Old School Products That Still Rock

Joanna Douglas
·Senior Editor
old school products
old school products

Photo: Henry Leutwyler

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap ($10.99 each)
As a third generation German-Jewish master soap crafter, Emanuel (Emil) Bronner launched the peppermint soaps that everyone still knows and loves back in 1948. After his parents were killed in concentration camps, Bronner made it his personal mission to sell the public on his vision for world peace — and to do so by transcending ethnic and faith traditions. Unsurprisingly, the brand took off during the peace-and-love ’60s era (with hippies using the soaps to wash themselves, their VW vans, and their bellbottoms), but the multi-purpose suds and their messages still resonate powerfully today.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve, tin ($3.89) and tube ($6)
Many swear by this this pocket-sized product’s ability to fix damaged cuticles or add a rosy glow to lips and cheeks. But it also fights hair frizz, removes eye makeup and soothes minor burns. And you know those loose-powder eye shadows that tend to drift down your face by lunchtime? Rosebud Salve can act as a lid primer and keep the color in place. It may be over a century old, but this tiny tin offers serious bang for your buck. (And for those who don’t like to stick their finger in a pot, the tube option is a great alternative.) 

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment ($5.99)
This fragrance- and preservative-free balm has only seven ingredients, making it ideal for sensitive skin. It revives chapped lips, dry knees and any other itchy, flaky body part — plus you can use it to protect cuts and blisters. It may have been created in 1925, but Aquaphor remains a modern-day go-to.

Vaseline Jelly ($2.49)
Formulated way back in 1870, Vaseline Jelly works brilliantly: it locks fortifies the skin’s natural moisture barrier instead of just sitting on top the skin, or absorbing and disappearing quickly. So, when you think your skin is dry beyond repair, slather this on and watch as the cracks smooth away. And don’t even think about dyeing your hair at home without first smearing some of this stuff along your hairline, to avoid staining your skin.

Thayers Original Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera ($7.96)
Native Americans used witch hazel leaves and bark to make a gentle, refreshing astringent — the same formula that’s still commonly used as a beauty and health remedy today. Use this skin softener — from the 1847-founded Thayers — to soothe and heal puffy eyes, bruises, swelling, rashes, psoriasis, eczema and insect bites. It can also alleviate irritations from shaving or sunburns. 

Burt’s Bees Mini Hand Salve ($2.49)
Burt’s Bees may seem new, but it’s been around since the ’80s, and its old-school packaging (and approach) makes their product offerings feel incredibly classic. This all-natural treat uses botanical oils, herbs and beeswax to seal in moisture, increase circulation and even prevent scarring.

Dove Beauty Bar (two for $3.18)
That itchy, dry feeling you get after bathing with your average soap? Not happening with this mild white bar. Instead of stripping skin of essential nutrients, this soap-free cleanser, created in 1957, replenishes them and also hydrates, since it’s a quarter moisturizing cream. Maybe that’s why 59 bars are sold every second — totaling a whopping 1.8 billion a year. 

Noxzema Original Deep Cleansing Cream ($4.79)
For 100 years, men and women alike have turned to this cobalt-blue tub for it’s familiar pore-cleaning tingle and unmistakable Eucalyptus scent. Massage the cream into your face when it’s wet or dry to get smooth, soft, moisturized skin.

Nivea Crème, travel size ($.99)
First introduced in 1911, this luxurious formula uses jojoba oil, vitamin E and lanolin oil to keep skin soft and supple. The product was re-launched in its signature blue tin in 1925, and it still remains one of the best antidotes for dry hands, feet, legs and elbows. The minimally designed tin and creamy whipped formula are the epitome of luxury-on-a-budget.

Johnson’s Baby Oil ($3.39)
Back in 1938 this was a must-have for newborns, but nowadays people of all ages have a million and one uses for oil. Among them: sealing in moisture post-shower, removing makeup, relieving dry skin, extending the life of fragrances, adding a subtle shine to your hair, and taking off wax, grease or other sticky things from your skin — all while smelling incredible. 

old school products
old school products

Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser ($4.49)
Apply this classic gently to your cheeks, wipe with wet washcloth and rinse — or don’t. Either way, you’ll end up with the same enviable glow that both your mother and grandmother had when they used it nightly. The secret to this magical cream is that it contains 50-percent moisturizer to hydrate your face, while simultaneously removing even the most stubborn waterproof mascara.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant ($19.50)
Originally developed by Arden herself in the 1930s, the healing properties of this miracle potion were so profound that she dabbed it on the bruises of her thoroughbred horses. You can stick to your own chapped elbows, scraped skin, freshly waxed legs or eyelids — try it as a lip gloss or eyebrow tamer.  

Blistex Lip Medex ($1.59)
This family-run company launched in 1947, and is run by the second generation to this day. The balm restores natural moisture to lip cells, and has an comforting cooling sensation that lets you know it’s working.

Carmex Lip Balm ($1.69)
In the early 1930s, Alfred Woelbing created Carmex on his family stove and his wife poured the homemade salve into the yellow-capped jars. Woelbing began selling the anti-inflammatory balm from the trunk of his car, word spread, and the rest is history. And Carmex still soothes, heals, and protects lips better than any contemporary brand.