalis and its users often referred to products like Brylcreem as “greasy kids’ stuff.”) Vitalis is able to provide the shine without the grease because of “the greaseless grooming discovery V7.” (I still haven’t been able to figure out what this magical V7 stuff is exactly).

While Vitalis provides a handsome sheen to your hair and makes it easier to comb and style, it doesn’t provide much hold. You’ll have to keep applying it throughout the day to keep your hair looking wet. At least that’s been my experience.

The high alcohol content leaves your hair with a pleasant antiseptic smell to it. You’d think smelling like rubbing alcohol would be a bad thing, but somehow Vitalis makes it work. Just make sure you keep your head away from any open flames as the alcohol is a fire hazard. Fire-hair only works for the Heat Miser.

A bottle of Vitalis will set you back about $5.

To use, simply pour a small amount of the golden liquid into your hand and massage into your scalp and hair for 60 seconds. Comb. Bada-bing! You’re looking like Sinatra before his toupee days.

And freaking Bob Allison of the Minnesota Twins used Vitalis. If he did, why wouldn’t you?

Groom and Clean

Groom and Clean is my second favorite of all the old-school men’s hair products. It’s water based so it doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy, yet it still gives you that slick, vintage Hollywood look. Groom and Clean provides excellent all day hold, so you’re looking dapper from morning until night.

Because it’s water based, it washes out easily. You just have to rinse your hair with water and it’s gone. Much better than Brylcreem and other oil based hair grooms.

Another benefit the Groom and Clean manufacturers tout is that it cleans away dirt and dandruff. I’m not sure if there’s any evidence to back up the cleaning properties of Groom and Clean, but based on my experience, I can say that my hair feels cleaner throughout the day when I use it. So that’s a bonus.

It also has a very pleasant, spicy smell to it. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s sort of like zucchini or pumpkin bread. Whatever it is, I like it.

Groom and Clean comes in a big tube and has the consistency of modern hair gels, without their usual stickiness. A tube will set you back about $5, and it lasts a long time.

If none of the above convinced you to try Groom and Clean, just be aware of the fact that sultry voiced mermaids love a man who uses it:

Murray’s Pomade

Since 1925, Murray’s Pomade has been providing shine and hold to the hair of men from all walks of life. Invented by C.D. Murray, an African-American barber from Chicago, Murray’s Pomade was originally designed for and marketed to black men to achieve that classic wave look, but white dudes soon discovered that the orange tins of goop provided amazing hold, lift, and shine for their hair, too. It’s the perfect substance to mold massive pompadours.

Murray’s Pomade is heavy and greasy. It has the thick consistency of Vaseline petroleum jelly. Because Murray’s is so thick, you’ll have to soften it up with heat before you can use it.  People who use Murray’s all have different tricks for warming their pomade. Some just use the friction between their hands while others will scoop some out with their comb and run a hair dryer over it until it melts a bit, then they comb it into their hair.

Murray’s was designed to stay in hair for a long time, so it’s a booger to wash out. (This is the complaint I had when I used the product.) The company’s website suggests using liquid dish washing soap to wash it out of your hair. Some customers claim rinsing your hair with Coca-Cola will do the trick.

Like any oil based hair product, Murray’s can cause acne along the hairline. Wash your hair and face regularly to avoid outbreaks.

A three ounce can of Murray’s Pomade will only set you back $3.

You can pick-up a can in the African-American haircare section at most drugstores.

Note: Murray’s has expanded their product line beyond their original pomade. Check out their Nu Nile Hair Slick Pomade for an especially wet look.

Wildroot Cream Oil

Infused with lanolin, Wildroot Cream Oil keeps hair slick and oh so shiny throughout the day.  Wildroot has a thinner consistency than the other hair products. It feels almost like sunscreen lotion. Consequently, it doesn’t feel as heavy on the head as a product like Brylcreem does. It has a subtle talc scent that blends well with other manly smells. A large bottle of Wildroot will set you back about $7. Again, like many of these products, it will last you a pretty long time, so it’s a good value.

I’ve used Wildroot off and on for a few years, and it’s my least favorite of the old-school men’s hair products. My biggest complaint (despite what advertisements for the product claim) is how oily the stuff is. While it doesn’t feel as thick in your hair as Brylcreem, I feel like Wildroot doesn’t do a good job of staying on my head where it belongs. By the middle of the day, my face is all greasy, even if I haven’t been sweating. I tend to break out with acne more with Wildroot, too.

My other complaint with Wildroot is that it doesn’t comb in as well as pomades or Brylcreem. I’m often left with white streaks in my hair. Granted, I could be doing something wrong, but I’ve never had this problem with any of the other products.

While Wildroot doesn’t work for me, it seems to work fantastically for Wildroot Charlie. Just a whistle, wink, and a bit of Wildroot and the girl is his. Let’s see your hair gel do that.

Where Can I Buy This Stuff?

You can buy all of these old-school hair products at most drug stores and big box retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. You’d think these items would be in the haircare section along with the gels and other modern hair styling products, but you’d be wrong. They’re typically shelved along with the men’s shaving stuff next to bottles of Electrashave and A Touch of Gray. I learned this when I bought Brylcreem for the first time and scoured the haircare section at Walgreens for half an hour. An elderly clerk finally pointed me to where the old-school hair products were and noted that it was kind of strange to see such a young man buying a big tube of Brylcreem.

