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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Brylcreem (pronounced brill-cream) is a brand name of a men's hair grooming product. It was created in 1928 by County Chemicals at the Chemico Works in Bradford Street, Birmingham, England. County Chemicals is also noted for 'Chemico' – a very popular abrasive kitchen cleaner.

The shiny "wet" look it gave to the hair was de rigueur for men's hair styles for many years in the 20th century. Other substances, including macassar oil and petroleum jelly, had been in use for this purpose earlier and made popular by such figures as Rudolph Valentino of silent film fame.

Brylcreem's use declined during the 1960s as men's hair fashions changed to favor the "dry look" over the "wet look". However, it has seen a comeback since the late 1990s. It is remarketed in Europe under a Ministry of Hair banner alongside companion gel and wax products in squeeze bottles, rarely sold directly alongside the traditional Brylcreem. In the US, the traditional Original Brylcreem has undergone a resurgence as a new generation discovers it. This appears to be a response to market pressures and a trend to get away from the "helmet hair" that is common with gels, with a new generation of men, including many in a number of subcultures, returning to using pomades and creams. Most hair care manufacturers now offer similar petrolatum, wax, or oil based hair products that give hair a sleek and pliable look while maintaining control for styles such as DA, "bed-head" and "Princeton".

Cultural references

Its popularity with Royal Air Force pilots in World War II led to their nickname, The Brylcreem Boys. This is the title of a 1998 film about downed pilots interned in the Republic of Ireland. Ironically, Tony Gibson, the model shown in RAF uniform to advertise Brylcreem during World War II, was an anarchist and conscientious objector.

In 1961 Brylcreem sponsored a television special on ABC television starring singer Connie Francis titled Kicking Sound Around. During the special Connie sang and acted alongside Tab Hunter, Eddie Foy Jr. and Art Carney while providing jingle commercials for Brylcreem between acts.

A notable user of this fine product was co-founder of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett. It is reported that Barrett piled so much Brylcreem on that he resembled "a guttered candle" as the hot stage lights were beating down on him, melting the cream.

The jingle is sung by Jimmy Buffett near the end of the song "Pencil Thin Mustache" from the 1974 album Living & Dying in 3/4 Time.

In the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Randall P. McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) says "a little dab'll do ya," as the nurse applies conductant to his temples prior his receiving electroshock therapy.

It is referenced by the Southern Gothic rock band Th' Legendary Shack Shakers in their song Piss and Vinegar[1] .

In 1995, a Belgian film producer made a film, Brylcream Boulevard, misspelling Brylcreem.

In an episode of Seinfeld The Conversion, George mentions that he still has Brylcreem in his medicine cabinet.

In Episode 33 of The Sopranos (originally aired April 8, 2001), Uncle Junior says, "I've got the Feds so far up my ass I can taste Brylcreem."

In Episode 1 of Season 3 of Scrubs (originally aired October 2, 2003), Dr. Cox says, "Kelso is so far up my ass that I can taste Brylcreem in the back of my throat."

In an episode of Top Gear , Richard Hammond talks about the Morgan Aero 8, saying that it was designed with '40 style in mind and that he should have been filmed "(...) in black and white, with Brylcreem in my hair."

In Europe, the footballer David Beckham signed up to a promotional deal with Brylcreem, until he shaved his head.


  • "Tony Gibson: Conscientious objector who became the smooth image of the RAF", Donald Rooum and Rufus Segar, The Guardian, April 30, 2001.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Brylcreem" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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