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Osage Rub: Classic Coolness



I really wish I knew how old Osage Rub is. I haven't been able to find a history of the stuff. Judging from vintage bottles and advertisements, it seems to date back to at least the 1940s, when it was apparently used as a medicinal hair tonic. It definitely harkens back to a time when straight razor shaving necessitated the use of something infallibly soothing afterward. Men weren't concerned with smelling good in the forties. They were concerned with feeling good. The Depression was over, and the insanities of the War made life's little luxuries all the more important. Some genius barber realized that Osage Rub made even bad shaves feel nice, and ran with it.

Consider this: Osage Rub has existed for decades not to be an alluring fragrance, not to impress people as a trendy styling accessory, and not to compete with other hair tonics. Osage Rub has existed for decades to refresh and "invigorate," and has thus become a wetshaving icon. I've used my fair share of mentholated aftershaves, but I have never experienced anything like Osage Rub. This stuff is more than just cold - it is downright freezing. It's just a guess, but I'd say there's somewhere around 20% menthol in the formula.

Upon first slapping it on there's a brisk alcohol bite, coupled with a natural eucalyptus note, which makes sense because there's real eucalyptus leaf oil in the ingredients. Fragrance-wise, Osage Rub is a simple one note eucalyptus scent. Personally I'd be happier with a mint scent (I dislike eucalyptus), but what follows makes its smell inconsequential. Out of nowhere comes a blast of frigidity so otherworldly in its coldness that any fear of redness after a shave is instantly eradicated. You could trim your whiskers with hedge clippers and it wouldn't matter; Osage Rub's medicinal properties are super concentrated and unerringly effective. This is a functional product. Razor burn? Problem solved.

It isn't just about skin irritation, though. Hot summer day? Splash a palmful on your face and rub it through your hair. The icy tingle is weirdly calming and satisfying. Just need to wake up after a rough night? Splash it like water and you'll be running rings around your boss. The chill is so intense that it actually makes my eyes water, it's that cold. Speaking of colds, the eucalyptus vapors hang around long enough to clear your sinuses. Osage Rub has survived the years because it makes men feel physically well, either after a shave or just at the end of a long day. It is the best mentholated aftershave lotion in existence - nothing else comes close, not even Barbasol Brisk. And I suppose men don't mind smelling like eucalyptus because eucalyptus has been soothing men for thousands of years. Men evolved embracing its mystical properties. It is classic coolness incarnate.



5 comments:

  1. "Merton E. Waite, of Utica, New York registered this brand name as a trademark for a Hair Tonic in 1903 (#40,247). He said he had been selling the brand since 1901. By the time this variant was being sold it was being offered by the Bonheur Co., of Syracuse NY. They also sold a Bonheur Eau De Quinine Hair Tonic. Bottle picture was provided by Michael Murro" http://www.hairraisingstories.com/Products/OSAGE.html

    Curious & oddly capitalized sales slogan on the bottle: "Makes the Old Head feel like New"

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  2. I used to use peppermint oil on my face. It had that same effect. It would make my nose and eyes runny for a couple of minutes, and it felt like ice cold water was slapping me in the face. It was really pleasant and refreshing.

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    1. I imagine peppermint oil would have that effect, yes? What is it about menthol that draws men? We have a strange affinity for it. Skin Bracer, Formula K, Osage Rub, Barbasol Brisk - they inhabit my top tier. My non-mentholated aftershaves are all valued (to varying degrees) and Clubman is surprisingly sans mint, and the ultimate aftershave IMO, but the menthol juices are what I reach for more often.

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  3. Have you tried mixing it with Skin Bracer? I hear they call it the 'green freeze'...

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    1. Might make the Osage Rub smell a little better. Or the Skin Bracer smell worse. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with those odds, lol!

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