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What Is A Barbershop Scent? Your Input Needed

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1915 Barber Shop
There must be a hundred variations of a “barbershop” scent in shaving products.  Everyone seems to have their own take on the subject.  But just what makes a barbershop scent?  Tell me.

The Elements Of A Barbershop?

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the attractions of old school shaving is getting the “vibe” of a barbershop.  Whether it’s based on an early childhood memory or even a romantic notion of what a barbershop should smell like is almost irrelevant.  It’s like a racial memory.

But it seems like neither shavers nor artisans/brands can agree on just what individual smells make up a barbershop scent, other than it’s made up of several individual notes.  So let’s try an experiment.  Based on a number of conversations I’ve had with both other shavers and cream/soap artisans recently, I’ve created a list of individual scent elements that commonly come up when discussing barbershop scents.

Pick the top 3-5 scent notes below you think belong to a barbershop:

(Google Docs LINK for those of you who cannot see the form below)

I’ll combine your feedback with the data gathered by some other sources, see if there are some trends, then follow up with another article in a few weeks to try to correlate which popular trends match certain products.  That way you can buy a shaving soap/cream/aftershave that matches your idea of what a barbershop should smell like!

Other comments or suggestions?  Be sure to leave your feedback below!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

4 thoughts on “What Is A Barbershop Scent? Your Input Needed”

  1. Hello Mark,
    I would like To say this in reference to what scents constitutes a barbershop scent. As we all know, we come from a vast melting pot of cultures, countries, cities and customs. This has to be taken into account when asking this question. Some regions of the USA probably has access to certain products that other regions may not have. Also racial cultures would also use and find different products that work for them. So to say that you could walk into a barber shop in Seattle and smell the exact same thing in Miami would be very hard to say with out a shadow of a doubt. I think this is why it’s so hard to say exactly one scent belongs and another doesn’t. You may go to a barber in a Texas small town that has large leather barber chairs that have cow hide on them. I’m sure they would smell of leather a lot stronger than say a barber shop in New York city that may have several chairs that are not real leather. He same shop in new your may use Clubman talk powder as they brush off the hairs from ones neck, while the shop in Texas uses anothe talcum powder that smells completely different. So the scents again wouldn’t be the same.
    Also I have found that everyone uses their sense differently. Some are aleffecred by scent more than others. I also have handed people a soap and asked for them to tell me what they think is in the soap scent wise. In almost every time I do this I’ll vastly different answers. I think this is like herding cats, lol. It’s truly a subjective task. There will be some commonalities, but I thinkmis as close as you can get.

    1. Kelly, I definitely “get” what you’re saying here but I think there are going to be trends and commonalities across cultural and regional lines. I’m hoping to get several different profiles and then look at products that meet those profiles. So a shaver in Seattle might go for product X while one in Miami might go for product Y. The responses will be interesting to analyze!

      1. Thomas Egebæk Hansen

        I got to agree with Mark, since here in Denmark in Europe some of these scents makes up a barbershop scent. Even though the products the barbers use are different but sometimes the same, the scents are basicly the same. Maybe if you went to the Middle East you would get a wildly different barbershop scent.

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