It’s still in shops today, but do you remember the heyday of Brylcreem and the slicked-back hairdos it created?
Brylcreem Boys to Beatles
First produced by County Chemicals in Birmingham in 1928, Brylcreem was originally only found in barbers’ shops. Made with mineral oil, beeswax and water, it was the ideal product for perfecting the slick quiffs sported by the most fashionable gentleman of the time.
By World War II, Brylcreem had become the product of choice for British soldiers and it was standard issue for the suave and sophisticated RAF pilots who wore their hair longer than the average squaddie, becoming known as the “Brylcreem Boys” as a result.
Many in the Spring Chicken Community have fond memories of their own Brylcreem Boys:
“My dad had been in the RAF and when my brothers were young, he used to do their hair with it before we went out visiting relatives. As soon as he’d finished and turned his back, my brothers would mess it up – a clip round the ear for each of them!”
The 1950s brought the Teddy Boy trend and the super-styled hair that was integral to the look saw sales of Brylcreem soar.
Back in the day, Brylcreem was the bee’s knees for a perfect DA!
Then along came the Beatles in the ’60s, and their unkempt mop tops changed everything. Fashion-conscious young men no longer slicked their hair neatly into place, they let it grow and go its own way.
A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!
Brylcreem tried to roll with the changing fashions by changing their advertising slogans. The original jingle of, “Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya! Brylcreem, you’ll look so debonair. Brylcreem, the gals’ll all pursue ya, they’ll love to run their fingers through your hair!” was revamped with a new last line, “They’ll love the natural look it gives your hair.”
However, according to many female Spring Chicken Facebook followers, it seems that running their fingers through their man’s hair was not something they loved to do:
“You couldn’t run your fingertips through your boyfriend’s hair, yuck! That’s why people had cotton covers over the back of their armchairs to stop the grease making marks!”
Compton to Beckham… and Beyond
Cricketer Denis Compton, who also played football for Arsenal, was the original Brylcreem poster boy in 1950. More sports stars followed, including England captain Johnny Haynes in the ’60s and David Beckham in the ’90s, as Brylcreem continued to target each new generation of young men. The slogan had become, “A little bit of Brylcreem on your hair gives you the Brylcreem bounce,” but men weren’t the only users…
My dad used it, and my mum pinched some now and again if her hair was a bit unruly.
To this day, Brylcreem can style your hair any way you choose, but the last word on its many uses goes to this Facebook follower:
“There was a penny a shot Brylcreem machine at our local swimming pool. I had at least 3 pence worth, but it clogged my comb. Someone said if you rubbed Brylcreem into your hand, it didn’t hurt when you got caned. Bloody liars!”