Also, I highly recommend checking out Pomade Shop. It’s a German-based website that’s dedicated to old-school men’s hair products. They have 107 different kinds of pomades in their online store including once popular brands like Royal Crown and Sweet Georgia Brown.

Modern Alternatives

Alright, so some of you might not be into the whole retro man stuff like me and other AoM readers. You might be asking, “Are there any modern products that can give that Cary Grant shine?” Why, yes. Yes there are.

American Crew Grooming Cream High Shine, High Hold. Gives you a nice shine, but with less grease than the old-school stuff. In fact, apparently the hairstylist for the T.V. series Mad Men uses American Crew products to give Don Draper and the other gents of Cooper Sterling their dapper do’s. The biggest downside to using American Crew is the price. A jar of the grooming cream will set you back about $16 at most retail stores. (Though has it for $6.45)

Axe Smooth and Sophisticated Look Shine Pomade. As much as I can’t stand Axe’s gag inducing adolescent smelling “double pits to chesty” body spray, they do make a pretty decent and affordable pomade. It holds hair well and gives a nice shine but washes out more easily than traditional pomades. Instead of the traditional musty smell of most pomades, Axe Smooth and Sophisticated Pomade has a sort of minty scent. A 2.64 ounce can costs $8. Not too shabby, but still not as good a value as the old-school stuff.

Hawleywood’s Layrite Pomade. Developed by Hawleywood’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor in California, Layrite Pomade provides the sheen and hold of old-school pomades without the greasiness. It’s water based, so it washes out easily. A four ounce tube is a little pricey at $15, but it might be worth it if you’re looking for a cleaner alternative to traditional pomades.

What’s been your experience with old-school hair products? Have a favorite one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

{ 185 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Mike February 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

This is the Dax I am about to order, for some reason the image didn’t display in the previous post: If you have used it and have feedback please let me know your thoughts:

102 Chaz February 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Dax products are good. The red can is a very heavy pomade, greasy and hard to wash out. But it smells great and holds very, very well. I have been a Murray’s man for ten years or so now, but bought my first bottle of American Crew gel just today, based on this website and what the stylist for “Mad Men” does. It doesn’t hold my hair as well as the Murray’s, but it won’t leave greasy stains on all my clothes, towels and pillowcases, either. Tried Brylcream years ago, as well as Royal Crown, etc. and none of that stuff would hold my coarse, stubborn hair. That’s my two cents.

103 Mike February 22, 2011 at 12:46 am

Sorry could not get a image to post directly in my previous message. I just ordered this jar of Dax, have been told this is the best one for a shiny wet look and side parted style that will stay slick all day even after recombing: Have heard this site is also a great place to get all your classic manly hair products:

104 Wayne February 22, 2011 at 9:12 am

Top Brass is similar to Brylcreem and they sell it at most Walgreens stores. I prefer it to most other stuff.

105 Brandon February 23, 2011 at 1:14 am

I’ve used Brylcreem, and while I don’t hate it, it’s not my favorite. I have, however, come to love the Axe Smooth and Sophisticated Shine Pomade. I can attest to the fact that it will hold your hair all day long and, while not as shiny as Brylcreem, still gives you a nice slick look. I realize there’s probably a lot of men on this site who wouldn’t dare touch anything made by Axe, but this one is good, I assure you.

106 Nate February 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I must say I have thouroughly enjoyed this website. I have started using Groom and Clean and I LOVE IT. I also have tried Jeris Hair Tonic as well. I love the articles on shaving as well. Using a 1947 Gillette Super Speed and get just as good if not better then the 5 bladed Fusion! Just goes to show that sometimes as the old adage goes…less is more! Great website, keep them articles a comin!

107 Rodrigo February 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I have had medium length hair this past fall and winter for the first time ever and I’ve been looking for a product that would give some shine, a decent hold, and still be able to run fingers through it. About a month ago I used a Redken product and it seemed like I finally found what I wanted, but my hair would still dry up a bit. After reading this post, I immediately bought Groom & Clean and won’t go back to anything else! Now I can slick my hair back or part it easily, it stays in place, and has a flowing look to it. It’s also great that it’s water based because I can’t use oily products on my hair or I’ll break out like a teenager. Also, for the price of one tube, I feel like I’m stealing.

108 John February 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I’ve had trouble my whole life getting my hair under control. I’ve got thick straight hair that grows straight out, and bad dandruff too (Japanese+Spanish parents). The only product that has tamed it is Vitalis. My routine consists of a good wash with dandruff shampoo, towel dry and add the Vitalis. The key for me is to comb it straight back and wear a stocking cap for an hour or so before I go into the office. At that point, it lays flat, feels clean, looks natural, and I can comb it the way I like (call it the Don Draper) and it stays fairly in place.

109 Hunter Bond February 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I used to use both Murrays and Layrite when I had a pomp, and they both had their respective ups and downs. Murrays held great, but was a bear to get out. Layrite washes out easily but can dry out and begin to lose hold really quick. Layrite is also harder to find and pricy.

