Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Product review: Murray’s gel pomade

You diehard greaser types will no doubt complain that “gel” and “pomade” are contradictory, a sort of oxymoron, and you’re probably right. Gel is gel; generally speaking, it has no grease, no wax, and washes out easily with water. It ain’t usually combable, and once you break that hard, crisp shell after it’s dried, there ain’t no bringing that pompadour back. It’s basically hair-plastic, and any relationship to pomade is no more than theoretical, at best.

The sole exception to that rule for a long time was Lay-Rite. I was fortunate enough to meet the purveyor of that fine product at Viva Las Vegas one year; he gave me a bunch of free samples, along with a whole shit-ton of Lay Rite t-shirts and combs. He told me the whole Lay Rite story: his father in law was a chemical engineer working for DuPont or somebody, and he explained to his father in law what he’d like in hair goop but never had found: firm hold, easy to wash out, no eternal grease stains on his pillow, high shine, easy revivability after hours sweating it out on the dance floor.

His pop-in-law got to work, and Lay Rite was the result. It works great, is hard to find, and pretty expensive to boot. I kept some around for years, but used it sparingly, mostly just for shows. It would sting like hell when sweating it out onstage; it would run down into my eyes and just burn like hell. I took to wearing sweat bands on each arm just to deal with the agony. But it held, it was shiny, you could comb it with a little water and your coif would be just like new again. Plus, it smelled nice, too.

No true pomade can do all that, I assure you. I used Murray’s for a long while, which is a waxy, high-hold pomade that looks great the first day, then builds up in your hair after a couple more, then requires about three days of intensive washing with blue Dawn dishwashing liquid to get out, whereupon you can start the cycle all over again. You never will get the grease out of your pillowcase if you use it regularly; dandruff and zits are just the price of doing business, that’s all.

Royal Crown, of course, is all grease, no hold, and completely useless, bless their pitiful hearts. I got a great story from when we did Star Search years ago: my personal hair and makeup girl just freaked out because I had some in my gear bag. She was a middle-aged black woman, and hadn’t seen that stuff since she was a kid, when her whole family was using it. She waxed ecstatic, hollering to the other hair/makeup women, “Looky what this white boy got, look! Royal Crown!” It was truly funny, and remains one of my fondest memories from the whole Star Search experience.

I switched to NuNile after a couple of years with Murray’s. NuNile is actually a Murray’s product, and as far as the true pomades go, it remains my favorite. Lighter, greasier, and less waxy than Murray’s, it offered decent hold with slightly more ease of washing-out than Murray’s. I think I still have a tin of it in the bathroom medicine cabinet, although I haven’t used it in a long while. It’s probably broken down into gummy upper-cylinder lubricant by now, or perhaps some sort of pesticide.

But the other day in Walmart I was perusing the ethnic hair-care section and spotted this Murray’s gel-pomade. It’s called Texture King Gel Pomade, from Murray’s Barber Experience line, and I can’t find it on the Murrays’ website at all. It was all of five bucks for a good-sized tub of it, so it didn’t take a whole lot of pondering for me to snap it up for a trial. I was almost out of hair goop anyway aside from the aforementioned tin of NuNile—which my hair is far too sparse to support anyway these days, and I had no intention of resorting to—so I figured what the hell.

And let me testify: this stuff is the shit. Impeccable hold, with a bit of elasticity to it; washes right out with no waxy buildup at all; a grease-style shine and feel underlaying it. Brings the super-hold crunchiness back with a light splash of water should you lose it; re-combs just fine if you need to, although of course the more you do that the less it works, as any reasonable person would expect. No zit-farming pillow residue at all. And it smells just fine.

I don’t know what possessed Murray’s to create this fine product, and I don’t care. Maybe some marketing genius noticed they were losing business to Lay Rite; maybe some restless young soul just thought after decades of maintaining the same product line they’d had since 1954, it was finally time for something new. Doesn’t matter; I only hope they stick with it. I haven’t been this pleased and excited about a hair-care product since I met the Lay Rite guy in Vegas, and as long as they keep making it, I’ll keep using it.

If you’re a greaser-rock dork with any interest in this sort of thing at all, which I figure probably covers a sum total of about six or eight of you CF lifers out there, believe me when I tell you that you won’t go wrong by moseying down to Walmart and picking up some of this stuff. If you don’t like it, well, clearly you got the wrong idea and need to rethink a few things. No need to thank me; I’m a giver, y’all.

And no, that whole turning grey/turning loose business I can’t help ya with. I would if I could, believe you me.


2 thoughts on “Product review: Murray’s gel pomade

  1. I’m a wee bit older than you. I was in sixth grade in the early sixties when the styles were changing from greaser to Beatemania. Myself and friends would go to the black barbershop and get Dixie Peach Pomade to style our hair. Poncie’s was the name of the shop and he would laugh at us white boys getting our do on. You could get a pompadour that would last all day with that stuff. A year or two year later and the British Invasion was over and we put the Dixie Peach out to pasture. If you wanted to get anywhere with the chicks you needed a Beatle haircut.

  2. About the time Butch Wax was on the way out and the Longhair look was on the rise there was Vitalis and Brylcreem for the squares…

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