Use vintage Avon aftershave and cologne? Me? (Yes, you!)

Discussion in 'Articles' started by gorgo2, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    If you grew up in the '70s, thinking about Avon products may well conjure up an association of cheese and tackiness. Arguably, some of that reputation is well-earned; to this day, a few of their more gimmicky bottle ideas make me cringe. Others were well-sculpted and clever -- the leaping rainbow trout and swordfish, for example, or the exquisite "Captain's Pride" ship in a bottle, an inspired container which Shulton should have thought of for Old Spice.

    But this article isn't about the bottles, it's about the juice. And the soaps, to a lesser extent. When I obtain old Avons, almost all the bottles or containers get pitched after the contents are rebottled in more efficient, less cluttery containers (for when Avon Acquisition Disorder strikes, you could have a den the size of a storage unit and still run out of space quick when you start AADding Avon's various planes, trains and automobiles to your shelves).

    So speaking as one who has accumulated gallons of the stuff over the past few years, there's two things I've noticed about old Avon juice: (1) they almost never go bad and (2) not only do they still smell GOOD but are superior to the mass-marketed, hyper-hyped B.O. repellants on the shelves today.

    Now I know what you're thinking: "Okay, fine. I do enjoy after shaves, and I see old Avon junk here and there. But why should I try using it?"

    I'm glad you asked. First of all is VARIETY.

    Say you want something light and aqueous. You're in luck with the vaguely oriental Tai Winds (think Hai Karate, but not) or the pleasantly nice and slightly Brut-ish Windjammer.

    Want to be a bit more daring and distinctive? Track down Avon's '60s era Island Lime. Tougher to find but if you like citric fragrances, you will not be disappointed. It's far cheaper than any of the lime a/s you can get today and better than most of them. It usually came in either of two unique Island Lime bottles but can also be found in the judge's gavel or a motorcycle. Why? No idea; Avon's bottle/contents logic is often baffling.

    Or do you enjoy Old Spice but modern O.S. make you sad? Yeah, me too. But cheer up: Both Avon's venerable Spicy and Brisk Spice have you covered, since both are blatant, unapologetic Shulton clones. Spicy is earlier and pretty close to Shulton but Brisk Spice, from the early '80s, is to my schnozz indistinguishable from vintage O.S.

    Now let's say you're in the mood for something unmistakably manly that no metrosexual would dare wear...could be a tough order, going by today's drugstore shelves, right? Right. Well, Avon's '60s era Leather is for you, pard. No joke, unisex it is NOT. It makes Stetson and Black Suede (both of which I like) smell like something out of a pink bottle with a poodle on it. I personally believe Avon condensed Leather from the collected sweat of John L. Sullivan, General Anthony "Nuts" McAuliffe and Charles "The Hammer" Martel. It makes emos cry. Charles Bronson auditioned for TV spots for Leather but, after applying only two dabs, the testosterone mix went supercritical and Chuck spontaneously combusted. He spent months recuperating in Japan, where he filmed the now-famous ads for the woefully misnamed Mandom. Now you know. Leather: turns beta males into alpha males and alpha males into ash.

    Want something in the ballpark of Leather but less masculinely lethal? Then you want Oland. It's a fairly close copy of Aramis. Note, however, that this is the one Avon frag I've found that has a component (still not sure what) that can go bad or get out of balance due to age. Anyway, it's the only one I know of that you might need to be cautious with. The rule of "Take a whiff and dab it on for a few minutes before buying" goes double for Oland. When Oland's bad, it's awful. But when it's good, it's great (I'm wearing a good bottle now).

    Like Bay Rum? Avon's '60s era B.R., in either a green and white jug or brown "keg," is spectacular due to its simplicity and straightforwardness. The clear-bottled '80s re-release has way too much vanilla, imo, but you may like it. Both turn up if you scrounge around. This is what they wore on the H.M.S. Bounty when they shoved Bligh in the longboat and wooed the island babes.

    Or how about something relatively safe and nonthreatening that can be worn anywhere? Ah, then there's the old stand-by, Wild Country (I speak of the old '70s formulation, not the currently degraded one) or its sadly defunct cousin, Deep Woods.

    As for soaps: Avon's old tallow-based soaps are great for shaving and, unless it's my imagination, seem to last longer in the shower than Dial or Irish Spring. Maybe it's just because I enjoy it more, I dunno.

    Second reason you should try Avon: They're dirt cheap and they're EVERYWHERE. Antique malls, flea markets, resale shops, yard sales, they turn up anywhere and everywhere. A dime for a full bottle is not unheard of. A couple bucks for a scent that agrees with you and lasts is still a steal. Just make sure to smell the bottle first - not because they can go bad (well, except Oland) but because some unscrupulous folk have refilled bottles with water on me.

