old spice original bottle & boxAccording to Old Spice, if your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist. Founded by William Lightfoot Schultz, Old Spice was astonishingly born as a fragrance for women in 1937.

Following its success, a men’s version was released the following year, which has survived into the 21st Century.

In this review, we will study Old Spice’s contemporary iteration of the classic cologne. Is it a good and wearable fragrance? Does it present real value for money? Read on to find out.


  • Brand: Old Spice
  • Fragrance: Original
  • Concentration: Aftershave
  • Introduction: 1938
  • Olfactive Fragrance Family: Spicy Oriental Amber

Pushing 80, Old Spice eternally struggles to stay relevant in the face of a dynamic and changing market. In the 1970s, Old Spice transitioned into a fragrance brand and distanced itself from its shaving heritage.

In 1990, Proctor & Gamble bought the brand from the Shulton Company who founded it. However, times were changing and the iconic sailing ship was taking in water and its future was uncertain.

New products were introduced at the turn of the 21st Century and Old Spice was the subject of an aggressive marketing drive in the early 2010s.

old spice original bottle cave

Between Isaiah Mustafa (The Man Your Man Could Smell Like) as brand ambassador and former NFL player Terry “Power” Crewes fronting the sports range, Old Spice covered its bases. The campaigns were enormously successful and launched the brand into a renaissance.

Old Spice boasts a vast range of products from colognes and aftershaves to deodorants and shower gels. Even Old Spice shampoos and styling products can be found in certain stores. Whilst simultaneously sticking to a retro nautical aesthetic, the brand has modernised itself to tap into the younger markets.

Despite all its efforts to rebrand and diversify, Old Spice will be forever remembered for its original iconic cologne in buoy-shaped bottles.

Download the Brut Original Fragrance Formula as a PDF

Old Spice Original’s Composition

Old Spice is an exemplary specimen of the Oriental fragrance family. Its spicy amber provides a deep, nostalgic foundation to its invigoratingly fresh and citrus notes.

Head Notes

  • Blood Orange
  • Anise
  • Nutmeg

There is a heavy alcohol content as this is Old Spice’s aftershave iteration of the fragrance. This combined with a fresh burst of blood orange and spices on application is reminiscent of mulled wine. The head is notably citric but the hints of anise and nutmeg provide depth to the fragrance’s prologue.

Heart Notes

  • Carnation
  • Jasmine
  • Cinnamon

The citrus fades with the spices leading the nose to a surprisingly floral heart. Discernable notes of carnations and jasmine reveal themselves from the bouquet. These linger for a while until burned away by dry cinnamon notes that emerge as the base’s precursor.

old spice original bottle vanilla

Base Notes

  • Cedar Wood
  • Vanilla
  • Amber Resin

The cinnamon evaporates and introduces us to an accord between fresh cedar notes and a deep, powdery amber resin. A drawn-out vanilla finish tantalises the palate and the echoes of spice provoke a gourmand appetite.

The musky and mineral amber resin is the heart and soul of Old Spice. Its lingering notes are laced with childhood memories and sweet nostalgia.

Old Spice’s secret weapon lies in its ability to provoke strong emotions through olfactory memory. Its composition is deeply rooted into both American and British collective consciousness.

Fans of Old Spice often talk about their associations with the cologne more than the fragrance itself. Most people will whimsically refer to their fathers or grandfathers. Some will even reminisce about their first loves.

Therefore, Old Spice has neatly established itself as a classic cologne and can be defined as one of the most iconic barbershop fragrances in history.

The Life-Cycle Of Old Spice Original

Old Spice has a conventional life cycle, which avoids being entirely linear. It follows a decidedly classic dry down as the notes evaporate. The head, heart and base are clearly discernable whilst laced with transitional notes that pave the way.

Aftershaves are notorious for cooking the head notes away immediately upon application. That said, Old Spice’s head manages to resist and endures for a good quarter of an hour. The resulting heart is an enjoyable and lasting experience until leading to the fragrance’s celebrated musky base notes.

