6 Forgotten Drugstore Colognes and Aftershaves

by Brett on January 10, 2012 · 493 comments

in Dress & Grooming

Every time I stroll down the men’s grooming aisle at my local drugstore to pick up some deodorant or Brylcreem, I can’t help but notice the shelves of colognes and aftershaves. Gillette’s green and blue goo aftershaves seem to sell well, as do the notorious AXE body sprays.

However, as my eyes drift down to the lowest shelf, I’ll usually spy a selection of hardly touched colognes and aftershaves. Among them you’ll find fragrances that once sat in Grandpa’s bathroom–English Leather, Old Spice, Aqua Velva–but are now overlooked or snickered at by the younger generation.

I’ll be honest. I used to turn up my nose at these colognes and aftershaves too. I figured if they were being sold in a drugstore in plastic bottles for $5 and not at a department store in fancy glass bottles for $50, they probably smelled awful. Without an endorsement from Diddy, how good could they be? Oh, the power of branding on my feeble mind!

But one day, I decided that instead of relying on my fallacious reasoning to judge the quality of these forgotten drugstore colognes and aftershaves, I would bust out some good old-fashioned empiricism. I headed over to my nearest drugstore and filled up my handbasket with every single cologne and fragrance they offered. The lady at the checkout lane gave me a funny look and noted that she’s never seen a guy my age buying the stuff in my basket. I just smiled.

The total on my receipt for the six different products was $41. The most expensive bottle was $12.

After a week of testing these colognes and aftershaves, I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by my findings. I actually thought all of the drugstore colognes and aftershaves smelled great and will probably start using them on a daily basis. Because my go-to cologne is so expensive, I usually just wear it on special occasions. These bargain drugstore aftershaves and colognes will allow me to invigorate my freshly shaved face and dab on a bit of fragrance every day without breaking the bank.

Below are my thoughts and a bit of history on the six drugstore colognes and aftershaves I tested. Enjoy.

Pinaud Clubman

Pinaud Clubman is the oldest bargain aftershave on our list.  Since 1810, Pinaud-Clubman has been making the world smell manlier with their wide range of grooming products. Walk into any traditional barbershop and you’ll likely find Pinaud-Clubman aftershave sitting on the shelves; it’s part of what gives classic barbershops their distinctive scent.

What it smells like: Pinaud Clubman is pretty potent stuff. You’ll find hints of orange, lemon, jasmine, and lavender with a warm musk background in this manly concoction. It also has a nice antiseptic alcohol smell to it. You’d think smelling like rubbing alcohol would be a bad thing, but somehow Pinaud-Clubman makes it work.

Price: $7 for 6 oz.

Aqua Velva Ice Blue

Aqua Velva got its start in 1929, not as an aftershave, but as a mouthwash for men. Crazy, huh? It wasn’t until 1935 that Aqua Velva started getting pitched exclusively as an aftershave. Aqua Velva’s biggest selling point has always been the cooling menthol that soothes away razor burn.

Throughout the years, Aqua Velva produced several TV commercials to cast itself as the scent of choice of manly men. In this spot, 1950s cartoon guy learns what happens to guys who don’t wear Aqua Velva:

Aqua Velva was responsible for Pete Rose’s all-time MLB record for hits. If only Aqua Velva could have imbued Rose with the practical wisdom needed to understand that betting on your own team isn’t a good idea.

Even the Lone Ranger and Tonto wore Aqua Velva. Hi-yo, Silver!

What it smells like: Aqua Velva leaves a nice, clean, masculine smell that’s heavy on the menthol, but also includes hints of vanilla, lavender, and oakmoss. The smell is initially potent, but fades to a pleasant manly oakmoss smell very quickly. This was my second favorite scent out of all that I tried.

Price: $5 for 3.5 oz

Old Spice

Before they got into the “Man-Your-Man-Could-Smell-Like” body wash business, Old Spice made cologne and aftershave. Chances are your grandpa probably wore the stuff. If I were a bettin’ man, I’d even wager that the manly, charming scent of Old Spice played some kind of role in your eventual birth. Old Spice has been sold in its iconic buoy-shaped bottle since 1938.

What it smells like: Old Spice has a nice, spicy smell to it, hence the name. You’ll find overpowering notes of sage and cinnamon when you apply it. As it fades, it leave a pleasant musk and cedarwood scent.

