Few grooming brands evoke that modern barbershop aesthetic and ethos quite like Imperial. The brainchild of master barbers Scott Serrata and Pedro Zermeno, Imperial set a new standard for men’s hair products — one that has been emulated by dozens of other notable brands since Imperial’s 2009 origins. When you think of that modern barbershop — a place where the barbers are the coolest people you’ve met, often tatted, laid back, open minded, and so forth — Imperial is probably one of the brands that comes to mind.
All of Imperial’s products (and not just their hair stylers) are top-shelf in terms of quality and efficacy, fairly priced, and clearly labeled: You know on a sliding scale how much hold a product will provide, along with whether it’s going to give you lots of shine, none at all, or something in between. Their assortment is straightforward, no glut, and one that we readily endorse to friends and family.
Here are our 10 favorite products from the Los Angeles-based Imperial Barber Products. Note that their hair products all rinse clean, since they are water-based and water-soluble.
And, if you wanna get a cut from the Imperial team, you can book with them at Razorbacks Barbershop in Long Beach.
1. Imperial Classic Pomade
Perhaps the brand’s most beloved product, for that high-hold, low-shine finish that locks in your style—and lets it speak for itself as opposed to a dripping, glossy finish. You can use this in most short- and mid-length styles, and not a single hair will fall out of place.
2. Imperial Matte Pomade Paste
Medium-low hold, no shine — this is the most utilitarian/universal styler in the game. Imperial’s paste leaves hair malleable and touchable, and can be easily reworked throughout the day, with the tiniest water activation (think: A wet hand). It gives you choppy texture, lightweight build, and can be applied in towel-dried or dried hair. (It’ll have slightly more hold when applied to towel-dried/damp strands, and will be more coachable into a taut style, whereas dry application will emphasize choppiness).
3. Imperial Blacktop Pomade
Here’s a spin on an otherwise common product: Blacktop pomade delivers medium-high hold and low shine (slightly less hold than the Classic Pomade), but also adds pigment to gray hairs to help discreetly mask those scattered gray hairs. Silver Foxes should probably skip this one, but it’ll go a long way in guys with salt-and-pepper pelts.
5. Imperial After-Shave Balm & Face Moisturizer
This nourishing balm is both a post-shave soother and an everyday moisturizer (we like using it as an overnight cream, especially in cold months or air-conditioned rooms). It’s got a nourishing shea butter base, alongside jojoba oil and green tea extract to condition, prevent inflammation, and expedite healing + repair.
5. Imperial Freeform Cream
A barely-there cream like Freeform makes a huge difference in medium and longer styles: It gives your hair the appearance of having no product, but also prevents it from getting tossed asunder by a simple breeze. It prevents frizz, fraying, and flyaways, plus it nourishes hair at the same time, like a leave-in conditioner for your strands.
6. Imperial Field Shave Soap and Canister
This glycerin puck is the foundation of a gentle, nourishing shave, especially when paired with Imperial’s vegan shave brush (see #10 below). You can buy it in this reusable canister, or standalone. You can also use the soap as a facial cleanser, since the glycerin will extract dirt, sweat, oil, and other impurities from the skin, while delivering soothing Vitamin E to the dermis.
7. Imperial Fiber Pomade
If you want to add texture, volume, body, density, etc. to your hair, then you need Imperial’s medium-high hold fiber. It’ll catch the light at every angle, showing off your dimensions, but will stay touchable throughout the day, too.
8. Imperial Pre-Shave Oil & Beard Conditioner
Both a beard oil and a pre-shave oil, this product requires only a couple drops to deliver thorough conditioning to skin and stubble alike. It’s a recipe that combines oils of sunflower seed, squalane, sunflower oil, grapeseed, lavender, eucalyptus, meadowfoam, macadamia seed, and kukui seed, alongside aloe vera leaf juice.
Use it to soften strands and calm skin prior to a razor shearing (after a warm splash of water and towel drying), or massage/comb a couple drops through your beard to soften, prevent itching and splitting, and to lightly coach strands into their designated place. If you have a bushy beard, you can also use this as a skin moisturizer beneath those hairs — since it’s far too difficult to get a cream moisturizer under there. (You’ll prevent beard dandruff in the process).
9. Imperial Gel Pomade
One of the few gels we trust to give a high-hold finish without any flaking or gross runoff. With this, you get a day-long grip, with a shine as bright as the sun—if that’s your thing. Gel is one of those products that every guy should have, even if the shine isn’t his preferred finish. Imperial’s is perfect for a wedding or other buttoned-up event, and won’t leave your hair feeling helmet-tight, either.
10. Imperial Vegan Travel Shave Brush
These brush hairs are synthetic—no boars or badgers involved—and they build a real mean lather when paired with Imperial’s shave soap. It’ll lift your hairs ever so perfectly before the shave, and it makes for a therapeutic process all the while.