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How to Style a Pompadour

by Triston Brewer
How to Style a Quiff Haircut

Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here because you’re interested in the pompadour— that timeless, classic hairstyle that’s been making waves since the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, Elvis Presley, strutted his stuff. Want to turn heads with this iconic look? Stick around, and I’ll walk you through the nitty-gritty of styling a killer pompadour. From the essentials you’ll need to the techniques that’ll perfect the do, consider this your all-in-one guide to making your hair the conversation starter.

Quick Summary: A pompadour is all about height and volume at the front, gradually tapering off towards the back. You’ll need some quality products and a bit of technique to pull it off. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to pick the right cut, what products to use, and how to style it like a pro. Let’s get started.

Despite Elvis’ continued popularity, a lot of modern men didn’t fancy the idea of going that full on with their look, and thus the modern pompadour was created. The look takes aspects of the classic pompadour and the undercut and combines them to create an alternative, sleek style that’s become a barber shop speciality. Now enter the David Beckham pompadour. Like Elvis, David Beckham rocked the haircut and boosted its popularity, making it a mainstream classic.

Beckham styled the modern pompadour in his own personal way, keeping the sides cropped yet still fairly thick, and leaving a large amount of hair in the middle that was kept raised and swept back. There are, however, shorter and longer versions of this style that many men have enjoyed experimenting with.

The Pompadour Fade

Now, let’s talk about a contemporary spin—the pompadour fade. Imagine the sides going from “neat” to “barely there.” This style is a go-to for dudes with thin or straight hair. Get some quality wax or clay, and you’re all set. The fade takes the classic and ramps up the contrast between the top and sides, giving it a sleek yet punchy look.

Pro tip: Head to a seasoned barber for the initial cut, then you can maintain it with clippers at home.

The Short Pompadour

If you’re looking for something low-maintenance but still on-point, check out the short pompadour. It ditches the buzzed sides, offering less contrast but making up for it in ease. Here’s what you gotta figure out before you sit in that barber chair:

  • Contrast: Want sharp differentiation between the top and sides? Go for short sides—either extra trimmed or buzzed.
  • Parting: Planning on a noticeable part? Make sure to get that sectioned off before the cut.
  • Volume: Decide the volume you’re shooting for and adjust the length of the top accordingly.

The Side Part Pompadour

Got unruly hair? Consider the side part pompadour. It’s all about a clean, pronounced part that lets the top sweep to the side effortlessly. Grab some lightweight clay to keep things in place, and focus on keeping that parting straight as an arrow.

Styling Your Pompadour: A Quick Guide

Styling a pompadour might seem like rocket science, but trust me, it ain’t. You’re gonna need some decent product—clay or pomade works best—and a good comb. Here’s how:

  1. Prep: Blow-dry your hair straight up, following the curve of your head.
  2. Comb: As it dries, start combing your hair back or to the side, depending on the look you’re going for.
  3. Product: Warm a bit of clay or pomade in your hands and spread it through your mane.
  4. Finishing Touch: Use your fingertips for an even spread, then whip out that comb to finalize the direction and look.

How to Style a Pompadour

The pompadour can seem like a daunting cut to get, but if you’re worried about hair maintenance just know that it’s not as hard as it looks. All you really need is a little product and a comb. Here’s a basic guide on how to do a pompadour.

  • First, make sure you’ve blow-dried your hair straight, angling the dryer up so your hair is styled around the curve of your head.
  • Depending on what look you’re going for, start to comb your hair back over your head, or to the side as it dries.
  • Take a little clay or pomade, the best hair product for a pompadour, warm it in your hands and smooth it over your hair
  • Use your fingertips to make sure the product is evenly distributed, then use your comb to smooth out your hair in whatever direction you want.

How to Comb a Pompadour

This might seem like a repeat of how to style a pompadour. While styling your hair can require product, and is a little more time-consuming, simply combing your pompadour goes back to basics. It’s the classic image – the young leather jacket wearing youth, casually smoothing back his hair with a comb plucked from…somewhere. He might have a bit of product on the comb, but usually, it’s just a matter of smoothing a few fly aways back down. Check out our best hair products for a pompadour below.