Many believe that today’s Old Spice cologne isn’t the same as the original. Aficionados swear there was a subtle change made to the formula after Procter and Gamble acquired the brand. Even with the tweaking, this is still a solid, timeless, and manly fragrance. Good to have in your collection.

Price: $10 for 6.38 oz.

English Leather

The aftershave of choice of my 96 year old grandpa, William Hurst. English Leather got its start in 1949, and it hasn’t changed much since then. Same formula; same rectangular bottle; same big ol’ wooden lid. English Leather gift boxes were a popular holiday gift for years. Maybe you got your dad a box for Christmas 1987. Most of the marketing for English Leather featured an attractive woman telling male viewers or readers that “All her men wear English Leather.” Translation: If you want hot babes, slap on some English Leather, by golly. Example:

What it smells like: It’s a pretty simple fragrance. Starts off with a citrusy smell that slowly fades to a woodsy, leathery scent. As the day wore on, it started to smell more like baby powder. Nice and fresh.

Price: $12 for 3.4 oz.


Ah, Brut. My first cologne. I got some in my stocking for Christmas when I was in 6th grade. The ladies of Sequoyah Middle School loved  it. At least, that’s what I told my 12-year-old self.

The original Brut was marketed as a luxury scent in 1963, but in 1968, Fabergé (the company that owns Brut) created a budget version called “Brut 33″ (the 33 was a reference to the fact that it was 33% less fragrant than the original).  A few years later, they re-branded the budget version back to just “Brut.” Thus was born one of the most iconic bargain colognes of all time. Brut’s trademark plastic green (and let’s be honest–kind of phallic) bottle with its silver logo has probably graced the medicine cabinets of millions of men across the world.

Over the years, Brut has marketed itself as the go-to fragrance for men of strength and virility. Its tagline is “The Essence of Man.” Athletes have typically been the spokesmen for the brand. Football player “Broadway” Joe Namath took part in a series of TV and print ads for Brut in the 1970s. Here’s Joe telling us how men who “go all the way” wear Brut:

What it smells like: People either love or hate Brut. I’m personally a fan of it. The scent combines dashes of sandalwood, oakmoss, lavender, and jasmine. It’s kind of an aggressive scent.

Price: $7 for 5 oz.


After a century of making cowboy hats, the Stetson Company decided to get into the men’s fragrance business in 1981 with a cologne for men. Stetson took advantage of their cowboy heritage by pitching their cologne as the scent for men who are independent and love adventure. And as the gift idea for those you didn’t know what else to get the man in their lives (“Stetson makes it easy, for youuuuu!).

In 2007, New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, became the new Stetson man. I’m pretty sure this was a move to get women to buy Stetson for their men.  I don’t think giant magazine spreads of Tom Brady looking wistfully into the camera are going to excite most men to buy Stetson.

What it smells like: Stetson’s scent kinda catches you off guard. With all their rugged cowboy marketing, I expected Stetson to have a woodsy, leathery, or even musk scent. But to my surprise it was more of a light, flowery fragrance with notes of lavender, jasmine, and citrus. It’s not bad, just different from the typical male fragrances on the list.

Price: $10 for 3.5 oz. I got mine on sale at Walgreens for $4. What a deal!

In Memorium: Hai Karate

Hai Karate is no longer produced, but because it was perhaps one of the most famous bargain fragrances to come out of the 60s and 70s, I had to put it on the list. I’ve never smelled the stuff, but from what I’ve heard from Baby Boomers, it didn’t smell that great. So why did it sell so well?

Clever marketing.

With every bottle of Hai Karate, you got a small instruction booklet of karate moves that you were supposed to use to fend off the women who would be all over you after you applied this irresistible fragrance.

Don't use Hai Karate without memorizing these self-defense moves.

Here’s the TV commercial showing the effects of Hai Karate on a man’s unsuspecting girlfriend:

While Hai Karate faded from the fragrance scene in the 80s, its legacy lives on today in AXE body spray. Just like its 1970s predecessor, AXE assaults one’s nasal cavities (at least when over-applied by zealous middle schoolers), yet remains popular because of clever marketing that usually features women attacking some dude who’s sprayed himself with magically instant sex appeal.

If you’re really itching to try some Hai Karate, you can buy it on eBay.

