It used to be something you found in your parent’s bathroom, more of an afterthought than a necessity. Aftershave has come a long way since then. We all know what happened to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone when he used that stinging splash on his eight-year-old face. However, this isn’t the 1900s, and you’re not a child. I decided to go digging into the details of this grooming essential, and I found out there are a lot more reasons to use aftershave than you might expect. If you don’t already own a bottle or two, you might want to add it to your shopping list.
Should you use aftershave? You should use aftershave if you plan on shaving. It’s important to know that areas of the body other than your face can benefit from using aftershave. Manscaping and self-care are the new masculine normal, so don’t get left behind.
Why You Need To Use Aftershave
Whatever your reason for skipping the aftershave, you can stop torturing yourself now. Though you can argue against it, most skin could benefit from aftershave. There are too many men who think shaving is supposed to leave their face, or body, feeling raw, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable. That isn’t the case at all.
Men have to contend with sensitivity, dryness, oily skin and more. Ingrown hairs, folliculitis, rashes and even infections are also common side effects of shaving. If you’re not careful, or your technique is bad then you’ve had more than your share of nicks and cuts on top of everything else. However, continuing to put up with all of that is unnecessary.
Yes, dragging a razor across your skin dozens or hundreds of times can certainly chafe. Taking extra steps to ensure your skin is at it’s best is just common sense. Aftershave, along with a good shaving routine, can help prevent problems.
When Should You Avoid Aftershave
As long as your skin is reasonably normal, you should be using aftershave every time you use a razor. Shaving is not meant to be a one-step process. Treating it that way is what leads to skin problems. Unless you have an unusual skin condition or serious damage like burns or open wounds on your face, there’s no good reason to avoid aftershave.
The trouble most men have with their aftershave is a lack of research. You get some cheapie bottle when you’re young and that’s as far as it goes for too many guys. They assume there’s nothing more to it. Don’t let a bad experience or a lack thereof cheat you out of better skin.
The only aftershave you should skip is the bargain bin variety. Instead, figure out what challenges your face and body deal with most often and match your needs to the aftershave you use. You should also consider upgrading the way you shave or switching to a wet shave, but that’s a different issue.
Use Better Aftershave, Get Better Results
You’ll be shocked when you feel the difference that using the right aftershave makes on your skin. Using the wrong product on your face not only defeats the purpose, but it can make things worse by adding undesirable ingredients like paraben and sulfates to your skin. Bad aftershave might exacerbate the problem, but the right choice can change the way you feel about shaving.
Don’t ever ‘just grab’ a random bottle of cheap aftershave so you have something for your face. Unfortunately, if you only spend a dollar, you’ll get what you pay for. Some great aftershaves can be surprisingly cost-effective. Getting a great value isn’t difficult. You shouldn’t need to spend more than ten to twenty dollars to save your face from unnecessary roughness.
Top Aftershave Pick to Use Daily
One of my favorite all-around great, reasonably priced aftershaves is the Duke Cannon Ice Cold After-Shave Balm that I get from Amazon. Not only is it alcohol, paraben, and sulfate-free, but it’s packed with beneficial ingredients like aloe and tea tree oil. Plus Duke Cannon has a nice menthol cooling sensation. Better yet, it’s cruelty-free, made in the USA and a portion of their proceeds go to US veterans. You can check out prices and availability by clicking here.
What Type of Aftershave is Best for Your Skin
Every man has their own unique set of challenges when it comes to their face. Finding the right aftershave to use is only part of the process. While some guys struggle with nicks and cuts from bad razors or shaving technique, some have older, thinner skin. Still, others have to worry about acne and folliculitis.
Unfortunately, there’s no single perfect aftershave for everyone. In fact, different men need different styles of aftershave. There are two main varieties. Balms tend to be thicker and more moisturizing while splashes tend to be more liquid and drying.
Balms Vs. Splashes: Which One To Use
Before you can figure out what the best aftershave is for you to use, you need to take a look at your skin. Finding the right aftershave doesn’t have to be needlessly complicated. Answer a few questions and narrow down what will work best for your skin:
How do you shave?
There are several ways to shave and each has its own challenges and benefits. Using different types of aftershave can help mitigate the downsides of each.
If you use a disposable multiblade razor then you’re going to get more irritation below your skin. The super-close shave is a result of the blades lifting the hair out of the skin and then cutting it off so it will drop below the surface. The multiple blades also mean more passes over the skin with each stroke. That removes oil and dead cells along with the hair.
