Youngsters today don’t know how easy they’ve got it when it comes to shaving.
Back in the day, you’d have to soak a brush in water, set up the soap in a tin, swirl the brush into the soap, then work it into a lather in a shaving bowl. It’s no wonder the mark of a 19th century man’s man was elaborate side whiskers.
Thank Barbasol, in part, for your truncated morning ablutions. As the brand celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, we take a look back at some of its vintage advertising. Perhaps most remarkable is that the shaving cream—wildly popular upon its initial release—has remained true to its core proposition: the first aerosol shaving cream that did not have to be worked into a lather. “For modern shaving—No Brush—No Lather—No Rub-in.” (No fun, if you ask us!)
Invented by MIT professor Frank Shields, who was on a quest for a less-irritating shave, Barbasol’s original 1919 design mimicked a barber’s pole, which remains the trademark look to this day. Ads from the first half of the century were playful and often risqué: A couple cavorting on the beach, a gent giving a fencing lesson to a leggy brunette in short shorts, a businessman with a cigar being caressed by two cigarette girls. (Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar).
Even the two postwar ads here, while wholesome at first glance, don’t downplay the sex. It’s no accident the 1948 red car ad is all legs in the foreground. ”Shorter shaves—that last longer!” In a way, it’s no wonder the Mad Men era was marked by baby-smooth cheeks given the convenience of it all.
In 1962, Pfizer bought the Barbasol Company and sold it to Perio in 2001. But not before touting the merits of, well, the can it came in. “Miss Barbasol” gets the final word here. “If your can’s too small, try mine for size.” More like Barbadonk, amirite?