Fun fact: Pfizer (the maker of Viagra) owned the Hai Karate brand.

What’s your favorite drugstore cologne or aftershave? Do you have a favorite that we didn’t include on the list? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 493 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JimmyV January 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Try “The Pope’s Cologne” Pius IX Private Formula. It’s home-made by an gentleman and his family in California and can be ordered on-line. It’s a little more pricey than these aftershaves.

2 Geoff January 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thank you! I have used or tried each one of these in during my life… just one question: What do you have against Canoe?? Seems to me that belongs on this list also. Keep up the good work.

3 Michael Bryant January 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Please tell me that the Pete Rose comment was some sort of irony. Charlie Hustle never once bet against the Reds. He was wagering ON his team, never against it. You are thinking of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

4 Jacob January 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Stetson is definitely a classic. The cologne of my dad and grandpa.

5 Jason Fralia January 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Glad to see Clubman on the list. While I don’t use that particular “flavor”, I prefer their Bay Rum. Great Article.

6 Zac January 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I’m an Aqua Velva guy myself. Reminds me of my Grandfather. It’s kinda my way of reminding me of him. Bay Rum is a good smell too!

7 Roger Tucker January 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Pete Rose never bet against the Reds. He bet on them and bet on other teams, but never bet against his own team.

8 Nick January 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I’m only 21 years old, but Pinaud Clubman is the only aftershave I’ve ever owned.
I quite like the smell, but it does take some practice to find just the right amount so that the ladies I’m acquainted with don’t go running.

9 Radoslav January 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I stand by Burbery- very “classic” and you can not mistake it with any of today market products falsely advertised as “manly” smells. Not the cheapest one but really good.

10 Kevin January 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I don’t always shave, but when I do it’s with either a straight razor or a safety razor. Because of this I need an aftershave that actually works instead of just burning and smelling good. I’ve tried a bunch of great smelling old-fashioned aftershaves, but settled on Nivea’s because it is readily available (versus having to order it online like the others).

11 Luis January 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I use Pinaud products for all my grooming needs they are awesome and cheap

12 Ian January 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I personally have been using Clubman for over a year now. It is a great classic scent that reminds me of my uncles when I was growing up. Being a younger user I didn’t even know this existed. Glad that I found it though. Also, I love the English Leather. I was given my late Grandfathers bottle by my Grandmother as a 3rd Grader, and would wear it to school to smell like him. Such a great classic scent.

13 Kyle @ EngageYourMoney.com January 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I’d love to get a “sampler pack” of these oldies but goodies. Shoot, I’d love to get a sampler of all sorts of colognes. I’ve only tried 3 in my life and have stuck with the same one for the last… 8 years?

14 Paul January 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

+1 for Clubman’s Bay Rum. It’s my everyday aftershave.

15 Terry January 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I’m not sure if they qualify as “drugstore” colognes or aftershaves, but both Canoe and 4711 remind me of my father.

16 turningcog January 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm

i have found a new bargain cologne to add to the list, it was originally formulated in 1894 and been a household name ever since, 3 in 1 oil. i was metal cutting before i went out on the town and every woman i came i contact with gave me a smile, some complemented me on the scent

17 John January 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Two words: bay rum

18 Tracer Bullet January 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

My grandfather wore Jovan Musk, currently $23.19 for 8 oz. on Amazon. He’s been gone for five years and I can still remember that smell.

19 Ross January 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I have used Old Spice for years and just recently started using Pinaud Clubman. They remind me of my Grandfathers, both Great Men!

20 Vincent in Brooklyn January 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

My favorite drugstore cologne was Night Spice by Old Spice. I found while in college in a little town drugstore in Virginia and it was the best crap ever. If you can find it on ebay get yourself a bottle and thank me later.

21 JR January 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Just bought Pinaud Clubman because of some reviews on badger and blade. Great stuff. My wife is pleased with it.

22 Adam January 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

So, Brett, which was your favorite? Did I miss it? You said Aqua Velvet was your second favorite, but what about number one?

23 Jake January 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I have always used old spice, and so has my dad, and his dad. My great grandpa, however, used cologne in a pheasant shaped bottle and I wish I knew what is was.

24 Jason January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I have been an Old Spice guy for years – aftershave and deodorant. Classic stuff. Better than most expensive ones. Plus, the ladies like it, young and old.