The secret passed onto my by my be-pompadur’d barber is La Bella water-based Pomade. La Bella is mostly known for making cheap hair gel, but this pomade has a really nice hold, washes out with water, and is cheap as can be. Last I checked you can find it for about $5 a can or less.

Just my 2¢

110 Rob February 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Vitalis is a very great product, not heavy on the hair like Brylcreem. I have tried the Axe hair products and can’t stand the smell of them. But by far Pashana American Bay Rum Hair Tonic is my favorite.

111 Zachariah February 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Vitalis. My gandpa used to use it and I have a bottle in my bathroom cabinet.

112 ponyboy February 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Used Murray’s for a long time, loved that each can lasted months and I could ride my bike for miles and hair was just as you started, but eventually got sick of having to wash it out.

For the last year or so I’ve been using the Hawleywood’s Layrite you mentioned. Certainly breaks the bank a lot harder, but you can get it in and get out the door much faster than petroleum based stuff and it’s nice to be able to wash out, especially if you play any sports and don’t like having grease in your helmets, etc. Tip: they say to apply it to your hair dry, and you do get a better hold that way, but you can use about half as much if you put it in while your hair is still damp without sacrificing a lot of hold.

113 Zach February 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I recently tried the Axe pomade, and it is extremely good. I ended up going to a sports rally and at the end my hair still looked the same. And, on an even more positive note, it doesn’t smell like any of Axe’s other products–it actually smells good!

114 ponyboy February 26, 2011 at 3:44 pm

PFC Gibbs,

I’m a poolee for OCS and I keep a haircut very similar to what you are talking about. My best advice would be to find your local barber shop, as opposed to a hair salon. You are looking for a place with old salty barbers and old salty customers who sit and read the paper all day. These places are becoming rarer, but you should be able to find one in a nearby downtown. If you can’t, ask a WWII vet where he gets his hair cut, he can lead you to this place.

Tell them exactly what you told us but don’t expect those guys to have seen Mad Men, you may need to take a picture the first time you try this. Don’t get discouraged if they make some jokes, that’s how they treat young guys. Just smile, stand your ground and tell them the regs you need it cut to. Then take your pick of the pomades listed above and don’t be surprised if you have to spend a long time in front of the mirror figuring out how to comb it.

If you are anywhere near Brooklyn, I highly recommend Tomcats (, they’ll know exactly what you mean.

Good luck

115 Jeff February 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm

According to makeup master Wally Westmore, Cary Grant would cut his own hair and used a little dab of petroleum jelly to keep it controlled but not slick. Having grown up in abject poverty Grant remade himself when he got to Hollywood by spending money he made on the best tailoring he could find, but the thought of spending money on a hair cut was, to him, a waste of money. He cut his hair with a razor comb that he used for years, and if you see pictures of him as he aged through the years he never really changed his style. He was also a straight razor shaver who used bar soap for his lather.

116 u.v.ray February 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Hollywood secret: The silver screen stars didn’t use any of those products.

They achieved their slick look with lanolin. Usually the preserve of breastfeeding mothers for easing sore nipples it can be purchased under the Lansinoh brand.

Highly nourishing for both hair and skin. It is the best product for slicked back gent’s hairstyles.

117 Mike February 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

Ok gents, I received 2 new hair products in the mail Friday. Had excellent results with both. The 1st one was Dax with Bergamot: The 2nd one was called Devils Deluxe- which is made by Lucky 13 (Murrays). Both are supposed to be a medium weight pomade.
Both went in very easily and both offered superior shine. They are both petroleum based, so will not wash out as easily, but not a real factor for me. If I’m doing anything active, i just use something water based on that day-usually Groom and Clean. I was particularly amazed at the shine the Dax product gave. It actually made my light brown hair almost look black, it is super slick. I put this in before going out dancing Saturday night and had 3 guys come up and ask what I used. It contains Lanolin, Olive Oil, and Castor Oil…. the scent left something to be desired so i just mixed in a bit of groom and clean…. overall both are great products for this hairstyle

118 Toiletries February 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Not a fan of the pomade-look but the most practical choice seems to be the groom and clean one. For me, i just like keeping my hair as healthy as possible. If it’s healthy you’ll get the natural sheen. Great review on the products though. Very detailed. I’m sure the people who are into the mad men look will appreciate this very much.

119 Brandon February 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm

After writing my previous post (sort of) about the pros and cons of both Brylcreem and the Axe pomade, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I took a little Axe, and a little Brylcreem and combined them with the idea that the Axe would hold my hair in place while the Brylcreem would give it the extra shine. It worked even better than I expected. The Brylcreem actually kinda softens up the pomade making my hair a little easier to comb. Nevertheless, it still holds just as well as the pomade with the shine of the Brylcreem. To top it all off, I can easily re-comb my hair at any time during the day and it stays wherever I put it. Also, I’ve found that this stuff can last for at least two days. I woke up this morning (after putting it in my hair yesterday) and just ran a comb through it and I was good to go for another day. The only downside is the fact that it’s two oily products combined into one EXTREMELY greasy concoction that is very difficult to get out. I washed my hair three times last time and I could tell that some of it was still there.

