Welcome to Groom Raider, a series where we, well, raid the grooming closets of the people we admire to see what products they use. While we browse through their moisturizers, creams, fragrances and more, we get a glimpse into their past lives and the stories behind how they came to be. This week we meet with Garrett Munch, grooming director at GQ.
Garrett Munce, grooming director @ GQ, NYC
“I’m very witchy,” says Garrett Munce, grooming director at GQ.
It’s a sleepy Saturday afternoon and we’re greeted by Garrett and his black pug named Elvira, who traipses about the one-bedroom apartment. Aligned on every other shelf are beautiful healing rocks ranging from small to large quartz, amethyst, onyx crystals. In corners of the room, incense – sweet, musky – delicately permeates through the air. Energy mists line his bedroom shelf from brands like Cap Beauty and The Fifth Veda.
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It all feels, well, magical. And if there ever was a beauty witch – one who’s mystical, spiritual and can give you suggestions to the best new Korean sheet mask – it would be Garrett himself.
It’s this mystical (and magical!) approach to beauty that keeps him grounded. So along with the many masks he’ll use to saturate his pores with moisture will be energizing mists to activate his Chakra. With trendy products from the likes of Dr. Sturm will also be a good crystal-infused spray. “They’re good for meditating and clearing the Third Eye,” he explains as he mists the space. “I’ll spray them on my pillow before I go to sleep because it helps activating your psychic center. You’re connecting to the universe and sometimes I’ll have really intense dreams – sometimes psychic dreams and it’s really good.”
Below, we talk to Garrett about skincare, healing products and how his witchiness comes to play with beauty and grooming.
“As long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with grooming. In middle school, high school, even elementary school, I was obsessed with hair. Guys are brought up and taught to not be experimental with grooming and beauty the same way that women are, and I was never that way. I went through all the phases that you could think of.
I went through the dying-your-hair-crazy-colors phase in high school. One time I was doing this summer theatre program between my junior and senior year of high school. And I dyed my hair. Well, I made my friend Lauren dye my hair. At the time I had it spiked. This is like early 2000’s so it was kind of like it was like a “She’s All That” situation. I had who dye it like fire. So my roots were yellow. My middle was red. And the tips from the middle were orange. That lasted about three days until it all kind of started to mush together and become like this neon orange color. My mom wasn’t happy about it and she took me straight to the salon. I went and drove to the drugstore secretly and I bought one of those Feria highlight kits. I basically did these deep purple streaks in my hair. My mom flipped out. She was so pissed that she ordered my senior portraits in a black and white so that she wouldn’t see my hair color.
With my skin, I definitely had problems with it in in high school. So I definitely was that guy that was reading like Jane and Seventeen trying to figure out what drugstore products to buy. I was very lucky I never had like cystic acne or like really, really bad acne that I had to like go to a dermatologist. But I definitely was going to the mall or going to department stores buying weird stuff and like trying it all in my bathroom.”
On getting to GQ:
“I’m from Charlotte and I always loved clothes, fashion and grooming. I was also completely obsessed with magazines. I would read everything and cut out pictures and articles and all that kind of thing. I would keep a box full of tear sheets in my room. I was obsessed with that but I didn’t really know that was a real job until I lived in New York City. I started interning and I started out in costume design styling. Eventually, I got an assistant job at W for about a year. I was there from ’08 to 2012. I ran the fashion closet and then worked my way up a little bit. I became their menswear editor there before Stefano [Tonchi] came over. A job at GQ about about and I’ve been there for about six years.
There are so few men’s magazines now and I feel really lucky that I get to work out one of the ones that’s still around. I think it definitely makes me realize like how I have this kind of responsibility. I take that with me going into those offices every day.”
On his role at GQ:
“I remember there is this one commercial for some sort of like new face wash. There’s a little brother washing his face with bar soap and an older brother like ‘Yo, bro like you would never wash like you know your face with like the same soap that you wash your body with. Right?’ And he was like ‘No, you like you should never do that. You should use this like this cleanser.’ And for some reason that changed my life.
Today, I think about that commercial a lot, especially when I’m planting stories for GQ. Because I never had any sort of resources for myself growing up in terms of best practices or things to do for yourself. And so I I take that role very seriously. I think people are very much more open to talking about grooming. But I also want to make sure that there are resources that speak to those people, and it’s not just the kid who’s like, ‘what face wash should I buy as my first face wash?’ I want to talk to the guy are also now my age and are asking about Botox and wanting to learn about lasers and fixing wrinkles.”
