Honor Thy Father…by helping him smell good ~ scented gift suggestions for Father’s Day

My father loved clothes and dressing up, but he was also fond of walking around in his underwear or gardening clothes (“rags” my grandmother called them). He had a temper but was patient with animals, especially cats. His cats (at one point we had ten!) took turns sitting in his lap in the garden, and they all, man and cats, bird-watched together. The trait I appreciated most in my father was his curiosity. When I gave him gifts, he’d approach them with interest, as if they needed exploration, analysis. He wasted no opportunity to learn something. Once, for a present mind you, I gave him a boring book on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court; he read it from cover to cover. He loved antique folk sculptures of animals, so I bought him a homey little tome called “Carving Duck Decoys.” Father started carving ducks and several of them are staring at me as I write this. When it came to toiletries, my father used Ivory soap and old-fashioned drugstore shave cream until, thanks to yours truly, he became appreciative of, then addicted to, expensive shave lathers from England and all sorts of interesting soaps and potions. I can’t remember an “unsuccessful” gift to my father. I hope your father is as easy to buy for as mine was!

For fathers big and small, young and old, fancy and rustic; for regal and distinguished Fathers, fauxhemian pères, outdoorsy-sporty dads, and jazzy Daddy-Os, I present some gift ideas for Father’s Day.

If your father wears cologne, this blog is full of suggestions and ideas for gifts so, I won’t “talk” cologne today. For this Father’s Day gift post, I’m sticking with scented toiletries and sundries — soaps, lotions, shaving products and the like. Everything I’m recommending is scented; if your dad prefers (or requires) unscented toiletries I send him, and you, my regrets (though I do have some non-toiletry gift suggestions on my list).

Soaps & Bath Products

I love perfumed soaps as much as colognes; and I’ve certainly bought more scented soaps over the years than perfume (after all, a bar of soap lasts but a week at my house). What’s Father’s Day without a “retro” soap-on-a-rope (an American tradition)? Cambridge Chemists offers almond-scented D.R. Harris Luxury Soap on a Rope ($25). Rough-and-ready-type soaps are Carbon 2 Cobalt Guinness or Absinthe soaps ($8); Savon de Marseille Crushed Verbena soap ($12) from savoncrafts; or a splurge item, six olive oil/laurel soaps from around the world — Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, France, Tunisia, Greece — in a deco jar (French Soaps, $109). “Fancy” soap options include Caswell Massey Worldly Pleasures Collection ($50 for sandalwood-scented soap, cologne, shampoo and talc in a gift box); Atelier Cologne soaps in assorted fragrances (three large bars for $45) from Luckyscent (these are strongly perfumed soaps and produce lots of soft, luxurious lather); Malin+Goetz Mojito Soap Set ($30), three bars, one each of mint, rum, lime; or the Luxo Oporto Gift Set (at Smallflower, $22): three Portuguese bars of soap in lemon balm, sandalwood and Port Pear scents.

For non-soap-loving dads, try Crabtree & Evelyn Citron, Honey and Coriander shower gel ($20); Molton Brown Cool Buchu Bodywash ($28); Billy Jealousy Illicit Body Wash ($20); or Anthony Logistics for Men Body Cleansing Gels in Citrus or Eucalyptus/Mint ($18).

Non-lathering, but great smelling, bath products include Eau d’Italie Bath Salts from LAFCO NY (in the Eau d’Italie fragrance, ten single-use packets are perfect for travel, when a relaxing, fragrant soak is desired…and necessary, $35); Molton Brown Bracing Silverbirch Thermal Muscle Soak with wood, birch and linden aromas ($28); or Anthony Logistics for Men Sea Salt Body Scrub in nutmeg scent ($18).

Moisturizing Lotions

After bathing some good moisturizer is in order. Two of my favorites are the lightly scented, Kiehl’s Coriander Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal ($20) and Hermès silky Un Jardin en Méditerranée body lotion ($60). Australian Scent offers interesting, naturally perfumed products: a favorite is King David Bath and Body Moisturizing Serum, scented with Peru balsam, frankincense and cedar ($36); it can be used as a face or body moisturizer…or perfume. There’s also a travel-sized trial pack of Australian Scent’s most popular men’s skin care products ($39, includes Balm of Gilead moisturizer, soap, skin serums, and face cleanser/loofah in a zippered case).

Talcum Powders

Has the use of talcum powder gone the way of the at-home haircut? I love how talcum powder feels on the skin in hot weather. Two of my powder standbys are Caswell Massey sandalwood-scented Tricorn Talc ($14) or Floris London Cefiro Soothing Talcum Powder ($30), with wonderful notes of lime, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, jasmine, nutmeg, cardamom, cedar, musk and sandalwood.