25 Michael Lunsford January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm

My grandfather had a glass bottle of Bay Rum in his medicine cabinet. It had an odd metal stopper periscoping from a cork bottom to a point with a small hole in top. I’m sure it was for shaking out the ambrosia, but it also meant the bathroom always smelled of Bay Rum. It was quite mysterious.

My mom uses Brut on her dogs :-/

26 Dave January 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I use Pinaud Clubman. You’re right, it is pretty powerful when you first put it on! Let it dry down before heading out for the day.

I had a bottle of Stetson for years (since 1981?), it’s probably still around here someplace…
I never liked it.

27 Moisés Soto January 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I would add Roger & Gallet’s Jean Marie Farina, and also 4711 Original Eau de Cologne. My father, being a chemist and a pharmacist, usually made himself a personal cologne variation by adding to 4711 some essences in very precise amounts. Still have a couple of the biggest bottles they made with dad’s formula.

28 Nicky Two Shoes January 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I also settled on Nivea. It works great after using a safety razor due to the very close shave. Plus since it’s a cream and not water, it’s much easier to apply (plus it doesn’t burn like hell).

I do love the smell of Pinaud though. I used to use their hair gel, but I’ve never been able to find it in a drug store for years now. They have the aftershaves, but not the gel.

29 Tim January 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If Aqua Velvet was the second favorite, what was the first favorite? Not that I am basing any sort of opinion on that item, but I feel like I’ve been left hanging out waiting for the winner.

30 Nathan G. January 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I have Old Spice and Stetson in my cabinet, have since I was in junior high. Another overlooked scent is British Sterling. I always thought it smelled nice and manly. It was my first bottle of cologne.

31 Aaron January 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

My Dad wore Jovan Musk as I did until I was mocked for slapping it on in the locker room one morning at high school.

32 Len L January 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I got a bottle of English Leather for Christmas. I but it on, asked my wife what she thought, and she said I smelled like bug spray….oh well.

I have a bottle of Pinaud Clubman I picked up at the drug store and I’ve been using that a little bit.

Recently I’ve been using Proraso aftershave lotion with with my safety razor (before that, Nivea for Men). I’m not big on the scents, but I would like to try a Bay Rum at some point.

33 Steven Proto January 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

In Marine boot camp we were told to buy Aqua Velva for our supply locker. I think if I smelled it now I would have flashbacks.

34 Paraplegic Racehorse January 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I haven’t shaved in years but, when I did, I took a cue from my father (and his father) and splashed on some bay rum. There are a variety of brands to choose from and, admittedly, I don’t remember which one my father was partial to. It might simply have been the one that was available.

Bay rum has a fine, sweet-spicy scent that’s unique among aftershaves. It’s easy to overdo it, though. Use sparingly.

35 John January 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I’m using Pinaud Clubman’s ‘Citrus Musk”. It has a nice light musk and lime smell.

36 Doc_S January 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Clubman, Clubman Musk, Clubman Special Reserve, Virgin Island Bay Rum, Dominica Bay Rum, Pinaud Lilac Vegetal, Clubman Classic Vanilla, Alt Innsbruck… I have a whole selection of classic, atypical, non-AXE scents for everyday use. Great thing is that all of these are still available, and you can stock your aftershave cabinet to the gills for less than the price of a single bottle of the fancy stuff (not that I don’t love me some Guerlain Vetiver or YSL Kouros).

37 Daniel January 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I’ve worked in a drugstore for about six years, and still do.
I always loved stocking these products and lament the loss of the glass bottles that Aqua Velva used to come in. The clinking of those bottles as I stocked them was always a high point in my day call me crazy.
One another note I’m so sick of Axe and the over sexualization they have on their products, not to mention how expensive they are. I ain’t gonna lie because I do use Axe from time to time but what a shame. Use a bunch of bright colors and bikini clad girls and you’ll have an endless supply of guys lining up to buy these products, not to mention the one employee in the store who is choking to death because you needed to spray every can of Axe to see how they each smell……

38 Ben January 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I just got a bottle of Tabac aftershave after using their shaving soap for over a year. It is very nice.

I used Brut for a few years whie in college and never had any complaints. :)

39 Wicked Willie January 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Yes to Pinaud/Clubman and to Old Spice. Also like the various Bay Rum products…like Dominica Bay Rum. However, that is not available over the counter, generally.

