The Best Colognes to Smell Like an Old School Barbershop
Old school barbershops are very much "in" right now.
But, what is it that guys like so much about them?
The easy atmosphere, for one, I am sure is a reason. Guys like a place with no pretensions where they can come in and relax.
The conversation is another. It's usually light and barbers are known for their storytelling ability. And, when you find a barber you can trust, you can talk about anything.
But, the number one reason in my mind is that people love that old school barbershop smell.
At the end of each haircut in my shop, we dust the neck with some Clubman talc and after shaving the nape, we rub some
Old Bay (I must have been hungry when I typed this! It's Bay Rum!) on there to sanitize. 90% of the time we do this the customer remarks how much he loves that smell. When I ask why, he always says something along the lines of "It just smells like a barbershop". Or "It makes me think of my grandfather".
That got me thinking.
There must be some colognes out there that try to replicate that barbershop smell.
So, I sent out many, many e-mails asking for samples. Since I work in a barbershop and have a men's website, I received quite a few. Though, some I had to pay for. Not a problem since I used them myself after!
I'm talking specifically about cologne or eau de toilette here. Not aftershave. The reason for that is after shave is exactly what the name implies. You should use it on your face after you shave. They smell great and it is real easy to get that barbershop smell that way, but they are unlike cologne.
For what it's worth, my top pick is the -- it give you the full barbershop experience and has a classy and classic scent.
|Taylor of Old Bond |
|Rating: 4.4 Stars||$||100 ml|
|Genuine Ogallala |
Bay Rum Cologne
|Rating: 4 Stars||$||118 ml|
|Rive Gauche by Yves St Laurent for Men||Rating: 2.7 Stars||$$$||.075 ml|
|Dover Street Market by |
Comme Des Garcons
|Rating: 4 Stars||$$$||100 ml|
|Truefitt & Hill Grafton |
|Rating: 4.6 Stars||$$$||100 ml|
|Penhaligan's English |
Fern Eau de Toilette
|Rating: 3.7 Stars||$$||100 ml|
|Penhaligan's Sartorial |
Eau de Toilette
|Rating: 4.5 Stars||$$||50 ml|
|Guerlain Vetiver Eau de |
|Rating: 4 Stars||$$||100 ml|
|O'Douds Natural |
Cologne (Heritage and
|Rating: 4.1 Stars||$||25 ml|
|18.21 Man Made |
|Rating: 4.4 Stars||$$$||100 ml|
A cologne is meant simply to make you smell nice. To give you a signature smell which matches your personality. It is meant to convey a certain character about you.
And, they last all day.
An aftershave is meant to tighten your pores by way of an astringent. (Read about why in this post about Giving Yourself The Perfect Wet Shave). They aren't meant to last more than an hour or so if you are lucky. So, if you are looking for that classic barbershop smell when you are out and about, then you need a cologne that replicates it.
One caveat, however.
Not every cologne is going to smell the same on everybody. Your pheromones, or your natural scent, will mix with the cologne and create a smell unique to you. These reviews, then, are meant to give you a general idea of the quality of the product. It might not smell as advertised for the reason I just described.
Here's a list of the best colognes to make you smell like a barbershop
For when you want to smell like an old school barbershop, but don't want to smell like one exploded all over you, you need Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Shop Cologne.
Not overpowering, even if you have a heavy hand when applying it. Some reviewers on Amazon complained that it doesn't last long, but there's nothing wrong with a lady needing to lean in to smell it better.
Besides, I find that since it is a more delicate cologne than some of the others which I am reviewing, you get used to smelling it and don't notice it anymore. But, that doesn't mean that others can't smell it.
Starting off citrusy with some light spice notes, it will remind you of a classic shaving cream. Not unlike Barbasol, but way classier than that and much more complex. . The basenotes are a little bit woody with a very slight musk undertone. It is delicate, but still very masculine.
You really can't get more classic barbershop than with bay rum. When you think old school barbershop smell, you are probably thinking of the scent of bay rum aftershave. Ogallala takes the vintage scent of bay rum and made a cologne out of it.
And for good measure doubled the amount of essential oil in it. Ignore the silly slogan that it's "not for sissies" since it is so strong.
Every bay rum has a different recipe, so some are more citrusy, some more woodsy and, as is the case with Ogallala, some are more clove centric. The clove generally fades with time and then the citrus notes arrive followed by a slight licorice scent, which I assume is from the oil of the bay leaf which gives bay rum it's name. And, yes, the original bay rum aftershaves were made with rum and bay leaves.
, but I don't recommend doing that. First, you need to apply a good splash of aftershave on your face and that would be way, way too much cologne. The other point is that you don't want to apply cologne to your face.
It's best to apply cologne to your pulse points, like your neck where your body heat will keep the scent coming.
When you think of the classic barbershop smell you think of the spicy smell of bay rum or the earthy smell of vetiver. Rive Gauche cologne has that old time barbershop smell in abundance. It isn't marketed to those looking for a cologne to smell like an old school barbershop, but, when I smelled the sample in GQ magazine, that's what it smelled like. So I ordered a sample from the company and I fell in love with it.
Depending on who is wearing it, it can have a slight patchouli undertone, which some people might not like. In fact, the other barber tried some and didn't like it as he said it smelled as such. But, on me I didn't detect any patchouli.
To me, it is a woody, earthy smell with some spice mixed in. Not a sweet smelling cologne, as you tend to find these days. Though, that is changing with the resurgence of an old school male culture. Like going to a barber instead of a salon, for instance.