Hair

Scented hair pomades make great gifts for preening Fathers. I’ve been using Kusco-Murphy Lavender Hair Cream ($30) for twelve years…need I say more? Another favorite is Kevin Murphy Easy.Rider hair cream ($25); it has a light citrus-floral-tea scent and lets your hair move in the breeze before returning it to “starting position.” Both these hair creams are available on Amazon.com. Lots of people, especially men, wouldn’t think about buying a “luxury” shampoo for themselves, so this is your chance to treat them. Some of my favorite shampoos are Tangerine Basil Hair Wash (and creame rinse) from Lather ($18 each); Vetiver & Rum Shampoo for Hair and Body by Helan Natural (with vetiver, black pepper and rum) at Smallflower ($25); or Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa Hair and Shower Gel ($46 at Grooming Lounge).

Shaving Products

Whether your father relishes the “art” of shaving or just wants to get it over with as quickly as possible, a few good shaving products can make the process more pleasurable. For brush-lovers, I recommend Penhaligon’s London Opus 1870 Shaving Cream scented with pepper, yuzu, clove, kyara wood and incense ($40). For guys who use an electric shaver on the face, head, or both: Trafalgar Pacific All Natural Shaving Oil, with tangerine, bergamot, cucumber, grapefruit and menthol, is a bargain at $6.95; Lather offers Citrus Soothing Pre-Shave Oil scented with lavender, orange, lemon, and cedarwood ($18). If your father has a moustache, encourage occasional “tweaks” and flourishes with Madame Scodioli’s Whisker Wax in the “Dust Shaker” scent (mahogany and sandalwood, $19) at Etsy. For a more “long-lasting” gift, give Czech & Speake No. 88 Traveller Size Shaving Dish and Brush (£110.00). Santa Maria Novella’s Luxe Gift Box ($207 at LAFCO NY) is the most expensive option on my gift-suggestion list; it contains shaving cream, before/after shave moisturizer, three bars of Russian Cologne soap (perfumed with bitter orange, bergamot and musk), and a bottle of Russian Cologne aftershave.

Deodorants/Bug Repellant = Tough Guys

Deodorants and bug sprays as gifts? For some manly-men who want no “sissy stuff,” these scented choices might be acceptable. Malin+Goetz has my favorite deodorant, Eucalyptus ($18); other great choices are the Eau de Cologne-scented Alvarez Gomez Roll-On Deodorant ($20) at MiN New York or Lucky Tiger Vetiver Deodorant and Body Spray ($18) with vetiver, rosewood and spearmint. Intelligent Nutrients sells Certified Organic Bug Repellant in Aromatic Spray or Serum ($26-28) made with decidedly un-chemical-smelling aromas of geranium, cedar, clove, peppermint, rosemary and lemongrass. Sports fiends (or gardeners) will appreciate Lucky Tiger Head to Tail Muscle Rub scented with wintergreen, eucalyptus, clove bud, menthol, peppermint and nutmeg ($12 tin); use this on hands and wrists before gardening to give hands “energy,” and make sure to get some under fingernails…the beeswax prevents grass stains on skin and makes cleaning nails easy (no more “dirty crescents”).

Organic?

Some men prefer their products CERTIFIED organic. Melvita and KENMEN-BC/ONE sell organic toiletries. Melvita After-Shave Balm smells great and feels wonderful on skin (with fig, aloe vera, lemon, honey, cypress and olive, $25). Relax (and cool off!) tired legs and feet with Melvita Relaxing Leg Gel ($21). Melvita’s Organic Shea Butter in a tin (no solvents used in extraction) can be used as a body, face or lip moisturizer ($28).

KENMEN-BC/ONE Therapeutic Waters Bath Melts ($8 each) come in six scents; try Paso Robles (patchouli, lavender, clary sage, marjoram, organic green tea, tiger lily) or Fiuggi (spearmint, sweet orange, fir needle, eucalyptus, thyme, organic calendula, peppermint, basil & globe amaranth). KENMEN organic soaps are beautiful to behold: Hammam Spice Route Soap ($9) contains lavender, sweet orange, spearmint, peppermint, grapefruit, tangerine, litsea cubeba, cinnamon, lemon, honey, gardenia; and Giza Pyramid soap ($8) has oils of olive, palm, coconut, soybean, shea butter, essential oils of sweet Egyptian orange, grapefruit, harshringar (night jasmine), and rosemary.

