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Does scent matter?

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L'Occitane Cade smells great, but once you wash it off, it's gone.

Of course it does. Assuming you can smell it.
When it comes to colognes and aftershaves, scents can define a man. But what about shaving soaps and shaving creams? If you do a good job washing it off, in most cases, the scent is gone.  Right?
Mantic59 himself told me, “Warm, fragrant lather while concentrating on the shaving experience is something I really get into, almost like meditation.”
I can see that. Certainly I don’t want to shave with something that smells unpleasant, and in fact, some of the menthol creams I’ve tried have been just too strong.
But since the lovely smell of L’Occitane Cade, for example, is gone by the time I apply witch hazel, I’d actually rather use a neutral or mildly scented soap or cream. Even one that’s unscented. Then, I can go to town on a bay rum aftershave or a cologne that will stick with me all day. I sometimes find myself wishing that some of these great soaps and creams did come in an EDT, actually, like Cade. But they don’t.
So for me, no, scents aren’t a game-changer. I’ll take performance over smell any day of the week.
That’s just me, though. What say you? Does the scent of your shaving cream or soap really matter?

Andy Tarnoff

Andy Tarnoff

14 thoughts on “Does scent matter?”

  1. I am one of the guys who likes the smell of their soap to linger on the skin after washing. I think the best ones for a lasting fragrance are Palmolive Soap and Wright’s Original Coal Tar Soap. Let’s face it: The vague scent of soap on a man’s skin after washing and shaving can be a major turn-on, much more so than wearing strong aftershaves and colognes. Women have a much more discerning sense of smell than men do and most women dislike strong fragrances. When a man smells of clean, fresh soap and his own natural musky aroma this is often more than enough to drive women wild without the need to apply aftershave or spray on eau de toilette after a wash. If you must use a fragrance after your soap wash: select your scent very carefully and ONLY use two sprays either side of the neck, at the most. Over-applying smells unbearable and drives people away instead of attracting them.

  2. @Steve Faragher,
    Thanks for the recommendation. I decided to place an order after confirming that they will ship to the USA. I will post a review after I receive my order and test it out.
    I ordered a set that includes a shaving brush and the jug of Goats milk shaving soap (Sandalwood) it cost me a little under $16 total including the shipping (post)

  3. I mainly use arko which I think smells of old fashioned soap, whatever than means, a lot of people dislike it claiming to be “industrial smelling ” but despite the fact it isn’t promoted on its smell (do they actually advertise this stuff), the clean smell manages to cut through any cologne or after shave put on afterwards. Smelly soaps are more linked to the effects of the additive on the skin and the process not necessarily intending to linger after the third pass.

  4. I find a nice scent adds to my relaxation, even if it only lasts as long as the actual shave – so yes, the scent of a soap or cream really can make a difference for me. That doesn’t mean I won’t use an unscented soap – just that when I get a combination of great performance and great scent, it makes it double plus good.

  5. If it makes a good lather I’ll buy it, scent is secondary.
    If I like the scent of a soap or cream I will check the online reviews before buying it. No point spending $20 on a nice smelling cream that ends up like bubbly water in the bowl.
    I have 2 that I use ATM a Sandlewood and a Menthol Eucalyptus. I use the Sandlewood in the colder months for a nice warm lather and the other one in the warmer months for the cooling sensation but it is a bit of too each to own.
    Happy shaving.

  6. Performance is most important for me, but I do like the scent when I am shaving. These days you can usually find a good performing product in a variety of scents so you can have it both ways.
    I find myself wishing that the shave scent would hang around a little longer. What I am conflicted about is the cacophony of scents that we have to mix together. After shave is one scent, deodorant is another scent, hair products are sometimes another and then cologne is yet one more (if you choose to wear it). I want either a product line that has the optimum performance of each item and keeps the same scent. OR I’ll take good performing products that are non-scented. Problem is neither of these are easy to find.

  7. For me it’s performance. As long as the scent isn’t offensive to me – such as Tabac – I don’t care what it smells like as long as it performs.

  8. Does scent matter to me? In a word, yes. However, as it is fleeting, pleasant added scent is a secondary characteristic as far as the overall product is concerned. Offensive odors, however, will cause me to toss a soap faster than anything else, including poor performance. Pleasant scent is definitely a “value-add” when it comes to any particular shave cream or soap, with performance being more important to me than any particular pleasant aroma.

  9. I’ve used 4 creams and soaps. The first non-canned soap/cream I started with Van Der Hagen soap which tends to be thin and I usually end up with a few weepers, but the smell of it is really nostalgic so it’s hard to give it up. The next one I tried was C. O. Bigelow (Proraso in disguise), which works much better but smelled like menthol. Then I tried Mitchell’s Wool Fat. Mitchell’s has a nice, clean, soapy smell that I really like, although I never quite get as close a shave with it as I want and it makes my skin feel just a little oily. Alba coconut lime smells really good and the closeness of shave is spectacular, but it’s hard for me to give up using a brush and bowl. Also, white lather lets me see where I’ve shaved and where I haven’t but clear Alba, while it lets me see what I’m shaving, is clear so I don’t see what I’ve missed.

  10. If your spouse is allergic (to some of the base ingredients or the scent itself), then an Unscented product is not only thoughtful but a political necessity. Thus, I agree with the others that performance is more important than scent. It is refreshing to see so many unscented choices out there. I only wish Trumpers had an unscented choice.

  11. Performance in a cream is most important for me, but scent does play a part in my choosing of creams. I’m also one who sees the scent as a part in the ‘zen’ of wetshaving. In most cases though, since I’m such a cologne freak, I’m fine with the scent washing off. I only have one cream who’s scent remains on my face, but that’s fine since it’s a lavender cream and lavender is my favorite natural fragrance.

  12. I agree that the performance of a soap or cream should take precedence over the scent, but with so many great products out there, there’s no reason you can’t have both. Like mantic69, I get into the scent of the soap I use. I find a nice lavender, rose, or almond scent helps me relax a bit and calm down during my morning rush, maybe even giving me a better shave in the process. On a side note, I’m not all that interested in wearing the scent of my soap all day, since they are rather feminine, but there are a few more masculine scents that I don’t mind using, such as T&H’s 1805, which is one of my favorite balms.

  13. I agree with you. I’ve been using Palmolive Shave, arko, and Irish Moos for the most part of three months and they all have pretty light to neutral scents. One of my old favorites is AOS Lavendar, but after shaving with the soaps for so long the Lavendar was overpowering.

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