Help me avoid smelling like a hacky sack all-star.
April 19, 2009 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to start using more natural bath and body products, but I don't want to smell like flowers or hippies.

I currently use Old Spice products for all my shower and deodorant needs, and love the way they smell, but want something more organic. Are there natural products out there with a more masculine smell than lilac and more pleasant than patchouli? I browsed the Lush site, and there seemed to be some possibilities there, but first hand opinions are appreciated. Deodorants are the main issue.
posted by Roman Graves to Shopping (26 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Why not go for unscented natural products, and then wear (or not) a cologne of your choice? I'm sure Tom's of Maine makes an unscented deodorant. If not, their lemongrass is fairly innocuous. Apparently they make a "woodspice" scent, but I cannot speak to personal experience with that scent.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:05 PM on April 19, 2009

Best answer: Bath soap, I love the Dr Bronner almond scent. The soap is bio degradable, completely organic, and cleans great. The peppermint is also nice, in the summer.

Deodorant, I just use the toms 12 hour unscented. No scent, and actually works the whole day. ( live in san diego, so I certainly put it to the test on hot days)
posted by ShootTheMoon at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2009

Best answer: The woodspice smell is actually pretty okay. I use the chamomile scent when I want to smell decent at work and it's a little froot-loopy but otherwise good. I htink all the Tom's scents are decent. Basically to avoid smelling like a hippie you want to avoid sandalwoods, musks and of course patchouli. Fotunately this is not difficult. The other wood scents are masculine and good, so I'd suggest cedars and balsams. They're not hippie-evocative. If you're going to Lush, which I'd suggest as I really like them, avoid their karma scents. I love them but they're hippie-ish. I had two great bath gels from them: happy4sad (fresh, citrus-y maybe not your thing) and some honey-scented thing that they seem to have discontinued but I liked a lot. You may want to just go to Lush and smell around. Good scents if you like Old Spice are likely to be spicey, tea tree-ish, some citrus/fruit (fig? apricot?) or smokey. Bad scents are likely to be earthy, mossy, musky and (possibly) sexy. I know nothing about the Lush deodorants but it looks like only one of them would really make you smell like a hippie.
posted by jessamyn at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2009

I make my own body spray using essential oils:

4 drops clove
1 drop patchouli
3 drop cinnamon
2 cups water

The patchouli blends well with the cinnamon and clove leaving the whole thing very un-patchouli like. I think it's a pretty masculine blend and I've had compliments from non-crunchy, male-admiring types. Me being male, this is a plus.
posted by zerokey at 8:21 PM on April 19, 2009

Don't buy the Burts Bees deodorants, they are worthless and full of bullshit marketing copy. Total waste of money, actually made my armpits smell worse.

I use Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, it's clean and not feminine.
posted by fake at 8:22 PM on April 19, 2009

An easy-to-find and possibly-pretty-cheap option is Dr. Bronner's. The labels are tripped-out, but they're pretty basic liquid castille soap, and they come in a number of floral and non-floral scents. You may get a kick out of the peppermint one -- I actually get a bottle of that for use in the summer because it has so much mint oil in it that the menthol also has a tactile cooling effect, and so in summer it feels WONDERFUL. But they also have eucalyptus and non-scented types.

Then there's also the "Kiss My Face" line of things; they have a wide range of scented and non-scented bath and shower stuff, and they also have deodorant.

You may also want to check out the "crystal" deodorant stuff -- it basically looks like a big gemstone you use like stick deodorant; I've not used it myself, but I've read others sing its praises.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 PM on April 19, 2009

I use Tom's of Maine deodorant (I have a girly smelling one but they make unscented and manly smells too).
The main thing to keep in mind when you're switching from Old Spice to organic stuff is that you're switching from antiperspirant to deodorant. They are totally different beasts. Deodorant won't make you sweat less and won't be as powerful or effective as you're used to in terms of smell control. Deodorant works well for people who don't sweat too much naturally and don't stink when they do sweat.

This rosemary shampoo smells good and manly in a fresh, woodsy way.

Seconding the Dr. Bronner's soap, though I prefer the peppermint. Makes your sensitive bits tingle in a good way!
posted by rmless at 8:30 PM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pro tip: I dilute (DILUTE! DILUTE! OK!) Dr. Bronner's soap at about a 1:10 ratio to water in foaming handsoap dispensers, and it makes a bottle of the soap last damn near forever, even in a house with filthy children and gardening enthusiasts. I'm crazy about the almond scent right now, but the peppermint seems to be the easiest to find.

