6 Forgotten Drugstore Colognes and Aftershaves

by Brett on January 10, 2012 · 494 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.

Brut

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.

Stetson

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!

{ 494 comments… read them below or add one }

201 andrew January 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

After reading this article i went out n bought a bottle of aqua velva ice sport and i think i have found the aftershave that will stick with me for life!

202 Nathan January 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I actually made my own by crushing up oak bark, dried bay leaves, black pepper, cinnamon, moss and basil. I added just a bit of rubbing alchohol to make the mix a bit slushy. I had too much originally so I poured a little out. Dilute the mixture with a little water, and put it in a spray bottle. When it’s in the bottle, the mixture will still smell like rubbing alchohol, but when you spray it on your skin just let it dry and it will turn into the desired scent. I have asked my family and friends what they think compared to samples of old spice and brut, and my mixture won. Try it out and see what you think.

203 John January 14, 2012 at 2:35 am

I just got some English Leather for Christmas, actually. I really like it. Very grandfatherly, in a good way. Makes me feel very mature.

204 Thomy January 14, 2012 at 6:38 am

I bought some pinaud clubman last night and can’t wait to shave this morning. It brought back a lot of memories of going to the barber shop with my dad when I was a kid. Thanks for the reminder.

205 Jose January 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

In your clever article you may have added another “scent” that has dissapeared from all drug stores and that is Bay Rum. It’s hard to get if you are not shopping online but Pinaud has one called Virgin Island Bay Rum that I get from this specialty drug store for 7.95 for a LARGE bottle. That’s been my go to scent for the last year.

206 Jose January 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

A staple of hispanic men in the 60′s and 70′s was Varon Dande. This scent was like a smokey musk smell that has found it’s way back in drugstore stores in the spanish community costing about 14.99 for a LITER bottle and I have been complemented by co-workers about it’s smell

207 Matt January 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

I am a clubman man. The after shave Is great, but I use Clubman Special Reserve. It just makes you feel like a man.

208 Chad Benson January 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Really? Who’s paying for article? I’ve encountered both Brut and English Leather – they smell like a train wreck. Old Spice isn’t much better. Can’t speak for the other scents, however…

209 Anthony January 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Last year or the year before I made a batch of bay rum (which, incidentally, is how I found and began reading this website). The recipe is easy, smells fantastic but wears off extremely fast. While visiting my parents, I found a forgotten bottle of Old Spice and found the scent to be similar, not exact, but the warm cinnamon overtones and subtle hint of rum were enough to make a correlation in my mind. Since then, I’ve been an old spice fan (and keep the bay rum around for those everyday applications).

210 Clay Pendleton January 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Old Spice use to make a Lime aftershave – Whatever happend to that? I now have had to make my own lime aftershave with Vodka, Key lime essential oil and a few drops of Kermit’s True cold pressed Key lime Oil from Key West Floridia on his website to give that extra lime scent.

211 David Pond January 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I am looking for american blue aftershave. I have not seen it since the 1980′s.

212 Bryson January 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Is there a website for purchasing some of these older colognes/after-shaves? I can’t find most of these at the stores.

213 Chas January 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I was actually given a bottle of Brut this past Christmas and have yet to pop it open. I as never one to even wear aftershave until a few months back, and I ended up grabbing a bottle of the “Gillette Series Aftershave Sensitive Skin Shave Gel” and have loved it. It doesn’t have nearly as strong of scent as, let’s say, Old Spice, but it is a pretty good product.

I’m hoping stuff like the Gillette aftershave can have as strong of a market staying power as these products. I mean, how often does a product (nearly unchanged) survive almost 3 generations of men using it?

214 Kevin January 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I had a $5 off coupon to a beauty suppy store that was to expire at months end. After reading this article I checked the stores website to see if the carried any mens products. They showed Pinaud Clubman products and had a retail location about a mile away. So with the coupon it cost me a $1.49 for a 12,5 oz bottle. My bathroom now smells like barber shops I visited in my youth!!

215 Bryan January 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I have been using Old Spice aftershave since I began to shave. It is still my fragrance of choice. It got the attention of a girl in high school, and she’s my wife, decades later.

