As an old guy, I'm a creature of habit. Heck, even as a young guy, I was a creature of habit. Don't move my cheese! And nothing lends itself to habit more than personal grooming.

But corporate America is always shaking things up. And so it's hard to keep a ritual going in the grooming department. It seems like whenever I start to rely on a personal care product, it soon disappears from the shelves.

Take, for example, Kiehl's shaving cream, the state of the art for that particular substance. It used to come in three varieties: a menthol, a plain, and a spearmint. I liked the spearmint a lot, but poof! One day they stopped making it.

Meanwhile, I used to get some pretty wicked dandruff going, until finally I found something that stopped it cold. It was a shampoo that contained a kind of fungicide called Nizoral. I forget who made it, but it was strong medicine. In fact, in any greater concentration than what was in the bottle, I think the active ingredient would have required a prescription. It worked so well that I could get away with using it pretty sparingly. But then they stopped making it.

When products disappear like that, you spend a fair amount of time hunting for them before you realize they no longer exist. Eventually you may start searching around on the internet, and find some guy somewhere who has the last two in existence, and wants $60 apiece for them. 

The other thing you experience at a time like that is wondering why they killed it. Was it just not selling? Or was there something wrong with it, and they pulled it off the shelves because it had the potential to harm the user? Having developed long-term relationships with the stuff, I've sometimes worried that I've been a guinea pig in a failed experiment. Rather than recall it and tell us all we're dying, they just quietly pull the plug.

Then there was Reach woven dental floss. This stuff was great, because it got skinny when you pulled on it, then sprung back to fluffy when you let go. You could pull to get it where you needed it, and then relax a little and let it do its job. Dentists and hygienists recommended it heartily. But then the suits at Johnson & Johnson rebranded it Listerine, and coated it in some miserable flaky material that was supposed to be like mouthwash. Yuck. They quickly reversed course on the coating, but damage to the brand had been done, and they soon discontinued the product entirely.

When you can't find the product you like any more, you find a replacement. There's no choice. But if you're lucky, you notice the pending discontinuation before the last of your favorite items are gone, and you stock up for a last go-'round or two before the end.

And so it is now with Listerine Ultra Clean mouthwash, Fresh Citrus flavor. It's a goner, and my last little hoard is dwindling down to next to nothing:

Man, that stuff tastes good. Maybe that's why they eliminated it: It tasted so good, people may have been drinking it. Or then again, maybe it's because it kills you.

A while back, I caught wind that Redken Body Full hair conditioner was on its way out, and I still have a big jug and change of that one on the shelf:

And Kiehl's has done it to me again with a nice after-shave lotion that I used for years. For some mysterious reason, they've discontinued it, but I still have a few bottles that I loaded up on when the news of its demise broke:

I will survive without these potions. But to the bean counters of the big corporations, who are depriving me of my preferred hygiene goo, shame on you! What consumerism has joined together, no one should put asunder.


  1. I feel your pain. Philips used to make the Airfloss, which was a great tool for flushing the gumline with controlled amounts of chlorhexidine (prescription rinse for peridontal disease). Alas, they were successfully sued out of existence because people were using it as a substitute for flossing, not a supplement. Alternatives like WaterPik and similar products are designed for large-volume flushing of water, and are therefore wholy unsuitable.

    1. Sorry to hear that. That's an Air Floss nozzle sticking up behind the Listerine bottle. I use it with plain water. The main hazard I have encountered is that after a few years, the nozzle gets loose and can fly off. It goes quite a distance, hopefully not into your eye.

  2. Nizoral shampoo is still available. A while back there was a fire or some other disaster at the plant that made it so it was unavailable for quite awhile, but it is now back on the shelf.

  3. I remember some 35 years ago I got an overnight job at CVS in Harvard Square. One of the first things that I was told was to keep an eye out for the “houseless” population because they would steal the Listerine.

    I was kind of perplexed so I asked why. He said that they steal it and drink it to get drunk off of. Now I had done some crazy things up to that point to try to get high (remember Lettuce Opium?), but couldn’t fathom swilling that stuff for the life of me.

  4. Johnson & Johnson still makes Reach dental floss, but I don't think it's the same 'woven' product you liked.

    1. It's not woven. There are some woven products out there, but why J&J couldn't leave well enough alone is beyond me. Corporate-think at its worst.


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