Why Salt Grooming is the brand that’ll upgrade your haircare game in 2023

Standing up to the big-name labels, Salt Grooming has made a reputation for its commitment to high-testing standards, modern sensibilities, and tight-edit of products…

This time of year can feel like an underwhelming, almost energy-sucking period, one in which the highs of the new-year reset have long faded into the distance, the hangover from the January blues is still synced into the system, and the halcyon lightness of spring is still a little too far away for one’s liking. At Gentleman’s Journal, to help battle dejection and clear the mind, we’ve taken a streamlined approach to our daily activities, whether that’s refining and improving our method of work or making sure our desks are clear of clutter.

As part of this ethos, a few weeks ago, we focused on clearing out our grooming cupboards and whittling down our lotions, slicks, schmears and pomades to their bare essentials, ridding of any half-used tub of clay and binning those expired tubes of paste. Of all the brands we couldn’t bring ourselves to throwing out, though, was Salt Grooming, itself a label that runs on a pared-down ethos, and one that has become a favourite of ours in the past few months.

Launched in 2018, and made up of a tight-knit team that includes some of the UK’s leading cosmetic scientists, this bijou British haircare-and-styling brand has made waves in the grooming game for its tightly edited range of bare essentials, cutting through the endless releases that hit the market on a daily basis.

“To put it simply, I wanted to make the best men’s haircare and styling products in the world,” says the company’s founder and CEO, Piers Le Moignan, whose labour of love first found its roots during his teens. “[When I was younger], one of my favourite activities was visiting Boots or Superdrug to see what new products they’d gotten in. I found formulation structures fascinating and loved testing them out, and would spend hours obsessively reading about and researching the ingredients.”

Piers Le Moignan

Le Moignan, who had previously spent a decade developing communications for brands such as Adidas and British Airways, said that, while growing up, there was always a lack of choice in the men’s haircare department when compared to the women’s market. “I always felt dissatisfied,” he admits. “I was always searching for that one elusive ‘perfect product’. In starting the company, I essentially took matters into my own hands.”

Though unisex labels and boutique brands are now custom in the grooming world these days, “things were quite different” when Salt Grooming was founded, according to Le Moignan.

To stand out and create something truly of worth, a spartan approach was adopted, with a laser-like focus on prioritising the time needed to develop something that would make a difference. On average, between one and two years are invested into each item – “but there is no set timeframe we work toward. We spend as much time as is necessary to perfect each formulation” – and the research-and-development team is given a blank canvas on which to conduct their experiments, with Le Moignan creating the briefs and overseeing the process. The finest natural and organic ingredients from around the world are sourced, including Icelandic bentonite clay, which is said to enhance strand thickness; a “reductive” approach is used in order to strip out out the superfluous, retaining only that which is essential; and the spotlight is given to one product at a time instead of launching full ranges.

Notably, Salt Grooming’s ‘Hybrid Hair’ clay-wax, the brand’s debut offering, was underscored by two years of development, resulting in a lightweight, easily workable formulation that doesn’t add heft or grease. “By the time we launched, we had nothing in the bank, so we really gambled everything on it… I feel like it’s the purest representation of quality over quantity,” Le Moignan says. “I wanted the brand’s first product to be a statement of intent for the future”.

Besides its commitment to high-testing standings, Salt Grooming has also made a reputation for being deftly in tune with modern sensibilities: all creations, for example, are cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan; the clean, stripped-back packaging looks at home in any contemporary abode; and there is a strong focus on versatility, with the range of goods suitable for all hair types and styles.

To complement the ‘Hybrid Hair’ clay-wax is the singular ‘Marine Mist’ sea-salt spray that’s made with pro-vitamin B5 – an ingredient that bonds to the hair, thickens it, softens it, and makes it easy to shape – and Atlantic sea salt, which absorbs excess oil. And, most recently, Le Moignan and team have set their focus on pre-styling items, with the release of a ‘Thickening Shampoo’ and a ‘Thickening Conditioner’, a duo that will nourish and boost hair at a cellular level, thanks to a blend of seven potent ingredients, including caffeine and vitamin B3, which increase fullness; wheat protein and aloe leaf, whose benefits including antioxidant strengthening properties; and ginkgo biloba, a species of tree with leaves that improve circulation in the scalp.

Though standing up to the big-name giants with his considered approach and offerings, Le Moignan’s ethos remains as modest as the designs of his packaging. “I have great ambitions for Salt, but I believe in keeping tangible goals and milestones to oneself!” he says.

“Right now, my approach is just putting one foot forward at a time and continuing to build our catalogue while staying focused on delivering the very best products possible.”

Want more grooming advice? These are the best spa treatments for a 2023 reset…

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