216 Joe kley January 15, 2012 at 1:18 am

I’ve been through a lot of different scents but for me the best is and always will be draker noir

217 Tim January 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Kudos on the Brylcreem. I use it everyday, just a little dab. I used to use gel on my thick head of hair, but it left it pretty crusty. I just want to keep the stray hairs down, and Brylcreem actually gives it just the right hold and remains soft to touch.

As for aftershave, I’m currently using a cream from Gilette. I need the moisturizing to kill off the flakiness my skin gets in the dry winter air. I don’t think a liquid aftershave could give me that effect.

218 Danomites January 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

What about Tabac? Jovan musk! You can still get a version of Bay Rum at Boots in the UK. Bring back hai karate!

219 Jay January 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ve been using Kroger’s generic version of Aqua Velva for a couple months now. It’s not a bad aftershave.

220 Danomites No January 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

What about Tabac? Jovan musk! You can still get a version of Bay Rum in the UK. Bring back hai karate!

221 Greg January 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I am an avid user of Pinaud products. I am in my forties, and I use a safety razor to shave with, (no plastic triple blades for me), whereby I then apply pinaud aftershave. I also use Pinaud powder on the neckline and Pinaud hair gel. It smells great, just like out of the barbershop. I used to wear colognes like Polo…etc., when I was in college and in my twenties, but those fragrances don’t appeal anymore, and the cost…wow. Now, I much prefer the scents of Pinaud and Old Spice over the pricey “designer colognes”. The “old label after shaves” just make you smell and feel like a man…not a premadonna…..Oh, the art of shaving…

222 Will January 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

How can you forget about SkinBraceer by mennen?

223 Joe January 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Witch hazel is the best aftershave.

224 Lenny-t January 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

When I was a kid I used to get sent to the ‘Ten-Cent Barber School’ down the block for haircuts (10 cents for all haircuts by the students) and they always used to splash me with Clubman to make me feel grown-up. Guess that why I always had a bottle in somewhere in the cabinet when I started shaving. Also used Old Spice for years. For a while also used Aqua-Velva (too smelly) and English Leather (so-so), Got a gift of Hai-Karate in the ’60s – wow – they could smell you coming a block away. Used Bay Rum – pretty good. Then was using Florida Water – a real citrus scent – nice – but hard to find. Finally 4711 Cologne. Now I don’t use any after shave or cologne at all and reverted to a wet shave with shaving soap and brush. I guess simplest is best.

225 Jim F. January 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

My dad used to use Preferred Stock. It has this sort of sweet musty smell to it. My parents gave me a tiny bottle of it as aftershave a while back, but I only started to use it recently after I started wet shaving (mostly thanks to this site :D). I also wound up with my deceased neighbor’s 1960s Gillette adjustable safety razor. I’ll never go back to electric shavers.

226 Devon C. January 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I alternate between clubman, brut and old spice daily (old spice is more of a warm weather fragrance and brut is more of a cooler weather one). Brut makes a great after shave lotion/ cream with aloe and shea that works great (amazon 4 for 20.00). I pick up unopened shulton made old spice on eBay when needed. Bay rum is definitely in my rotation as well. I raise my boys on this stuff too. Definitely a great article!

227 paul January 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I bought Pinaud clubman a few days before reading the post. I love the scent. It reminds of the barbershop I went to for years in my hometown

228 Devon C. January 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I alternate between clubman, brut & old spice daily (old spice is more of a warm weather fragrance & brut is more of a cooler weather one). Brut makes a great after shave cream w/ aloe & shea that works great (amazon 4 for 20.00). I pick up unopened shulton made old spice on eBay & Bay rum is definitely in my rotation as well. I raise my boys on this stuff too. Definitely a great article!

229 Devon C. January 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I alternate between clubman, brut & old spice daily (old spice is more of a warm weather fragrance & brut is more of a cooler weather one). Brut makes a great after shave cream w/ aloe & shea that works great (amazon 4 for 20.00). I pick up unopened shulton made old spice on eBay & Bay rum is in my rotation as well. I raise my boys on this stuff. Great article!

230 Eric Banner January 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Jovan Musk. I wore it in high school ( 1981 ) and all the girls loved it. Not me…the cologne! I gave my dad a bottle and he wore it so much that all his vehicles smelled of it. We would get in the car and it seemed that there was a Jovan Mush airfreshner in it.I guess it penetrated into the steering wheel cover? He still wears it today…just not so much.