120 Kirby Hill March 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I have tried all these products and for me Groom and Clean wins hands down. It controlls all day and all night, its not greasy, I never get dandruff when I use it, its always available, inexpensive, and smells great. What more do you want from a hair product? Groom and Clean, that’s the ticket to good-looking hair.

121 Jon March 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Kinda surprised more hasn’t been mentioned of Pinaud Clubman hair gel. Then again it doesn’t give a great shine but it holds like the Hoover Dam.

122 Jon March 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Oh yeah it smells good and a whole jar is $5 too.

123 ChrisH March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

So I decided to give Groom&Clean a try (because I too dislike the heavy, greasy nature of many other hair products). I picked up a tube at Safeway ($4.79 plus tax) this past Friday. After showering, saving, and such Saturday morning, I applied it to my hair, allowed it to dry/set a little and then subjected it to a test far more diabolical than any amount of wind can muster. I put on my fedora, spent most of the morning running errands (and I now fell naked leaving the house without it, hope you’re proud of yourself Brett!) and when I got back home, I took it off. Aside from the sudden, strong whiff of Groom&Clean, I was impressed that my hair had withstood the rigors of my Bogart reasonably well. There was some pressdown around where the hatband had been, but within fifteen minutes it had actually sprung back into its proper place. I’m officially a convert.

124 Mike March 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I agree with Chris. For the money Groom & Clean, is one of the best products out there. I wish it had a bit more hold for those windy days, but i just mix in a little bit of heavier pomade and that does the trick. The groom and clean always helps to wash out anything stronger, and the whiff- well you get used to it, plus it will fade with time if your not wearing your hat the entire day

125 Bobby March 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

You guys should check out “American Greaser Supply Company.” I have VERY thick hair, so I use the super 90wt wax to keep my hair in check, which is probably similar to Murrays I’m assuming, but most guys would best go for the 40 wt pomade.

126 Mike March 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

Bobby- I agree AGS makes great products. I have a can of both the Super 90 weight and the 40 weight. The 40 weight is perfect for the classic side part and it has a nice mild scent to it. I will warn anybody that uses it- a little goes a long way. This is a petroleum based product with sunflower oil in it and will produce a very high sheen- it will definitely give you the classic Clark Gable, Cary Grant shine. you just have to rmbr this one wil stain the inside of your Fedora or anything it comes in contact with if you use more than a lil dab

127 Dan Brown September 21, 2012 at 8:17 am

I really like the smell of Groom and Clean, though I don’t find it as yummy as you describe; more like hemp rope, but a little sweeter.

It also seems to work well with other fragrances.

128 John Grove October 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Vitalis holds hair well but it probably dries it out too. BTW, not all hair tonics are equal. Pinuad de Quinine (or Portugal) is a tonic that provides a “light hold” but is specifically for removing dandruff and stimulating the scalp and giving your hair a super light hold. The brand Jeris, has a little alcohol and fragrance and some glycerine for light hold. It smells good, olde-timey but also provides a light hold.

Vitalis, out of all the hair tonics holds hair probably the best. Vitalis can also provide the ‘wet’ look, while Pinaud and Jeris are really not designed for that as such.

G&C is designed for those men who like to have the ‘wet’ look with light control, but don’t want a cement head that come as a result with modern hair gels, nor do they like the flakes and dandruff that come from using them. If this is you, than Groom & Clean is definitely the product for you.

Groom & Clean is sort of a Johnny come lately product in that, when the ‘slick’ look was starting to fizzle and fade, this product came out. The Pomades and the Brylcreem Elvis days were already pretty much behind us when this product commenced, which may explain why it never really “took off” as it should have, which is a shame, because this product is MUCH better than Pomade and Brylcreem and it doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy because it is water based. It also washes out with ease.

In the early 19th century bear fat was a common pomade ingredient, and by the early 20th century petroleum jelly, beeswax, and lard were more commonly used. Groom and Clean was the next evolutionary step forward in men’s hair care since it is water based and doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy whatsoever while still giving you that Hollywood look. So if Brylcreem is too oily for you (Remember pomade and Brylcreem were called that “greasy kids stuff”) than try Groom and Clean. In my opinion it is much better than today’s hair gels and much better than yesterday’s predecessors.

I mostly use hair tonics (Pinaud Eau De Quinine or Jeris) which is not really designed to give you the “wet” look but more of a light control, but when I get my hair cut, I usually will use G&C until my hair gets a tad bit longer, than I use the tonic. (Even the tonics are usually overlooked today in favor of the “gels” or “mousse”) which is a shame. I think that most men today simply do not know anything different than gels since it is a cultural norm and found in all beauty salons, while the hair tonics, Groom and Clean are vintage.

129 Lou October 14, 2012 at 3:23 am

Other great old school hair products not mentioned here are Jeris and Pinaud Three Flowers (Tres Flores) pomade.My dad used Tres Flores and today just the smell of it reminds me of him.

130 Jay October 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I found this natural pomade online but I’m not sure if it is legit. Has anybody tried this pomade?

131 Charlotte November 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

My husband used a hair gel that came in a round green container (back in the 1950-60′s); is it still available? I have forgotten the name but would like to find it for him as a “reminder of the past”.

