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Shave stick


A shave stick is a type of shave soap that is formed into a long cylinder instead of a short "puck." The shave stick is rubbed against a wet face and the shave brush used to face lather.


According to data from Google Books, the Pears shaving stick was first mentioned in print in 1849[1]. Francis Pears, grandson of Andrew Pears, claimed to have invented the first shaving stick.[2]

Of course any soap can be rubbed on the face like a stick, and in 1911 ads for Ivory promoted the use of ordinary bar soap like a shaving stick[3].


Shave sticks were very popular early in the 20th century, partly because of Colgate's (now Colgate-Palmolive) and Williams' advertising campaigns. Shave sticks such as Williams, Resinol[4] and Colgate came in durable, re-usable plated brass, aluminum and later bakelite tubes. These tubes provided easy and clean storage of the shave stick, useful for people without expansive counter space or soldiers in the field.

Instructions from a Colgate shave stick, early 20th century.

Around 1918-19, Colgate was advertising the frugality of their shaving stick, with its reusable metal container[5].

Colgate ad from 1919

Shaving sticks were used by soldiers in WWI, and mentions of shaving sticks in print grew until the early 1920s. After the mid-1950s, mentions of shaving sticks declined steeply[6]. Most of these mentions would have been advertisements, but the decline probably reflects a decline in consumer purchases too.

Mentions of "shaving stick" in Google Books, as of 2011.

Today there are no mass-market shaving sticks produced in the USA, but a few artisinal soap-makers offer sticks. Colgate-Palmolive continues to sell sticks in Europe, the UK, and Australia, and some smaller soap-makers in Europe also produce sticks. The table below lists several of these. If you are interested in the old advertisements that were made for shave sticks, please consult this thread.


Shave sticks come in various sizes, but all are cylindrical. Here are the dimensions of some shaving sticks. Where possible, reported lifetime in shaves is also cited. When projecting the lifetime of a stick, keep in mind its weight, the hardness of the soap, and your own usage. Hard soaps seem to average about 1/2-g per shave, while softer soaps can run a little more than a gram per shave. But that's an average: a heavy user might go through 3x as much soap per shave as the average.

Currently Produced

ProductDiameter (mm)Length (mm)Starting weight (g)(Approximate) ShavesNotes
Arko33907570-100Foil wrapper.

Blueness327875-cardboard box and foil wrapper
Boots Shave Stick287450-plastic holder.
cardboard Box

D.R. Harris Almond281155079plastic twist-up tube. Also available as Arlington, Lavender or Marlborough
De Vergulde Hand35x259575-Oblong shape, plastic travel cap for plastic base
Derby348275-Foil wrapper
Gentlemen's Best--5741labelled 2oz; plastic twist-up tube
Green Spirit--80-push-up tube
Gus286452-Cardboard box
GZD327875-Foil wrapper
Honeybee Spa--7147labelled 2.5-oz; plastic oval twist-up tube
Kell's Original--71
several scents
La Toja287550-Plastic Cover
Lea/Bea287550-Plastic cover on Lea, no wrappers
Mama Bear431305634+[7]plastic twist-up tube
Mama Bear (mini)4310521-labelled 0.75-oz; plastic twist-up tube; dimensions are approximate
Mennen--50-Foil wrapper

Mike's356265 (2.3-oz)
In a plastic holder, with tallow, lanolin, and kokum butter.
Palmolive (Australia)287450-Paper wrapper
Palmolive Classic (Europe)28745069[8]Plastic ring + foil wrapper.
Pils--50-Stainless steel tube
QED38575732-41labelled 2-oz; Plastic twist-up tube
Speick287450102[9]Plastic ring + foil wrapper.
Tabac469510055-146plastic push-up tube
Taylor of Old Bond Street406575-St James or Sandalwood; plastic twist-up tube. Length is approximate.
Tweex328075-Foil wrapper
Valobra32765075Package says 2-oz / 50-g, but 2-oz is closer to 57-g. Actual starting weight is closer to 60-g.
Wilkinson Sword287450-Lanolin; plastic holder


ProductDiameter (mm)Length (mm)Starting weight (g)(Approximate) ShavesNotes
Chicman Shaving StickTin tube with built-in rubber holder. The soap sits into the holder.
Gibbs316850Painted or enameled metal case.
Sir Irisch Moos469510072[10]Plastic push-up tube
Williams297550Plastic or tin container, with flip top, holder top, or double-ended stick. The holder top sticks were thicker at one end, roughly 30-mm.

See Also


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