231 Johnny January 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I got a bottle of the Aqua Velva recently because I was sick of smelling like a hoodlum (Axe). It’s weird being the only 16 year old that smells like a pirate instead of a rapper lol.

232 Zarba January 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Clubman and Old Spice are classics for a reason…they smell good.

SO quit trying to smell like a hormone-addled teenager and smell like the man your grandfather was…the kind of man who graduated from high school, went to WWII and conquered the world, then came home and built the USA. A real man.

233 Morghan January 17, 2012 at 4:07 am

I loved Old Spice, but it’s just not the same now. I really can smell the difference, still smells good, but seems somehow wrong.

234 Chase January 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

Proud to say I saw the photo at the top and I recognized four of the six bottles as ones that I have used or currently use. Another fun article, Brett.

I’m 28, and can’t stand the Axe crap and their stupid commercials. Hair smell will not overcome all other faults, my friends.

235 Ryan Lee Waldron January 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

My wife got me Pinaud Clubman for Christmas because I want to smell like I just left the barber, and I’ve been enjoying it. a week later I was getting a haircut from my backup barber (the regular one moved), and I noticed he used clubman also (and from what must have been a half gallon sized bottle at that).

236 Jason January 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

I’ve been wearing Old Spice for the past few months now and I love the smell. My wife loves when I wear any cologne but she likes that one best.

Also, Stetson sells some other colognes besides the original. Stetson Aspen and Stetson Country are two of my favorites.

237 scroos January 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

Great Article….

Reminded me of my Ol’ Man’s favorite: Jade East in a little plastic Buddha Bottle. :)

238 dave January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

ahhh old spice. my dad wore it, i wear it. and the slogan on the bottle says “if our grandfather hadn’t used old spice you wouldn’t exist”. PLUS it has that good old fashioned sting when you slap it on after a shave. nuff said.

239 dave January 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm

correction: If YOUR grandfather…

240 Rob January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Great piece, I had been looking for that “barber shop” smell for a long while and have finally found it in Pinaud Clubman. Thanks!

241 fred January 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Pinaud Clubman is often found in country club locker rooms and I usually take advantage of it. Great article. I think it is time to buy some old spice.

242 Jason Oliver January 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I love Aqua Velva…it makes your face feel soo cool and fresh after applying it. Old Spice is also still high on my list. There is just something about that smell that transports me through time to s simplier kind of life. Great article.

243 silverdust January 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Brett, you mentioned not wanting to use your go-to cologne on a daily basis because it’s $$. What many women have learned is that oil-based fragrances last WAY longer and are a better deal than the alcohol-based fragrances most of us buy.

With that said, there are many on-line sellers for men’s and women’s colognes. I get my women’s frags and the mister’s Polo from http://www.thefragranceshop.com. (No affiliation.)

They have a deal where you can order five designer samples (each lasts 14 days) for $30 and get a $30 credit toward whichever scent you choose. The Blue Musk is KILLER!

244 Miss Marple January 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Amazed no one mentioned Canoe. When I was in high school back in the 60′s, you could smell Canoe and English Leather as you walked down the halls, because high school boys aren’t exactly subtle.

245 Dog January 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

It’s Pinaud-Clubman for me. Not only do I like walking around smelling like I just got a top notch haircut, but my girlfriend loves the smell… Win win!

246 Heath Holden January 18, 2012 at 2:13 am
247 molson63 January 18, 2012 at 7:06 am

Old Spice Musk for me. I’ge been using it since the 80s. You have to scour eBay to get it now, but it is well worth it. Avoid the stuff imported from India though. It doesn’t smell the same.

248 Berge January 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

I have a bunch of different after shaves that I wear, depending on my mood. Invariably when some lady says, “ooh, you smell nice”, it’s when I am wearing Old Spice, not the expensive stuff.

249 Chris January 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

Surprised no one mentioned British Sterling missing from the review. Always been my cheap go to after shave. The cologne is nice too.

250 Angela January 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

My boyfriend has always used Pinaud Clubman and I love it! When I first saw his bottle I thought he was being cheap (maybe he was, too!) but it smells great on him!