However, some enthusiasts have strongly complained about Proctor & Gamble’s reformulation of the fragrance since their takeover. In the USA, the original fragrance has been replaced with Old Spice Classic. According to them, this allegedly lacks the head and heart’s depth of Old Spice Original.

The Original aftershave tested was purchased in France and manufactured in the UK. During the review, no majorly noticeable difference from historical versions of the fragrance were noted.

Wake & Strength

old spice original bottle sky

Old Spice is a surprisingly resilient aftershave. Even when the wearer will think that the fragrance has entirely expired later in the day, it will project faint notes of resin and vanilla.

Its projection therefore is surprisingly delicate for a classic masculine cologne. Similarly, the sillage is very moderate and doesn’t leave much a trace when leaving the room.

However, as an aftershave, the longevity is left wanting even if its hardy. If the fragrance is applied at breakfast, it will have more-or-less wilted away by lunchtime.

Those looking for better longevity are recommended to turn to Old Spice’s eau de toilette version of the original fragrance. This will likely have far better endurance.

When Should You Wear Old Spice Original?

Feedback to Old Spice is overwhelmingly and surprisingly positive. Not only is the fragrance enjoyed by both sexes of all ages, it fares well against luxurious brands.

Old Spice is heralded as a tasteful and elegant men’s cologne despite the modest price tag. Although it makes for an excellent daily fragrance, men have been known to save it for special occasions. Therefore, although best worn at the office, it wouldn’t go amiss at a formal gathering.

It’s a mature fragrance given its association with fathers and grandfathers. Nevertheless, it is perfectly wearable for younger men and Old Spice has been marketing itself thus for several years.

Nevertheless, it’s a distinctively masculine fragrance and its manly connotations denote virility and a certain gruffness.

Old Spice is a versatile year-round fragrance. However, it proves particularly successful during the end of autumn and during the winter months. The combination of citrus and spices make it an ideal Christmas fragrance that evokes potpourri and mulled wine.

Presentation and Value For Money

old-spice-original-aftershave-boxIn Europe, the fragrance still comes in its famous white glass bottle. However, the USA now only features plastic bottles.

Apparently designed to have the appearance of a buoy, it’s always been more reminiscent of a milk bottle. The nautical aesthetic has been downplayed on the newer bottle designs.

The sailing ship logo is only a small icon above the product name and the label consists of red geometric banners. Favouring modern design, the bottle and packing have lost their original charm.

The cardboard packaging features a similar design on the front in grey and white while the rest is a bright red box.

The aftershave comes in a splash bottle rather than atomiser. The plastic stopper, which used to be grey, is now a striking red that matches the bottle’s details.

The splash can be hard to control and its easy to end up with a large puddle in your palm. Nothing comes out as you start to serve until the bottle is horizontal. However, when the bottle does begin to pour, it is exceedingly zealous. Therefore, caution is advised when applying.

Pricing is similar in both the USA and mainland Europe. At the time of this review, Amazon USA offers a 5 Oz (150ml) bottle of Old Spice Original for $15.

Providing such excellent value, it’s hard to condemn Old Spice for any shortcomings. Therefore, you’ll find it among the best men’s fragrances under $30!

Closing Thoughts

A citrus blast in the head followed by a floral bouquet in the heart and a musky resinous base. There’s something for everyone in Old Spice’s timeless classic.

Even at 80, Old Spice’s complex oriental composition confidently contends with contemporary designer giants. What the aftershave may lack in longevity, it more than makes up for in its unique build.

Despite exchanging authenticity for marketability, the familiarity of Old Spice offers something its competitors cannot, which guarantees it a space on every man’s bathroom shelf.

Enjoyed our review? You can now see the video review right below:

Old Spice Original
Reviewed by Charles-Philippe Bowles, on .
"An American classic. Nostalgia in a bottle, Old Spice Original simultaneously gives the wearer a complex Oriental compensation and a clean barbershop fragrance."
Rating: 4.0 ★★★★



About the Author:

Charles-Philippe is a Franco-Briton who, in forgetting where he parked his time machine, settled down somewhere between Paris and Champagne during the early 21st Century. A cheese, wine, spirits and cigar enthusiast with a penchant for all things vintage, you can find him loitering on Instagram when he isn’t writing for Bespoke Unit.


