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).
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).
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.
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).
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”).
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.
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.