Men who use an electric razor have a buffer of sorts between the skin and the blade. Regardless of whether it’s a foil shaver or a rotary, there’s a guard in place. If you push too hard, and most men do, then both styles tend to cause more small cuts and scratches along the surface. Additionally, electric razor users tend to shave dry more often. That can lead to dry skin.
Using a single blade safety razor or a straight razor is probably the most gentile way to shave since it involves fewer passes of a blade over the skin when done right. However, nicks and cuts tend to be worse. Also, cutting the hair off level with the skin means shaving more often for many men. Fewer shaving bumps and ingrown hairs mean a different type of aftershave.
Keep in mind you can have any skin issue with any razor. These are just some of the common complaints about each type.
Is your skin dry, oily, neither or both?
Men’s skin naturally produces more sebum than women. The skin is a little thicker and it grows more hair, so men tend to have oilier skin. However, shaving, smoking, where you live, and your health among other factors can cause dry skin.
If you tend to have a lot of acne as an adult then you may have oily skin. Similarly when you suffer from folliculitis, which looks a lot like acne but involves hair follicles getting infected instead of pores, then your skin may be extra oily.
Alternately, if you have beard dandruff or rough patches, then you’re probably the opposite. Dry skin isn’t just about feeling dry to the touch.
Do you have any skin conditions?
If you suffer from rosacea or have any sort of infection you’ll need a different type of aftershave than you would normally. You may want to talk to your dermatologist about what’s best for your particular skin.
Using the Right Splash Aftershave
Men who tend to have unbroken skin, ‘normal’ skin, careful shavers and the lucky typically benefit more from using an aftershave that’s a splash. Those who have extra oily skin may also benefit from this type. You can opt for an alcohol-based product, but I’d suggest using a witch-hazel base instead. These are often called ‘toner’ but don’t let the name fool you.
Choose an aftershave like Proraso After Shave Lotion that uses water and witch hazel instead of alcohol to help soothe your skin. You can find out more about Proraso by clicking here. Witch hazel has the same astringent effect that alcohol does, but without the drying effect. Plus Proraso smells fantastic.
Finding the Best Balm Aftershave
If you tend to have bad razor rash, lots of nicks and cuts, or bumpy, sensitive skin then use a balm style aftershave instead. The heavier formula provides more moisture to your skin while still acting as an aftershave splash in terms of soothing freshly shaved skin. Men with extra dry skin will want to go this route for better results.
Pick an aloe-based balm, sometimes called a lotion for your post-shave skincare. I suggest Brickell Men’s Instant Relief Aftershave for Men because it’s all-natural and helps combat razor burn especially well. Brickell is also great for men who get a lot of ingrown hairs. You can pick some up by clicking here.
Using Specialty Aftershaves
When you’re trying to combat a particular issue then you should always use an aftershave that helps. Naturally, if you’re taking any type of prescription medicine, you should always check with your prescribing physician or dermatologist before you add a specialty aftershave to your routine.
A great example of a specialty aftershave that might help with a specific issue is Pacific Shaving Company Caffeinated Aftershave, which reduces redness. Caffeine consumption has been shown to reduce risks of rosacea. Using it on your skin isn’t an FDA approved use, but using a product that’s more likely to help is always a solid choice. Get your a tube and try it for yourself by clicking here.
Should You Use Butters & Lotions
As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any name would smell as sweet.” It doesn’t matter what you call your aftershave, or what form it takes as long as you use it. Butters and lotions tend to be even thicker than traditional splash or balm. Similarly, if you see ‘Toner’ instead of ‘splash’ on a label, it just means the ingredients are skin firming.
The application method and texture aren’t the points of aftershave. Use whatever feels comfortable and contains the ingredients you need most. Don’t let a specific title trick you out of a great product.
Aftershave Ingredients: What to Use, What to Avoid
With so many choices out there, it can be hard to choose an aftershave to use. However, if the ingredients list looks like someone’s science pop quiz answers then you might want to think twice. Pick products that have ingredients you can pronounce. Natural and organic options are better for your skin most of the time.
When you aren’t certain what something is, either take a pass or take the time to look it up. A quick google search can save you a ton of trouble. Most of us carry smartphones and have computers at home and work. That means you have access to the greatest encyclopedia of information ever created by humans just a few clicks away. Use it to find out what you’re putting on your skin.
Don’t Use Aftershaves With These Ingredients
Some chemicals are just fine. I don’t want you to be afraid of every big word you come across. However, there are a few common aftershave ingredients you should avoid, at least until more testing is completed.
- Dyes & Colors
Most of us remember when red dye No. 5 was a sensational, potentially deadly problem in food. You probably won’t find that in your aftershave, but you might see FD&C Yellow No. 5. Unfortunately, while colored aftershaves might look nice, this dye has been linked to hyperactivity in children and possible cancer risks.
