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Is Aqua Velva irritating? Vintage cosmetic video

The first time I heard this commercial here’s what I thought they said…

“Then one day Dad, he got the notion and tried Williams Aqua Velva lotion. Now all the gals…go for Dad!”


I later realized they were singing “Dan,” not Dad, which makes sense since I don’t think infidelity had been invented back in 1961.

While that’s good news for the nuclear family this product is bad news for men’s skin. It appears that the formulation strategy in these old products was to throw in as many irritating ingredients as possible:

Alcohol? Check!
Menthol? Check!
Fragrance? Check!

The only way this product could make your freshly shaved skin burn more is if they added a good slug of table salt. Modern aftershave products are typically in lotion form so they can include oily materials which do a much better job of calming irritated skin.

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  • Christina June 20, 2014, 10:46 am

    The poor gentleman in the video looks to be in pain when he is applying the Aqua Velva.

    Aqua Velva must come in handy when needing to start a campfire or ignite something though.

    Great Flashback Friday!

    • Randy Schueller June 20, 2014, 2:29 pm

      You must be thinking of “Arson Velva,” a companion product from the same company.

      • Randy Schueller June 20, 2014, 3:59 pm

        I believe they also made one of the first feminine wash products back in the 1970s. It was called “Aqua Vulva.”

  • Eileen June 20, 2014, 10:56 am

    Ah, yes, 1961. That was long before men got in touch with their feminine side 😉 Nothing soft and soothing for those manly men! Slap on the alcohol! Feel the burn! LOL Actually, the original purpose of an aftershave was to disinfect all the tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) knicks and scrapes that were a result of using blades that were not nearly as sharp and well designed as today’s blades. The alcohol was also meant to rid the beard area of any excess oil and debris that the shaving process left in its wake. Since men were slapping on such a harsh concoction to begin with, I guess it seemed like no big deal to add fragrance to mix. As for the menthol, it was added so that the aftershave felt cool and “bracing”; perhaps as an antidote to the hot sensation caused by drenching the razor burn in alcohol. But that was then and this is now 🙂 Modern blades are vastly improved and men have a variety of products that will disinfect while soothing their freshly shaved faces.

    1961 doesn’t sound like it was that long ago, but in terms of skin care, it was still the dark ages. Whether a product was for a man shaving, a teenager fighting acne, or a woman wanting her pores to appear smaller, alcohol was generally embraced as being good for the skin because it cut through oil, removed debris, disinfected, and made pores appear temporarily smaller by causing the surrounding skin to swell. Oh, yes, and it was cheap. Let’s not forget the bottom line $

    • Randy Schueller June 20, 2014, 2:28 pm

      I remember one aftershave commercial that actually made the burn a feature rather than a nasty side effect. I think it was Mennon’s Skin Bracer. It’s SUPPOSED to sting to wake you up.

      • Eileen June 20, 2014, 3:23 pm

        Yeah, and according to a vintage ad, “Its He-Man aroma WOWS the ladies!” so I guess the men weren’t the only ones it woke up 🙂

  • Christina June 20, 2014, 4:04 pm

    Aqua Vulva! That takes a burning sensation when you urinate to a whole new level.

    Love it! You never cease to make me crack up!

  • faux mccoy July 5, 2014, 6:28 pm

    old dan looks way to enthusiastic in his application process. i think i’d still pass on him at the country club for that reason alone. 🙂