What Does a Dad Smell Like?
Photo: Alec Kugler

What Does a Dad Smell Like?

Here, 12 editor-approved fragrances that capture the essence of every type of dad.

In The Parent Trap, Hallie (disguised as her British twin Annie) takes a big whiff of her Mr. Monopoly-esque grandfather and says that she’ll always remember him for his signature scent: peppermint and pipe tobacco. I feel the same way about my dad—he has a very distinct scent and it’s basically burned into my brain. Granted, it’s courtesy of a 5-in-1 body wash that he buys from the drugstore, but it’s still significant: earthy, warm, and clean. In honor of Father’s Day, our team looked back on the scents that remind us of the dads in our lives and the fond, funny memories that these aromas trigger. Find the dad-inspired fragrances that made the shortlist for Father’s Day gifting, below.

Katie Mok, Editorial Production Fellow

Bamboo & Jasmine Body Mist

This scent immediately takes me back to childhood memories at the park, where my grandpa would take me almost every day. We would usually situate ourselves under the trees, playing for what felt like hours. On the weekends, my parents made it a priority to have a family day. We would usually spend our afternoons together in a park or by the water near our home. The freshness of this scent invokes these memories I have with both my dad and grandpa.

Nest Fragrances

Eucalyptus Spearmint Shea Butter Cleansing Bar

My dad loves this bar soap and for the past three Father’s Day's, this has always been included as a gift. After a long day of work and a solid three-hour pickleball game, this soap is his favorite to use.

Bath & Body Works

Dry Skin Cream

It’s a running joke in my family that my grandpa had the softest skin. Years later, my grandma outed him and revealed he has been using her cold cream at night! Turns out, when he was feeling dry he would just use her cold cream where ever needed. That explains why we had a drawer lined with cold cream, and why this cream smells so familiar!


Leya Kaufman, Head of Brand & Publisher

Haltane Eau de Parfum Spray

The newest launch from Parfums de Marly, Haltane, has aromatic notes like lavender and cedarwood that are comforting but bold, just like dad. To me and my sons, my husband is an effortlessly cool, modern-day superhero. This is a fragrance that echoes that persona–Haltane is fresh and confident.

Parfums de Marly

Baies Candle

This is the perfect Diptyque for dad. It’s an arguably universal scent in an unassuming, simple candle that doubles as decor. This is a great gift to give dad for his home office–he’ll think of you every time he sees it.


Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Shampoo

This shampoo has turned my husband’s two-minute shower into a modern-day spa at home. As a father of two, he never has time to relax–so, this is a game-changer. The best part? I’m obsessed with it too.

Paul Mitchell

Ama Kwarteng, Beauty Editor

Guilty Eau de Parfum Pour Homme

My father, an avid cook, is known for adding a touch—or two—of spice to round out a dish. Similarly, this fragrance packs a punch, thanks to notes that include hot chili pepper, fresh rose, and cedarwood, for a scent that’s memorable but not too overpowering.


Hero Eau de Toilette

Growing up in Ghana in the ‘70s and ‘80s, my father will often tell stories about the lush landscape complete with citrus trees, from which he’d pick off fruit to eat on the walk to school. The fresh and bright bergamot notes in tandem with woody base notes in this fragrance evoke those nostalgic memories while rendering a scent that is modern and fresh.


Mister Marvelous Eau de Parfum

Speaking of citrus-led scents, this scent opens with mandarin and neroli and it closes with warm notes of amber and cedarwood. It’s a complex scent with an interesting texture—one that reveals hidden layers the longer you wear it. “Mister Marvelous was always a project intended to celebrate great character, resilience and creativity,” says Byredo founder Ben Gorham. The fresh, crisp, and comforting scent reminds me of my father and all the times we spent outdoors in Ohio during my childhood.


Sumiko Wilson, Beauty Fellow

Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Dads can be trendy, too. I typically only smell the leathery aroma of Santal 33 when there are hypebeasts huddled in my vicinity. Though my dad doesn’t fit that descriptor, he has a fondness for what’s trendy and making it his own. He used to be a DJ and when I was a kid, he would make mixtapes where he’d mix the trendy songs that we loved with his signature oldies and play it when he picked us up from school (I hated it at the time, but I can now confidently say that he has the greatest music taste of anyone I know). Putting him on to Santal 33 would be an ode to that blend of old and new (I’m not calling you old, dad, but you know what I mean).

Le Labo

L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Eau de Toilette Spray

When I asked my dad to narrow down his favorite fragrance, he said, verbatim, “I’m diggin’ Cool Water.” The fact that he says "diggin’" tells you everything you need to know about my dear old dad. He’s a very cool guy and that manifests in how he presents himself: the clothes he wears, the car he drives, the sunglasses he keeps on-hand, and the fragrance he spritzes on. Cool Water is cool, yes, but the aroma can be a bit soapy, so I’d suggest dad swap it out for L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme, since sources say it’s comparable in its crispness but significantly sleeker.

Issey Miyake
$102 $87

Internal Affairs

All of my favorite memories with my dad revolve around being in the car with him. He always had Black Ice air fresheners dangling beneath his rearview mirror. That scent is very fond to me, but it’s not necessarily something you’d want to be doused in. This unisex fragrance feels like it captures the smooth DNA of scents like Black Ice and elevates it with notes of blackcurrant, patchouli, and cedarwood.

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