- Mystery “Fragrance”
If the ingredients include ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ that doesn’t tell you very much. Since these formulas are considered proprietary, manufacturers don’t have to disclose what goes into them. While it’s not hard to pronounce, there’s no way to know what it is. I suggest you move along to a brand that uses essential oils instead.
- Propylene Glycol
The FDA has approved this chemical for use in cosmetics. That’s enough for some guys. Regardless, it’s also an ingredient in antifreeze. If that doesn’t bother you then it’s your skin and you can do what you like with it.
- Benzyl Acetate & Ethyl Acetate
This pair of particularly alarming carcinogenic solvents are often found in aftershave. Both have been known to cause eye irritation, respiratory problems, and worst of all, they’re linked to pancreatic cancer.
Natural No-No’s: Plants & Animal Ingredients That Sound Good, but Aren’t
While you’re putting in the effort to read the labels, lookout for a few tricky natural ingredients too. Some things only sound like a good idea. I’m all for a natural solution, but sometimes it’s just an herbal problem. Never assume something is safe until you know how it works on your body and whether it has any bad side effects.
Lanolin is fine for some men, but if you’re allergic to wool then don’t put sheep oil on your face. Camphor is toxic in relatively small doses and eucalyptus shouldn’t be used topically. Similarly, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) isn’t so great if you take warfarin. GSE is known to increase the effectiveness of the medication warfarin, also called coumadin. Together they can lead to excessive bleeding.
Aftershave With These Ingredients is Especially Good for Your Skin
While the list of ‘don’ts’ is fairly short for aftershave, there is a massive list of helpful ‘do’ ingredients. Trying to put them all together would turn this article into an herbal dictionary. Instead, I’m including some of the most common and useful natural ingredients to keep your eyes open for on the back panel.
Keep in mind that ingredient lists are organized from greatest to least. Whatever is first or second is going to make up the majority of what’s inside your aftershave.
Water and Aloe Vera
Among the most gentile and soothing ingredients, both water and aloe make outstanding first-ingredients on any list. They’re safe for pretty much anyone’s skin and they don’t sting.
Distilled Vinegar & Witch Hazel
These are also common at or near the top of the list as well because they do double duty. Both are used as toners. Witch Hazel is an astringent that soothes inflammation. Distilled vinegar is sometimes used for natural disinfecting.
Alum, Acacia, Oatmeal, and Yarrow are all outstanding natural toners. They help to firm up your skin and tighten up your pores. Any natural anti-aging aftershave is likely to include one of these plant-based ingredients.
Silver Nitrate & Potassium
There are lots of astringent options, like alcohol and witch hazel. However, these two are also incredibly common in natural aftershaves and most men don’t know what they do. Essentially they help keep your skin clear by reducing oil. Potassium, in particular, is also known for helping increase blood flow to the surface of the skin. Better blood flow promotes healing.
Other ‘Good’ Ingredients
Chamomile and green tea are great soothers for your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. That means it draws moisture into your skin from the environment around you. Jojoba oil is similar to the skin’s natural sebum and vitamin E helps promote healing.
As you can see, the ‘good’ outweighs the ‘bad’ when it comes to aftershave ingredients. It might take a little time to check out products that interest you for safety and effectiveness. Luckily, once you find one that works you can stop looking.
Use Aftershave Everywhere
Wherever you shave, use aftershave. That said, you may want to be extra careful if you’re manscaping delicate areas. Moreover, you should always use the correct aftershave on each part of your body. If you have sensitive skin, but only below the belt, then get a sensitive skin balm just for that area.
If you’re looking for a great all-over aftershave balm for your body I recommend Lubriderm Men’s 3-In-1 Unscented Lotion. It was designed, by a dermatologist, for use everywhere. Click here to check availability since it sells out fast.
Manscaping is a standard part of grooming for adult men, at least in the western world. The increased popularity probably has as much to do with the health benefits as the fact that 93% of women prefer men who take the time to trim and shave their body hair.
Make Your Aftershave Work Better
Using aftershave alone will help with shaving related issues. However, there are other steps you can take to assure you’re grooming up to your full potential. Here are some tips and tricks for better shaving.
Hot Towel, Cold Towel
When shaving your face, act like a pro. Heat up a damp towel and relax for a few minutes with it wrapped around your face. The warm water will help soften your skin and hair, which lets your razor work more efficiently.
When you finish your routine, use a cool damp towel to close all your pores again. You can mimic this effect when you plan to shave all over by using your shower. First, take a quick hot shower. Stand under the water for a few minutes. Then do your usual shaving.
