Recently I had the chance to test out not just Hawthorne’s cologne, but their full line of men’s grooming products.
I spent a few weeks wearing two of their scents, using their deodorant and showering with their body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
In this post you’ll learn everything that came out of my thorough and (spoiler alert!) thoroughly fresh-smelling test.
I had never heard of Hawthorne before one of their PR reps reached out to ask if I’d be willing to collaborate with them.
As always, I made it clear that I would only accept samples of their products if there were NO STRINGS ATTACHED. I tried all of the products they sent me for a full month, then summarized my honest, unfiltered opinions for this review.
And with that disclosure out of the way, on to the review!
Hawthorne Cologne Review
Plus! Bonus Reviews of Hawthorne’s Deodorant, Shampoo and Other Men’s Grooming Products
As a style blogger and (I must confess) a full-blown menswear junky, I like to say that shoes are the secret weapon of style.
But your scent? Well, that’s basically the opposite of a secret.
Far from being clandestine, your scent is one of the first things a person will notice about you, and a fundamental part of making a strong first impression.
And while there are plenty of products that can help guys smell good, the problem is that they don’t necessarily all work well together.
So I was intrigued by Hawthorne’s offering of cologne, deodorant and shower products that are all designed to not only work well together, but to specifically suit my personal tastes and needs.
Let’s take a look at how the Hawthorne process works and find out if their cologne and other grooming products are as handsome-smelling as advertised.
How Hawthorne Works
The process of selecting and ordering products from Hawthorne is different than any other company I’ve seen.
Instead of laying out all of their products for you to choose from, their website asks you to take a quiz so it can determine which of Hawthorne’s products will be best for you.
If the word “quiz” gives you uncomfortable flashbacks to sixth grade math class (No? Just me? OK fine, I confess—I hate long division and I’m still not over it), don’t worry:
The quiz is relatively straightforward and easy. All of the questions are multiple choice (so much easier than long division) and ask you about your skin type, hair type, grooming habits and needs.
The quiz only takes a minute or two to complete, and it’s interesting because it makes you consider a number of factors that you probably wouldn’t associate with grooming, but that do play a role.
For instance, at one point the quiz asks you what your drink of choice (beer, whiskey, cocktail or wine). What does this have to do with grooming, you ask?
Well, more than you might think. As an article in Well + Good so succinctly put it: “booze can turn your body odor into a stinky mess.”
Now, it’s not entirely clear whether or not the type of booze you drink makes a big difference to your scent, but I appreciated the fact that Hawthorne at least considered the role that alcohol plays in my life when selecting my scent.
(Especially since my wife is a sommelier and we do enjoy sharing a fine bottle of wine every now and then… by which I mean, mostly now).
Quick & Simple—But Not Scientific
To be clear, the quiz consists of 21 quick questions, so by no means is it scientific. I’m sure there are only a few variations of each product available, and a lot of guys who say their favorite booze is beer end up with the same cologne or deodorant as whiskey drinkers.
But if nothing else, I appreciated that the quiz made me a little more mindful of my habits and other factors that can affect my self-presentation, and I was curious to see what products they would come up with for me.
So let’s take a closer look at each of those products and find out how they performed.
Hawthorne Cologne Set:
Are their scents up to snuff?
Another interesting aspect of Hawthorne is that they don’t just recommend one cologne for you, they give you two: one for “Work” and one for “Play.”
In some ways, this makes total sense. Most of us have one personality type or manner of behaving when we’re with our colleagues at the office, and a slightly different one when we’re with our friends at the bar later that evening.
In the past I’ve always tried to choose one cologne that would work well for any situation, but I liked the idea of having two different options.
Hawthorne “Work” Cologne
My Work cologne was described as “citrus and woodsy,” which is pretty much exactly what it smells like.
As a blogger and creative type who largely works in various Toronto coffee shops, I would probably never have used the words “citrus and woodsy” to describe my ideal scent for typing away on my laptop.
So, I have no idea how my quiz answers convinced them that this would be the right formula for me.
But I’ll say this: the first thing my wife said when she smelled it was “that smells sexy,” so I’m willing to admit that the quiz’s algorithm might be on to something.
Hawthorne “Play” Cologne
The Play cologne was described as “fresh and aquatic,” and the formula apparently included an “intricate marine sandalwood.”
Truth be told, I have no idea what most of that means, but at least one word in their description really stands out: fresh.