132 macdaddy November 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I was in search of the perfect wet look and I found it when I lived in L.A. I noticed that the voto locos (mexican gang bangers) had shiny wet looking hair and it wasn’t greasy or stiff like a pomade or moose. it is thin oil smells good only needs to be applied once a day. Its called drum roll please…………………
“tres flores” which means three flowers.It comes in two ways liquid or salve type you want the liquid. Check ebay its around 7 bucks and its the best stuff around.

133 Gillette November 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Pomades can cause acne.

134 Andrew November 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I can not believe that American Crew’s Fiber hasn’t been mentioned. Granted, it doesn’t give you a ‘slick’ or ‘shiny’ look, but it provides excellent hold, especially for shorter hairstyles. If you’ve ever wanted to style your hair but thought that the slick look would be too overpowering for a more casual situation, this is the stuff for you. One caveat- it is very potent, so a little goes a long way, and you MUST rub it in your hands to get it warmed and pliable before using it.

135 MadMax January 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I’m waiting for Dax product to arrive..(Ordered it today..after reading comments from this article…)

I used Brylcreem, but got my scalp itchy from too much oil, i guess…

Can’t wait to try Dax !..I’ll keep you posted !

136 john difool January 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm

i like the properties of groom & clean except that i don’t want to walk around with it’s smell all day. mineral oil is a bit questionable as well.
is anyone aware of a hair product (that’s similar to groom & care) without perfume? anyone ever tried a homemade/diy recipe?

137 Rich S January 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Anyone ever hear of …”ZAZA” …?????? It was Green and came in a bottle…It made your hair stiff…

138 Mark February 11, 2013 at 9:14 am

Try Suave’s styling paste for men. It’s very similar to AC Fiber, but less clumpy, and it costs a lot less.

139 Josh February 20, 2013 at 12:17 am

I bought groom and clean despite it’s absolutely awful name and I have to say I’m happy. It’s $7 dollars, isn’t greasy and gives my hair something so it doesn’t friz out. It’s kind of shea butter for your hair. I like the way it feels. I will combine it will polmade but I don’t know which consistency. Groom and Clean, God that name is awful, isn’t really enough product for work but for the weekends it’s fine. If you want your hair to have clear structure though you will need more product.

140 Nicolas A March 1, 2013 at 6:32 am

In terms of products in the 30s, it was like this in Europe.
- Rich people would use pomade or hair tonic.
- Poor people would use grease or plain water (even spit for the youth!!) which obviously worked less well.

In terms of the cut, short back & sides ONLY. Very long on top (falling to the nose at least). Sides sometimes white walled.

Hair tonic and pomades were used together aswell. No man would ever leave his house without oiled hair. Dry hair as is seen today was totally unacceptable and “unkempt”. You had to have the wet look, very shiny if possible.

Overall, though, it was a much much more conservative and strict culture than today. Even with clothing aswell. Jeans, T shirts, are things that did not exist in Europe then.

I personally really like the style. You can see it in the pictures. Those guys were just handsome and the girls liked them.

141 Juan March 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Didnt read thru any comments but I was using AXE pomade for a while and them switched to Suaves Pomade. Im glad I found this article. Never been a fan of hair gel and dont want my hair supper shiny. Plus trying to stop the waviness of my hair. Looking for the straight back slick look.

142 Chris March 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Suave makes a good styling paste. About $3 for a 2 oz. can. I use their medium hold kind because I have thin hair that can’t stand up to heavy or oily gels.

143 Allan Wafkowski March 21, 2013 at 11:59 am

It appears that a lot of men passed out during the decade that Brylcreem was advertised with “A little dab will do you.”

Brylcreem can be used two ways. A big glob worked into the hair will produce a wet look, and a tiny dab (smaller than you might think) well worked into the hair will produce a light, natural look.

144 Trevor March 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Does anyone know where I can get the Suave Groom and Clean in Canada?

145 Rick March 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Have to watch out for two ingredients in gels, tonics or pomades and those are mineral oil or alcohol. Mineral oil breaks me out … acne. Alcohol dries me out … itchy.

146 Jeff Allen March 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm

What of the ultimate of 50′s hair tonics… Vaseline?! Oil as all get-go but applied conservatively it holds well and has a fragrance some find clean and pleasant. I prefer a half-and-half water/Vaseline concoction (in the palm of the hand).
For a different scent, I often spritz a bit of Obsession cologne with Vaseline, giving a musky aroma. Or, I may use a combo of Vaseline/Vitalis. Yes, I like to experiment.
SInce I have fine hair, after washing, I blow dry my hair to fluff it up good, and work the hair products through to the scalp.
Another product not mentioned is Protein 29, which I started using just recently. Only slightly greasy.
Alberto VO5 has a variety of products, including my favorite VO5 For Fine Hair.
And rather than goopy regular Brylcream, I really like the softness given with Blue Brylcream, but why it’s advertised as being for gray hair makes no sense. And it DOES NOT turn your hair blue!!!!!! Still, a little dab will do ya’…. use more only if your dare!

147 AL March 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm

i am a race mechanic, my trick is half Murrays and half some water soluble pomade. holds on the job for more than 15 hrs, and it washes out alittle easier!

