Expert Interview Series: Mike Gilman of Grooming Lounge About Current Men's Grooming Trends

- Rip Bains

Mike Gilman is the Founder of and Grooming Lounge Barbershops & Spas.  We recently spoke with Mike to learn about the current trends in men's grooming and hear his advice on beard care.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to create Grooming Lounge?

I grew up in the men's grooming industry, and I started Grooming Lounge in 1999 after seeing a huge void in the men's grooming market for relatable companies focused on helping men look and feel more handsome and confident.  Since the launch of our website, we've expanded to include two upscale barbershops & spas in the DC area, the country's premier multi-brand men's grooming website, and our own line of custom formulated Grooming Lounge products.

What are some of the latest trends pertaining to hairstyles and grooming that you think will appeal to people who may not live in a major cultural center? 

In terms of hairstyles, anyone can go for a versatile haircut that's finger length, is easy to style, and looks great. It's simple and low maintenance, which is a plus for every guy. And he can make it look a little messy or wear it more conservative if desired.  Lately, more and more guys are using quality styling products in their hair to accentuate their cuts.  It helps the look a lot, and everyone is doing it.

As far as beards go, keeping a beard short and clean with the proper lines is easier than growing it out with different lengths in different sections. The latter looks much more unkempt, whereas short and clean is making a comeback as opposed to long and totally scraggly. 

Tell us about one new grooming product that excites you.

It might not be PG-13, but we're digging our Grooming Lounge Super Powder. In really hot weather,  this dynamic talc keeps guys sweat free "down under" and beyond (including backs, chests, and pits).  It's also great to sprinkle in shoes when a gent doesn't feel like wearing socks.  Powders like this are in high demand these days.

Finish this sentence: "One piece of grooming advice that never changes even when styles change is..." 

When hair starts to thin, going short is always the way to go to make it look the fullest. Growing it out, which most men think is the right thing to do, doesn't necessarily hide the thinning area and actually exposes it much more! So if it's thinning, keep it short or take it all off.  Bald is always better than balding - and that will never go out of style.

In your experience, what are some of the catalysts for a particular beard trend? 

I'd have to say it's a combination of pro athletes, movie stars, and television personalities.  In our barbershops, we consistently get gents with beards coming in and referencing that they want their beards to look like this basketball player or that guy on TV.

What kinds of beard styles might you suggest for someone who doesn't want to look like a hairy lumberjack or a pretentious hipster?

The 5 o' clock shadow (or an extended version of that) looks great, it's easy to manage, and is pretty clean if a gent can maintain the proper lines. But a guy should only grow that beard if he has the "beard chops" to do so.  A splotchy 5 o' clock shadow or any type of beard isn't going to be a winner.

Those zany hipsters are wearing their beards tighter on the cheeks and longer in the goatee area, which is a lot harder to manage and trim. The 5 o' clock shadow is one length all the way around and will never go out of style.

Could you give us a few "secrets" about growing and grooming a beard?

It's important for men to realize that growing a beard is sometimes even harder than just shaving daily. Getting past the initial "itch stage" often requires some beard lotions and creams.  From there, it's important to wash that beard just like one would the hair on their head but with a shampoo targeted toward beard hair and the hair underneath.  Then, it's essential to trim the beard and not leave too much "neck fuzz" hanging around. A beard lotion can help more mature beards stay soft and handsome looking. Getting a professional beard trim from a barber is always suggested and recommended.

What do you foresee as far as future trends for beards and men's grooming overall?

I think this lumberjack trend will stick around for a bit longer, but after that, it will go back to no beard/short beard. I can't forsee beards getting longer than they currently are.  And when it comes to hairstyles, we think hairstyles will start to grow their way back on the sides instead of skin short on those sides.

In terms of overall grooming, more and more men are getting comfortable with using products. They're going to start taking better care of their hair, skin, and body and will use the necessary products in order to do that. It's not taboo anymore, and men are realizing the benefits to both their look and comfort.

Need to keep your beard soft? Shop some of our beard balms today!

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