Top 10 Scents Used in Men’s Body Products


Men want more variety in how they smell.“Men want more variety in how they smell.iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Men’s body products have certainly come a long way. Back in the old days, a cold menthol aftershave and some richly scented, woodsy cologne might be the only thing found in the old man’s medicine cabinet. Today, men are using facemasks and moisturizers, handmade soaps and all types of hair products. With so many options on the market, it’s important for manufacturers to get the scents right, especially because many men — with many different tastes — are new to using body products. Here are 10 of the top scents in men’s body products.


  1. Bay Rum
  2. Cedarwood
  3. Eucalyptus
  4. Musk
  5. Bergamot
  6. Vetiver
  7. Pine Needle
  8. Black Pepper
  9. Sandalwood
  10. Peppermint

10: Bay Rum

Bay rum may sound like something you’d pour in a glass over ice, but you’re more likely to find it in a shaving soap. Older recipes called for clove, bay and pimento oils combined with a good bit of rum, while more current recipes add some citrus notes, like lime, and other spicy scents, such as cinnamon. The result is a fresh, spicy and very manly scent. Bay rum is mainly found in shaving products, like soaps, creams and aftershave, but can also be found in lotions and colognes. While there are essential oil recipes that come close, most bay rum scents are fragrance oils.

The Original Bay Rum

The first bay rum was formulated in the West Indies. It was a distillate made from rum and leaves of the bay tree.

9: Cedarwood

Cedarwood is one of the few oils that comes from trees that are native to North America. It has a soft, woodsy smell that’s been compared to a No. 2 pencil, though we think it’s a little more fragrant than that. Because it mostly just smells like wood, you’d be hard pressed to find it in products without being mixed with other scents. It mixes well with citrus, floral and spicy scents, though we like it best combined with evergreen oils, like cypress and fir needle. When used in its essential oil form, cedarwood is great for oily skin and the problems that come with it.

8: Eucalyptus

Despite the intensity of its scent, eucalyptus is also strangely comforting — quite possibly due to its association with mentholated rubs and memories of childhood cold remedies. Eucalyptus is a popular scent in men’s body products, but because many guys don’t like to wear strong scents, you’re more likely to find it in shower gels and body washes than body lotions or creams. Eucalyptus mixes best with other strong scents, like peppermint and spearmint.

Eating Eucalyptus

Koalas are about the only animals with a digestive system that can handle the tough oily leaves of the eucalyptus tree.

7: Musk

Musk scents can be found in everything from cologne to aftershave.“Musk scents can be found in everything from cologne to aftershave.iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you’re into mellow, earthy aromas, then musk is a great choice. There are many derivations of musk fragrance oils, but the base of each is similar to the glandular secretions emitted from the musk deer. Fortunately, these days you won’t find any real deer musk in your oil because synthetic version can recall the natural scent. The earthy and mild notes of musk are quite popular for people who like to avoid strong floral or citrus smells and it’s available in a wide range of men’s body care, from deodorants and colognes to lotions and aftershaves.

6: Bergamot

Most men like citrus scents, but because grapefruit probably reminds them of a middle school girlfriend and lemon and lime are a little on the tangy side, they largely sway toward members of the orange fraternity — and bergamot oil is the Big Man on Campus. This clean and uplifting scent blends well with woodsy smells, for a fresh, yet manly, fragrance that works well in body washes and shower gels as well as lotions and face care.

Pricey Products

Because bergamot essential oil is fairly expensive and doesn’t have the most stable shelf life, you’re more likely to find the fragrance oil version in most products.

5: Vetiver

Vetiver is a grass native to India.“Vetiver is a grass native to India.iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If vetiver were a man, then he’d be a very manly, outdoorsy man. This powerful-smelling oil is quite smoky and earthy, with herbaceous and spicy undertones. Vetiver essential oil on its own is quite pungent, and is typically used as a base oil in perfume. But it’s also been reinvented as a much more pleasing smelling fragrance oil in men’s products. You’ll find it in body lotions, shower gels, balms, aftershave and a variety of other men’s bodycare products.

4: Pine Needle

You don’t have to own a flannel shirt to appreciate the smell of a walk in the forest, and that’s pretty much the essence of pine needle oil. This earthy scent is all mountain man fresh out of the woods and cool nights by the fire and no sitting in rush hour traffic and being late for a meeting, which is why it appeals to so many men. Other evergreen oils can be found in men’s body products as well, like cypress and fir needle. All of them are reminiscent of the woods and mix well with woodsy and citrus scents.

Calming Cypress

Cypress essential oil is known to be calming and soothing for rattled nerves.

3: Black Pepper

Black pepper: It's not just for dinner anymore.“Black pepper: It’s not just for dinner anymore.Photodisc/Thinkstock

Black pepper, which was typically only used as an essential oil in homeopathic medicine, has made a renaissance as a popular scent in men’s body products. (Though it’s been reinvented as a fragrance oil with a bit more of a scent to it — black pepper that’s made from the source just smells peppery.) This spicy scent gives your senses a little pick-me-up and mixes great with citrus scents, like bergamot.

2: Sandalwood

The smell of sandalwood may recall days of sitting around your college dorm room burning incense to cover up the smell of, um, pizza, but it’s actually considered quite a sophisticated scent in men’s body products. This fragrant oil has a rich, woodsy smell with a tinge of sweetness that’s rare to find in wood oils. It’s ideal for blending because it adds to, but doesn’t overwhelm the final scent. Sandalwood mixes best with floral and citrus oils.

1: Peppermint

Peppermint is hot in men’s body care for a lot of the same reasons that we like to eat it. It’s extremely pleasant smelling, it’s refreshing and uplifting to our senses and it leaves you feeling a little tingly. Peppermint is a great morning pick-me-up before you’ve had your coffee, so you’re sure to find it in plenty of shower products as well as shampoos and conditioners — not to mention lotions, balms and face care. Peppermint blends well with just about everything, especially other herbaceous, floral and citrus scents, making it quite possibly the most popular oil in men’s body products.

Lots More Information

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