Sandalwood is also a nice scent I commonly see in natural products and while it does verge on hippie, it's not as pungent as patchouli.
posted by padraigin at 8:32 PM on April 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

You posted that you browsed the Lush website - I'm a total LUSH devotee. They have many products that don't smell hippie-ish or flowery. Plenty smell like spices, citrus, or evergreens. And their shave creams (Shave the Planet and Prince) are awesome. I haven't had a single nick on my legs since using them. They also have Cosmetic Lad moisturizer especially for men.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:34 PM on April 19, 2009

Aveeno. I don't know if they make deodorants, but their soaps/lotions are great.
posted by availablelight at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2009

My wife buys stuff from The Body Shop and it's supposed to be all natural and not animal tested and all that. They sell men's deodorant, but I haven't used it.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 8:43 PM on April 19, 2009

I meant to say that I do like other man-compatible products from there.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 8:44 PM on April 19, 2009

I love Lush. I don't buy anything flower scented, though. But then again, I only get a face wash from them, and that smells of lavender, but it doesn't stay. Some of their products don't smell that feminine, or if they do, it's not very strong. Fortunately, the store gives out free samples, so if you want you can try them out and see how they match with your skin.

I second (or third) Dr. Bronner's soap. I use the almond, and I love it. It doesn't seem that feminine to me. I also use almond fragrance oil, and that could be a bit more so. But I don't think the soap alone has that effect.
posted by bookwibble at 8:57 PM on April 19, 2009

I really dig Kiehl's "Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant & Deoderant". It's a cream and works surprisingly well, as well as being effectively scent-free.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:11 PM on April 19, 2009

I like stuff from The Soap Opera here in town. They sell a lot of classic/foreign stuff and then they do custom products scented just about any way you want. My boyfriend is just like you; I wanted to buy him some special stuff with a shaving set for Christmas, but he very specifically didn't want to smell hippie-ish. I bought a bunch of their shaving soap disks, so I got some unscented and some aloe. Cucumber is also a nice smell; my dad has gotten some other stuff there and loves the vegetable soaps (the ones that were actually tomato and carrot and lettuce, which were very fresh). So those may not be the most masculine scents you'd think of, but they're surprisingly good. And the Soap Opera has loads of other scents (like a hundred or more).

I'm actually not a fan of Lush. I think their stuff is scented too heavily, and even if it's supposed to be all-natural, it's still full of SLS and that kind of stuff -- which is part of the reason you're trying to go natural, isn't it?

Kiss My Face is pretty good. Again, the unscented and other scents are pretty low-key. Any place that sells Kiss My Face will also sell a lot of other good natural brands, many of which will have men's lines. I agree with the notes about Burt's Bees; I haven't seen any of their stuff be very impressive, and most of it has claims that it doesn't back up (stuff with beeswax, for example, isn't anywhere near as good as stuff with help or avocado oils).
posted by Madamina at 9:13 PM on April 19, 2009

I also recommend Dr. Bronner's soap. You definitely need to dilute it, unless you're into furiously tingling nethers.

You should probably try to test the Lush stuff before you buy it. It's way too strongly scented for me, and, like someone says above, still has a lot of chemicals in it.

I have had this homemade deodorant bookmarked for ages, but haven't tried it yet. It looks really easy, and you can make it smell of whatever you want. You can buy essential oils, and maybe the other things you need to make it too, at the same natural foods store or co-op where you buy your Dr. Bronner's soap.
posted by apricot at 9:21 PM on April 19, 2009

Dr. Bronner's.

Having tried all the abrasive-laden soaps like Boraxo, Lava, and all the new pumice containing liquid soaps, I find Dr. Bronner's superior to ALL of them. A gear-head friend of mine turned me on to it, and at first I thought he was pulling my leg, but now I'm a complete believer.

I shave my head as well as my face, and Dr. Bronner's can even be used in place of shaving cream or gel, though it works so well in this regard you need to be gentle. I sometimes follow a regular gel shave with a final Dr. Bronner's pass, especially if I've let the stubble go all Sonny Crockett for a few days.

It literally leaves your skin squeaky clean.

Dr. Bronner's. Seriously.
posted by Tube at 9:34 PM on April 19, 2009

I've purchased from Daybreak Lavender Farm and have loved their handmade soaps. They have a list of stuff designated for men but also break down their supply by scent.