40 James Dennard January 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I love and own all of these except Hai Karate.

41 Grayson January 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’m 18 and recently discovered the great manly scents of earlier manly generations. I’d been using Old Spice cologne (after reading an earlier article on AOM) for almost a year when m local Walmart had a big sale on the old-timers’ fragrances. I picked up Canoe, British Sterling and English Leather for around $5 each. I also got the aftershaves of British Sterling and English Leather. They all smell immensely manly; British Sterling reminds me of my dad’s favorite movie character, James Bond. My only qualm is the English Leather seems to wear out rather quickly. Another scent I’ve used for a few years is Aspen. Overall, I think I made a very wise investment.

42 Chris January 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I was a Stetson guy for a long time. I had a bottle right up until I moved to my new house. My father-in-law wears Old Spice exclusively. My own dad had Brut, Aqua Velva, Jovan Musk, Canoe, and English Leather.

Thanks for a great article!

43 Jay January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

My Grandpa used old spice exclusively. We visited when I was about 5 or 6 and I watched him splash it on before an outing. After he left the bathroom I grabbed the bottle and proceeded to liberally apply this manly scent so I could be like Grandpa. As soon as I walked out to where everyone was waiting the scent him them like a ton of bricks. I was embarrassed at first but then I though “I smell good!” and enjoyed the rest of the day.

44 Daniel January 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

My dad to this day still uses a product called “Jade East.” There was a period of time in which the local supply dried up, but he after a period of months, he found some on a random drug store shelf in another state while on vacation. FragranceNet identifies it as originating in 1964.

45 Pat January 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Still use Agua Velva, Pinaud and Old Spice
classic cheap stuff every Dad gets but not every Dad appreciates.

46 Ian January 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Brut was also the very first aftershave I’ve ever used, and I’ve been using it ever since (since 2006, 8th grade). Love the stuff

47 Joe January 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

For many years, Clubman has been my aftershave/cologne of choice for the cold weather seasons.

48 Adam January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I grew up in the 80′s using Aqua Velva. I remember my dad having Old Spice, English Leather and Brut in the medicine cabinet. Now he just uses Old Spice. I have been using Nivea’s Post Shave Balm for about 5-6 years now and like how my face doesn’t feel so dry after shaving and using it. I’ve tried others recently like Clubman, Bay Rum, Boosters Polar Ice and Art of Shaving’s Sandalwood after shave lotion. While I enjoyed their scents none of them, except AOS compared to Nivea with the feel of my skin afterword. They all left my face feeling dry and not well moisturized. I guess I’ll stick with Nivea. I just wish they had some old school scents….

49 Adam January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I grew up in the 80′s using Aqua Velva. I remember my dad having Old Spice, English Leather and Brut in the medicine cabinet. Now he just uses Old Spice. I have been using Nivea’s Post Shave Balm for about 5-6 years now and like how my face doesn’t feel so dry after shaving and using it. I’ve tried others recently like Clubman, Bay Rum, Boosters Polar Ice and Art of Shaving’s Sandalwood after shave lotion. While I enjoyed their scents none of them, except AOS compared to Nivea with the feel of my skin afterword. They all left my face feeling dry and not well moisturized. I guess I’ll stick with Nivea. I just wish they had some old school scents.

50 Allan January 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm

If 1 of 3 Charlie’s Angels likes English Leather, I may have to give it another try.

51 Martin January 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Proraso Dopobarba

Is a classic as well:

52 jez January 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm

British men using Hai Karate in the 1970s were generally attacked by the splendid Valerie Leon:


53 mark January 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Just wanted to add one that I have not smelled in about 35+ years; Roman Brio. Came in a Roman glass column with a plastic lid. Ah the memories.

54 deti January 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm

‘Lectric Shave.


Aspen (which isn’t really a drugstore cologne but is considerably less expensive than designer fragrances.)

My dad had Brut 33. Since he wasn’t a cologne guy he had that bottle about 5 years.

Old Spice is still the world’s most popular cologne in annual sales.

55 Nate January 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I think that the most important thing is that the wife likes it too. I’d like to see a part II of this that has Kate’s impressions.

56 Ammon January 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I seem to remember buying a gift set of Jovan Musk for my dad one Christmas–man that stuff stunk!

