I love the many scented products we carry, from the delightful perfumes of Floris to the subtle scented shave soaps of D.R. Harris, but some days I’m just not feeling the fragrance fantasy. Be it due to a particular sensitivity, a hangover, or the desire not to clash with my favourite perfume, there are days I’m grateful for my unscented shave products. For some folks, it’s not a matter of choice but rather a requirement due to a work environment, allergy, or scent-sensitive loved one. For those folks, scent-free is key, from shaving to bathing. If this sounds like you, I’ve got the perfect products for a fragrance free shave!
Fragrance free Preshave products
A good shave always starts with a slick layer of preshave to protect your skin and help your razor glide. Personally, I always reach for Kent of Inglewood Preshave Gel. This stuff is beautifully slick and hydrating, exactly what my skin needs in the desert named Alberta that I live in. Crown Shaving Co. makes a similar alternative, if your loyalties lie in Ontario.
I find that these water-based preshave products work phenomenally well, without the downsides of oil. While preshave oil is great, it’s also quite oily. Shocking, I know. But seriously, I don’t love the feeling of oil on my fingers which needs to be washed off before I handle my razor, and my typically oily skin isn’t a huge fan either. Water-based preshave works at least as well as oil, with none of the oiliness!
Bartigan & Stark Nil is made in Calgary, all-natural, and unscented!
Unscented Shaving cream and Soap
For scent sensitive folks, possibly the worst experience imaginable would be having a smelly lather in their face for several minutes while they try to focus on shaving. Lucky for them, we have a handful of excellent unscented lathers!
I always start the fragrance-free recommendations with Bartigan & Stark, because it’s made by someone well acquainted with scent-free environments: respiratory therapist at the Foothills hospital in Calgary, Glenn Loveless! In addition to being a literal hero, Glen has formulated a lovely unscented shaving soap that he makes himself, humourously called “Nil”. if you’re after a more traditional shaving soap in a wooden bowl, D.R. Harris Naturals is another excellent choice.
For folks partial to a soft, fluffy cream that whips up like meringue, look no further than Trufitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream. It provides an absolutely picturesque lather in seconds using a traditional brush. If you’re not a brush-use you’re totally missing out, but you’ll also get a totally fantastic shave with Schaf Shaving Cream. This brushless formula works well for quick shaves, shaving in the shower, or taking in a carry-on bag. It’s also extremely natural and made in Canada, win-win!
When I say “scent-sensitive”, I bet you immediately picture some who layers on WAY too much cologne, or uses the cheapest dollar-store aftershave available. While anyone would react to that kind of an aftershave, some folks can’t handle any aftershave whatsoever. If you’re in the camp of only reacting to artificial scents, you’ll be absolutely fine with any product from Castle Forbes, D.R. Harris, Like Grandpa, or Bartigan & Stark. All are scented with essential oils, with the exception of Like Grandpa’s Sandalwood.
That said, natural scents are still too much for some folks and workplaces. Worry not, we have the solution! Aftershaves come in two categories: bracing, alcohol-based splash, and soothing, hydrating balm. While no unscented alcohol-based splashed exist (vodka, I guess? No, don’t put vodka on your face), D.R. Harris has made an excellent analogue for those with sensitive, using boric acid & witchhazel called Skin Tonic.
Kent of Inglewood Aftershave Balm is my go-to for a soothing, hydrating unscented aftershave.
In the realm of balm, there are plenty of great options. Once again, Kent of Inglewood Aftereshave Balm takes the #1 spot. We spent a ton of times testing, re-formulating, and perfecting this one and it is truly the best. Highly hydrating and soothing, but fast-absorbing and non-oily. If you’re looking for something more heavy-duty, Truefitt makes a matching balm to their Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream that is intensely moisturizing, and Bartigan & Stark have an oilier Nil aftershave balm which is excellent for dry skin.
Other excellent scent-free grooming goods
I have to start by giving a big shoutout to the entire Schaf line of products. They are the reason my skin isn’t covered in acne these days, and I love their dedication to quality natural products. I use the cleanser and moisturizer in particular, but everything they make is fantastic.
Another ‘miracle’ product in my eyes in the Laurel Oil soap by Aleppo Savon. The soapmaker, Abdulfatah Sabouni, left Syria after his factory was bombed, and opened up shop in Calgary, AB. He makes a wide range of traditional Syrian soaps, and the laurel oil recipe is unscented, highly moisturizing, and dates back through millenia of Syrian tradition!
I hope this helps you in a fragrance free journey. If you’re not beholden to unscented products at home, don’t forget you can still enjoy fragrances in the evening and on the weekends! My finest perfumes don’t come out every single day, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself to something nice you can use or wear when scent isn’t an issue. And if your life needs to be 100% fragrance-removed, remember what Neil Young said: keep on rockin’ in the scent-free world!