Abstract: Four spice aftershaves (three Old Spice variations and Vijon Spice) were analyzed via headspace-gas chromatography. These aftershaves were compared for similarities across the entire chromatogram. Based on overall similarity, it is concluded that currently produced Shulton Old Spice (a product of India) and vintage Shulton Old Spice are essentially identical. Currently produced P & G Old Spice and Vijon Spice are very similar to each other but differ from the other two.
Acknowledgments: The author would like to acknowledge John at West Coast Shaving for the donation of the Indian Shulton Old Spice. I would like to also acknowledge B&B member scoopster who donated the vintage Shulton product.
Introduction: There has been a controversy surrounding the P & G version of Old Spice for some time now. Some users of the Old Spice when it was produced by Shulton in the US believe that the P & G product is different. P & G, it has been claimed, denies any changes in the formulation. Fortunately, Shulton still manufactures Old Spice in India. The author is not aware of any claims that this Shulton product differs in any significant way from how the US Shulton product smelled. Of course, remembering a particular smell from many years ago can be challenging. And so the controversy has remained unresolved. It seems a scientific approach to settle this is required.
The author recently took delivery of a headspace analyzer. As part of familiarizing myself with the operation and optimization of the instrument, I realized that I needed some samples with lots of components at relatively low concentrations. It seemed that an aftershave (or four) would be an ideal test sample. So after obtaining two samples of Shulton Old Spice and raiding my den for P & G Old Spice and Vijon Spice, I set out to answer the eternal question: Is P & G Old Spice the same as it ever was?
Experimental: I won't bore you with the experimental details. If you really want to know how this works, PM me.
Results: The chromatograms are reproduced below. In all print-outs, Indian Shulton OS is on top, followed by vintage Shulton OS, current P & G OS, and finally the Vijon Spice. Not shown are the regions where the ethanol and propylene glycol (PG) eluted. All four AS have the same amount of alcohol. The three OS samples also all had the same amount of the glycol. The Vijon sample contained roughly one half the amount of PG relative to the other three samples.
In the first section of the chromatograms, we see the early eluters. These are relatively volatile components and would probably be part of the top notes. As you can see,between 7 and 8 minutes, the two Shulton samples have three small peaks that are almost entirely absent from the P & G and Vijon samples. In addition, the peaks at 8.5 minutes have dramatically different shapes. The P & G and Vijon samples tail badly in this region, whereas the Shulton products do not. These are probably different molecules that happen to co-elute. Likewise at 9 minutes, again the peak shapes are different. This time, the P & G sample stands out by itself.
Between 10 and 14 minutes we find differences across all four samples. The peak at 11.3 minutes is missing in the vintage OS, but present in the other three. And then at 12.9 and 13.8 minutes, the P & G product is missing peaks present in the other OS samples. Overall, though, it appears that the vintage and current Shulton products are more similar in this region relative to the other two samples.
Between 14 and 18 minutes we have some high boilers. These, I expect, would probably represent the base notes. In this region, the P & G and Vijon samples have significant peaks that are mostly or wholly absent from the two Shulton samples.
And finally, between 18 and 20 minutes, the P & G and Vijon samples show a small peak that is absent from the Shulton samples/
Conclusions: The current Shulton and vintage Shulton products, overall, are very similar. What small differences exist between them may possibly be attributed to the age of the sample or point to a natural variation in components in some essential oil. It is the author's opinion that Shulton is using the same recipe in India that was used to manufacture the vintage sample. The P & G Old Spice appears to be significantly different from the other two Old Spice samples. I believe that there may be some evidence here for a change in recipe sometime between when the vintage Old Spice was produced and the current recipe. Whether that supposed change occurred before or after P & G obtained the product line is impossible to say. Finally, it appears that the Vijon flavors and fragrances chemists have done an admirable job at reproducing the current P & G product.