To me, the Play cologne smells even better than the Work one, and gives off a sort of sophisticated-but-fun-loving vibe, which is pretty much exactly what I’m going for.
Before trying Hawthorne’s colognes I had usually opted for heavier and more musky scents, but both the Work and Play colognes were lighter and fresher.
As a result, they smell more modern, and both feel like the perfect fit for a 21st century gentleman.
I remember once reading a review of Montblanc Legend cologne in GQ that said it “smelled like what I imagine James Bond to smell like.” (Not surprisingly, I subsequently bought and wore that cologne for the next eight years.)
While I can’t imagine 007 rocking either the Work or Play scents, I can absolutely imagine modern style icons like Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, or any of Hollywood’s various Chrises wearing these scents.
Hawthorne Cologne Price
Overall I’m really quite impressed with both of Hawthorne’s colognes, which is especially impressive considering how affordable they are.
After you fill out Hawthorne’s quiz, they recommend products for you in three different categories, or sets: a cologne set, a hair set and a body set.
You can decide whether you want to buy one set, two of them, or all three (in which case you get a discount). The total for all three of my sets came to $127 if purchased together, a discount of $20.
The cologne set was priced at $100 for both bottles, or $50 each. You don’t seem to have the option of buying just one of the two scents – they only come as a package – but $50 for one 1.7 fl oz bottle is a pretty good deal, especially for scents this good.
You can easily pay $60 or more for brand name colognes, even from retailers like Amazon that tend to offer the best prices, so Hawthorne’s cologne is priced quite competitively.
If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest cologne you can find (and if so, fair enough – you’ll find no judgment here) then you may not want to shell out for Hawthorne.
But for just about everyone else, the price is really quite fair, and considering that they at least try to provide you with a scent that will suit your personality and lifestyle, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.
The Cologne Conclusion:
Can Hawthorne Cologne Help You Smell Suave and Stand Out?
In one word? You’re damn right it can. (Yeah, I know—I told you I hate math!)
As mentioned above, the two Hawthorne colognes I tested both smell fresh, modern and handsome, and I was more than happy to add them into my rotation.
Both are scents that I probably wouldn’t have selected for myself if I was shopping and testing them out in a department store, so I also appreciated that as a result of completing Hawthorne’s quiz I was able to benefit from a couple colognes that I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.
If you’re looking for a couple good new colognes in the $50 per bottle range (and don’t mind buying two at a time), I highly recommend trying Hawthorne.
Scents can be subjective, so when assessing Hawthorne’s cologne offerings, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what the Fragrance Ninja had to say in his assessment of both the Work and Play colognes:
My Hawthorne package included all three of the aforementioned sets – cologne, hair and body – so I thought I’d also share my thoughts about their other products.
I used all three sets (to varying degrees, as you’ll read below) during the same month-long period that I tested their cologne in order to test two factors:
- How well each product worked on its own merits, and
- How well it combined with the cologne and other products.
Hawthorne Deodorant Review
Hawthorne’s “Body Set” consists of three products – deodorant, body wash and body lotion – but I want to highlight the deodorant because it was a real stand out.
I’ll admit that before I tested Hawthorne’s stuff, my bar for what makes a “good” deodorant was pretty low.
I of course know that I should look for sticks that are free of aluminum and won’t use weird chemicals or toxins to clog my sweat glands, but I have to admit: that’s not my main concern when buying deodorant.
Instead, I mostly look for three things in a deodorant. I want it to:
- prevent me from sweating through my shirt (which is not always an easy task)
- glide on smooth without leaving white streaks under my arms, or on my clothes after I pull my shirt on, and
- not have a strong scent that would interfere or clash with my cologne
For the most part, my go-to deodorant for meeting these three criteria is the unscented version of Speed Stick, which usually does the trick and comes pretty cheap.
Speed Stick occasionally leaves a white streak on my shirt when I wear dark colors, but I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting it early, and it wipes off quick with a bit of water.
All of which is to say that I didn’t really feel like I needed to upgrade my deodorant.
Boy was I wrong.
(So for those keeping track at home, you can put “accurate deodorant assessments” right along with “long division” on my list of weaknesses.)
The first thing I noticed about Hawthorne’s deodorant was its shape.
Where pretty much every other deodorant I’ve tried features a long, oblong-like shape, Hawthorne’s is perfectly round; with the cylindrical matte black container it comes in, it looks like a big gelatinous marble being shot out of the barrel of a gun.
None of that has any bearing on how well the product works, but it definitely makes putting it on each morning feel cool.