251 Nick January 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Great review. I have multiple scents of Pinaud (Musk and Aftershave Lotion), Old Spice and use a Bay Rum also.
Can’t bring myself to buy the Aqua Velva. Don’t know why? LOL It doesnt smell bad. Maybe it brings back memories of Parris Island with Marine Corps Drill Instructors yelling at you. Or maybe it’s because they switched the spray bottles Listerine Mouthwash and Aqua Velva Aftershave right before one of our final inspections. Aqua Velva doesnt taste to good….Good Times….Good Times!

252 Whitehall January 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

One reason the new versions CAN’T smell like the old ones is an international treaty.

In the good old days, musk came from musk deer. This stuff is really potent and has a strong effect on women, like an animal pheromone, which it is.

The enviro-weenies decided that musk deer were too precious to die in support of such sexist exploitation so many countries, including the US, banned the importation and sale of fragrances containing real musk.

There are a multitude of synthetic musk fragrances (ie chemicals) but they just ain’t the same. They can be reasonable facsimilies to the nose but are nowhere as complex or as effective as the real deal. Some are non-biodegradable and have become significant pollutants.

BTW, France did NOT sign the treaty so one can still buy real musk in that country and many countries in the Middle East since Arabs REALLY love the stuff.

253 Don January 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I’m enjoying the comments as much as I do the article.
For me, Aqua Velva in the summer, bay rum or Old Spice in the winter. I use after shave, not cologne. There’s a guy here at work who lays the cologne on thick, and you can smell him five minutes before he walks down the hall!

Bryson: You’ll find what you want at e-barbershop.com

254 Xenophon January 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm

One of the reasons that aftershave came into existence had nothing to do with smell. The old razors left nicks, that’s why they created safety razors. The alcohol in the aftershave reduced infection, though it stings like hell on a raw shave. Back Vietnam era Navy, I think the only thing we could get was Old Spice. Gallons of it could not overcome a barracks full of heavy sweating guys.

255 Drew January 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm

After reading this post I decided to give Pinaud Clubman After Shave Lotion a try. I was uncertain after the first splash, because it was so different from what I was used to. By the second day I was hooked. Smells great and a splash on my neck and upper chest in the morning seems to last most of the day. It’s my new daily fragrance. Never would have considered it prior to this post! Thanks for the info.

256 Mike January 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

For me it’s Pinaud’s bay rum. It’s super strong at first but quickly fades to a nice spicy bay rum. I love it. Hey Brett you mentioned your SECOND favorite but not your first. Which was it?

257 Mr.Paul January 18, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I seem to recall that James Bond used Pinaud. A couple of other so called drugstre brands (if you can find them) are Canoe , Tabac,Royal Copenhagen.Anther s called drugstore brand was Yardley for men which was the brand the roiginal Alphie wore in the novel.I think these are cheap mainly because they are not as cncentrated (probably a good thing).Pino Sylvestrie (Italy) is also good in the cheaper category. I wouldn’t use alcohol though as an after shave. Nivea after shave balm ($5) is the best. Dry very fast and has a nice smell.

258 Jason January 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I use old spice deodorant if that counts.

259 Jed January 19, 2012 at 8:52 am

English Leather ad – was that Jaclyn Smith?

260 Jack January 19, 2012 at 10:08 am

Those aftershaves smell like ass and WON’T get you laid.

261 Toby January 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Does anyone know where I could purchase some pimenta racemosa leaves to make my own bay rum aftershave? Ever since reading about it on this site I’ve wanted to make a batch.

262 P.M.Lawrence January 20, 2012 at 1:01 am

In my book, there is nothing at all manly about trying to make yourself smell different. I (a male) certainly find the smell of men who do that physically unpleasant, even more so when I am stuck near them on public transport (I get the same physical distress from the smell of spicy food, like curry, let alone from eating it). Unscented soap and water are far better, and if necessary you can skip the soap.

However, for those who are interested, I once knew a little old lady whose favourite drink smelled of eau de cologne. It consisted of gin and ginger ale with a dash of lemonade. So I suppose you could try applying that, and if caught you could drink the evidence.

263 Pablito January 20, 2012 at 1:24 am

My recommendation: buy all the fragrances and let your chickie-poo pick out what SHE likes.

Trust me, no one cares how YOU think you smell.

