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Essential Oils, Aromatherapy, And Shaving Creams And Soaps

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Lately I’ve been doing some research into essential oils and aromatherapy.  I got to wondering if I could integrate aromatherapy into a shaving routine.  Turns out, with a little research and careful purchasing, I think you can!

First things first.  What are essential oils and what is aromatherapy?

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are “…obtained from vegetable raw material, either by distillation with water or steam, or from the epicarp of citrus fruits by a mechanical process, or by dry distillation,” and are a rich source of healing compounds, including terpenes, esters, and other phytochemicals. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including as skin moisturizers, decongestants, and aromatherapy.

How Effective Are Essential Oils?

The effectiveness of essential oils for different purposes have been pretty well established over the years. A casual browse of Google Scholar (Google’s database of scientific and scholarly papers) returns many results.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant plant oils to promote psychological and physical well-being.

Aromatherapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine that uses essential oils to create a pleasing smell or taste. The essential oils are inhaled or applied on the body with massage techniques.

The scents of essential oils are different from synthetic scents because they come from natural ingredients rather than synthetic ones. They also have a more powerful effect on the brain and body because they contain more than 100 different chemicals that can be absorbed through the nose and skin.

How Effective Is Aromatherapy? Is It For Real?

There is less comprehensive scientific data on aromatherapy (there needs to be more peer-reviewed, large-scale clinical trials) but there is reasonably good historical data that indicates that inhalation of the fragrance of some essential oils do have some correlation to psychological reactions.

Related Post: Are Wet Shavers Also Aromatherapy Patients?


It is generally recommended that inhalation of essential oils in aromatherapy have a duration of about 15 minutes for effectiveness–just right for a nice, leisurely shave!–but no more than about 60 minutes.

Some essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, , citrus, peppermint, and ylang ylang are toxic to pets, whether they are applied to the skin even just inhaled.

Citrus oils can be phototoxic, so use caution if you plan on spending time in the sun.

Most Effective Essential Oils For Aromatherapy In Shaving Creams And Soaps

Essential oils are sometimes used in shaving creams or soaps, and in the proper concentration may yield some aromatherapy benefits. Here are the most common essential oils with a history of reasonable research, and some shave creams and soaps that have the scent as a primary fragrance note (and that have the essential oil specifically listed in their ingredients rather than “Parfum”) as examples.

[Note: Amazon, Grooming Lounge, OneBlade, PAA, Smallflower, The Art Of Shaving, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]


Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil reacts with mucous membranes, reducing mucus. It promotes mental clarity and soothes headaches for some people.

Proraso Shaving Cream, Refreshing And Toning (Ed. note: “duh.”)

DR Harris Eucalyptus Shave Cream (Amazon) (Smallflower)

Stirling Soap Co. Eucalyptus Mint Shaving Soap

Dr. Jon’s Essentials Eucalyptus and Spearmint Shaving Soap

Mama Bear Eucalyptus 100% Natural Glycerin Shave Soap


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil is one of the best researched essential oils for relaxation. According to research, it can help people sleep better and wake up more refreshed. The National Sleep Foundation also reports that lavender can reduce anxiety, making it a great choice for nights when you can’t seem to stop racing thoughts. Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature.

The Art Of Shaving Lavender Shaving Cream (Amazon)

OneBlade Lavender Shave Cream (Amazon)

Castle Forbes Lavender Shave Cream (Amazon) (West Coast Shaving) (Smallflower)

Ethos Grooming Essentials Lavender Supreme

Mama Bear Lavender 100% Natural Glycerin Shave Soap

Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream, Lavender (Amazon) (West Coast Shaving) (Smallflower) (Grooming Lounge)


The uplifting scent of lime oil (Citrus aurantifolia) can help alleviate stress and leave you feeling energized. Additionally, inhaling lime oil may help treat congestion and other common ailments.

Castle Forbes Lime Shaving Cream (Amazon) (West Coast Shaving) (Smallflower)

Mama Bear Lime shave soap

Meissner Tremonia Dark Limes Shaving Cream (Smallflower)

Taconic Lime Shaving Soap (Amazon)


(Image courtesy of Depositphotos)

The unique, herbaceous Patchouli essential oil (Pogostemon cablin) aroma has rich chemical properties that can have a grounding and balancing effect on emotions when used aromatically.  Click/tap here to read a full discussion about Patchouli.

Tabula Rasa Patchouli Shaving Soap (Smallflower)

Mama Bear Patchouli Glycerin Shave Soap

Signature Soaps (UK) A Danum Hybrid Shaving Soap (Patchouli Essential Oil)


Research shows that breathing in peppermint (Menthae piperitae aetheroleum) oil can make people feel more alert and can boost their memory. It may also reduce fatigue.

Taylor Of Old Bond Street Peppermint Shave Cream (Amazon) (Smallflower) (West Coast Shaving)

The Art Of Shaving Peppermint Shave Cream (seasonal. Link will be updated when available.)

The Sudsy Soapery Supercreamed Triple Butter Shave Soap for Shaving, Pink Peppermint

PAA Epic Peppermint shave soap


Research has found that sandalwood (Santalum album L.) oil can help improve depressive symptoms. It may also help improve focus.  Click/tap here for a full discussion of Sandalwood.

The Art Of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream (Amazon)

Nancy Boy Sandalwood Shave Cream

Rocky Mountain Barber Sandalwood (Amazon)

PAA Supreme Sandalwood Science shave soap

Not Necessarily Clinical Essential Oils With Possible Benefits In Aromatherapy In Shaving Creams And Soaps

There are a few more commonly-seen essential oil scents in shaving creams and soaps that may have some aromatherapy value.  There needs to be a lot more research into these but there is some initial data.


In one small study, women who inhaled bergamot had lower levels of saliva cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone). The scent may also boost mood.

Clary Sage

In a 2013 study, women who smelled clary sage during a stressful medical exam experienced reduced blood pressure and breathing rates. It may also help with memory and attention.


In one study people reported feeling more positive and upbeat after inhalation. It might also have an aphrodisiac effect.


In one study those who were exposed to lemongrass essential oil immediately saw anxiety and tension level slashed, and they recovered more quickly from a stress-inducing situation compared to those who didn’t inhale the scent.

Ylang Ylang

One study found that people had a lower heart rate and blood pressure after inhaling ylang ylang.


I have learned a few things in the course of researching this article. A lot of scents that are popular in wet shaving creams and soaps use synthetic fragrances/perfumes and not essential oils (aftershaves are another matter. If there is enough interest I may do another article about essential oils in aftershaves. Leave a comment!). But that’s OK as it relates to aromatherapy, since there isn’t a whole lot of well-established science on the inhalation aspect of essential oils yet. But if you DO want to experiment with aromatherapy in your shave I think I’ve given you a good starting point.


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

2 thoughts on “Essential Oils, Aromatherapy, And Shaving Creams And Soaps”

  1. Great article!

    Yep, been incorporating EOs into my shaving routine for a while now. Rose EO can be disgustingly expensive but I have some and have used it (along with rose hydrosol) on occasion to enhance lightly scented rose soaps or experimenting with adding it to other soaps such as sandalwood and oud scented soaps.

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