[Image courtesy of Depositphotos]
Do you want a shave cream that doesn’t smell like…anything? Is your skin sensitive to fragrance ingredients? What is the
The Best Unscented Or Fragrance-Free Shaving Creams
[Note: Amazon, eShave, and The Art Of Shaving links are affiliate. Geni.us links may be affiliate.]
Products listed in alphabetical order. Descriptions (in italics) and ingredients below are from the product’s web page. Followed by my comments on how the product performs.
Note that I’m not listing shaving soaps here, only shaving creams. For more information on unscented shaving soaps click/tap here to check out Sharpologist’s recent “head to head” unscented shave soap series.
Right or wrong, the terms unscented and fragrance-free are often thought-of or used interchangeably. Whether from ignorance or a willful decision, a brand or artisan may often decide how to describe a product to their liking.
It is going to be up to the consumer to examine a specific product’s ingredient mix to determine if it might be irritating, based on their previous experiences.
I used Sharpologist’s best shaving creams list as a starting point for this article. Then I did more research on fragrance-free and unscented shave creams specifically, including researching shave-related forums and websites, plus the experiences of Sharpologist readers over the years. Then I tried each myself. I narrowed down the list to these eight products.
eShave Fragrance Free
“eShave classic scents are back by popular demand. Enjoy your favorite Fragrance Free Shaving Cream. eShave Shaving Cream Generates a rich lather for a close and comfortable shave free of razor burn and ingrown hair. It also protects the skin, coats the hair and allows the razor to glide easily. And our Fragrance Free cream is ideal for sensitive skin or someone looking for a true unscented shaving cream.”
Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Coconut Fatty Acid, Glycerin (Glycerine), Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxide.
eShave went through a bit of a tough time a few years back, moving their offices and paring back on their product line. But that “lean and mean” time actually seems to have set them up to deal with the business challenges of COVID over the past year or so quite well. In fact they even introduced a fragrance free shave cream.
Amazon customers rates this shave cream at 4.5 out of 5, with over 200 ratings and an 85% positive sentiment.
And I’ve found the fragrance free shave cream works admirably well, particularly given the relatively abbreviated ingredient list! I find performance to be on-par with other traditional shave products. I think this cream works better with a brush than without.
Available from the eShave website and other sources.
Executive Shaving Fragrance Free
“Our Fragrance Free, Sensitive Skin Shaving Cream is what you need if you suffer from post-shave irritation including razor burn, razor bumps, redness and itchiness.
“Suitable for all skin types….
“This premium shaving cream has no perfume added as perfume can in some cases be a major irritant. Instead, we’ve packed this cream with ingredients that protect your skin while you shave, there’s lots of razor glide and slickness that adds to your shave experience.
“This shaving cream is exceptionally moisturising, it delivers a rich, creamy lather that protects and moisturises the skin while you shave….
“You’ll be pleased to know that, this shaving cream contains no animal products, it’s paraben and alcohol-free and also free of artificial colourants. The aluminium tub and the screw-top lid are both recyclable.”
Ingredients: Aqua, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Coconut Acid, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Sucrose Cocoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyacrylamide, Sodium Benzoate, Beta-Glucan, Potassium Sorbate, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate.
I was a little concerned about the relatively long ingredient list (compared to others in this article) but I didn’t experience any irritation. I’ve tried several of Executive Shaving’s shave creams (click/tap here for my review of their Fuar Ach Snog shave cream) and they’ve all been very good. Their fragrance free version is no exception.
Available from the Executive Shaving website.
New York Shaving Company Unscented
The New York Shaving Company Shave Cream is designed to moisturize the skin for a close and comfortable shave. Developed for sensitive skin, our shave cream solution protects the skin from nicks, cuts, razor burn, irritation and ingrown hairs. It can be used with or without a brush.
Water, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Coconut Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Organic Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa), Seed Butter, Sodium Hydroxide, Organic Aloe, Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Allantoin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sorbic Acid. PARABEN FREE • SULFATE FREE
Lather is quick, easy, and voluminous, even in my “hard” water. The NYSC unscented shave cream works as well as their scented varieties. Performance is excellent. Top-notch lubrication/glide and cushion/protection. I have to be careful not to put on too thick of a lather otherwise the cushion aspect could almost be “too good.”