With a slight floral note, I was reminded of a shaving cream. Again, it might not be trying to achieve that barbershop scent, but, that I love about the barbershop.
I like to call this scent Bay Gin, as it has a gin quality to it rather than the typical Bay Rum found in many barbershops. And definitely without the heavy clove found in cheap bay rum aftershaves.
It starts out with a bright citrus scent from that classic bergamot you find in Earl Grey Tea. It has a woodsy spice note to it like incense but very light. Combined with the aroma of juniper and pepper it has a wonderful aroma of a unique, not everyday shaving soap.
I used a shaving soap in Italy with a very similar aroma profile, but unfortunately this was years ago and I have not been able to track it down to get the name.
But, that is why I include this on the list of old school barbershop colognes. Many times when thinking of what an old timey barbershop is like, you think of a barbershop in Italy on a cobbled street with the door open and the clacking of scissors in the air.
When I smell this cologne I think of that scene followed by walking in the hills of Sicily, with all the bright, floral scents of the herbs growing wild and the pine needles on the ground.
It's very complex and it makes me feel good to wear it. If a scent can transport you as it does me, you will want to find a place for this cologne in your repertoire.
Truefitt and Hill Grafton Cologne should be your go to cologne if you need to smell like your grandfather after he came home from the barbershop.
They are already premier makers of upscale, yet old fashioned shaving products. So, of course their cologne would seek to replicate that old barbershop smell. Some of the colognes on this list kind of smell like a barbershop by accident or at least remind me of the smell even if it wasn't intentional on their part. Truefitt and Hill want to make sure you are reminded of a proper barbershop when you wear this. It is why they made it.
With notes of sandalwood up front, you're immediately transported to the barber chair as he lathers up your face to do a classic cut throat shave. The sandalwood gives way to a bright citrus.
To me an after dinner stroll with the lady, or when you're going out for drinks at a nice outdoor patio. There's something so fresh about the scent that you just need to be outside when you put it on.
Imagine if Irish Spring actually smelled like what they say. Fresh, grassy and green, right-out-of-the-shower-clean smelling. Of course, that cheap soap is nowhere near that.
Fortunately, there is English Fern. You will smell cleaner than you ever have after a spritz of this incredible cologne.
The sandalwood finish will bring it back from soapy, clean to shaving cream and aftershave. When the winter is over and you are ready for a bright, fresh scent to replace the musky, deep scents of the cold weather by a fireplace, then go for this English Fern.
Ignore the frilly, silly bow on the bottle. Appreciate, instead, the old apothecary type label on the bottle. It's been around for almost 150 years, so .
Sometimes when you think of a classic barbershop, you think of a no frills, no nonsense shop where guys talk sports and the barber will slather on the brylcream like it's still 1958. Other times, you think of something more dignified.
You might think of an English barber located somewhere near Savile Row that caters to the English gentlemen. Where there is a quiet dignity to be found. If you want less old school and more old money in your cologne, then you have found the right one.
It's floral, yet, still masculine. When the fall arrives and it's time to tone down the bright scents of the summer, but not quite time for the rich, earthy winter scents, then you spritz some of this Penhaligan behind your ear.
A bit metallic, a bit bitter herbs, it is a very unique scent. Not everybody's cup of tea so to speak, but if you are looking for a barbershop smell but with something different, then .
Fresh and green, the perfect summer cologne. If you move the smell of fresh cut grass then this vetiver cologne is for you. Vetiver is the essential oil from a tropical grass root and it is a classic ingredient in many old barber products.
It starts out citrusy, almost lemony and then gives way to the bitter aroma of vetiver mixed with some lemongrass. The end finishes with a very subtle tobacco aroma. The spices are what I call the cookie spices like nutmeg, but it doesn't come off as sweet. Probably because of the grassy vetiver which is the dominant character.
It just has a very manly, classic scent. in Dr. No. Sean Connery James Bond for sure.
It might seem like the sent is more reminiscent of a smoke shop than a barbershop, but this complex men's cologne combines both.
It starts out with bergamot, the citrus from Calabria, Italy that is used in Earl Grey Tea. It's an almost orange spiced aroma. Then sandalwood, which smells like a classic barber shop shaving soap that gets lathered on the face with a badger hair brush. But, the finish is slightly smoky and rich with earthy spices.
It's not super heavy on the tobacco scent, or on the rum for that matter, so it isn't too heavy. It has a lighter scent that you would expect. Though, I wouldn't dare call it light! It is woody and herbal in a dark kind of way, if that makes sense.
So, in a way it smells more like an old barbershop than some of the others in this list. But, a barbershop that had lots of guys chewing tobacco and swilling rum from their hip flasks!
With a woodsy, vanilla scent at the beginning, you will definitely see how this could remind you of an old school barbershop. The aromas of shaving cream and bay rum come immediately to mind. The sweet tobacco scent will make you feel like you are in a smoking parlor with distinguished men smoking pipes. Not exactly old school barbershop, but there is something nostalgic about it so I included it on the list.
A little goes a long way as this is pretty potent. I would recommend a little spritz behind the ears or on the neck and that's it.
It has a fresh scent from the vanilla and saffron in it. But, behind that freshness lurks the dark, rich muskiness of that sweet tobacco. that will surely get some comments from people in your vicinity.
The barbershop is back!
With the return of classic barbershop culture, it has gotten really easy to find a way to stand out from the crowd and .
Certain things just never go out of style.
Smelling like a man is one of those things. You can never really go wrong by smelling like you just left a barbershop. Everybody loves that smell!
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