There’s something undeniably intriguing about vintage wet shaving products. Shaving with a vintage razor (especially one that was passed down) may remind you of your father or grandfather, adding a nostalgic dimension to your daily shave routine.
In addition to vintage/collector’s pieces, there are a small number of old school items still in production today. These are time-tested grooming superstars that deserve your attention. From an alum block that has been produced in France the same way since the 1950s to a revival of the WWII Bakelite safety razor, we take a look at five vintage wet shaving essentials you should be using today.
Study this list before you pick up your next aftershave or DE razor.
Osma Alum Block
Bloc Osma has been producing natural potassium alum blocks since the mid 1950s. Unlike many alum block makers, who cut costs by sourcing their alum from Asia, Osma Laboratories reduces their carbon footprint by only using product found in France. 100% crystalline alum soothes and cools the face while stopping bleeding from minor cuts. Alum blocks have a myriad of benefits: they are natural astringents, tightening pores and combating oil. They also act as antiseptics, killing surface bacteria.
Fun fact: Alum blocks are the first known aftershave. They were used by the ancient Egyptians more than four thousand years ago as antiseptics.
SHOP: Osma Alum Block
D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion
D.R. Harris boasts the title of the oldest pharmacy in London, and also holds the Royal Warrants to Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. D.R. Harris was founded in 1790 on St. James Street, where it still operates today. The D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion is part of the British pharmacy’s classic collection.
This non-oily pre-shave enhances glide and cushions for the shave ahead. A subtle blend of fern and citrus make this pre-shave a delight for the senses.
Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor
The Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor is a modern edition of a classic razor from the Boker range. Around the beginning of the 20th century, Boker came out with a razor featuring blade steel that contained real silver, which they called “Silver Steel.” Because the blade contained silver, the cutting performance was literally cut-throat.
Thus, the “Silver Steel” etching references the days when silver was included in the blade. The current version employs a sharp, extra hollow carbon steel blade with a grooved thumb rest. Timeless faux tortoiseshell rounds out this elegant piece.
Ballistol Lubrication Oil
Straight razors are beautiful tools of precision, but in order to keep them sharp, consistent maintenance is mandatory. Prevent your razor from rusting while promoting free joint movement with Ballistol, a lubrication oil. Invented in 1904 by Dr. Helmut Klever for the German Imperial Army, Ballistol (from the words “ballistic” and “oleum,” the Latin word for “oil”) quickly went into use for cleaning and maintaining the metallic parts of a rifle, as well as its wooden stock.
By the 1940s, hunters, hikers, and other outdoorsmen had adopted Ballistol. If you’re worried about using a propellant on your pricey safety razor, don’t be – Ballistol is biodegradable, and doesn’t produce byproducts that are harmful to the environment. It’s non-carcinogenic and safe for use on skin.
Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set
During the WWII metal shortage, companies were pressed to find a high-functioning substitute. Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, went into service for a number of applications, including DE razors. The plastic was named after Belgian scientist Dr. Leo Baekeland, who invented it in the early 20th century. Popular manufacturers of these Bakelite safety razors included Souplex and Wardonia.
A few years ago, Merkur brought back this retro design with their 45 Bakelite Safety Razor, outfitted in a pop of red and black. Because the razor is made of plastic, it is much lighter than your average DE razor, but don’t let the light weight fool you – customers who have used this razor say it produces an aggressive, close shave.
The Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor’s plastic construction requires less maintenance than metal razors.