Heritage Hygiene: Ye Olde Grooming Brands
While it seems like man upkeep is always on the upswing, there was a time when gentlemen would wax and twirl their mustaches into distinctive shapes, carefully comb their hair back with pomade, and give themselves a once over with cologne (even if it was just to cover up a lack of personal hygiene). So you could say it’s the return to a more genteel time. In the spirit of throwback grooming, why not eschew new-fangled wares in favor of vintage finds like the potions whipped up in the apothecary and barbershops of yore. If they worked for your grandfathers, surely they’re good enough for you whippersnappers. And while some newer brands seek to emulate that old-timey feel, these elder statesmen of grooming brands are the real deal. So go ahead and make your bathroom shelves over in the dream of the 1890’s with these time-tested wonders.
Related: 8 Naturally Awesome Grooming Brands
C.O. Bigelow, Lemon Body Cream, $18.35
In 1838, Village Apothecary opened its doors in lower Manhattan with owner Dr. Galen Hunter conjuring up homemade remedies. After employee Clarence Otis Bigelow took over the pharmacy, he renamed it C.O. Bigelow and continued the tradition of concocting remedies by hand. Much of their current catalogue is a nod to those original recipes, such as this refreshingly scented body cream.
J. R. Watkins, Pain Relieving Liniment, $9.49
Founder Joseph Ray Watkin’s product line began as a humble, homemade (literally, he was blending ingredients in his Minnesota kitchen) pain-relieving liniment in 1868. His cure-for-all-that-ails-ya was a huge hit then, and judging by the fact that it’s still kicking around, still is now.
Kiehl’s, Kiehl’s Musk Essence Oil, $35
The Kiehl’s shop on 3rd Avenue in the East Village has stood since 1851. Though no longer a pharmacy dispensing homespun elixirs, there is still at least one current product that has been around since the beginning. Musk Oil is a humane take (read: synthetic, not animal derived) on the original sexy scent, which was hidden away in the basement after perhaps being deemed too sexy for the times. We promise it smells better than it sounds.
Taylor of Old Bond Street, Taylor of Old Bond Street Aftershave Lotion, $37
Back in the day, barbershops were called shaving salons and were frequented by very rich dudes indeed. Jeremiah Taylor opened up just one of these establishments in 1854, calling it Taylor of Bond Street. Later, when his son took over the shop, Taylor introduced a line of very fancy shaving products by that very same name.
D.R. Harris, Almond Soap on a Rope, $25
Practically ancient, D.R. Harris began as an apothecary in 1790. Opened by surgeon Henry Harris and chemist Daniel Rotely (hence the name), who used their collective experience to create all manner of elixirs for London society and English royalty. This soap-on-a-rope, though not quite as old, is still quite a relic—and an ingenious one at that.
Floris London, Limes Eau de Toilette, $71.88
Another very oldie (late 1700s!) but a goody, this zesty scent was originally intended by Juan Famenias Floris to be a fragrant respite from sultry London summers. The blend of citrus, tempered by musky notes, also works as refreshing aftershave.
Updated 07/13/16 by Chase McPeak