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7 Shave Creams/Soaps For Those With A Poor Sense Of Smell

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I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I have a poor sense of smell.  I take some consolation in the fact that I’m not alone, so here are 7 suggestions for strongly-scented shave soaps and creams to enjoy.

Sometimes shave soaps and creams smell strong in the container but soften considerably when lathered on the face.  I have found the products below stay strong throughout the shave (though they may not persist much after the shave–which can be a good thing if you wear a cologne fragrance that might clash with the shave fragrance.

All these products were selected not only for the strength of their scent but their performance as well.  For the actual shave I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these!

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Castle Forbes Limes Shaving Cream

For me (and many others), the classic strongly-scented shave cream.  I often say using Castle Forbes Limes shaving cream is like getting smacked in the face with a Key Lime pie, with a lime scent that is both sweet and strong, both in the tub and lathered on the face.

Ingredients: Aqua, Stearic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Coconut Acid, Dipropylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantifolia, Citric Acid, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylisothiazolinone, Potassium Sorbate, Limonene, Citral, Gerniol, Linalool

It’s worth noting that Castle Forbes other scents (Cedarwood/Sandalwood, 1445, Lavender) are also strong, though I think slightly less-so compared to Limes.

Tabac Shaving Soap

Another “famous” (though some might say “infamous”) strongly-scented shave soap.  One recent reviewer on Sharpologist described the scent of Tabac as “Eye-watering, headache-inducing strong perfumes wafting off the soap. Aroma may be strong enough to peel wallpaper off the walls.” The actual scent is described as “plenty of flowers beneath and hints of aquatics and traces of leather, light woodiness plus a miniscule amount of the namesake tobacco and light vanilla in the background. It has an odd, musty undertone to it that is ironically sweet and not entirely disagreeable.”

Like the reviewer, personally I am not a big fan of the scent of Tabac.  But it is strong!

Ingredients: Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Potassium Tallowate, Potassium Cocoate, Aqua, Sodium Tallowate, Parfum, Sodium Cocoate, Glycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Sodium Hydroxide, CI 77891, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Coumarin, AlphaIsomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Salicylate, Geraniol, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Isoeugenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Eugenol.

Taylor Of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream

taylor of old bond street sandalwood

Consistently rated near the top of the most popular shave creams on the market, Taylor Of Old Bond Street Sandalwood shave cream is fairly strongly-scented as well, though it may not be a “genuine” Sandalwood scent (personally, I think it comes admirably close).

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Coconut Fatty Acid, Glycerin, Parfum (Fragrance), Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, (Parfum Contains: Linalool, Geraniol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Cinnamate, Evernia Furfuracea Extract, Evernia Prunastri Extract, Limonene, Coumarin).

Some other Taylor Of Old Bond Street shave creams are reasonably strongly scented too, including Almond, Grapefruit, and Tobacco Leaf.

Shannon’s Soaps Botanica Shaving Soap

From Shannon’s Soaps website, “My take on a modern chypre, with atlas cedarwood, tuberose, oakmoss, and a host of florals, with a hint of vanilla and a fruity top.”

I think the scent out of the tub starts out fruity, then the floral notes hit with a powdery (almost effervescent) quality. I don’t get the wood notes: there is something after the florals but it’s like an herbal note to me. However when lathered on the face more of the effervescent floral and wood notes come out for me.  The strength is not quite as intense as others on this list but it’s definitely there!

Ingredients: Tallow, kokum butter, avocado oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, stearic acid, coconut, glycerin, lanolin, coconut oil, goat milk, mallow extract, buckthorn extract, meadowfoam seed oil, Vitamin E, essential oils, fragrance oils, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide (made by hot process)

Truefitt And Hill Apsley Shaving Cream

Truefitt And Hill describe Apsley as “…a refined blend of smouldering woods accentuated by light citrus notes. The harmonious overtones of woody vertivert are lifted with a refreshing essence of grapefruit and are accentuated by notes of pepper, while its heart of cedar- wood and patchouli, which has been enriched by sensual notes of musk….”

Probably the “weakest” of the strongly-scented products here, Apsley is “moderate” both off the tub and on my face.  I get mostly grapefruit and cedar scent notes.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Coconut Acid, Glycerin, Parfum (Fragrance), Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Butyphenyl Methylpropional

Most of the other “classic” scents from Truefitt And Hill (Trafalgar, Grafton, 1805) are also reasonably strong.  Trafalgar was one of the first traditional shaving creams I used when I started shaving “old school” in 2004 and I still use it.  Some say it’s an “old man” scent (Grafton, too) but I think it’s a great cologne-like scent that I can smell both off the tube/tub and lathered on the face.  The newer scents (Ultimate Comfort and No. 10) much less so.

St. James Of London Lime & Black Pepper Shaving Cream

st. james of london cream texture

The scents of most St. James Of London shave creams are more subtle compared with some of the other British shaving creams but I think the Lime and Black Pepper shave cream has the strongest scent of the line and a worthy addition to this article.