On his favorite products:
“I don’t wash my hair every day. I actually only wash it about once a week. And when I do wash it, I try to use R+Co’s conditioning foam because one of the hairstyles that we work with, Thom Priano, told me about it. He works on Timothee Chalamet, who we shot. Thom taught me about it because it doesn’t strip your natural oils like a shampoo. And if I wash my hair too often or even if I wash it with like, the wrong shampoo, it gets really frizzy and puffy because I have kind of naturally curly hair. It looks dry really easily and so I get really nervous about that.
I use a hair mask about once a week. I’m really liking Sisley’s Hair Ritual, it brings back all moisture. I’m really sensitive to texture. I like to play with my hair and run my hands through it a lot. If it ever feels dry, I freak out. I don’t want it to feel oily but I don’t it to feel dry.
I’m obsessed with bar soaps. I think that they’re so easy and you don’t have to use like a loofah. I’m really into this one by Shea Moisture that’s an African black soap. I really, really love it. Then after, I’ll use a deodorant. I’ve recently switched to natural deodorant. I really like Schmidt’s. I love the charcoal – it’s so good. That’s the only one that I found didn’t have a really weird transition period where I felt like I smelled. Basically, you can’t ever have a natural antiperspirant because an antiperspirant has to have aluminum in it.
I’ve been doing this look like a major whole Korean skin care thing lately. So before a cleansing oil first. I’ll do the oil cleanse in the shower then Aesop’s combination cleanser. Right after the shower, I head for a toner. I love a good toner. I really love this Acwell licorice 5.5 pH one from Soko Glam. It’s really good. Then I’ll do that Neogen mist essence, which I love. I’ll do my Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum and use that one. Usually, I switch up my serums and things.
I’ll do an eye cream in the morning. I’ve been using that Tata Harper one and I love it. I’m obsessed with her and all of her stuff right now. I’ll put some Barbara Sturm’s anti-pollution drops with my moisturizer, which is usually that Missha super gel water cream. I really love that because it’s very light and it doesn’t ever feel sticky. I also really hate anything that’s too thick, like anything greasy or oily or thick, like an old lady cream like. After, I’ll finish with a sunscreen. I only recently, to be honest, just started wearing sunscreen every single day. Probably in the last two years now because I used to be like a total sun slut. I think you grew up not knowing that the sun was bad for you. I grew up going to tanning beds!”
“I was getting a lot of redness and a lot of uneven skin tone from exfoliating, I didn’t really quite know what was going on. I was talking to Charlotte [Cho] from Soko Glam, and she was like, ‘well have you ever tried a CC cream or a BB cream?’ I was like, ‘no why would I try that? What is that?’ And she told me Korean guys use it all the time. She gave me one from Erborian, the brand that’s both French and Korean.
I went home and I used that CC cream and I didn’t tell my husband. On the subway that morning going to work he was like, ‘your face looks really clean, wow.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’ He was, ‘did you use a new face wash or something this morning? God, it looks really clean.’ I like it a lot. It really kind of changed my life because it changed my perspective on what is possible from using that kind of product. I’ve always experimented with makeup. I remember going to Bare Minerals to buy their powder. But I was always self-conscious to wear makeup. The thing with that CC cream is that it changed my life. I know that skincare is the long game – it’s more about upkeep is more about finding the products that work. It’s about doing the thing that is going to be most beneficial for your skin. But sometimes you just need to cover that shit up and go to work, you know?”
“I am completely obsessed with sheet masks. It’s an active struggle for me not to do one every night. I’m careful to not use too many that have retinol, acids or ‘detoxing’ ingredients. I usually alternate those with hydrating and soothing versions. Really what you want from a mask is the relaxation element – the fact that they force you to slow down and sit still while they’re on your face is not lost on me. And you can’t really multi-task while you’re wearing them either, unless you count Instagram stories.
The ones that are the best are Joanna Vargas Twilight, Patchology flashmasque hydrate, SK-II’s version, Tatcha Luminous Dewey Skin Mask, Verso Deep Hydration Mask and Chantecaille Gold energizing eye recovery mask.”