    Third reason: Did I mention they're good? Many cologne snobs poo-poo Avon's frags as being too simplistic, unrefined or one-note. Okay, fine, maybe compared to high-end colognes, they are not very complex. So what? If it smells nice, it smells nice. I'm not interested in projecting complicated olfactory riddles for coworkers to ponder over. And AXE Bug Spray - sorry, "Body Spray" - it ain't. You won't be gagging passersby or have people calling Hazmat teams if you accidentally overapply Tai Winds.

    Others note that Avon's scents don't last long. True, perhaps, but there's lots of big name colognes at which you could level the same charge.

    Anyway, that's all I got. If you've never tried out Avon's fragrances, but are curious, just start looking around and you'll suddenly be seeing them everywhere you look. Worst case scenario: you buy one, try it out but decide it doesn't agree with you. Odds are you'll get your money back from one of the Avon advocates here at TSD.
  2. Hanzo

    Hanzo Well-Known Member

    Sometimes the humor and fun of the shaving hobby is lost, not in this article. Good arguements and information well presented.
    PLANofMAN and gorgo2 like this.
  3. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Nice write-up. Still like the Wild Country.
    Dad had some in the medicine cabinet when I went up to visit this summer.
    I'd forgotten how much I did like it.
    hmmm.... may be hitting some antique shops tomorrow...
  4. Johnny

    Johnny Little Boy Blue

    Nice article.

    Darn you smell good. :)
  5. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Thank you, Hanzo - the last thing this hobby needs is to take itself *koff* Otter and Edge *koff* too seriously.

    Thank you, Swarden - new WC is still good, just not near as good as the original.

    Thank you, Johnny - Yes. Yes I do. Ugly guys like me gotta be good at something.
  6. Dridecker

    Dridecker Sherlock

    Great article, and nice writing style! :happy096:
  7. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Excellent article and AVON products do seem to last. Maybe the special glass bottles...hmm.
  8. crackstar

    crackstar Israeli Ambassador to TSD

    When I first arrived here in Canada, I had gotten a bottle of Wild Country aftershave from my brother-in-law whose sister was an Avon representative. I thought it smelled nice, but then she gave me another one called Deep Woods, which I really liked.
  9. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master

    I don't know what's in it, and by the smell I'd never use it even on a skunk, but I do have a mint NOS bottle of Avon aftershave with shipper box. The main reason to have it? It was made in 1973, my birth year. Another reason, being a DE razor collector and user, it's in a bottle that looks like a DE razor. Very cool.

    Excellent article gorgo! Enjoyed it! :happy096:
  10. Williams Warrior

    Williams Warrior Well-Known Member

    Stingraysrock [Jeff] gave me a bottle of vintage Avon Wild Country Cologne in the shave brush bottle, and man that stuff smells great and lasts longer than some of the newer frags on the market for sure. Nice article and I'm really contemplating getting a small collection of the bottles myself.
  11. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Sounds like Oland, right?
  12. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Of the two, I prefer Deep Woods as well. Harder to pin down...not a nice piney tree smell you'd expect (especially in one bottle that look like a stump...really, I have it) but it's very very nice.
  13. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Just as a general announcement - over the past several months I have noticed the price of individual bottles and lots has gone up on ebay to what I consider unrealistic levels. Even for empties. Either it's because the popularity is spiking (I have no idea if it actually is or why it would) or the dying economy is causing people to ask more for stuff than they ever would have before. Good buys can still be had there but if you're looking for a deal, you're best bet is to go scroungin', which is more fun, anyway.
  14. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    Fine article,:) i was looking at the prices after reading your piece and I see what you mean about High price's
  15. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    Well done gorgo! Enjoyed every word.
  16. byrd

    byrd Well-Known Member

    Now I'm sold me on trying Avon, and I recently saw about 60 bottles at an antique store that I was scouring for the elusive double ring.....Alas, I cannot remember which store it was. I hit about six of them that day over about 30 miles?!?!?:signs002:
    gorgo2 likes this.
  17. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master

    It says on the top of the box..
    avon spicy, after shave lotion​
    4 FL. OZ.​
    I'm assuming it's their version of Old Spice. Yuck. :happy102:
  18. fishcrow

    fishcrow Birdman of TSD

    Great article.
  19. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Did you happen to notice what kinds of prices they had on them, and if they still had juice?
  20. Joe

    Joe Member

    Great article! And completely aside from shaving, the only thing I will buy from Avon is their bug spray. Green can, not the silver one, branded Skin so Soft. It's the only brand available anywhere that actually works!

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