264 William N. Grigg January 20, 2012 at 1:28 am

What about Sex Panther, by Odion? I understand that sixty percent of the time, it works every time.

265 First January 20, 2012 at 1:48 am

I want this english leather, smell like baby powder.

266 Mef January 20, 2012 at 2:15 am

British Sterling has been around a long time as affordable drug store variety. Another which may have preceded Hai-Karate was Jade East. It was even a middle school fad for girls to wear it (mid sixties). Wow, did that stuff reek!

267 William Platt January 20, 2012 at 3:14 am

I’ll suggest two additional:
1. Lilac Vegetal (I believe also by Pinaud)
2. My all-time favorite..BACCHUS by Rallet in the dark green glass bottle similar to Brut (packaged in a neat black, green and gold foil box). I have a full bottle from 1970 that I found on eBay…usually wear it a couple times a year to make it last.

268 rob henderson January 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

i have always loved aqua velva, maybe its the wonderful blue color, it just smells good for a good price

269 Eric Allan January 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

I picked up a bottle of Pinaud Clubman the other day just for fun. When I splashed it on after shaving, I was immediately transported back to the day when the barber used a razor on my sideburns and neck for the first time then used the clubman where he shaved. Boy, I felt like a grown man that day. PS. I went back to Walgreen and bought all the remaining bottles on the shelf, fearing they’d stop carrying it.

270 Todd January 20, 2012 at 9:49 am

One word — Kingpin.

271 Daniel Latinus January 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

You were doing fine until you got to the section on Hai Karate.

“In Memorium” is wrong. There is no such Latin word as “memorium.” The correct expression is: “In memoriAm.”

272 CDF January 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

If you smoke a lot of, you know, herb, Brut is indispensable. My middle-aged friend Mike, who lives in his mother’s basement, sprinkles Brut liberally on his jean jacket before going out in public. (Mike, I’m sorry I shouted and woke up your mom on my last visit.)

273 Tim Manning January 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

I also used Jade East and liked Canoe even better. It was more suttle and not as strong.

274 Jay January 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

There were two that my Grandfather swore by. One was Ogala Bay Rum, but he wore that at night if we were going out to dinner or someplace special. His everyday go to however, after some internet research looks like Avon, Deep Woods Cologne. I remember it well because it came in a bottle shaped like a Canadian Goose. I still have the two bottles, full, sitting on a shelf in my room. I go through a bottle of cologne maybe every two or 3 years but swear next time I go out for some I’m going with either Old Spice, Bay Rum or Pinaud. Getting tired of all these colognes that I smell or pick up that are “unisex” as of late

275 DWCarkuff January 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

And, of course, there’s Canoe, which is another classic, low brow fragrance. I went through a phase where I was cologne obsessed, which is fairly absurd since I am a bit of a slob otherwise. Bought and tried tons of expensive colognes trying to find one I really liked. Ended up giving away most of them.

276 Teri January 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

Jed, yes that was Jaclyn Smith in the English Leather commercial.

277 john January 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

After reading this piece I did a quick inventory of the aftershaves in my drawer: They include, Aqua Velva (my favorite), Engtish Leather, Old Spice, and a ghastly concoction (no longer offered, thank God) called Canoe, which the article moved me to pour out. For you acute alcoholics out there, in a pinch any of these can be consumed, with or without mixers.

278 dogg January 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

The absolute best smell was British Sterling. Really sensual. Also, a cheapo brand that wasn’t too bad was Mennon aftershave. I used that for a year or two when I first started shaving.

279 Chuck D January 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

I have used Pinaud Clubman for years and in the past couple years have added Nivea Replenishing After Shave Balm on top of it. I also use Pinaud Bay Rum (real nice), and Florida Water, all old school. I’m 57. Still use a brush and soap in a mug, Williams or Surrey soap. I have used Old Spice, Aqua Velva, English Leather, Brut and Hai Karate in the past. Another good one from the past is Canoe and is not ghastly…LOL(“Do You Canoe?”). The older scents smell more natural and last a long time. Don’t knock Axe, some of the fragrances are good, Check Excite and Dark Temptations.