“I Hate Perfume” Dads

Now some suggestions for those men who don’t like scented body/face products AT ALL. Perhaps your father’s four-legged best friend would benefit from some good-smelling stuff? Dad might not scent himself but be willing to de-odorize the cat or dog. Try some of Santa Maria Novella’s deluxe pet products: White Musk Dog and Cat Deodorant ($18) or Dog and Cat Delicate Shampoo ($35). At least these presents will (most likely) make your father laugh.

If all else fails, candles are a good scented gift choice. If your father loves to read and hangs out at the library more than the local pub, give him Books and/or Leather candles from Assouline ($45). Astier de Villatte candles are now available at Barneys; try Commune de Paris ($75) with the scents of lemons and bergamot, styrax, nutmeg, and green almonds. Baxter of California, in collaboration with colette in Paris, has created the We Love California “Cruel Summer” candle ($30), scented with green, leafy top notes, lemon, hyacinth, cyclamen, marine accord, white musk and cedar.

Does papa like jewelry? What about a scented bracelet? Shakya Design sells scented sandalwood and rosewood bracelets in many styles – the longer they are worn, the better they’ll smell ($30 and up).

Some dads might not like fragranced products…period, but I’m betting they like FLAVORS. Chocolates are NOT just for moms, so treat your toiletries-adverse father to La Maison du Chocolat Bouchée Bacchus (raisins and rum in chocolate, $8) or some Fine Champagne Truffles ($44). Another chocolate option: Askinosie Chocolate Hazelnut Spread ($13). (Make sure the shipper takes into account hot weather; I’ve received chocolates in July and August without “incident.”)

Now, I’m feeling all “commercial!” If you’re lucky enough to have a father who loves you, I bet all he wants on Father’s Day is a long conversation or some time together; the "presents" listed here are just extras.

Note: Top image of the author’s father.

Product images:

top (l. to r.) KENMEN-BC/ONE Giza Pyramid soap; Czech & Speake No. 88 Traveller Size Shaving Dish and Brush; and Anthony Logistics for Men Citrus Body Cleansing Gel.

middle (l. to r.) Floris London Cefiro Soothing Talcum Powder; Penhaligon’s London Opus 1870 Shaving Cream; Molton Brown Cool Buchu Bodywash; and Atelier Cologne Trèfle Pur soap.

bottom (l. to r.) Lucky Tiger Head to Tail Muscle Rub; Santa Maria Novella Dog and Cat Delicate Shampoo; and Baxter of California We Love California "Cruel Summer" candle.

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34 Comments

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  1. odonata9 says:

    So many great ideas! Although I think I may be getting some of them for myself, not my Dad (although my Dad is Portuguese, so he might appreciate the Oporto soaps!). The Mojito & Oporto soap sets are going on my wish list – I love their M&G’s rum fragrance.

    • Kevin says:

      Odonata9: yes, there are lots of good Portugese soaps out there…I forgot BOOZE…I used to order white Port and it was delicious.

  2. Sadly, my own father doesn’t wear any sort of fragrance. Everything he did use save for shampoo & shaving cream was unscented. It’s a shame really because I love the smell of vaguely masculine colognes & shaving products. So sometimes I wear fragrances myself that smell like them instead.

    And that’s just lovely about the cats bird-watching with him.

    • Kevin says:

      Klytaemnestra; I’m sure my father’s cats had MUCH different ideas going thru their heads than he did while watching those birds!

      • Oh, I’m sure. My dad used to warn the family Bengal that if she ever did catch that Mockingbird who sat on the wall outside our house she’d have nothing left to watch.

  3. donnie says:

    Wow! Comprehensive! One of those “Cruel Summer” candles would be just the thing.

    • Kevin says:

      Donnie: yes…a lot of stuff!

  4. Janice says:

    Kevin, you’re brilliant—you just solved my gift dilemma. I just ordered (for the “unscented” father-in-law) the SMN Dog & Cat Shampoo, and a few other related doggy products, for his beloved terrier. (I got the “Whitening Powder” since it’s a white West Highland Terrier, and the ointment to prevent chapped noses and paws, since they’re in Minnesota.) I had no idea these even existed. It will (I think) make him laugh and these are also more likely to get more use than any scented people-grooming products we might have bought for him to use himself.

    • Kevin says:

      Janice: oh, GOOD! They’ll be such fun products to get…an unexpected.

  5. Merlin says:

    ‘The trait I appreciated most in my father was his curiosity. When I gave him gifts, he’d approach them with interest, as if they needed exploration, analysis.’

    That was actually a beautiful, and moving, tribute. Sounds like someone I wish I had known!

  6. Haunani says:

    I loved hearing about your father, Kevin. What sweet memories you have. I adored my dad, but he was NOT easy to shop for, bless his heart. Hey – that Lucky Tiger rub sounds like something we could all use!