Although they’re not colognes or aftershaves, two other drugstore scents that bring back memories for me would be Sea Breeze astringent and Aqua Net hairspray.

57 RAD R0b January 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I am 26 years old and the earliest scent I can recall is the “Essence of Man”, It would bellow out of the bathroom after my father’s shaves and showers. I remember the gift sets with the silver metal medallion chained around the neck of the green glass bottle were a holiday staple. Brut is and has always been my go-to scent. I have the after shave balm (which sadly I can only find online), cologne and the splash-on in the center console of my car. Having used higher priced colognes for formal occasions, Brut by far garners more compliments. I’m somewhat proud to say that on a fairly regular basis women of all ages ask to lean in and get a whiff of my neck line ( my ego would love attribute this to my “good looks”, but unfortunately for me Brut is the real stud here.) I would imagine that any man wearing these classic scents stands out from the herd. I think it reminds older women of the men from their youth or the reason they went out with their Husbands to be, and for younger women/girls it is uniquely different and more mature than the hordes of “Axe” boys…and certainly more Manly.

58 JeffC January 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Skin Bracer for every day. It’s an old classic, and I’m surprised it wasn’t on your list.

59 Brian January 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I laugh at anyone still using Brut. It was the starter cologne for all teenage boys, at least where I grew up. A man should graduate from Brut and move up in the world, just like a man eventually moves on from his first crush, razor or childhood sports hero. Axe is this generation’s Brut, which is great because those who wear either can usually be spotted (and smelled) from a mile away, and their lack of manliness is usually obvious to both myself and the ladies. I’m not really complaining though, just pointing it out for those who have ears.

60 Core January 11, 2012 at 12:02 am

I actually learned a bit regarding brute. I didn’t know I used an old old deodorant. I find its one of the deodorants that jive well with my body chemistry.

61 Stacey January 11, 2012 at 12:03 am

My grandfather wore Old Spice every day. I haven’t worn it in years, but that’s mainly from avoiding strong scents after my wife discovered many colognes and perfumes are migraine triggers. Dad wore Brut when he wore something now that I think about it.

Now, back in the day, I found a bargain cologne that went by the name White Water ($12-15 back then). I haven’t seen it since 1994 (ish), but I loved it. It had the semi-sweet scent of a Bay Rum, but it was still had a light citrus kick. I’d buy a bottle in a heartbeat if I could find it again. I have seen a couple colognes in department stores with the same name, but the scent was definitely not the same.

62 Barefoot Dawsy January 11, 2012 at 12:23 am

Ah Old Spice! I (re)discovered it in highschool and never looked back. To me it’s the manliest cologne out there.

63 John January 11, 2012 at 12:40 am

Love the article! I have been using Pinaud Clubman for about a year now and it seems to work for me. At first it smells a lot like baby powder but then fades into a more subtle fragrance. I also enjoy bay rum which can be found at most Sally’s beauty supply chain stores.

64 Vince January 11, 2012 at 12:44 am


Pino Silvestre has got to be the best low cost aftershave ever. If you were a young italian man, you’ll understand why… everyone has a bottle of this somewhere in the house where I’m from.

65 Dom January 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

I endorse Brut 100%. My grandpa wore the stuff, and it’s a smell I always associated with him (and still do). I only figured it out a day or two ago, and I’m glad I did.

66 Jason January 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

I’ got Clubman and Old Spice in the medicine cabinet right now. Although I did splurge and get an old glass bottle of Old Spice from eBarbershop. I just refill it with a syringe when it runs out.

67 Natty Bomber January 11, 2012 at 1:36 am

My giant beard and I don’t like shaving, but we still enjoy aftershave every day. The most manly scent ever was ‘Spice’ by Gillette. Unfortunately Gillette didn’t realize that they had sex in a bottle, so they quit making it. I just dropped $76 on the only four bottles I could find on the internet, because I was out -and they came from Budapest. It’s that good.

68 AnnieB January 11, 2012 at 2:32 am

@Jake: Is this the pheasant-shaped bottle you’re talking about?


Apparently, it’s Avon.

You’re welcome :)

69 Jim D January 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

The cologne in the pheasant bottle was very possibly Avon. They make men’s products too and a lot of women used to buy products for their husbands from the Avon lady. They used to sell a lot of men’s colognes in bottles shaped like cars, trucks, animals, etc. I had a whole collection of them up until a couple of years ago, but threw them away a few years ago when I moved. I got on eBay and saw they were selling for less than $2.00 apiece.