I highly recommend the Loofah soaps. Praire Mint might be good for a guy (I liked it for me and I'm a woman who dislikes floral scents).
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 9:55 PM on April 19, 2009

Dr. Bronner's is pretty good stuff. Although I don't find my skin squeaky clean... rather, I find it tends to leave a slight residue behind. So, I really only use it when I'm backpacking.

As for Lush... I like a lot of their stuff, but, honestly, their soaps suck in my opinion. All of them that I've tried are over-moisturized and leave me feeling like a took a bath in Lubriderm. The only exception I've found is some black stuff they make called "Coal Face" or "Coal Dust" or some "Coal $noun".
posted by Netzapper at 2:11 AM on April 20, 2009

Best answer: Look for natural products scented "Bay Rum." It's theeeeeeee original masculine scent, nary a floral or herbal to be sniffed.
posted by headspace at 5:10 AM on April 20, 2009

Re: deodorant: I used the recipe linked above as a jumping off point for my own recipe and it works well. Both I (a girl) and my boyfriend have been happily using it daily for the past 6 months. My recipe is:
6 tbsp. virgin (solid) coconut oil
3 tbsp. cocoa butter
2 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. tapioca starch (super cheap, found at asian groceries)
10-20 drops of tea tree oil
5-10 drops of lemongrass oil

Gently melt the coconut oil/cocoa butter together, add the rest of the ingredients.

I like to pour it into an empty solid deodorant tube while it's still warm and apply it just like normal deodorant because applying it with fingers = no go for me. The success of this depends on how hot the ambient temperature in your deodorant storage area is, however. I haven't had a single melting problem yet and I just keep mine in my medicine cabinet in my normal, temperate climate living home.

Early in my experimentations with my recipe I discovered that the tea tree oil is ESSENTIAL. I didn't use it in the first iterations of the recipe and while I didn't smell like a hippy or have typical B.O., I *did* smell exactly like cat pee by noon. It was (understatement) HORRIBLE. The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine who was experimenting with homemade deodorant at the same time I was. So, um, don't skip the tea tree oil if you try this recipe.
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2009 [5 favorites]

Oh, headspace beat me to it - bay rum is an wonderful smell! I mix it with a "tea" fragrance (I'm a girl) so it makes it a little less masculine - and I get crazy compliments on the way I smell. I have also used the LUSH deodorants, and I love all of them. My ex used to swear by the T'eo, and that had a nice, clean smell.

And I also use the Dr. Bronner's soap (or the Trader Joes equivalent, which is actually better for my skin because they add aloe to it) - it's the default soap in the outdoor shower (that peppermint tingle IS great in the summer) as it washes bodies and hair and bathing suits and everything else.
posted by coollibrarian at 6:49 AM on April 20, 2009

The Body Shop is now owned by L'Oreal, which may or may not make you less inclined to purchase there.

We have Neal's Yard in the UK, perhaps have a look on their site? Not cheap though.
posted by mippy at 7:43 AM on April 20, 2009

Best answer: My honey uses Dr. Bronner's soap, but I've mandated that it be the unscented variety on the places where I put my face, because almondy balls were weird.

Then he uses Neutrogena Body Oil which has this not-so-foodlike Sesame scent and I love love love it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:47 AM on April 20, 2009

If you've never smelled the Lush store (and if you've walked within 50 yards of one, you will have smelled it) then I wouldn't jump in feet first into Lush products if you don't want to smell girly/hippie. That store, and almost all of their products, is one of the strongest-smelling, allergy inducing places I've ever been to/near. The jump from Old Spice to Lush is.... well ok, I suck at analogies, but there are a million options between. Many of which have been mentioned above. Kiss My Face, Dr Bronners and Desert Essence I can vouch for.
With that said, I have yet to find a natural deodorant that not only is effective, but that doesn't make me smell worse.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:53 PM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great input, gang. I stopped by Lush and pick up some Virgin Olive soap and T'eo deodorant. Surprisingly (because yes, the place smells like a French whorehouse) the soap is really subtle and just leaves a "clean" smell for a few hours. The T'eo deodorant is pleasant, and by the end of my somewhat sweaty workday I couldn't smell the fragrance anymore but I didn't stink either. My only problem with it so far is that getting it on my hands when I put it on is kind of annoying. I also got some Dr. Bronner's tea tree soap which was great, too. I intended to avoid them, but apparently Burt's Bees makes a much loved bay rum soap and cologne that I'll check out also. Y'all definitely set me on the right track!
posted by Roman Graves at 2:31 AM on April 21, 2009

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