    • Kevin says:

      Haunani: yes! I need all the energy I can get, from ANY source, to face my yard and weeds.

  7. jepster says:

    Kevin — thank you so much for your warm and thoughtful post! I miss my Dad, and even though he would never have thought of himself as a “scent guy” he did have a bottle of Aramis in the bathroom. Now, when I catch a whiff…I think of him. Happy Father’s Day to all — enjoy every wonderful Dad moment.

    • Kevin says:

      Jepster: you’re welcome

  8. faylene505 says:

    Kevin, it sounds like you and your father both respected and appreciated each other; what a rare and wonderful gift!

    Thanks for sharing many terrific ideas for “guy gifts”. For the fauxhemian peres (that term made me crack up), may I suggest some “faux de parfum” . . . or perhaps some “fauxlogne”? :-)

    • Kevin says:

      Faylene: there are plenty of Faux de Parfums out there!

  9. nozknoz says:

    Kevin, this post is amazing – you outdid yourself! It’s that kind of inspiration for which we are really thanking our parents for on Father’s (and Mother’s) Day, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your research, ideas, patient testing, writing skills and wit.

  10. Kevin says:

    noz: thanks…you’re so sweet!

  11. Tama says:

    I love your stories about your dad – I like his face very much.

    My dad is gone and I was never very successful at buying him smellies. He was, however, VERY successful at buying them for me. Maybe if he had hung around long enough to experience the full perfumistaness he inspired, I would have been able to introduce him to more scents.

    • Kevin says:

      Tama: RARE to find a father who knows how to buy for his daughter! Unfortunately, no one ever dared buy for ME…always afraid they’d pick the wrong thing.

  12. Tom Smith says:

    Hi Kevin!

    Since you’ve brought up men’s grooming products, I would like your advice on something. I’ve been running around looking for good pre/aftershave products for weeks and have had mixed results. I’m 28 and like to look and smell nice – bit of a preener as you put it – but I’m not really a ‘metrosexual’. Quite a classic masculine style in a lot of ways.

    Anyway, I want to find some good shaving products, I do not order things on the internet, but I have access to many great stores such as Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy, the Bay, Sephora, Murale, and anything else the great metropolis of Montreal offers.

    Razors, by the way, not electric. Thanks!

    t

    • Santemon says:

      Tom, I highly recommend Edwin Jagger’s shave creams and soaps, after shave lotions, and recently they have launched a pre-shave lotion as well. From their website looks like Fendrihan and Momentum Groomnig are stockists in Canada.

    • Kevin says:

      TS: I’ve become quite lazy and retired my shaving brush. I use simple old Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel! But for “after shave” products I love Acqua di Parma’s line…beautiful bottles and aromas that are not perfume-y. I think Holt Renfrew carries those…at least they used to at the Vancouver BC store.

  13. Jessica says:

    I bought some Lucky Tiger products for my husband once; he truly enjoyed them.

    Loved this article, and the photo of your father, Kevin! I’d say you have inherited his curiosity and his constant interest in learning.

    • Kevin says:

      Jessica: I hope so! (I have kept the cats to TWO though!) The Lucky Tiger stuff IS good…

  14. HemlockSillage says:

    What a lovely post, Kevin! It is a sweet tribute to your dad, and I loved reading about the products. My dad is a no funny business kind of guy, and doesn’t like to try new things much.

    The one shaving thing I’ve bought him that he loved was a crayon du rasage (sp?) from L’Occitane–he was down to a nub on his styptic pencil. It is a product to help stop bleeding after small nicks. That company has one in their Cade line, very inexpensive. Be well.

    • Kevin says:

      Hemlock: Thanks…I’ll have to look for that product! My “pencils” are in a HORRID, ugly, crumbly state…unsightly!

  15. eminere says:

    An epic post, Kevin. Thank you for sharing with us such a personal part of your life.

    • Kevin says:

      Eminere: It felt epic. HA!

  16. Santemon says:

    Who knew there was a brand called Australian Scent? The products sound great but looks like it’s a US based company and I can’t find an Australian stockist on their webpage… oh well, get to save my pennies that way!

    • Kevin says:

      Santemon: that just isn’t RIGHT, is it? Sorry you couldn’t find them in Australia.

  17. lilybug says:

    Lovely post! I adore the presents and resulting enthusiasm you gave your father. I wish I could come up with gifts as good as duck decoy making books and wish more that my dad embraced my gifts like that. I don’t think anything I’ve ever given him has really been successful. Now I mostly give chocolate (reduced down from general gastronomical delights) and even that is hit and miss at times. I will be keeping some of these gift ideas in the back of my mind to try out though :)

    • Kevin says:

      Lily: I hope SOMEthing works out!

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