Maybe your earliest memories of shaving involve an Rockwellian image of peeking up in adoration as your be-slippered and pajama-ed father leaned his fully lathered face over the white porcelain sink and plied his safety razor to his chin OR maybe your earliest memories involve being tossed a plastic, disposable razor with four blades and being admonished not to cut yourself. Regardless of how you’ve come to classic shaving, there is a good bet that you are attracted to the simplicity, the ritual, the rite-of-passage, the tradition of this grand dance. So we wanted to pay homage to some of the products that have stood the test of time -- that might have even inspired Norman Rockwell.
Here are a few products that graced the shelves of the “greatest generation” and still reside on our shelves today. Some are virtually unchanged from their original formulations and some have innovated and grow over the years, but all of them take seriously their desire to enhance a man’s grooming routine.
Old Spice Shaving Cream/after shave: Ironically, the first Old Spice product was intended for women. Originally named “Early American Old Spice”, the aim of William Lightfoot Shultz business was to celebrate the colonial time of the U.S. history with depictions of various scents and imagery associated with early nautical exploration. Shortly after, William Shultz began a line of products for men and, from that point on, the Old Spice name quickly became a staple men’s grooming brand. Originally produced by Shulton over in India, most of the production had moved to the United States under Proctor & Gamble. However, the fame of Shulton lives on, and we choose to have all our Old Spice products shipped to us directly from the Shulton factory in India. Enjoy your granddad’s favorite shave cream today!
Palmolive Shaving Cream: Colgate-Palmolive was founded in 1806 by William Colgate. Originally a producer of soaps, starch, and candles, Colgate later opened a factory in Milwaukee, WI, under B.J. Johnson’s guidance. In 1912, Palmolive introduces the first American-made, lather shave cream. From then on, it quickly became one of the most popular shaving products in the United States. The formula had been put through extensive research to give a more refined, easy-to-lather product, in both their Original and Lemon scent. Though now produced in India, you can still enjoy a unique product that has stood the test of time for over a century.
Gem Blades: The Gem blade has a rich history beginning almost at the same time as the first safety razor ever to be produced in the United States, the Star razor. The Star razor was produced by the Kampfe brothers in 1875 and, after several years, close colleague Jerry Reichard decided to begin his own business known as Gem Cutlery Company. The proprietary Gem blade gained quick popularity, becoming the go-to blade and razor for men’s grooming. The blades are still sold to this day and will work in any single-edged, Gem/Ever-Ready style safety razor.
Lucky Tiger aftershave tonic: In the 1920’s, Kansas City resident Benjamin Clarke began to run a home barbershop out of his basement. Familiar with the benefits of natural products, he released a hair tonic that eventually took the United States by storm. Throughout the decades, Lucky Tiger has produced one of the most expansive men’s skincare/grooming product lines available, now to include their aftershave tonic. A favorite here at West Coast Shaving, Lucky Tiger Aftershave Tonic is a witch hazel-based, gentle astringent/tonic with several botanical extracts and Vitamin E to soothe and heal the skin, all with a gentle accord of citrus oils.
Prep Cream: Prep Cream was introduced back in the 1860’s by the Mark Allen Company. Since then, the product has been refined as a multipurpose skin cream. Though not the most “organic” of ingredient lists, Prep Cream has made its way into the wet shaving market as a non-lathering cream that is perfect for a quick shave or to take during travel. A very slick cream, it is not heavy on the skin, easily washes from the blade, and has a pleasant tinge of menthol on the skin.
Ingram Shaving Cream: Ingram’s Therapeutic Shaving Cream was originally introduced in the 1920’s by Frederick F. Ingram Company in Detroit, Michigan. With its original formula, Ingram intended for the product to have quite the fair dosage of menthol, as it provides local antiseptic and anesthetic properties and reduces inflammation. You could buy either direct or from your local druggist where, for 50 cents, you’d receive the jar of mentholated cream and a free shaving brush in a nickel case. Now produced in Egypt or the U.K. (we carry the U.K.-product), this is a great value cream that gives you a slick lather and a strong punch of menthol.
Merkur Progress: The Merkur Progress has quite a long history (produced since the 1950s) and has been a worthy and capable adjustable razor since then. With a twistable knob at the bottom of this two-piece razor, the blade gap adjusts between the edge of the blade and the safety bars. Level 1 (denoted above the knob) provides a very smooth, close shave with a small blade gap yielding an acute blade angle against the skin, while Level 6 offers the most aggressive shave, with a wide blade gap resulting in an obtuse blade angle and, therefore, a closer shave with more blade feel.
Proraso Shaving Cream, Menthol and Eucalyptus (Soap and Splash): Proraso began in 1908 with founder Ludovico Martelli. Since this time, Proraso has consistently stood as one of the largest names in wet shaving. Just after WWII, the Proraso labs were instrumental in creating the Pre and After Shave Cream, which took barbershops and then home users by storm with its freshness and efficacy. For only $10, you can experience a quality shave cream that has remained largely unchanged since its original formulation, and harkens back to the days of your great grandfather.
Pinaud Clubman: Established in 1810, Pinaud revolutionized the world of official, scented aftershaves with the introduction of his “Clubman” aftershave splash at the House of Ed Pinaud in Paris, France. Since this time, Pinaud Clubman has become a staple aftershave in virtually every classic barbershop in countries across the globe. It became the foundation of what we know of today as the quintessential “barbershop” scent: top notes of orange, lemon, and bergamot, heart notes of jasmine, geranium, and lavender, and a base of musk. With its emblem of a dapper Frenchman, this has been a classy addition to any barbershop and bathroom counter since the time of your great-great-great-great-grandfather.
When we say “shave like your grandfather” we mean more than the technique. Embrace the scents and suds that would have groomed a generation of gentleman. If one of these isn’t already in place in your shaving den, then you better grab one today!