The scent is spicy-citrus and I think the performance is right up there with the best.

Edwin Jagger Sandalwood Shaving Soap

Like Taylor’s Sandalwood above, Edwin Jagger Sandalwood shave cream is fairly strongly-scented but not at the top of the scale.  And like TOBS the “sandalwood” scent may not be entirely accurate, depending on what variety of “sandalwood” you are interested in.

The EJ soap may not perform quite as well as others on this list but it works solidly for me, even in my hard water.

Ingredients Potassium Palmate, Sodium Palmate, Potassium Stearate, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Water, Palm Kernel Acid, Parfum (Fragrance), Sandalwood Oil, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene, Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Pentasodium Penetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate


If you don’t have a sensitive schnoz (like me), you still have options to fully appreciate your shave beyond the product’s performance.

What shave creams and soaps do you find exceptionally strong?  Leave a comment below!



Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

24 thoughts on “7 Shave Creams/Soaps For Those With A Poor Sense Of Smell”

  1. Razor master Toivo if you want to smell like horses hooves after a manicure

    Stirling has some pretty strong scents. Start with an electric sheep or margaritas in the Arctic. But some others are too subtle for my taste.

    I like arko and tabac

    Tobs lavender is no slouch either

    Meissner Tremonia makes some strong smelling creams (which for me shave badly) and some better shaving hard soaps which smell a lot less.

    My reason for strong I tend to shave in the steam room and that limits my smell.

  2. Great informative article! I have been looking for a strong rose scent. I smell automotive paint all day so my nose isn’t the greatest either. I have tried TOBS but not impressed with the strength of its scent. Any Suggestions?

  3. I just want a “fresh” smelling shave soap since I’ll be using cologne or after shave later.

    Nice list, but I avoid the products with chemicals I can’t pronounce let alone push into my skin.

  4. Are St. James of London actually British? This is a quesiton I have been trying to answer. They have no UK presence (or real availablility), as far as I can tell, all the contact information and social media posts are in/from America, and when you get passed the ‘Rule Britannia’ opening of their About Us page, you find, ‘In the fall of 2013 [in London we say Autumn, but whatever] and after a decade-long dormancy, the St James of London brand was acquired by a private owner.” It seems the name and Union Jack’s are some sort of marketing ploy to align with the Tobs’s and Truefitt and Hill’s.

    Given the exciting American brands that have come about since 2013, I feel like they missed a trick by tying themselves to something antiquated and, well, foreign.

  5. Great informative article and tips. TABAC is a favorite for me. I have the soap and aftershave both and just used them last week. I’ve used up my TOBS Sandalwood and need to get some more. I enjoy GFT Violet bought because of your writing about it years ago. I bought a sample of the Castle Forbes Lime and want a regular order of it. I might leave a hint laying around Christmas season: )
    Thank you and all the best,

  6. Taylor of old bond is the best soap I’ve tried. The sandalwood is a little off scent. Then I tried TOBS cedarwood. WOW! great performance, scent, that does smell like cedar!

  7. My favorite strong scented soap is A&E L’orange verte. It’s strong in the container and during the shave and will really linger if you pair the splash with it. And Peter’s new kaizen base is amazing

  8. Dr Harris Windsor Shaving cream is a reasonably strong scent. A&E Khalifa is another great overpowering scent that will leave your bathroom smelling of the scent for many hours afterwards especially if you use a face cloth to wipe the lather from your face after a wash with the excess lather Kevy shaves style which I have implemented to my routine. And by doing if I have completed a shave successfully without irritation it an adequate post shave experience by itself.

  9. My favorite shaving cream–I’m not a soap guy–is Crown Shaving Co. Strong scent of eucalyptus and spearmint. It’s probably the softest cream I’ve ever used, making it easy and quick to whip up a lather.

    I like to also use other products for variety, but I always come back to CSC.

  10. I found Declaration Grooming Darkfall so intensely smoky I wasn’t able to use it. But people seem to love it and if you like smoke, I’d suggest it’s worth trying when/if it’s re-released.

  11. My sense of smell may be as bad, or worse, than yours, but when I opened Lakewood Soap Co. shave soaps, I was overwhelmed. The aroma of Smokeberry is extraordinary, lathers well and performs very well.

  12. I have always felt that scent in a shaving cream is overrated. If you can still smell the scent after you’ve washed after a shave it can only mean that you haven’t completely washed it off. Performance is everything.
    While I have tried some but not all of your finalists in my experience there is one glaring omission. Nothing is as strong or repugnant as Arko. It is redolent of those white deodorant cakes you see in the bottom of urinals. In my humble opinion it is the only “bad” smelling soap I have ever used.

    1. I guess I’m lucky in that Arko, just smells kinda lemony soapy. I don’t really like the smell, but I don’t mind it.

      I do think it is a good shave soap. I like to take it traveling. If I ever forget and leave it at the hotel. I’m not out much money.

      Hint, I notice that after it’s been in the twist up tube awhile. The scent fades.

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