Grooming Guru: Advice from Celebrity Stylist Vaughn Acord
Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and his dad were the unlikely impetus behind Vaughn Acord seeking out a profession in men’s grooming. Though he was familiar with the basics thanks to his barber father it wasn’t until he “noticed that album covers and the fashion and grooming on them were taking over” that he realized there was more to it than a simple cut and a shave. Particularly, Acord was drawn to the long hair and risk-taking looks of glam rockers like Bowie, The New York Dolls and Mercury. So at 16, he already knew he wanted to “get into the beauty, the art and fashion of it.” A drummer since around the age of 5, he decided to attend trade school to learn about grooming, and ended up working at a salon in Ohio during the week and traveling to NYC on weekends to play music. After being spotted by a model scout at a gig, he ended up in front of the camera, starring in ad campaigns and learning from the best groomers in the world while on set. Finally after a few years, Acord went back to his first love of grooming, snagging a job at Bumble and bumble before moving onto editorial shoots that had him working with photographers like Annie Leibowitz, Herb Ritts, and Mark Seliger. Oh and after years of work in the field, he used his knowledge to formulate a line of skin- and hair care called V76 by Vaughn. Here the man offers his tips on looking your best, building a grooming arsenal and the mistake you might be making everyday.
Why do you like your profession?
I liked grooming because it felt natural. When you think about what I’m doing today, it’s representative of all of that; it’s what the brand stands for. It’s about what does this guy look like and does he have the confidence to be on stage or on film? Then we translate that into: Everyone wants to feel confident before they go to work or go on a date. My job is to find that comfort zone for these guys and deliver what makes them feel better, look better and feel more confident.
What was your introduction to grooming?
Probably going from a boy’s barbershop haircut to an actual unisex salon. I had someone feather and layer my hair; they even blew it out. It was during the time of the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever. That was one of my first memories of being “just groomed.” The very first product I ever owned was Jhirmack. It was an orange smelling shampoo. I also remember getting Tenax gel in yellow tube and Black Tie cologne.
What is the number one piece of grooming advice you have for guys?
Don’t overdo it. No guy wants to look like he’s trying too hard. I think that men need to have the right products and the right advice to get ready and then not think about it again. He may need to take a look to change from day to night or from uptown to downtown, but it should be a quick transition and reactivate the products that are already in his hair. They should get this advice from their stylists and move through this pretty effortlessly if they can.
What do guys usually get wrong?
One big mistake men make when shaving is buying the wrong shaving cream. Foams, like the ones that come in cans at the drugstore, generally are not formulated to be gentle on your skin. Shaving exfoliates the top layer of skin, exposing new skin that needs to be moisturized and protected. You should always look for a shaving cream that has oil and ingredients that nourish the skin. For example, my Clean Shave Hydrating Gel Cream uses a liposphere delivery technology to coat the skin with vitamin E and aloe to lock in moisture. I also see guys missing places on their beard when they shave. They’re probably shaving with a foam or cream that they can’t see through and they make the mistake of not going back to detail afterwards. They should finish with beard oil to get a closer shave, plus it also adds longevity to the razor. Always double check around the nose, mouth and ears. If your beard is super thick, you can apply oil before you even start to soften the hair. V76 Beard Oil is really soft and it moisturizes the face.
What other shaving mistakes do guy frequently make?
I often see men attempting to shave the back of their neck in the shower. They’ll take it too short and it takes the whole foundation of the haircut away. It’s like taking bricks out of the foundation of a house. I always encourage guys to come in between cuts and get their neck cleaned up for free.
What do guys often neglect with their grooming?
I often see men making the mistake of having absolutely no product in their hair. Guys always need to have something. There are so many different varieties of hair cream today, there is something that suits the every look a guy is going for. This is directed toward the stubborn guys who think they don’t need anything. Even if you’re bald, you need to moisturize your scalp. Also, sometimes guys don’t pay attention to the condition of their hands and nails. Whether you’re a hard working guy or an accountant, you need to take into consideration how your hands look. Always moisturize your hands with a hand cream, use a nailbrush in the shower and make sure you’re cleaning below your nails as soon as you get out of the shower.
What are your favorite products from your line?
Clean Shave Hydrating Gel Cream is a really innovative product that took about a year to get right. It’s a combination of putting oil into a lather. I always thought that foam was too drying, even though it’s popular. I wanted it to have an oil base so that it would moisturize. It’s developed with lipospheres filled with Vitamin E that will explode when they hit your whiskers for maximum hydration. Once people try this, they won’t be able to go back to the drugstore stuff. I also love V Rated Wax. It’s a wax that can be used by guys with different hair textures and it even adds a bit of moisture.
What is the ideal morning routine for guys?
The first thing you should do is stretch to get your blood flowing. Touch your toes. It helps wake you up. It’s nice to have large glass of water right when you wake up. Then shower. You can shave and brush your teeth in the shower to save time. Obviously use shampoo and conditioner and if hair needs extra hydration, leave in the conditioner while you shave. Detail your beard with Beard Oil when you get out because you can’t see properly in the shower so you don’t want to make a mistake you can’t fix. You can also use this oil for sideburns, neckline, jawline, etc. Then go to the mirror to style your hair. If you want a hard look for your hair, put product like Control Balm in while your hair is still wet. If you prefer a messier, more natural look, let your hair air dry and then apply a product that is moldable and has freedom like V Rated Wax.