148 RFGS May 17, 2013 at 2:54 am

Products like these were the reason that furniture stores used to sell “antimacassars”, which were covers for the tops of the backs of chairs, to keep off stains. Also, if you go into a courthouse built before about 1970, and not remodeled since, you’ll see a dark streak on the panelling behind the jury-boxes, where juror’s heads would brush against the wall!

149 Jack May 24, 2013 at 11:04 am

I went to our local drugstore and searched for ten minutes looking for Brylcream and couldn’t find it among the pomades, Axe gel and other hair products.

I finally asked the lady if they carried it and she said “Yes, it’s right over here” she brought me to the next aisle where there was men only stuff and said “it mus be a MAN thing” :)

Thank you Art of Manliness for helping us all to be manly. :)

150 Abbadabba May 27, 2013 at 1:13 am

Brylcreem is found in the shaving section, not the hair care section as some people may think…It’s actually good that it still is because it is like having a space just for the men’s hair stuff. Cheaper shelf spot too for the companies that make it.
Also Does ANYONE remember a product called SCORE hair groom…which is what Groom & Clean copied exactly for their brand? No one seems to remember it…I liked the packaging better than Groom & Clean.

151 matthew June 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm

i have both brylcreem and murray’s. and while brylcreem is super easy to wash out, murray’s in my opinion is a lot better investment. also murray’s isn’t too hard to wash out, you might need to wash rinse and repeat though.

152 Piaras O Cionnaoith July 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I use Star Wax by Star Pro Line. They got two water-based pomades (original and crystal) with a nice strong hold and a shiny finish. In fact, it’s stronger than any water-based pomade that I’m familiar with. I guess that’s why it’s so popular with hair professionals. They also have Star Wax Clay, but that one isn’t water based and provides matte finish, though the hold is strong as well.

153 Adam Richards September 4, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Though most of this stuff is found in the shaving aisle, the heavy duty pomades (like Murray’s, Royal Crown, Dax, Sportin’ Waves) are found in the ethnic hair care section.

154 Chase September 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I always used VO5 hairdressing. It comes in gold and silver for those with gray/light colored hair, and only costs about 2 dollars per tube at your local drugstore.

155 Dan September 14, 2013 at 12:53 am

Pomades are getting harder and harder to find at your everyday stores. Hell even the new stuff like american crew is rarely being stocked these days. I remember a few years back going to walmart or walgreen youd find murrays, royal crown, black and white along with groom and clean and the old school stuff. Also youd get the axe, american crew, and a couple of others such as suave pomade even that got2b crap had pomage. Now….its all spike glue or some crap. I wish more stores would carry pomades. Not all men want to wear that flaky stuff!

156 Phil Demeter September 16, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I bought a tube of the Groom and Clean. It DOES smell good and it has lasted all day. I have a small thing of Crew Pomade and I like this stuff just as well as the Crew. Saves me about $10 also.

157 Paul September 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm

From the 5, I’d probably go with Vitalis, but my top choice is Clubman-Pinaud gel because I use their shaving products and I’m worried about mixing fragrances.

158 Andrew October 19, 2013 at 12:30 am

The Axe pomade has to be my least favorite out there. It has a very heavy feel to it and takes a bit to wash out. Also the added fact that it has glitter in it is an immediate no-go. Brylcreem is also a bit heavy and stubborn to wash out, but once it dries out a little it does not have the sticky feel that the Axe has. Vitalis works well for a short period of time, providing a light hold that looks natural but can become a bit sticky and matted in hot, humid weather. My personal choice for hair taming tonics and waxes happens to be my choice in lotion as well. I’ve been using Dial for Men face and body lotion for some time. It also works well in your hair, proving workable control on unruly strands of hair that lasts the day and has a nice clean masculine scent. Plus it saves a few dollars so the wallet goes further. Bully!

159 Jonathan October 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Ive tried all of these products, and multiple other pomades, and the one Ive liked the most by far, is Suavecito Firme Hold. Its a water based pomade, made by a small business in Santa Cruz, CA, and it smells amazing, holds all day, and washes right out. no, i dont work for them, just wanted to let people know about other products that are out there. Also check out Steadfast Pomade, Iron Society, The classics pomade, and Shiner Gold, they all work pretty good as well.

160 Kain Evans October 29, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hello how are you doing today Ok i just have a quick ? i wanted to know what would be good for my hair I’m Brazilian and my hair isn’t nappy i still have curls but it is a little on the rough side and I’m going for the slick back look please help me out…

161 Tom Richards October 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Does anyone remember a green hair gel used in the 50′s and 60′s. It would make your hair stiff. You dipped your comb into the glass jar and then ran the comb through your hair. It smelled good as well.

162 Paul November 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

I’ve enjoyed Clubman’s Styling Gel for years, but may switch at some point to their hair tonic . Like the other fellow said, since I use Clubman’s shave products, I don;t want to try the other brands mentioned(not to say they aren’t good),

163 Rich Allen November 7, 2013 at 1:12 am

Tom Richards I believe it was called H&A which stood Hair Arrainger it was Light green and kind of heavy. My dad used it and also One called Southern Rose or just Roses cant remember for sure like a rose scented Vitalis.