Pacific Shaving Unscented
This clean, gentle, and feel-good shaving cream is specifically formulated for everyday use on even the most sensitive skin. Using minimal and clean ingredients, it provides impressive cushion and slickness, rinses easily, and leaves your freshly shaved skin looking and feeling healthy.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Myristic Acid*, Stearic Acid*, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Hydroxyethylcellulose*, Sorbic Acid+
*Fruit, Plant, or Vegetable-Derived
Pacific Shaving is well known for their “good for the skin, good for the wallet, good for the Earth” philosophy. I’m a big fan of their lineup (particularly their Caffeinated line) and their products perform consistently well. The Unscented shave cream (and aftershave) is relatively new. However, like other products from Pacific Shaving, the Unscented shave cream works as well as much higher-priced products, with or without a brush.
There are about 30 customer ratings on Amazon, with a 4.4 of 5 rating and a 78% positive sentiment.
The Art Of Shaving Unscented
- Aroma-free for people with sensitivities
- Thick, protective lather
- Rich hydration that keeps beard hair soft and skin feeling smooth
- Free from synthetic dyes and alcohol
- Clinically and dermatologically tested for sensitive skin
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Palmitic Acid, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Coconut Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium Edta, Peg-4 Laurate, Peg-4 Dilaurate, Disodium Edta, Lauric Acid, Peg-4, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
The Art Of Shaving rode the wave of the traditional shaving resurgence in the early 2000’s and, while they had to close most of their “brick and mortar” stores over the past couple of years due to COVID, they have continued to have a robust product line. Their Unscented shave cream is comparable in performance to their scented line (which is very good. HERE is Sharpologist’s review of their Sandalwood for example), and indeed many of the “old school” British shave creams.
This shave cream gets a 4.7 out of 5 rating customers on Amazon (with over 1700 ratings at an astonishing 97% positive sentiment).
Available from these sources.
Truefitt And Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream
Truefitt’s Ultimate Comfort Range is specially formulated for gentlemen with sensitive skin. Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream is designed to provide the closest shave whilst at the same time protecting and aiding in the repair of the shaver’s skin. Lavender essential oil is a gentle antiseptic which helps to heal skin, while moisturizing glycerin improves glide and comfort to ensure that this cream forms a thick, rich lather. Ultimate Comfort is part of our unscented range, so contains no additional scent.
Ingredients: Aqua, Strearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Coconut Acid, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Lavandula Augustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Linalool
Although Truefitt And Hill has been around since 1805 their Ultimate Comfort shave cream is a relatively “new” addition (introduced about ten? years ago). The first revision of this shave cream I tried had a very mild-but-detectable lavender scent but I didn’t notice a scent from the jar I have now (however, as the description still mentions lavender essential oil–and linalool–“Your Mileage May Vary”).
I’ve found newer Truefitt And Hill shave creams tend to perform a bit better than their “classic” creams, like Trafalgar or 1805 (click/tap here to read my review of their ‘newish’ Apsley shave cream). Ultimate Comfort performs at this new level.
Amazon customers give this shave cream a 4.7 out of 5 rating and a 92% positive sentiment.
Provides a smooth, close, comfortable shave for both men and women by creating a protective barrier between the razor and skin. Helps protect against razor burn, nicks, and cuts. Rinses clean, leaving skin feeling soft, smooth, and moisturized.
Ingredients:purified water, stearic acid, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, hydrogenated polydecene, panthenol, PEG-12 dimethicone, 1,2-hexanediol, titanium dioxide, sodium polyacrylate, caprylyl glycol, sodium hydroxide, isopropyl titanium triisostearate, disodium EDTA
When I was doing research for this article Vanicream was often mentioned, so I picked some up off of Amazon. It does have a mild-but-detectable scent: I can’t figure the scent notes out but others have likened it to Fritos Corn Chips (?!?) or buttered popcorn. I’ve found it does tend to clog my razor more quickly than other shave creams, too. This is a brushless product. But actual shave performance is very good.