70 Eddie January 11, 2012 at 3:55 am

My go-to classic is Royall Lyme. Love that clean, crisp smell.

71 ARMAND SYLVIE January 11, 2012 at 3:56 am


72 Weldon January 11, 2012 at 4:14 am

My dad used them all, so they all remind me of him. Everyone of these are in my cabinet except for Brut and English Leather, but my favorite is still Aqua Velva.

73 Christian January 11, 2012 at 4:46 am

Always looked down on this older products myself, but after buying an Old Spice my mind has changed. I like it. However it does leave my face a bit dry, so I use Nivea balm unscented afterwards. An aftershave that really helps both razorburn and dryness is Musgo Real. This is also a classic scent, but not so easily available. Really manly.

74 Charles January 11, 2012 at 5:19 am

There´s nothing like Floyd, after five minutes smell like a sweet candies for all day. Girls loves it but no one recognize the odor.
I started to shave with this product and never have change…


75 Tim January 11, 2012 at 5:54 am

One of my favorites back in the day was British Sterling. It’s still available in the Green bottle (discount version) at about $5-$6 for 2.5oz and the British Sterling Dana around $13 for 3.8oz..

76 Anthony January 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

When I think old-school-manly anything, I always think of the men of the Victorian era (1837 – 1901). Their clothes, their etiquette, etc.

When I think specifically of old-school-manly shaving/skin products, I think of Truefitt & Hill (Est. 1805) of London whose products I personally use. Their Sandalwood shave soap is my favourite. It lasts a long time too; I got two tubs of Sandalwood as a Christmas gift from my wife two years ago and I’m only just coming to the end of the first tub.

See their website: http://www.truefittandhill.co.uk/


77 Luis January 11, 2012 at 7:13 am

ProctEEEEr & Gamble not Proctor

78 Kay January 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

Ah I love Old Spice. My uncle wore Old Spice and he is pretty much the manliest person I have ever met. My father wore Brut which I think was too overpowering, so it didn’t suit his personality.
My brother wears Axe or something that is advertised just like Axe is. He is just at that age, he will probably grow out of it. Ill buy him one of these sometime.

I wish there was a list like this for women’s fragrances because the bargain ones I have tried do not smell good. I think next time I’m at the chemist ill try and have a look at ones I would normally gloss over.

79 Dulie January 11, 2012 at 7:28 am

I personally like my Thayer’s Witch hazel aftershave with aloe. I started using on suggestion from a friend who shaves with a straight razor when I started shaving with a safety razor. It stings A LOT at first, but feels pretty good shortly after. Closes up the pores better than the couple other aftershaves I have tried.
$6.00 for 4 oz from ClassicShaving.com
Local grocery store started carrying Thayer’s in the health food section for $7 for 12 oz.

For scent, I use ClassicShaving.com’s Arabian Spice Wool Fat Shave Soap. It makes the razor slide across the skin well, keeps the beard soft and smells great. It is almost like Degree in that when I get warm, I am hit with a new whiff of scent.
$20 for a 4 oz cake, but it lasts twice to three times as long as the glycerin shave soaps I’ve tried

80 Bill January 11, 2012 at 7:32 am

Here’s my scent schedule:

Monday: Bay Rum (home made)
Tuesday: Pinaud Clubman
Wednesday: Clubman (again)
Thursday: Canoe
Friday: Old Spice

The weekend: All bets are off!

81 TheBeardedOne January 11, 2012 at 7:46 am

I’ve used Old Spice since I was 14. It’s the de-facto manliest smelling cologne out there. Even though I no longer practice the art of shaving, I still like to splash some on the back of my neck. English Leather I’ve never been fond of. My dad wears it and I just never cottoned to the drab smell. As far as pricey cologne, I’ll wear Aquai di Gio, Hugo Boss, or Paul Sebastian. But Old Spice is still the best for the money

82 Paul January 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

I’ve always used Old Spice – and Canoe is a good one too -still available, but you have to look hard for it.

83 Dennise January 11, 2012 at 8:17 am

Florida Water (1808) It is unisex and so cooling on a hot day
Emeraude (1921)
Tabu (1932)
Jean Nate (1935)
White Shoulders (1949)

84 Tyler January 11, 2012 at 8:26 am

I use Old spice. Ever since I saw the slogan “If your grandpa hadnt worn it you wouldnt exsist” I was hooked. My old man always used Brut. I have a bottle of Stetson on stand by also.

