14 May 2011

American Standard "Toilette"

After three days of God-knows-what kind of online S.N.A.F.U., our boys over at the monolith that is Google finally seem to have resolved the problems with the Blogger platform. My apologies for a brief but un-intended absence.

When it comes to the subject of gentleman's grooming, I am a die hard fuddy-duddy. I like to keep things classic and simple, and I've never been one for expensive soaps, lotions, or fragrances. True, I've dabbled in bathroom fanciness, but I always come home to the American basics.

Royal Crown Hair Dressing and Old Spice have been part of my kit, off and on, since I was first old enough to shave. Being a sucker for aesthetics, I will admit to be more than a little enamored of the quaintly outmoded packaging, and of course the fact that these things can be found cheaply at the local CVS is a plus.

Royal Crown is a goopy pomade that I used to use to make my hair into a tall, shiny, greasy pompadour in the rock'n'roll days. Back then, I would slather a big fat scoop of it up top every morning. These days, I find that a tiny fingertip of the stuff massaged into damp hair after the shower is just enough to add a little sheen and keep my thick waves in check. Basically, it's just soft Vaseline dressed up with olive oil and fragrance, but it works, and if used sparingly, washes out pretty easily with a normal shampoo, in my case Market Basket brand imitation Pert.
For the Well-Curated-Authentic-Heritage Brand-Americana fetishists, still proudly made by J.Strickland and Co. of Olive Branch, MS. When you look at all those black and white photos from the Life archives  of guys camping in Maine in Filson jackets, Pendleton shirts and Bean Boots from the 1940s, this is what they have in their hair. $2.50 at the local pharmacy, one can should last the better part of a year.

I hadn't used Old Spice, or any after shave or cologne for that matter, in years. Then, back in August, we had a surprise 60th birthday party for my Dad. Some of his friends put together an old guy gag gift basket, full of Grecian formula, Depends, Geritol, and Old Spice. The rest of the stuff was disposed of post haste, but I kept the Old Spice. Just a drop on the face after a good old wet shave is a nice feeling in the morning. Also made in USA by the good folks at Procter & Gamble, who also provide me with all the Ivory soap I need. $6.49 for a bottle that will last two years.

You may remember I use a safety razor, and I may have complained at the difficulty I sometimes have in procuring blades. A few weeks ago, I picked up two old packages of Gillette Blue Blades, 

and five packages of "the spoiler", each for a dollar. That's 90 razor blades for $7.00. Given that I change my blade weekly, these should last me nearly two years. Still on the card, and in metal dispensers.

From a long gone once upon a time when Gillette products were manufactured in Boston. True, the argument could be made that to use this would be a sin, but I am of the opinion that something like a razor blade is completely worthless as anything other than a shaving implement. I'll shave with them while wearing my un-used USA made Converse sneakers...or should I give these things to the Smithsonian?

And there you have it. These items, along with Aim or Aquafresh (whichever is on sale that week) constitute the American Standard "Toilette". Cheap, classic, and masculine. Who needs all that fancy stuff? Use the money you save to buy bow ties, suede shoes, collar pins and other assorted fopperies.

p.s. we also have an American Standard Toilet, in case you care to know.


Unknown said...

Really enjoyed this post. If you find yourself running low on blades, they still make them new. My favorite vendor is West Coast Shaving, because their shipping rates on blades is comparable to none:


Chris said...

Excellent post! I mix Royal Crown with Murray's at a 2:1 ratio for my super thick mop. Can't beat the price.

Bafe said...

My first post on your blog, which really had me started thrifting.
Finding Gillette blades is increasingly difficult. Where I live (Switzerland) there aren't almost no option left for double edge blades. You either buy Gilette "super silver" (9 swiss francs a package= appr 10$) which don't last more than a week or you pick unbranded ones at the local supermarket. In this case:
Cuts and nicks guaranteed on the first shave!
Excuse my broken English, my mother language is Italian.

Bafe said...

As for the hair: Brylcrem red

Jadagul said...

Let me add on to Grace's post by pointing out that Amazon actually has a pretty wide selection of safety razor blades. I bought a 100-pack for about seventeen dollars almost two years ago; I'll have to buy another one soon, though I see you can get them as cheap as thirteen or so.

Young Fogey said...

I have American-made single-edged blades in my American-made scraper (for removing gunk from stuff around the house). I have been unable to source American-made razor blades for shaving, so I rely on Israeli-made Personna blades (purchased from from West Coast Shaving, a fine American company). But my razor is a 1962 Gillette adjustable.

My fine, fair hair would wilt under pomade, so I use Fruit of the Earth brand aloe vera gel (yes, it's American made). I protect my skin with American-made Target house brand sunscreen (Up & Up). I don't use aftershave, but I do use deodorant: Old Spice. Unfortunately, the container only says "distributed by Proctor & Gamble"; it doesn't say where it's made.

I also use powder. In cooler weather, I use plain old corn starch in an old baby powder bottle; in warmer weather, I use Target's American-made medicated body powder (a Gold Bond imitation).

You can take care of your toilet (as it was once called) with American products—and they're often more affordable than the competition. Win-win!

Mimimalist said...

Strongly suggest you a try a basic shampoo
without so-called "conditioner". You'll find that your hair feels quite cleaner that way.

The Confather said...

Nice post. My current razor is a 1941 Schick Injector - much easier to use than a safety razor and just as classic.

Niles K said...

I recently switched to the safety razor party too. Way cheaper blades. Looks like you've got a good supply for now, but check out Colonial Drug in Harvard Sq. if you ever need to re-stock and keep it local.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently heard the maxim "if grandmother wouldn't recognize it, you shouldn't eat it," and while it's great for preventing me from eating yogurt from a room-temperature tube, I realize there is a corresponding toilet philosophy: "if it wasn't on grandpa's shelf, don't use it."

Old Spice /Aqua Velva/Clubman for life.

Stephen Conti said...

Love your blog. Always look forward to reading it. I would suggest feather brand safety razors.... super sharp super close, super easy!!

Noam said...

I'm a big fan of the Israeli Personna blades, as I grew up in Israel. I got a pack of 200 blades off of eBay a few years ago and still haven't finished them. I have friends who swear by Japanese-made Feather blades, a bit more pricey but they can be found on eBay for $36-$40 for a hundred-count. Still way cheaper than Gillette's current pulsating hydra-headed monstrosity!

Anonymous said...

you can extend the life of the blades-look for blade sharpeners at antique stores.

Soxtory said...

Circa 1955. Heard all over the southern Midwest and the South, the airwaves of WLAC, Nashville, TN: Gene Nobles, DJ for Randy's Record Shop, playing black R & B music for white teenagers.

Sponsor: Royal Crown Hair Dressing!!!
Those were the days.

Vern Trotter

The Cordial Churchman said...

I was bummed when Old Spice switched from ceramic to plastic aftershave bottles.

JD said...

Like you, I also use a safety razor, switching back after years of 3 blade foolishness. I'm using a Merkur razor and Feather blades from Japan. Blades can be hard to find, and the Feathers probably aren't near the price in your post, but they're probably not ending production any time soon. I order from BestGroomingTools.com