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Owners of Detroit grooming


Up in the Hair

Say hello to the founders of Detroit Grooming – and goodbye to bad (facial) hair days.

By Embry Roberts

Up in the Hair

By Embry Roberts

“If we’re going to add a step to your morning routine, we’re going to make it so kickass and amazing that you don’t mind taking those extra two to three minutes every day,” said Shaun Walford. You’re probably thinking, Is this guy serious? What could be worth setting an early alarm?

That might change once you get a whiff of his company’s all-natural grooming products. Products that – in addition to looking and smelling great – have been known to cure dry skin and dandruff, and possibly led to the making of a few babies. But we’ll get to that later.

In 2013, Shaun and his friend Mike Haddad were just two fellas trying their hand (er, face) at No-Shave November. “We couldn’t get past a week or two without wanting to shave it all off,” Mike recalled. “I had dry skin and itchiness … my wife said my beard was scratchy.”

The men tried a few products, but none of them got to the root of the problem. “We couldn’t find anything we liked that wasn’t forest-y or medicine-y, so we asked why?” said Shaun. As they began researching ingredients, it made sense. Other companies were using cheap oils that evaporated rather than being absorbed, and lacing them with sketchy chemicals and harsh synthetic fragrances.

It's Cool to Self-Care

So Shaun and Mike decided to start their own company – one that not only did beard grooming better, but also made it cool for men to care. “If a man is well put-together, he gets berated,” Mike said. “We wanted to let men take ownership of their appearance. It started with a beard, and worked through all aspects of grooming.”

“We want you to be confident walking into that job interview,” he continued. We want you not to fear going to work with a black shirt on, because you’re not getting dry skin and dandruff. We want you to feel good when people compliment the way you smell.” (They are quick to clarify that one would have to be pretty close to notice, as they use essential oils to impart subtle scents that are “discovered rather than announced.”)

Just ask one customer who stumbled upon Detroit Grooming at a local craft fair. “He walked up to our booth and his wife goes, ‘You’re not going to use that.’ We said, ‘Here, man, just try some right now.’ He came back an hour later with his wife buried face-first in his beard. He bought two bottles.”

Another customer, a gentleman with a stroller, wandered into their lab one day to share his experience. “The guy pointed at the baby and said, ‘I started wearing your Corktown butter, and this is the result.’ We were like, ‘Yeah, we’re always bringing people together in interesting ways!’”

Production has scaled massively in the past few years. The company – once run out of a single room in a shared office space – now occupies a 7000-square-foot lab in Detroit, Michigan.

The men proudly rep their hometown in the company name. “You’d be surprised at the reach the name Detroit has,” Shaun explained. “We are worldwide, in hundreds of countries…People overseas think we’re the murder capital of the world. Detroit’s got hip-hop history, it’s got kind of a bad reputation. Whereas here in the states, there’s probably an article once a month about how Detroit is up and coming.”

But the name isn’t just a gimmick. “Detroit is a comeback city that’s really turned things around. We’ve faced our own adversity and challenges [at Detroit Grooming],” Shaun said. “This is a hardworking city, and that’s running through our blood.”

Whisker Sweet Nothings

“Fragrance is not a waste. Scent is 70 percent of memory,” the men explained. “And essential oils do something synthetic fragrances can’t – they impart qualities on the user.” Here’s how to pick the right one for you.

If you love the outdoors… Cedar Springs isn’t just the perfect woodsy scent – it’s also a natural insect repellent with antifungal qualities. Mountain men, rejoice.

If you’re stressed out… Belle Isle blends uplifting orange with calming lavender, giving a gentle lift. Orange’s acidic profile can also help break down the first layer of skin, including any stress acne.

If you’re short on sleep… Mackinac’s cedarwood-peppermint blend can help awaken the senses and increase bloodflow. You’ve had enough coffee.

If you want to relive your childhood… Orchard Lake’s orange and vanilla scent smells “just like a Creamsicle.” Orange oil may also help boost immunity and mood.

One for the Ladies
Sure, women can (and do) enjoy Detroit Grooming’s oils secondhand. But they’re more than welcome to get in on the goodness themselves. “We decided we were going to make the best men’s products first, because there aren’t many companies like us, and we don’t have the same barriers to entry [as in women’s markets],” Mike explained. “That said, we make products that men and women will like. Ladies love to wear men’s shirts…we don’t mind having some crossover.” They recommend that the beardless try slathering these oils on dry skin, split ends, and cuticles.