9/6/14

Vi-Jon "Spice Scent" Aftershave



Ever since Proctor & Gamble reformulated Old Spice for at least the second or third time since its initial release, fans have sought "vintage" bottles and viable alternatives to the Shulton version that most wearers remember. I've owned and worn Shulton Old Spice from the seventies or eighties (its exact vintage wasn't clear), and presently own and wear the current stuff. While the Shulton version was pleasant, it lasted all of two minutes on skin before vanishing completely, its fizzy citrus and cinnamon spice scent literally becoming little more than a musky staleness, the afterglow of bar soap after a bath. Wetshavers have attributed its fleeting longevity to any number of things - its cologne strength (presumably even lighter in the aftershave), its cheapness, its potential old age - but I felt the main problem with Shulton's formula was its lack of dimensionality beyond top notes. As Luca Turin said, "A man is a woman consisting entirely of top notes."

Badger & Blade's forums are alive with comments about Indian Old Spice, the perfect answer to P&G's notorious reform, but I've never smelled it. The details on it are sketchy. Supposedly Shulton never closed down its Indian production line, even after shuttering every operation in the West (although I believe Menezes Cosmetics actually took over the Indian formula), and those lucky southeast Asians from Calcutta to Bangalore smell incredible, while the rest of us smell like cheap synthetics. Poke through the whole mess with enough patience, and voices of dissent are found. While many appreciate the Indian version, others feel it is noticeably different from the American stuff, and not really worth the hunt. I think P&G's version is about 90% the same as Shulton's with the remaining 10% difference attributable to concentration and the addition of a noticeably potent vanilla in the base, which gives the cologne a better lifespan than its predecessor. But there's another element to the Old Spice saga that gives old-schoolers new hope: Vi-Jon "Dollar Store" Spice Scent, also often referred to as the "Ivy Club" version of Old Spice.

Supposedly Vi-Jon's Old Spice clone is more faithful to the Shulton version than P&G's, and the kicker is that it costs a buck and change from your local Family Dollar (or whatever your local dollar store is called). I've seen it at Dollar Tree, Ocean State Job Lot, and X-Pect Discounts also, which may just be local Connecticut outlets. In May I found it at CVS, sporting the CVS generic label. I hadn't been to a CVS in years, not since their pharmacy made a colossal mistake on an expensive prescription and then gave me incredible attitude when I asked them to rectify it. A new store was erected in Oxford a few years ago, and I stopped by there on my way home to grab some odds and ends that I needed. I decided to let my old grudge go and give CVS another chance. Naturally I wandered into the shaving aisle, and was pleasantly surprised to find Vi-Jon's clone of every drugstore aftershave, each standing antagonistically beside its template, and all for a dollar less.

How does Vi-Jon rate? I like it, but I don't find it to be all that different from P&G's Old Spice, although it is significantly lighter, a little airier, and way weaker, lasting fifteen minutes tops. P&G's formula walks on for a good three hours after application, albeit at a very powdery and diffuse pace. I do recognize that Vi-Jon's initial five or six seconds on skin are perceptibly more textured and fizzy than P&G's, but after that extremely brief duration the formula resolves into a close match, becoming muskier and rather powdery. When smelling the two versions side by side, my nose cancels them both out, which tells me their differences are negligible at best. The bottom line here is easy to see: if you like Shulton's Old Spice but can't be bothered to hunt down vintage bottles, P&G's Old Spice or Vi-Jon's Spice Scent are equally good replacements.




5 comments:

  1. I agree with you for the most part. I think the Shulton formula is slightly more different from P&G version than you do. I get a lot more spice, and a dirty smell(probably jasmine) from the Shulton version, and the P&G version is a smoother, and way sweeter than the Shulton version. I don't know which I like better they are both great. I usually mix them. I get better longevity, and projection from P&G version, but I get at least six hours out of Shulton version. I do typically get good longevity out of fragrances though, but I have horrible projection. I have to over spray by a lot to match other peoples two or three sprays.

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    1. That's interesting that you find the P&G version smoother, most people I talk to about OS find Shulton's to be the smoother of the two. But I agree with you, P&G's version is basically a smooth, sweet scent. What do you think of Vi-Jon's spin on OS? After some deliberation, I decided to combine VJ's aftershave with P&G's cologne. Mixed 'em together. The result is fascinating. It's Shulton's OS in the top and P&G's OS in the base. The heart is an interesting splice of the two, P&G's smoothness textured with VJ's spiciness. Someone on Badger & Blade once commented that Vi-Jon was sued by P&G. (or was it Shulton? Can't remember.) If true, that would mean someone felt the scent's true formula was directly - and successfully - plagiarized. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall during that debate.

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  2. I will have to get a bottle of this. I think I will check CVS on my way to work.

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  3. I went to CVS, and they had this stuff, but it was 8 bucks. I didn't buy it, but I did splash some on my face(I was already wearing Old Spice anyway). It smells how I would expect a Shulton Old Spice aftershave to smell. It is much less powerful than the cologne, and yeah it only lasted about an hour on me, but it did seem pretty stout for that whole hour though. It does smell pretty freakin' fantastic, and I would say it is much closer to my Shulton bottle than the P&G formula.

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    1. Check your nearest dollar store, they may have it for less. CVS is a ripoff. Glad you liked it! The longevity is brief, but I remember my Shulton formula was just as fleeting. All told it's an excellent aftershave.

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