164 doom November 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

i personally love groom and clean it is the best it has no grease it smells great and it makes my hair shine great!!!!!

165 Mitch November 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I’ve been using Groom & Clean on weekends for about a year now and I like it. Some folks may not like the scent of it but to me it has a nice spice scent. I’ve tried Jeris tonic without oil and like the scent of it, though it doesn’t give much hold. I’ve lately been trying out Brisk hair cream which I found online at Royal Shave. It is a white hair cream that comes in a 3 oz tube, has been made in Germany since 1951 and it seems to be a very good product; not greasy or stiff and has a light shine when dry.

166 cedar December 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

Hi, I wonder if you can help me. I’m doing some research and trying to find out the name of the hair cream my dad used to use in the ’60′s/’70′s in England. It came in a glass jar with a gold screw lid and it was green in colour. I think it was petroleum based. Does it sound at all familiar? would appreciate any suggestions. thanks, c.

167 Karl December 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Startinig using Brylcreem about a month ago when I decided to grow my hair out in the mad men classic style(as I normally have had very short hairstyles prior). This is a great product. I have natuarly wavy hair and it keeps it crisp and straight all day long.

168 Joe December 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I use Axe wax myself, under the same rationale you had – the body spray is horrible but the hair stuff is actually not bad. Funny to see it listed here.

169 Robert Anderson December 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I remember when bus windows had gooey grease spots from this junk on men’s hair.

170 Nik December 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Petroleum-based pomades all the way.
My favorite is “Sweet Georgia Brown” red can. A Classic.

People who call this stuff greasy and use Groom and Clean and other such stuff dont know what they’re on about.

The problem is that the Greaser sub-culture used massive amount of product on their hair, but thats not how people in the 30s-50s used Pomade. They put about a tiny bit in their hair and slicked it back.
It then still looked very soft, not at all the greaser hairstyle. And it wouldnt feel greasy at all.

And the problem is if you dont use grease like with Groom and Clean and modern Pomades, you dont get shiny hair, which was the hallmark of the old school styles. Only grease creates shine.

171 Mitch December 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I believe that you’re looking for Yardley English Lavender Hair Pomade. You can find it here:
Hope this helps.

172 Nik December 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hello Guys.
Gave Brylcreem a go and wanted to share my thoughts.

I was very surprised by this product. I expected some greasy cream, but in fact unlike what is said in this article, it did not feel greasy at all.

1. The product itself (consistency etc)
It is literally….A cream. But for hair (so dont use your Nivea or Dial for body on your hair).

It looks absolutely like Cream. White and moisturizing. Not greasy at all…Somehow they included oil in there…But diluted it with other products to make it like a cream.

It is soft like a cream, you put a dab in your hand, rub them, and into your hair!

2. The effect
It really depends on your hair.
My hair is wavy and thick. Basically it was easy as hell to spread over wet hair.
It gives a shine…Yes…But not as good as Pomade/pure grease.
Maybe its due to my hair…But the stuff gives absolutely ZERO HOLD. However it makes hair look really proper and sleek. Natural looking and wet-looking. The hair stays extremely light…And again it feels not greasy at all. I dare even say CLEAN.

3. Scent and conclusion
Very clean…Kind of Barber Shop smell. I think I smell citrus but the smell is very faint. I love it…I think its not greasy and overpowering like Pomade…It gives the kind of hair a Woman would love to run her fingers through :)

Overall I would recommend this product. HOWEVER…It depends on the effect you are looking for. If you want HIGH HOLD pomade for the Greaser look or something to tame coarse hair…FORGET ABOUT THIS. I would call this product more of a moisturizer that results in clean hair than a styling product.

I did not try to put alot of it…And I cannot judge the effect on Fine straight hair…So possibly this will yield a different effect.

What I love about this product is, It feels less conservative than Pomade. Pomade gives you the classic 1930 look. You know…Not a single hair out of place, sleeked back perfectly.

This on the other hand gives you a natural flowing look, perfect for a job interview or a romantic date where you dont want to look ultra-conservative in 2013.

173 Lonnie January 13, 2014 at 9:37 am

“I don’t want Fop…I’m a Dapper Dan, man…god dammit”…

174 Wayne February 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Another great article. I was looking up pomade’s in a Google search and ran across this. American crew has been my go to for the last month since I have decided to ditch the old spikes and start getting a real haircut. I like the way it holds the hair feeling natural and lasts all day. This would be a good one to throw on the side bar of the main page next to the shaving articles.

175 Tim February 18, 2014 at 8:16 pm

**For those with thick, wavy-to-curly, coarse hair**

Look into Lockhart’s Goon Grease, which is a medium-to-heavy hold, or their Heavy Weight. They are oil based pomades that truly do control this type of hair (I have this type of hair and am currently using Lockhart’s Goon Grease stuff). Far easier than using anything by Dax or Murray’s, which I’ve used, but still gives incredible hold AND shine.

**For those with thin/thick, straight, fine hair**

Try out Lockhart’s Light Weight pomade. Again it’s an oil based pomade that will leave you with a chrome finish shine. Layrite Original will also be a great selection, if you’re looking for a water based alternative.