85 Ron January 11, 2012 at 8:33 am

I prefer Royal Bermuda Bay Rum (http://royalllymebermuda.com/).

86 Mike January 11, 2012 at 9:00 am


87 Antaine January 11, 2012 at 9:02 am

I’m surprised my after shave didn’t make the list: Mennen Skin Bracer. Made since 1931, it was my grandfather’s after shave. While I’ve never smelled Clubman, I’m told Mennen is similar, and based on the description above, I would agree.

When I was in high school and college, I used Old Spice. In my early 20s I started using Cool Water cologne. After I started straight-razor shaving, I needed an aftershave, and since I was off Cool Water by then, I decided to try my grandfather’s favorite rather than simply return to Old Spice.

It is now my distinctive scent for those who know me, as no other man in my social circles uses it (unlike that Axe stuff).

88 Dave Matney January 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

I was given a bottle of Stetson from my grandpa, when I was about 18. It took me until I was 21 to really appreciate it, and then I used that tiny bottle ’til it was gone.

Girls appreciate class more than you’d realize… Stetson got me a lot farther than Axe ever did.

89 icecycle66 January 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

I’m an Aqua Velva man.

90 Carolina John January 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

My grandfather was an Old Spice man, and I wore it until my wife started making fun of me for smelling like a leathered up sailor. Decent stuff!

91 James Deeds January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

wow,you really hit the nail on the head with that list.I cant think of anything you left out.I use aqua velva and stetson but will go to the store today for the rest of them.great work on putting together that list.I think those are the manliest colognes ever

92 Tim W January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

I have been using Clubman for over a year now. It reminds me of my grandfather and doesn’t seem too overpowering in a proper dosage. The wife really likes it as well, so at $5 at the local drugstore it was quite the deal.

93 Chad Smith January 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

Unfortunatly I cannot find Pinaud up here in Northern Alberta, but I was smart enough to buy a few bottles while in NYC this summer! My wife also bought me some Old Spice After Shave and Cologne for Christmas, she loves it, I love it, couldn’t ask for more. While at my In-Laws this Christmas I noticed a few bottles of Stetson in my Father In Laws medicine cabinet, right beside his Gillette Double Edge Safety Razor! He’s 73, so just like the Grandpa I don’t have.

94 Patrick January 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

My grandfather wore Old Spice. So I am partial to that. But in addition to that he had his share of safety and straight razors, Old Spice shaving mug which thankfully I still have and he always used Alberto Vo5 hair gel. After reading this article I went and bought me some Clubman, Aqua Velva and Old Spice…already had the brute. I also think I am going to give the safety razor a try. Damn Fusion is costing me a fortune. Thanks.

95 David January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

The end of the English Leather ad was “…or he wears nothing at all.” I still remember that from when I was a teenager.

96 Linda P January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

One of the smells of my childhood was Mennen Skin Bracer. I remember watching my dad shave, he’d slap a little on his face, then a little on mine. To this day, it’s one of my favorite men’s cologne smells ever. The pricier ones are just so overpowering, but Mennen’s was nice and light. Sort of like a Jean Nate for men :+)

97 Carlos January 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

You forgot British Sterling! My Grandpa wore it and now I wear it. It has a clean masculine scent that is not overpowering but stays with you. How could you forget British Sterling!?!

98 Mike January 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

Dear ole Dad was a Memnen man. I always have a bottle in my clubhouse locker. Ahhh the Art of Manliness personified!!

99 Shawn January 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

In the 1970′s, Charles Bronson did ads for a Japanese cologne called (wait for it…) Mandom (what could be more appropriate for Art Of Manliness men?). I have no idea what it smells like, but the ads are packed with more MSI (manliness per square inch) than any ad you’ll find….

…in a 1970′s kind of way….

100 Diego January 11, 2012 at 10:48 am

Excellent article, my dad was always a fan of Brut, but I’ve never tried it, only the origanal Old Spice Cologne (The bottle is just as manly as the scent). After reading this, I am inspired to try out these different scents, who knows, I might find something just as good smelling as my Drakar, without having to pay $50 a bottle.

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