When you finish, jump back in a cool shower to lock up your pores and close down the follicles of your hair. Closing your pores this way helps keep dirt and oil out, preventing infection and irritation.
Use Shaving Creme or Gel
Dry shaving is for rookies. Choose a good moisturizing shave foam to move things along smoothly. Shaving cream helps lubricate the path for your razor. Plus it also adds an extra barrier between your skin and the blade.
Less contact with your skin means your razor has less chance to scratch the surface. You’ll have much less chance of getting razor burn when you insulate your face and body from the cold steel blade. As an added benefit, you can always opt for a shaving creme that reduces bumps or ingrown hairs.
Use Beard Prep
There are oils and balms created just for the pre-shaving stage. Using a pre-shave will help moisturize your skin, loosen up follicles so they let go of hair more readily and soften the hair further. You can use a beard-prep oil on other parts of your body but always check the ingredients first.
When in doubt, do a patch test. First, take a drop or two and put it on an inch or so of skin and hair where you plan to shave. Second, wait a few minutes and wash it off. Third, always give it forty eight hours before you go full steam with your plan. This gives your body time to have any reaction which might be delayed.
Use a Single Blade Razor Where Possible
Not every man is comfortable with a straight razor or safety razor. Sadly many disposable razor companies have switched to using just multi-blade razors. You may not get the same level of close-shave with just one blade, but you also lower the risk of ingrown hair and irritation.
If you need to use an electric because your hands are unsteady, or you just can’t bring yourself to let go of the multi-blade disposable, then use it right. Don’t push down on your razors. they’re meant to glide along the surface of your skin, not press it in. Also, make sure you don’t skip any of the other shaving steps.
Wash Off Loose Hair
Once you’re finished with your razor, make sure you rinse off. I don’t mean your razor blade. You need to wipe away any cut pieces of hair because they can stick around and scratch up your skin. No one needs extra irritation.
This should be obvious but use your aftershave. Whether you chose a lotion, balm or splash, aftershave is an important part of the shaving process. Without it, you’re leaving your skin exposed to unnecessary problems.
Always follow the directions on the bottle or tube. You don’t want to waste any of your aftershaves unnecessarily. Likewise, you need to make sure you use enough to do the job. It’s not an exact science, but typically there’s a suggested amount.
Sometimes the manufacturer even has a specific application that works best like patting or rubbing it in. Using your aftershave the way it was meant to be applied can make a difference in how effective it is on your skin.
Treat Other Skin Issues Seriously
When you know you have a skin condition, pay attention to what your doctor has said about it. Alternately, if you suspect something is wrong, have it checked out. You don’t want to accidentally make something worse when the answer was easily available.
Know When to Stop
It’s not common, but allergies and other complications happen. If something you do to your skin feels wrong, then stop immediately. A little tingling from menthol or a slight burn if you’re using alcohol splash aftershave is normal. It should pass in a moment or two. If not, wash it off right away and stop using the product.
Paying attention to what your body tells you is vital. You should always trust your gut if it says something isn’t healthy. You can always get a different aftershave, but healing damage takes time.
Should You Use Aftershave Without Shaving
Aftershave isn’t a cologne despite the fact that it often smells nice. You need it for a balanced and sensible grooming routine. The caveman days are over and modern man has to raise his standards. It’s not just about sex appeal. From first impressions to closing the deal, what people see is your face, and your face needs to look great.
What if you love the way your aftershave smells so much you want to use it as a cologne, or you like the way it works on your acne? It’s alright to use a little bit of aftershave for unshaved areas of your face or body. Don’t go overboard.
Use Aftershave to Smell Great
Who could blame you for wanting to smell like Clubman Reserve Whiskey Woods all the time? It’s one of the best smelling aftershaves you can get. Test it out yourself by clicking here.
When you don’t shave daily, you may still want to smell manly, and aftershave is a part of that scent. Especially if you use a splash, the ingredients in your aftershave are designed for skin that’s been scraped with a razor. Also, keep in mind, most aftershave only uses around 3% of the perfume ingredients inside it. That means it wears off faster. A small daub on a pulse point throughout the day is fine, but don’t slather your face for no reason.
Beyond that, you need to feel great so you can live up to your potential. Maybe you don’t think a little aftershave is enough to help make that a reality, but it is. Better self-care and modern hygiene both demand more from you, and you should too.
Little details like using aftershave to soothe your freshly shaved face in the morning add up. Less irritation is nothing to sneeze at. Over time, small improvements add up like interest on a savings account.
Feeling good means better health, for your body and your mind. Aftershave is one piece of a much bigger puzzle that can help you live your best life.