Sure, we can all get on board with Gillette and Old Spice for our grooming needs, but where’s the love for indie grooming brands?
Don’t get us wrong, most of the SPY team has been using the same Old Spice deodorant ever since we hit puberty, and there’s a reason the big boys have been around forever. However, as the men’s grooming market expands, there are a ton of great indie grooming brands out there making products that are just as good, if not better, than those from more established brands.
So instead of cleaning your body from head to toe with Dove products (and don’t get it twisted, we love Dove too), maybe it’s time to give some smaller grooming and skincare brands some love, too. Whether you’re dealing with hair, skin or hygiene, there are smaller brands out there that will take care of your grooming needs. Even better, a lot of our favorite new grooming companies use natural ingredients that provide a refreshing alternative to that cheap drug store body wash or shaving cream.
Because SPY writes so much about men’s grooming and hygiene — from solid cologne to teeth whitening — our writers and editors receive a lot of grooming products for testing. Not all of these products are worth writing about; however, over the years we’ve been able to discover some incredible grooming companies. So in the interest of supporting some lesser-known brands, we went ahead and rounded up some of our favorite indie grooming brands and picked a great product or two from each for you to consider. Some of these brands, like Baxter of California, have been serving up luxe hair and skin products for men for decades, while newcomers like Lumin and Geologie are bringing natural ingredients and an independent ethos to the grooming market.
So put down the Procter & Gamble-made products and give an upstart indie grooming brand a shot at your dollars. All of the brands below provide high-quality products that SPY writers and editors love to use, and we’re confident they won’t let you down.
Lumin isn’t just about skincare for men. It’s about skin management for men. All of Lumin’s products will help you manage your skin every day, with a wide variety of top-notch skincare products designed to treat a specific concern, from dark circles or dry skin to wrinkles and acne.
Lumin is one of our newer discoveries here at SPY, and we’re already using their products on a daily basis. The brand sent us some of their most popular products for testing, and unlike most skincare products we receive, we’ve actually seen real results from Lumin products. For daily skincare, Lumin has got you covered with a charcoal-based face cleanser and premium Moisturizing Balm. For guys looking for under-eye treatments, we recommend their Eye Depuffer stick.
If you’re looking for that George Clooney on the red carpet skin, we recommend picking up one of Lumin’s numerous skincare kits. We think you’ll never turn back once you’ve used everything in the Classic Maintenance Set, which includes the Charcoal Cleanser, Moisturizing Balm and Exfoliating Rub. But if you’re really more worried about Father Time catching up to you, you can’t go wrong with the Age Management Set, which includes the Moisturizing Balm, Anti-Wrinkle Serum and Dark Circle Defense gel.
Of all the indie grooming brands we’re recommending here, Maapilim is on the younger side, only having been founded in 2015 in Israel. But the brand’s offerings have grown considerably since their founding due to their high quality products and reliance on ingredients from the Mediterranean Sea. Whether it’s face, hair, body or beard, Maapilim will be able to take care of your grooming needs.
From Maapilim, we recommend their Good Face Day subscription, an anti-aging box of products that includes Maapilim’s facial cleanser, eye cream and anti-aging moisturizer. It ships to your door every two months, and if you use each item every day, your skin will feel as amazing as the other side of the pillow on a hot summer night.
If you’re really into men’s skincare products, put down the Nivea and check out Geologie. We’ve covered Geologie before, and we think it’s one of the best-personalized skincare subscription services out there.
You start with a 30-second quiz that recommends products for you. Then you pay for a monthly trial of the products chosen. If you don’t like them, you can easily cancel your subscription, and if you do like them, congrats, you’re discovered an excellent skincare brand.
Geologie also offers excellent customization. You can have your selection of products sent to you every 30 days or 90 days, shop a la carte once you’re registered, or just have a subscription box sent with only the products you like and enjoy.
We’re willing to bet if you try Geologie, you’ll like it as much as we do. So, like Geologie says on its website, come on, your best self is waiting.
4. Live Bearded
We’ve covered plenty of skincare and hair care, but we can’t forget about beard grooming and shaving. If you want to keep that mustache or beard in fighting shape, then you should definitely check out Live Bearded.
If some of the other indie grooming brands here are one-stop shops for general grooming, then Live Bearded is the one-stop-shop for daily beard care. Why do we love Live Bearded? This brand doesn’t even sell shaving supplies.
When your beard is itching something fierce or wilding out, you can turn to Live Bearded’s beard oil, beard butter and beard wash. The brand even sells its own line of beard combs and brushes as well as mustache wax to help you wrangle even the most insistent flyaway hairs.
And if you’re not happy with Live Bearded’s products, buy safely knowing everything is backed with a lifetime guarantee. If you don’t like your products, Live Bearded will exchange the products or refund your purchase, no questions asked.
We recommend giving the Beard Oil and Beard Butter Kit a shot. Both will help soothe itchy skin and bring your beard under control and the fragrance, which Live Bearded calls The American, smells of cedar, vetiver and bergamot for a woodsy and masculine I’ve-been-around-the-campfire scent.
Bevel was founded by a Black man in 2013 with Black men in mind, but Bevel’s products will work great for any man with sensitive skin. Bevel wasted no time expanding its product offerings after it jumped into the grooming market with its signature safety razor.
In addition to its well-known safety razor, Bevel offers excellent shaving cream, balm and pre-shave oil, a top-rated beard trimmer, beard oils and conditioners, as well as a bunch of skincare products.
