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A lot of men who are into traditional shaving are all about nostalgia and using classic products. I got to wondering if I could come up with an old-school grooming kit with products popular in the 1940’s through the 1960’s and still relevant and useful today.
A Men’s Grooming Kit For The Traditionalist
I decided to figure out a traditional man’s grooming kit that would target the most common needs:
- Hair Care
- Oral Care
- Skin Care
I did a lot of research to find what was popular then and still available now. Many products popular in bygone years have disappeared and others have been significantly reformulated. But a few are still (relatively) unchanged and available. Here’s what I came up with as the most relevant products:
[Note: Amazon links are for convenience and are affiliate but these products should be available to you locally in the U.S.]
Classic Hair Care
Hair care for the traditionalist is probably the most “complicated” aspect of his grooming…and that’s not saying much. Basically, keep the hair (reasonably) clean and styled. That means a shampoo and a styling product.
Probably the most well-known old-school shampoo that’s still around is Prell. Prell, introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1947, has become an icon of American nostalgia over the years with some of the most memorable moments in advertising. Remember the famous commercial where a pearl slowly drops into the Prell bottle to demonstrate the thick, rich, luxurious shampoo?
Procter & Gamble sold the brand to Prestige Brands International in 1999. Prestige then sold Prell to Ultimark Products in 2009. In 2016, Scott’s Liquid Gold-Inc. acquired Prell from Ultimark.
Hair Styling: Pomade & Hair Tonic
Pomade is a greasy, waxy substance (typically made with beeswax, lanolin, or petroleum) that is used to style hair. Pomade generally gives the user’s hair a shiny, slick appearance. It lasts longer than most hair care products, often requiring multiple washes for complete removal.
A hair tonic is essentially a liquid pomade. The hold is lighter and it’s great for men with fine hair because the tonic can help moisturize your hair.
Classic brands of both pomade and hair tonic are still widely available and the “traditionalist” has some options here.
Pomade in some form has been around for centuries. But it wasn’t until the 1930s, when popular brands like Murray’s Superior Pomade and Royal Crown Hair Dressing entered the mainstream spotlight. Both Murray’s Superior Pomade and Royal Crown Hair Dressing are still available.
Another old-school favorite that is still widely available is Brylcreem (“a little dab’l do ya!”):
A product still considered by many as a “pomade” but is water-based (so it’s easier to wash out) is Groom And Clean:
I’m hearing that Groom And Clean has been discontinued but it is still widely available.
Historically a variety of claims were made on the packaging for hair tonic, including that it could reverse baldness or would make the hair grow longer and thicker. But, like most hair care products, the main function of hair tonic is to hold hair in the desired style.
But hair tonic can also add moisture to dry hair and lubricate a dry scalp, helping reduce split ends, broken hair, and dandruff. In addition to an oil which coats the hair (though there are oil free tonics as well!), many hair tonics are also scented.
A very popular classic hair tonic that is still around is Vitalis:
Old School Oral Care
Old-school oral care consisted of brushing the teeth and (maybe) using a mouthwash.
It’s as popular “back then” as it is now: Crest:
Crest was introduced in the United States as “Fluoristan” in 1954, as it contained stannous fluoride. In 1955, the name of the product was changed to “Crest with Fluoristan.” By 1962 Crest had become the best-selling toothpaste in the United States.
Then as now, Listerine was the dominant force in mouthwash. “Back then” there was only one type (that tasted terrible IMHO):
But, like the perennial Gillette/Schick competition, Listerine had some competition (that most say tastes better), Lavoris:
Traditional Skin Care
Skin care for the traditionalist is simple: bar soap.
There are several bar soaps that have survived over the years but the most popular was Ivory:
If you want to bring some nostalgia into your grooming routine, these products from about 50 years ago have both endured and provide good performance.