On Roots: “My background originally is as a hair stylist. I moved to North America from Liverpool in the early 1970s, right around when the whole Vidal Sassoon thing was kicking-off. My wife Lotte and I started AG Hair in 1989 with about five thousand dollars. At first we used a third-party manufacturer and filled product ourselves (at home, usually at night) – we even stuck labels on to the packaging ourselves! But after seeing how bags of salt were poured into our batch to thicken the product, I knew we had to figure out a way to manufacture everything ourselves. So I went out, bought some equipment and hired somebody to make our two products (a conditioner and shampoo – both of which are still in the lineup today). The process required a lot of research and experimentation because we knew the only way we would ever survive was on the quality of our product. In-fact quality has become our signature trait, and by manufacturing in-house we are able to guarantee it.
AG stands for ‘Advanced Grooming’, and although historically our products have been generally unisex, recently we’ve been focusing on addressing male-specific concerns. There’s been a real birth of male grooming products. Men today are far more aware of everything – style, skin, their hair. I see guys wearing foundation and eye-liner as part of their everyday routine – that’s something you would not have seen before.”
On Ingredients and Scent: “Efficiency is central to the Shampoo and Body Wash. We’re all busy so it’s good to be able to wash and move on. It’s a mild shampoo that doubles as a great body wash, containing no salt. It’s better on skin and hair, and also cuts down the time spent in the shower. Menthol cools and promotes good blood flow and nutrient delivery to the scalp. The Conditioner and Shaving Lotion is another super efficient product, focusing on both quality and performance. It’s designed to save time without compromising on results. Keratin works to fortify hair while zinc helps with any flaking. Menthol and aloe vera calm and soothe skin, allowing for a comfortable shave.
Scent is a hugely important element – partly because fragrance has this great ability to take you back to something. We’ve always focused on fragrance. When we first launched we noticed how salon owners and partners would initially engage with the individual scent of the products. The other thing about fragrance is you want it there when you’re using a product but you don’t want it to interfere or compete with your favorite cologne. A number of our products have fruity notes like Waxx (which has distinct pineapple and coconut aromas). As we develop new products we’re looking to include fresh and clean notes – vanilla, ginger and lime. All our products have a distinct freshness to them. We generally avoid the musky, woody thing.”
On Routines: “There’s no cut-and-dry answer as to how often we should wash or condition. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shampooing everyday if your hair needs it – provided you use a product that isn’t harsh or drying. There are so many products formulated with sodium chloride, which is basically table salt – it’s used to thicken the product. Most shampoos contain fairly intense cleansing agents, a lot of water, color, fragrance and then a ton of salt. What salt does is react with the water and the foaming cleansers. From a manufacturing standpoint you’re saving a lot of money by including sodium chloride, but it dries hair out – which is why we avoid it entirely. If you’ve got super oily hair sometimes a cool rinse is best. Stripping the hair of its natural oils can often result in excess oil production. In terms of conditioning, the longer the hair the more conditioning required, especially if you use color.
My routine is pretty straight-forward. I love the Shampoo and Body Wash and the Conditioner and Shaving Lotion. For styling I use Stucco – our clay-based product with a matte finish and medium hold. It’s made from natural oceanic clay and gives great texture and support. We grade our styling products on a scale of one to five, five being the strongest hold. I generally rotate between Stucco and Welding Paste because I need something that doesn’t dissipate quickly. My regimen is quick: after a quick towel dry I put the product in damp hair. I haven’t used a blow drier or comb in over 20 years. I use my fingers – it helps with achieving texture.”
– Discover more and shop the entire AG Hair lineup here. Photographs by Alexander Atkins and courtesy of AG Hair.