Many of those products also ship in kits and have the option for monthly subscriptions to quickly resupply a whole line of products when you run out or if you’re looking to start your grooming supplies from scratch. Add on a 30-day money-back guarantee and you can see how Bevel’s started making waves in just a few years.
But if you’re going to start anywhere with Bevel, we’d recommend the Bevel Safety Razor or the Bevel Shave Kit, which has everything you need for a smooth shave. Shaving is where Bevel began, and it’s one of the things the brand still does best.
We’ve featured Cremo a lot on SPY, and at this point in its growth, it might not be fair to characterize it as an indie grooming brand. But until it goes public, we’re going to call it one and rave about Cremo until we’re hoarse.
Cremo just makes great grooming products for men, nothing more and nothing less. Based on the quality ingredients and sophisticated fragrances, you’d expect these products to cost as much as department store grooming products, but Cremo products are actually very affordable. We’ve had friends and brothers borrow our Cremo Shave Cream and marvel at just how unique it is and how smooth it makes the shave.
Though Cremo started with one of the best shaving creams available, it now produces a whole line of grooming products for men, including shaving creams and balms, styling creams and pastes, shampoos, solid and traditional colognes, a line of skincare products for your face and even more, believe it or not.
In addition to offering your typical grooming products, and less common things for men like hair spray, Cremo is one of the few general men’s grooming brands that acknowledges the existence of gray hairs and the men who wish to get rid of them. That’s why it offers two-in-one hair and beard dyes in shades of black and brown (sorry, blond-haired gents).
We’ve tried a number of Cremo products over the years and we stand by them, indie grooming brand or not. We think you will too.
Hawthorne is cut from the same cloth as Geologie in that it offers subscription products directly to consumers, only Hawthorne began its journey in 2017 with personalized cologne instead of skincare products. Of course, Hawthorne took off shortly after that and has since expanded its offerings beyond cologne to include some mainstay men’s grooming products, such as deodorant, body wash, soap, shampoo and conditioner.
Like Geologie, Hawthorne tries to take the guesswork out of the process for you through a personality and grooming quiz.
Once you complete the quiz, Hawthorne automatically offers you colognes that it thinks best match your personality and fragrance likes, along with deodorant and body wash to match. That’s where you can add on soap, shampoo and conditioner too for the full Hawthorne experience.
And if you’re not keen on having everything but the bathroom sink, you can always tailor your subscription box to include just the personalized grooming products you want.
If you like the idea of subscriptions and are a big fan of the best men’s colognes, we think Hawthorne is one of best indie grooming brands to try.
8. Baxter of California
Baxter of California is the most well-established grooming brand on this list. Since the company is owned by L’Oréal, we can’t really call them an “indie” grooming company. Even so, we had to include them because they’re one of our favorite men’s grooming brands, and they’re known for making top-quality products with natural ingredients. Whatever you need, Baxter of California has a high-quality product to help you. Big on styling and hair care? Welcome to the wide world of Baxter of California’s pomades, hair creams and oft-recommended shampoo and conditioner. The brand’s new Deep Clean Shampoo is a must-have if you’re tired of cheap drug store shampoo, for instance.
What about skincare? Yup, Baxter of California has you covered from soup to nuts, with a cleanser, moisturizer, scrub, toner, face wash and more. We haven’t even touched on Baxter’s body offerings like body wash, lotion, deodorant or fragrances.
But we think you get the idea. Baxter makes great grooming products for men, which are still tested by real barbers in the company’s Los Angeles barbershop. If you’re into Baxter’s one-stop-shop, we highly recommend either Baxter’s Deep Clean Shampoo or any of its pomades, in particular the Cream Pomade.
The deep clean shampoo uses apple cider vinegar, menthol and other hair-fortifying ingredients to restore and clean your hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
The Cream Pomade offers a light hold, natural finish and a great deal of softening and smoothing, so you’ll add some hold to your hair without drying it out.
9. Meridian Grooming
When we think of grooming we tend to think about the parts of ourselves most people get to see every day. Well, Meridian Grooming is there to help you groom the parts that only a select few get to see. After all, the truly well-groomed man is well-groomed everywhere.
But enough subterfuge: Meridian’s here to help you trim and clean your balls and pubic area because those prickly hairs aren’t going to control themselves.
The Maintenance Package — it’s OK to laugh that you’re getting a package for your package — contains everything you’re going to need for that special task: the waterproof Meridian Shaver to trim, two replacement blades and Meridian Ball Spray to take care of odor and skin irritation.
You think you might not get a lot of use out of these things, but once you’ve committed to grooming your nether regions you’ll never want to stop.
10. Every Man Jack
Founded in 2007, Every Man Jack practically pioneered the idea of using as many plant-based and natural ingredients as possible in men’s grooming products. With men’s hair, body and skincare products made in the U.S., the brand reached meteoric growth after a plug from Oprah, and it’s been selling great natural products ever since.
While you can now find Every Man Jack products in virtually every drug store and grocery store in America, they’re not like other big-name grooming brands. If you’re looking for made-in-America grooming products that use ingredients you can actually pronounce, Every Man Jack is a great brand to know.
For convenience, Every Man Jack also offers trial boxes so you can safely test things out as well as customizable subscription boxes, which will save you money on whatever products you want from the company.
For our pick, we love Every Man Jack 3-in-1 All Over Wash in sandalwood. With one bottle, you get a shampoo, conditioner and body wash that’ll leave your skin and hair feeling refreshed and smelling fantastic.