  1. Jolivet PA August 29, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    A great article, well presented. Brings back memories

    • Paul Anthony August 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Keep an eye out for some more classics being reviewed in the near future…

      – Paul

  2. Clavo Garcia January 24, 2018 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    An Uncle of mine used Old Spice 38 years ago when I was 7. I would sneak to get the bottle and imitated my Uncle by splashing the lotion on my face. I felt a change in my behavior. I just bought a bottle and am going to use it tonight for the first time as an adult. Excellent review. Thank you, Paul Anthony.

    • Charles-Philippe January 25, 2018 at 2:45 am - Reply

      Hi Clavo,

      Glad you enjoyed reading our review. It’s a classic fragrance and brings back a lot of memories for many people.



  3. Diana February 18, 2018 at 1:11 am - Reply

    What ever happened to old spice white musk cologne

    • Charles-Philippe February 19, 2018 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Hi Diana,

      Honestly, this is the first that I’ve heard of White Musk. However, although it’s likely changed since the 1974 original, you can still get a Musk version of Old Spice on Amazon.



  4. Glendon Brown June 22, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

    I was so disappointed when I bought Old Spice as a gift for my husband. We’ve been married 56 years and when we were dating he wore Old Spice. On Father’s Day I looked at three different places trying to find it. I finally did find some cologne and was so excited. I gave it to him and told him it was just for me. He put some on–just for me–and it smelled nothing like what he used to wear. I don’t know when I have been so disappointed. I’m quite sure he will never put it on again. What on earth would make you guys change such an awesome smell. VERY DISAPPOINTED! VERY!

    • Charles-Philippe June 22, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

      Hi Glendon,

      I’m almost convinced that what you ended up finding was the Old Spice Classic Cologne in a plastic bottle. When I last visited the USA to see the BU team, I went to three different well-known stores like CVS but that’s all they sold. I agree, it’s a far cry from the real thing.

      I suggest that you go online and buy Old Spice Original After Shave. This is what we reviewed in the article – it’s much closer to the original and a very good after shave too. You can pick it up here on Amazon here for under $15.

      I hope that helps relieve some of the disappointment you felt because I share your frustrations!

      All the best,


      • Attila Comda November 11, 2019 at 7:59 pm - Reply

        No, the lady is 100% correct. They changed the smell and reduced the scent at least by 50%.
        If smells almost cheap now. The bottle changed from ceramic to plastic.

        It’s a very very sad story what happened to Old Spice …

        • Charles-Philippe November 12, 2019 at 8:01 am - Reply

          Once again, you’re thinking of the Old Spice “Classic Cologne” and not the “Original Aftershave”, which are two different products. Sadly, the plastic bottled Classic Cologne is everywhere whilst the glass Original Aftershave is quite hard to find in the USA. Fortunately, they only produce the Original Aftershave on for the European market so you can still get hold of it.

          Check the links in the article above and you’ll see!

          But alas, yes, Old Spice have royally screwed this one up…



  5. Karen August 3, 2018 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    What about shelf life?

    • Paul Anthony August 6, 2018 at 7:31 am - Reply

      Dear Karen,

      It should last a good few years, I’d say 5+ if stored correctly.

      If however it’s in the bathroom cabinet (exposed to heat and humidity swings from the bath / shower) or in direct sunlight, you may only get a year or so….

      Hope that helps – Paul

  6. Chb December 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    This article brings back memories and I found it exactly as the reviewer here found it. In the days when i used an aftershave this was my favourite for over 30 years. Recently I found an old bottle of it half empty and I suspect over 25 years old. I splashed it all over (no not Brut) and the wafting aroma was all there. Such memories brought back to me. Great review charles-philippe keep the nostalgia coming

    • Charles-Philippe December 20, 2018 at 6:21 am - Reply

      Hi CHB and thanks for the comment!

      Yes I have fond memories of Old Spice too as it was an aftershave that my father owns. However, it wears it a loss less these days. Although he tends to have a preference for Brut, this is the one I associate with him most from during my much younger years.

      It’s also surprising how well the vintage ones keep too!



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