When combing your pompadour it’s important that you have the right equipment. If you have medium to thick hair, a medium tooth comb is probably a good place to start. It won’t be as loose as wide tooth comb, meaning you’ll still have a lot of control over your locks, but unlike with a thin tooth comb, you’ll actually be able to get it through your hair.

If you’re dealing with thinner hair, a thin tooth comb will work perfectly, and damping it with a little water before combing it through your hair will help set your pompadour style if you’re planning on going for a sleek look.

The Long Pompadour

Now before you imagine anything too mullet like, just remember that the long pompadour isn’t too different to the short pompadour, it’s just an easier cut to maintain if you’ve got a lot of hair to deal with.

Essentially a long pompadour is a modern pompadour that really goes for length in the middle, while the sides can be whatever length suits you best. It’s ideal for those with curly hair, as it allows for a lot of natural volume and more possibilities for styling.

One way to style the long pompadour is to embrace the curls and texture of your hair and avoiding the need to tame them with copious amounts of hair wax. You can do this by simply letting your hair go wild, or moulding it with a good hair moose or serum.

Celebrity Pompadours

It can be hard to take the plunge into a whole new cut if you’re not sure exactly what style you want to go for. Celebrities need to be good for something, and giving hair inspiration from their trial and errors is an ideal way to start. From long shaggy pompadours to cropped looks, celebrities from all around the world have been trying out this iconic hairstyle, some pulling it off better than others.

Brad Pitt

When his locks were lobbed off for his role in war movie Fury, Brad Pitt showed exactly how a short pompadour could be pulled off. Due to the military role, this modern pompadour was a no nonsense, clean cut look that showcased razored sides and a smooth cropped top. To add some subtle sophistication he styled it with a little hair wax, smoothing back the middle to create a clean shape.

He also shows how it is possible to grow out a pompadour with style, and how a little product and a comb can really shape this haircut. Rather than attempting a wild, tousled look with his longer hair, Brad created a smooth, ordered style by combing his hair back around his head to pull off a voluminous yet maintained look.

Robert Pattinson

We have to admit that Robert Pattinson’s haircut was effortlessly stylish and great inspiration for a long pompadour. His overall cut has a fairly subtle contrast, with the sides kept longer than most pompadour looks, and the middle emphasising his naturally wavy hair. With a little product used on the sides to keep everything in order, the middle can be left to go wild, creating a stylish, modern cut.

Zayn Malik

While you might not a be a fan of his music, past or present, there’s no denying that Zayn Malik knows how to rock a modern pompadour. Taking the same kind of cut as Robert Pattinson, Zayn changes up the look by the way he styles it.

Instead of creating a wild and untamed middle, he smooths it up with a generous quantity of wax or clay, creating a voluminous yet well-managed look. Because of the styled middle, certain parts can be emphasised which gave way to his temporary blond streak. This style is easy to maintain if you have thick but straight hair, as it requires enough volume to stay up, but can’t be too curly or it’ll lose its shape.

How to Style a Modern Pompadour

  • Short pompadours suit thinner, straight hair.
  • Long pompadours suit curlier, thicker hair.
  • Go for a faded pompadour for an edge or a side part pompadour for a clean look. Invest in a decent razor to achieve this look.
  • Make sure you’re dealing with a strong enough product for your hair. They may cost a few pennies but if you use them sparingly they will last you a long time.

On That Note

Although it can seem like the modern pompadour has a fairly set look, there are actually many variations you can go for. This is a haircut that can work with any hair type, and be styled in numerous ways. Go for a short or long pompadour, show off your curls or tame them, and use as much or as little product as you want to create a range of looks. For a modern hairstyle, this is a cut that’s perfectly versatile and can be pulled off no matter what your age.

Feature image from Pinterest

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