Pores. We all have them and – at least according to this advertisement that was printed in Illustrated London News in 1899 – they are always open, just waiting for an impure particle to enter so it can mingle with the life-giving current of our blood and kill us… impure particles such as a lesser brand of shaving soap, since – allegedly – nothing comes closer to our skin than the lather we shave with.
FUD based advertisement at it’s finest… for starters, I’m not entirely convinced that you could force soap inside your pores with a brush unless you tried very hard – nor am I convinced that pores opens directly into the blood stream… unless a lot of the biology I learned in school was completely off the mark. The worst an impure soap can do is to give you horrible skin problems; clogged pores, acne, pimples, boils, and abscesses… some of which could – in the days before antibiotics and modern medicine – be fatal if left untreated. So I guess whoever wrote the advertisement had a point in that you should avoid soaps with questionable ingredients, even if the explanation is off the mark.
That said, one shilling for a shaving stick or luxury shaving tablet (and just half that – six pence – for an ‘American shaving tablet’) don’t sounds too bad – until you realised that adjusted for inflation it’s close to 6.50£ or 8.10$ – not expensive, but not cheap either.