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What Is Molding Wax?

By J. Finnegan
Updated May 21, 2024
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Molding wax is a type of hair dressing product that is used by both men and women to provide holds of varying firmness. It can be used to create a variety of finished looks. Molding wax can also refer to a putty-like type of costume make-up used to create fake wounds, theatrical hair styles and other special effects.

Hair-styling products come in a variety of preparations such as gels, sprays, creams, pastes, and waxes. Some molding waxes are scented depending on the brand. Hair dressings can add shine, or they can provide a matte finish. They can provide a slicked-back look or a dry look depending on the product and how it's used. Hair waxes can provide very strong, stiff hold, or they can provide a firm but flexible type of hold.

Molding wax is most often used on short to medium length hairstyles. Modern styles are more complex and come in a greater variety than ever before, and many require molding wax to provide texture and lift, and also to keep them looking fresh. Manufacturers sometimes use multiple terms such as styling wax, molding wax, glue, paste, or putty to refer to the same type of product .

Styling products have been used since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians used beeswax to create elaborate wigs, and it's still used today in some modern hair dressings. Beeswax is a completely natural product, but when used alone it can cause residue build-up on hair and skin. Modern molding wax preparations include a large variety of other ingredients to keep the hair and scalp looking and feeling healthy.

The term pomade is sometimes confused with, or used interchangeably with hair-styling wax or molding wax, however, there is a slight difference between the two products. Both products contain some type of wax in varying amounts, but pomades also contain an oil, which can give hair a shiny or even a slick wet look. The amount of oil present in a pomade varies from product to product.

Waxes tend to be stiff and need to be warmed up before use. Placing a small amount of wax on the palm or fingertips and then rubbing the hands together is the typical method of warming used before application of the product. Hair-styling wax can also be very difficult to wash out, taking several washes to remove all of the product from the hair.

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