5 Vintage Wet Shaving Products You Should Be Using Today

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Photo: Badger and Blade

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

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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

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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.

SHOP: D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion

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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.

SHOP: Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor

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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.

SHOP: Ballistol Lubrication Oil

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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.

SHOP: Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set

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Shaving Sticks: The Solution to Wet Shaving While Traveling, and Much More!

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Instagram: @gabeshavesaustralia

Sometimes it can be difficult to fit in a full wet shave ritual. That’s where shaving sticks come in. Whether you’re traveling or just short on time at home, shaving sticks offer you the luxury of a wet shave while shaving off time. These sticks typically come in a tube and are applied directly to your face, saving you the step of building lather in a bowl. They also create mounds of lather quickly.

The key benefits of adding shaving sticks to your wet shaving arsenal:

You control the amount of product used – Because you lather directly on your face, you have full control over how much you apply. When you lather in a shaving bowl, you might have a bit of leftover product that goes unused.

Foolproof lather, fast – Shaving sticks are known for producing generous lather. Simply rub the stick on your wet face, work it in with a wet brush, and add more water as necessary. You’ll create mounds of lather with these simple steps.

Because shaving sticks lather so easily, we recommend them for any gentlemen who are still struggling with producing a lather using a brush and shaving bowl. They’re also great if you need to produce lather quickly.

Ease of use for head shavers – The shaving stick’s ergonomic design – it’s a stick that fits comfortably in your hand – means it maneuvers nicely around your head.

You can use a softer brush – Because soap doesn’t need to be picked up by the brush, you can use a softer or floppier brush.

No need to clean a bowl after you shave – When you’re in a rush for time, this perk alone will save you a few minutes.

Application methods other than applying directly to your face:

Apply the shaving stick to the brush – Wet the brush and rub it into the shaving stick. Then proceed to massage the brush into your skin. This method can be even faster than rubbing the stick directly on your face.

Lather the shaving stick in a bowl – While the purpose of a shaving stick is to save you the trouble of using a bowl, some men may prefer shaving sticks to pucks or creams, but still like to use the bowl. In this case, simply shave off tiny slices of your shaving stick into the bowl. Do this with a small knife or even cheese grater.

Our product recommendations:

product-picks

SHOP: 1. Palmolive for Men Classic Shave Stick, 2. Speick Shaving Stick, 3. D.R. Harris Shaving Stick, 4. La Toja Shaving Stick

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The History of Wet Shaving: D.R. Harris & Co.

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A Family Business

A trip to fashionable St. James Street in London is incomplete without visiting D.R. Harris & Co., one of London’s oldest pharmacies. Established just before 1790 at No. 11 St. James Street, the pharmacy was originally named Harris’s Apothecary, after owner Henry Harris. “D.R.” was tacked on after Harris’ cousin, Daniel Rotely Harris, joined the business.

Henry Harris was a surgeon and Daniel Rotely Harris was an early pharmaceutical chemist, so they combined their skills to craft a luxury range of perfumes, lotions, and remedies befitting both the well-to-do gentry and the court. The pharmacy became well known for its Lavender Water, Classic Cologne, and English Flower perfumes.

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Royal Ties

In 1938, D.R. Harris & Co. received the Royal Warrant as chemists to the Queen Mother until her death in 2002. Later that same year, the pharmacy was appointed as Chemists to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and in 2012 received the Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen.

Today, in addition to being a fully-functioning pharmacy, D.R. Harris carries a large range of grooming products, including colognes, soaps, shaving creams, and their famous Skin Milk Aftershaves. You can pay D.R. Harris a visit at their historic St. James Street location, now slightly down the block from the original at 29 St. James Street, or check out their second location at 52 Piccadilly.

Want more insight into the world of D.R. Harris?  Check out our exclusive interview with the apothecary here

You can also find out more about D.R. Harris on their website, and shop D.R. Harris at Royalshave.

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Interview: D.R Harris

DR HARRIS

 

D.R Harris & CO. LTD. one of London’s oldest pharmacies has been in St James’s Street for over 200 years. This family-owned business holds the warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales. They are renowned for their range of quality products for men and women. These include soaps, colognes, bath and shaving preparations, skin care and aromatherapy oils. The majority of their products are still produced by traditional methods, being hand-made and packed in their own premises in London.

1. Where are you located? We have shops at 35 Bury Street and 52 Piccadilly in central London. Our main shop at 29 St. James’s Street is closed for 18 months as the whole building is refurbished. We will be back there in summer 2015.

2. When did you start this business? The business was founded as apothecaries in 1790 by Henry Harris. His cousin Daniel Rotely Harris gave the company its name D. R. Harris.

3. When did you realize that this is what you wanted to pursue? In the early 1790’s the first Harris brothers started to create their own Lavender Waters and Classic Colognes alongside the more traditional remedies that apothecaries would have created. Soon Harris’s got a reputation in the fashionable St James’s area of London for these colognes and it is a popularity which survives to this day.

4. Describe a few steps you you to make this happen. The quality of the products has always been of the utmost importance to every generation of Harris from the 1790’s until the present day. This, combined with an interest in creating new and innovative products has meant that D. R. Harris has stayed interesting and relevant for over 220 years.

5. How would you deal with a customer who didn’t know what they wanted? We have many customers who have been shopping with us for over 50 years and know exactly what they want but also many who are just discovering us for the first time and don’t know our products at all. With these customers we ask them what sort of scents and products they usually like but generally just give them the time and space to try everything out and decide for themselves. Of course, there is only so much smelling you can do before it becomes a blur!

6. What are some of your accomplishments as a business? I think one of the main accomplishments of the business has got to be the fact that it still exists after 224 years! One of our strongest points as a business is our discreet but attentive customer service. We have a great number of regular customers who are very loyal. We are now enjoying a much larger audience around the world and also many younger customers are now discovering us which is very edifying.

7. What do you believe makes a quality product? Insisting on the best ingredients and not cutting corners.

8. Where do you get your inspiration from? We try and not to be too affected by what other companies are doing. We know that there are many people who like the way we are and we are not trying to become something else. We listen to our customers a lot and take their comments on board if we are re-formulating or making a change to the packaging. We’re also always willing to listen to people’s suggestions for new products.

9. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

www.drharris.co.uk

www.facebook.com/drharrissw1

Twitter – @DRHarrisLondon

Instagram  – @DRHarrisLondon

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