280 Mike January 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Don’t know if anyone will read this far down in the comments, but here goes – I went through all of the ‘designer’ fragrances in my younger days, but once I got married and had kids, I wanted to have a scent that was more reliable and memorable. Scent is probably the sharpest of the five senses when it comes to memory, and I wanted my kids when they’re grown to associate a scent with their dad.

With mine, it was classic Listerine – remember that stuff? Tastes like gasoline, but every time I smell it I think about my dad.

So anyway, what I did was get a bottle of good old classic Old Spice cologne. I got a spritzer bottle and mixed it 50/50 with water (it takes a little time to completely mix), then I use it for a body spray like the Axe brands. I know Old Spice makes a number of body sprays, but none in the traditional scent (at least the last time I checked).

I don’t know if it even made an effect on them; my kids are almost grown and I can ask them in a few more years.

281 Kelly January 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

You forgot two big ones. Jade East and Canoe.

282 Rex Brocki January 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

My own experience with the Procter and Gamble “tweaking” was both dramatic and funny. In the early 90′s, I suffered for several months from a stress-caused case of short-term memory loss. The key piece of information that enabled my wife and doctor to correctly diagnose it as short-term loss only was the fact that, when I went into the bathroom to shave one morning, I sniffed my bottle of Old Spice, noticed something amiss, looked at the bottle and snarled “Where the hell is the Grand Turk? What’s this artsy-fartsy little SLOOP doing on the bottle instead???” That incident told the doctor that the old curmdgeon of a sailor (me) who clamed that steam was a passing fancy and would never replace canvass was still in there, alive and well… as I am to this day.

283 Marc January 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I use MAN by Herban Lifestyle. In fact, I use all their shaving products because they’re all natural yet still smell manly. MAN is a throwback to Bay Rum. A good mix of spicy and vanilla smell. Fantastic.

284 Hal January 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Glad to see someone else remembers British Sterling. I was a bit disappointed he reviewed Aqua Velva Blue rather than the original green stuff, but it looks like the green stuff isn’t available in the USA any longer.

285 Dude January 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I just did an inventory as well, and found that I still have a small bottle Stetson, and an old bottle of Grey Flannel. The mention of British Sterling reminded me of a time I was in the mountains for a week or so (years and years ago) that I got my tennis shoes wet during a hike, and they ended up stinking like mad. I thought it would be a good idea to spray the insides with British Sterling. By the time I got home they smelled like a perfect mix of nasty feet and British Sterling. Needless to say the smell of that cologne makes me gag a little now…

286 jimbobla January 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I’ve been a fan of Clubman for a long time. The last bottle I bought at “Sally’s”. 12.5 oz. for $6.59. I also use a DE razor. Three pass and a buff. Also recommended.

287 Laura January 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

My daughter, who is a serious aficianado of your blog, bought home aqua velva for her bro’s BDay. I flipped out – Aqua Velva was a low rent aftershave in my time. Now, Bay Rum, is the official classic aftershave.
It is hard to find now but well worth the search. Based on Marc’s recommendation I might seek out Man by Herban Lifestyle for the men in our family. PLEASE guys, go easy on the aftershave, nothin’ worse than a guy wearing cheap perfume that permiates the whole room. Reminds me of old ladies who, having lost all olfactory senses, pour on the stale nauseating $1.00 toilet water. We ladies do laugh behind your backs when you smell like a jigalo.

288 skeedaddy January 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm

The backup bottle of Brut I kept in the glove compartment of the family car was a good idea, but forgetting a Milky Way bar there WASN’T. Finding it one day, I took a big bite and was instantly and completely grossed out by the “Brut flavored chocolate”.

289 Velosopher January 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Great piece. So many memories. My grandfather — a dapper man by any standard — wore Old Spice, and every time I smell it, I go right back to his bedroom in Brooklyn. Thanks for giving me an excuse to go out and buy some.

My Dad used Florida Water for years, and though it’s hard to find now, it’s certainly available. Do a search: You won’t be sorry. Light but bracing, the scent of a discriminating man. (It does fade quickly.) Same deal: Put it on, back I go, to 1978.

I got a bottle of English Leather for my birthday in about 6th grade, and man, I laid it on thick. I loved it.

Like you, though, my first purchase was Brut. I came home from the drug store with it SO proud.