Amazon customers rate this product a 4.6 out of 5, with over 100 ratings and a 92% positive sentiment.
Available from these sources.
The Viking Revolution Shaving Cream is great for sensitive skin because it is unscented and is made with organic ingredients. It comes in a 150 g container that will last you a good while. It also lathers luxuriously for a great shaving experience!
Ingredients: Water, laurel sulfosuccinate, chrysanthemum indium extract, castor oil, witch hazel extract, aloe Vera, sodium hyalurdonate, sodium laurel ether sulphate, coconut oil, glycerol, sorbitol, acrylates copolymer, sodium chloride, citric acid, fragrance
Sharp-eyed readers will notice this is marketed as “unscented” but shows “fragrance” as the last item on the ingredient list. So it is probably a masking or neutralization ingredient. Performance is excellent, though: click/tap here to read Sharpologist’s review of Viking Revolution shave creams.
Amazon customers give this shave cream a 4.5 out of 5, with over 3000 ratings and an 88% positive sentiment.
Available from Amazon.
What Is Fragrance And Scent?
Fragrance is the science of how aroma molecules in the air interact with your nose, and how that interaction changes over time. There are many different types of fragrances, each with its own unique smell. Some common types of fragrances include floral, woody, citrus, and musky smells. Fragrance is often used in products like perfume and cologne to give them a unique smell.
Fragrance is made up of different ingredients that work together to create a scent. These ingredients can be volatile or fixed oils, aromatic chemicals, and terpenes. Volatile oils are the most common and make up the majority of a fragrance’s composition. Aromatic chemicals are responsible for giving a fragrance its smell, while terpenes add color and flavor.
Fragrance is a key component in many cosmetics and personal care products. It’s added to products such as body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant…and shave cream. Fragrance can also be used to make products smell more pleasant or attractive. Some common ingredients that are used to create fragrances include essential oils, resins, and synthetic chemicals.
What Does “Fragrance Free” And “Unscented” Really Mean?
“Fragrance-free means that fragrance materials or masking scents are not used in the product.
“Unscented generally means that the product may contain chemicals that neutralize or mask the odors of other ingredients….
“In the US the fragrance-free certification is a companion to the Safer Choice label. If a product qualifies for the Safer Choice label and does not use any fragrance materials, the program will allow the manufacturer to add a “fragrance-free” notation to the Safer Choice label. The fragrance-free certification means that:
“1) The product meets EPA’s Safer Choice Standard, a set of strict safety criteria for both human health and the environment; and
“2) The product has also been verified to be free of chemicals that impart or mask a scent. For consumers and purchasers, especially those with allergy or sensitization concerns, the fragrance-free label allows for easy identification of products that have been verified as free of fragrance materials.”
Image courtesy US EPA
Check the ingredient list for “stealthy” fragrances. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, these ingredients (listed in alphabetical order) are actually classified as having a fragrance:
- 2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl) propionald-hyd
- Amyl cinnamal
- Amylcin-namyl alcohol
- Anisyl alcohol
- Benzyl alchohol
- Benzyl benzoate
- Benzyl cinnamate
- Benzyl salicylate
- Cinnamyl alcohol
- Hexyl cinnam-aldehyd
- Methyl heptin carbonate
- Oak moss and treemoss extract
- Treemoss extract
What About “Hypoallergenic” References?
What is hypoallergenic? Simply put, it means that a product is made with ingredients that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction or irritation in people with certain types of allergies. This is important for those who are allergic to specific scents and smells. For example, many people with allergies to cats and dogs are also allergic to their fur. If a product contains ingredients from these animals, it could cause an allergic reaction in someone who is sensitive to both the animal’s fur and the scent of the product.
However the term “hypoallergenic” is not regulated by any government agency, so it’s up to the manufacturer to decide what it means.
Although these shaving creams have been formulated to help users who suffer from skin problems achieve an irritation free shave, there may be an ingredient that disagrees with your skin. Be sure to read the ingredients list of the product you’re considering to determine how your physiology might react to it.
Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a favorite fragrance-free or unscented shave cream for sensitive skin? Leave a comment below!