And the way it works may be even better than the way it looks.
Hawthorne’s deodorant is made from “witch hazel and nettle leaf,” and while I have literally no idea what either of those things are, I know this: they make for a hell of a deodorant.
The company claimed that my deodorant would prevent odor, absorb sweat and leave me free of stains – my holy trinity – while being aluminum-free, to boot.
In the past whenever I’ve tried “natural” deodorants I’ve found them ineffective at preventing sweat and masking odor, so I have to admit I was pretty skeptical going in. But after a couple days of wearing the deodorant in some pretty intense (read: sweat-inducing) situations, I was shocked at how well it worked.
It definitely fulfilled all three of my criteria, and I have to admit I really like the fact that it’s aluminum-free. I mean, I like a good tall can as much as the next guy, but the thought of rubbing one under my arms until my sweat glands are clogged doesn’t scream “perfect remedy” to me.
As if that weren’t enough, Hawthorne’s deodorant smells fresh, but not strong—I had no fear that it was going to be overpowering or clash with my cologne once I sprayed it on.
While my Work and Play colognes were “citrus and woody” and “fresh and aquatic,” respectively, Hawthorne described the deodorant as “cooling mint and eucalyptus.”
I’m not enough of a scent expert to know if those scents are technically complementary, but I can tell you they definitely don’t clash.
(No, that’s no a typo—there’s really only one minus)
While I definitely appreciated the product itself, there is one rub: you’ll have to pay for the privilege of using it.
Whereas my Speed Sticks only cost about three bucks a pop, if you wanted to order a stick of deodorant on its own from Hawthorne, it would set you back $15.
Now, the good news is here is that, as I mentioned earlier, the cost for all of their products comes down as you start to bundle them, but no matter how you slice it, this deodorant is significantly more expensive than your run-of-the-mill drugstore options.
Since it’s a much higher-quality product than your average drugstore option I would say it’s actually still worth the money – again, I was kind of blown away by how good it is – but whether or not you want to spend that much on your deodorant is a personal choice you’ll have to make for yourself.
Hawthorne Body Wash Review
After reading my thoughts on their cologne and deodorant, it probably won’t shock you to learn that I also really enjoyed Hawthorne’s body wash.
Since I went on at length about the first two product lines I’ll keep this section (relatively) short.
The body wash was excellent. After taking the quiz, I ended up with Hawthorne’s “hydrating” body wash, which the package said would smell like “revitalizing mint and eucalyptus.”
But I would use another word: invigorating. The body wash had a fresh, masculine scent that helped me wake up a little bit each morning, but didn’t linger when I went to apply my deodorant and cologne a few minutes later.
My only complaint? There wasn’t enough of it!
This is something I encountered when I reviewed Marlowe’s body wash as well: the product is great, but the packaging is small (especially for something like body wash, where it’s easy to use a lot of it and run out quickly).
I suspect this is part of the plan, since it requires you to regularly order more if you want to keep your supply well stocked. But as someone who’s used to buying heaping bottles of body wash at the drugstore, I would have liked Hawthorne’s bottle to go a little further.
Hawthorne Final Thoughts
Overall I was super impressed with Hawthorne’s whole line of products. If you’re looking to step up your grooming game, I highly recommend you take their quiz and order the products they “tailor” to you.
In terms of quality, all of their products are top shelf, and some (namely the deodorant) are among the best I’ve ever tried.
In terms of price, they come right down the middle.
The cologne is very reasonably priced for a product and scent of such high quality, while the (this bears repeating) excellent deodorant is much more expensive than other alternatives, though admittedly provides the bang for you buck.
If you’re at a stage where you feel willing to invest in some high quality grooming products, I recommend picking up the whole Hawthorne package and trying out their products.
Buying all three sets is more cost-effective than buying a couple products individually, and testing them altogether (as I did) will give you a good sense of whether or not you’ll want to re-up and order more in the future.
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More Resources ↓
From Irreverent Gent:
- The Best Way to Wear Cologne
- 18 of the Best Cheap Colognes for Men
- In Review: Marlowe Shave Cream, Deodorant and Body Wash
Hawthorne Reviews From Around the Web:
As the founder of Irreverent Gent, Dave shares smart style advice that helps guys look sharp, and smart-ass jokes that make them wish he’d just stick to advice. When not blogging, he loves working out, obsessing over the MCU (#ILoveYou3000) and pretending to know about wine when his wife takes him somewhere fancy.