These days, I buy more expensive stuff to wear on dates with #1 chick (my amazing wife), but my go-to is Bay Rum by Burt’s Bees. Not drug store stuff, harder to find — but I’ve yet to smell a better Bay Rum (which varies a lot from maker to maker).

Thanks for the memories!

290 Getting Old January 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I have been using Pinaud Lilac Vegetal since 1960 when I learned about it in Nashville barber shops; I have stayed with it. I have also used Florida Water since the mid-1960′s and also various Bay Rums. Those shops used Pinaud talcums. I do not remember them using Clubman.
There was more variety of hair tonics in those barber shops than after-shave lotions. I have stayed with Pinaud Eau de Quinine and Eau de Portugal; alternated with Jeris. All in glass bottles until about the 1980′s..
Pinaud products will always be my favorite brand, even though the current owner weakened them some
when they took over.

291 Brent Bielema January 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Some familiar choices here, but I find Stetson to be way too overpowering. My all-time favorite is probably 4711 (available at VT Country Store) which comes from Cologne, Germany! It’s very light and citrusy. Second Choice: Flag & Sail Spice (which may have a different name now) — it looks like a plastic Old Spice impostor, but has a wonderful scent. 3: English Leather Spice (glass bottle). 4. Dana Herbissimo Juniper (used to like a lot but now I find a bit overpowering, but still a nice evergreen – I got my last bottles from Amazon). 5. Ogallala Bay Rum (or any bay rum, but this one has some extra spices). 6. Jovan White Musk (refreshing). Personally I think the choice of the cologne fits the weather or mood you are in, like 4711 would be ideal for summer while a spice could suffice in the fall for its warming effect. Thanks for posting this!

292 Rudy L January 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

JOVAN MUSK FOR MEN.
Or actually, anything from Jovan back from the 70s were all my favorites, and I was only in 6th grade!

293 David H. January 21, 2012 at 4:37 am

Ahhh! Old Spice. My father referred to it as “pickle juice,” and with good reason.

I live in Japan where men rarely use scented aftershave. If it is scented, it will be a very, very light scent. The only exception is for certain fellows in their 60s and older. I have never figured out what that wear. Perhaps it is hair tonic, but even bald guys wear it. Some slop on enough that you can smell it 10-20 yards or more downwind and will actually burn eyes in the same room.

So if you’re gonna use this stuff, a I’d go awfully easy on it. Maybe use a little less than you think is necessary. But don’t go around advertising your presence with the essence of pickles. Folks will make fun of you behind your back.

294 Tate January 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I went looking for some Aqua Velva recently, but there was none at this particular store. I wasn’t leaving without SOMETHING from my past, so kept looking. Then, there it was in all its glorious florescent green splendor…”Skin Bracer” byyyyyyy Mennen! Its skin-tighteners and chin-chillers worked like a cold slap in the face! Thanks….I needed that!

295 Maritn January 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm

My barber uses witch hazel. Very soothing.

296 Martin January 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Ok those are the classic after shave lotions. Are there any classic after shave balms?

297 Mario Mandingo January 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

Pinaud Clubman is one of the best scents but there is a downside, and a very popular Wall Street area Russian lady barber for men (yes, she is a barber) agrees with me. The negative to Clubman is that after awhile if it’s not used, or if you buy the bigger bottle it eventually starts to smell skunky. I found out when I purchased the big bottle. After a few months it begun to have a funky odor.

298 B.H.Mitchell January 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Stetson Original for me all day everyday. It has done its job on more than one occasion!

299 Darren January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

I have to say I actually prefer old school aftershaves. I love the warm spicy scents you get compared to many of the the modern “fresh” scents. The older ones tend to be softer on the nose while newer ones, tend to be harsher and give the sensation of inhaling a mouthful of deodorant.

My favorite oldie would have to be Mennen skin bracer; when clearing out my Grandfathers things, I found a bottle of a discontinued version of it called wild moss. It’s a real shame they stopped making it, it has warm wood fragrance with a hint of the sweet smell of fresh cut grass.

300 James January 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I started using Aqua Velva (the “normal” stuff, not the ice blue) this January, and Mom kept commenting how good it smelled. Considering how much easier it is to get than my standby Bay Rum, I think I’ll switch.

Also, immediately after applying your aftershave, while there’s still a little left on your hands, pet your dog. The difference will be noticeable.

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