Since I found the top notch oil based pomade for my hair type (also, I style a side-part/contour while letting my hair grow so I can pomp it), I’m currently searching for a water based pomade that will tame my super unruly hair without giving me helmet head. I don’t need a gel, I need a pomade. So if anyone has any suggestions, my ears are open :)

Side note: I’ve heard that The Daimon Barber No.1 is the best water based pomade, however it is a medium sort of hold, which with water based pomades, translates to more of a lighter oil based type of hold. The difference between this pomade and all others, apparently, is that it literally doesn’t harden or even get crunchy. I’ll try some out when they make a new batch, since they’re currently sold out.

Best prices for any pomades, and free shipping for any US resident, are at, I’ve found. Mr. Pomade is the man.

176 Andy February 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Tim, I too have curly, coarse, and thick hair. The best water based pomade I have found is Layrite Super Hold. It does get pretty hard but it gives really good shine and keeps my hair straighter than any other product I have used. I wear it parted with a pompadour. The scent is great and it washes out really easily. Does the Heavy Weight Goon Grease wash out fairly easily for an oil based pomade?

177 Nick March 4, 2014 at 9:38 am

Ok it’s me Nick again.
Back from trying like over 12 pomades and other products.

Best product depends on your hair type and effect desired.

Again after trying dozens of pomades, light, medium, heavy…I always come back to BLACK & WHITE ORIGINAL (they have B&W lite but for the love of God don’t buy it).

B&W Original pomade is seriously the best grease out there. Not too hard. Not too soft. Greasy but won’t stain pillows. DAMN NICE.

And trust me…
= Tried every Murrays Pomade. EVERYONE OF THEIR PRODUCTS
= Tried every DAX pomade.

B&W somehow got the formula right. And what I absolutely love is that the pomade stays in your hair, but not in a bad way.
Basically you get amazing buildup, the next day you comb again and tadaaa its perfect! Not need for more pomade.

The ONLY. I say ONLY minus point with B&W is the smell. Honestly it smells like coconut candy or lollipop or something. Just not alpha enough for me :D
= If you have found a pomade similar in quality as B&W but with a better smell, please let me know…I havent found and tried a shitload :)

178 Tim March 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Great article. I use pomade every day. When I first started styling my hair with a rockabilly look I used petroleum-based pomades, but stopped doing that since they’re so difficult to wash out. Now I mainly use water-based pomades like Suavecito, Tres Flores, Grant’s and Layrite. They still look good, but they don’t build up in the scalp. I have yet to try any hair tonics, but I have seen a few that I might try at some point. Just an FYI: You can use Suave Groom & Clean to help remove pomade. Add a little into your hair with the pomade still in there, then style like you normally would. When you go to wash your hair later in the day the G&C softens the pomade a bit and makes it easier to shampoo out. I was skeptical of this method, but then I tried it – it works.

179 pg March 22, 2014 at 11:15 am

So I’ve been doing the pomade thing for a couple months now and here’s some stuff that I’d like to share:

Cleaning the goop out of your hair is a nontrivial exercise, but it’s easier than people make it out to be. Other people have mentioned Groom and Clean for degreasing, and it works really well. A simpler method is to just work shampoo into your hair when it’s dry and then wash it out. My favorite, though, is Joe’s Hand Cleaner from O’Reilly auto parts. A 16 oz bottle of Joe’s costs the same as a 4 oz bottle of Groom & Clean so if you want something just for degreasing it’s way cheaper. Put a little bit in your hair before showering and everything washes right out.

With heavier pomades, like DAX Wave and Groom (I buy it because it’s available locally for cheap), put a hot towel on your head after putting it in your hair. It helps the pomade meld to your hair better and it makes it more malleable. You only need to do this on the first day; afterwards a hot water rinse in the shower softens it up enough to style with a comb.

Ordering pomades online typically isn’t cost effective. I like Royal Crown Pomade, which retails for about $7 for a container, but I end up paying $5 in shipping if I order it. However, ships for free to addresses in the US. Order from them unless you buy hair goop by the case.

180 Steve R March 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Rich S. I was searching the internet for ZaZa and it led me here. I remember that stuff like it was yesterday. My favorite part of getting a haircut was playing with those sticky strands of hair after the barber put Zaza on what little hair I had left.

181 Paul March 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Out of the 5 listed, which would be best for use in the summer? I love the “old-school” look, yet don’t want to feel like my hair is in a microwave.

182 Mad Ron March 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I have been trying to find a pomade that will stand up to the heat of a New England July. I use Murray’s, and have for many years. I once used Royal Crown, but I found that it melted when over 65 degrees! I have thick hair with a mid of its own. If anyone has a suggestion drop me a line.

183 Paul April 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Pete, interesting commentary that hairspray is for chicks. I don’t disagree, but I wonder if men who use Consort spray, for instance, just spray it into their hand and proceed as if it were Vitalis, Brylcreem, etc.

184 John H April 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Since rediscovering Brylcreem a few year ago, I wonder why I ever left. My wife likes me with longer hair, and the old school stuff keeps it well maintained.

185 Liam April 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

Does anyone use vo5 hairdressing? Is it have good shine and is it greasy?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter