Perhaps as a young boy, you watched your father shave in the mornings as he went about his morning routine for work. Him standing there, pulling his mouth in all kinds of directions as he pulled the razor through the shaving cream, making streak after streak disappear, and finally, it was all gone. He would wash his face, then pat it dry before splashing on his aftershave, a smell you associate with him even today.
But what was the purpose of this fragrance he would splash on his cheeks? If you were of the thought that this is all aftershave is, a mere way to smell fantastic, you’d be wrong. But then, what does aftershave really do?
Why Do Men Use Aftershave?
Before jumping headfirst into what aftershave does, let’s first explore why we use it.
The primary purpose of aftershave is to soothe and protect the new skin on your face.
Shaving works as a form of exfoliation. A layer of dead skin cells builds up on the surface of our face. When we shave, we remove the hair and this layer of cells, leaving the new layer of skin exposed and raw. This skin is sensitive and easily irritated. Irritation may occur as a result of your shave or from pollutants and dirt in the environment.
Aftershave helps to soothe the skin and protect it from irritation.
What Does Aftershave Do?
Aftershave Hydrates Your Skin
The use of alcohol aftershaves is few and far between these days, especially at a barbershop. This is because alcohol, while an excellent antiseptic, is harsh and causes dryness of the skin.
However, now we have access to a range of aftershave balms and lotions that help hydrate the skin and soothe and protect it from irritation and infection. A far cry from that splash aftershave of yesteryear, these post-shave products now work as a premium moisturizer that no shaving routine should be without.
Following up your shave by rinsing your face with cold water to tighten your pores and applying a good quality shave balm is the perfect way to keep your skin supple and protected.
Aftershave Prevents Infections
Many men use aftershave as an antiseptic to prevent infection. When we shave, we skim a layer off the surface of our skin, leaving it raw and exposed. Shaving also removes the hair that protects our skin, and it opens up our pores. By leaving our skin exposed like this, it becomes more susceptible to infection. Bacteria can make their way into the open pores causing ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and breakouts.
If you were to cut yourself while shaving, this opens up another avenue for infection, even if you blot it with a piece of toilet paper. Germs are everywhere.
If you are looking to use aftershave products primarily as an antiseptic, there are two formulas to choose from witch hazel and alcohol.
Witch Hazel Aftershave
Witch hazel aftershave is derived from the witch hazel plant and offers a more natural antiseptic. This aftershave works well to eliminate bacteria and germs without drying your skin. This grooming product provides the antibacterial properties you need for shaved skin without giving you the burning sensation that comes with alcohol-based aftershave.
Witch hazel also works as an astringent, tightening up your pores, further preventing infection and bacteria from entering your pores. If you are looking for an aftershave for your nether regions, witch hazel is a good aftershave to use.
Alcohol-based aftershave is also known as aftershave splash. This form of aftershave leaves you with a tingling, but more accurately, a burning sensation when you first apply it. Some of us hate it; others love it because it feels as though it is really working.
Alcohol aftershaves come in a range of fragrances too, and while they may feel as though they are really working, they will ultimately leave your skin feeling tight, and it may even cause skin irritation. This is because alcohol causes dry skin. If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid using alcohol-based aftershaves and opt for a witch hazel one instead.
Aftershave Soothes and Calms Irritated Skin
Shaving may leave your skin feeling a little sensitive and irritated; if you have used a blunt razor, chances are you will experience a razor burn. Either way, your skin will be reddened and sensitive to touch.
Just because an aftershave works well to hydrate your skin, it may not always be soothing, which is why it is essential to find one that is both moisturizing and soothing.
Remember though, even if there are alternate methods for men hair removal almost always requires some kind of moisturizer after the process.
An aftershave with Aloe Vera as one of the main ingredients makes an excellent choice. Aloe is often used in skincare products to soothe and calm irritated skin. In addition, Aloe is a natural anti-inflammatory and is ideal for soothing dry, painful and itchy skin.
What Ingredients Will The Best Aftershave Have?
When looking for an aftershave, you want to avoid one that is alcohol-based. This is because the alcohol dries out your skin, leaving it even more irritated and itchy.
You will also want to stay away from heavily fragranced aftershaves. The fragrance also dries out skin and further aggravates any existing inflammation.
Whether you are home alone testing out various aftershaves or you’re headed to a barber, using a product with natural ingredients will always be better for your skin than anything with chemicals or alcohol as the base.
A few ingredients that make a really good aftershave include:
- Witch Hazel
This is a plant-based astringent that offers exceptional antiseptic properties without the burn that alcohol brings. A Witch Hazel toner is also ideal as a good aftershave and can be used in the pubic region.
- Shea Butter
If you’re using an aftershave lotion or balm, shea butter is an excellent ingredient to have in the mix. It is hydrating and soothing without being sticky or overly oily.
- Vitamin E
This oil is used to soothe and protect your skin while boosting skin health on a cellular level.
- Essential Oils
Eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil are all added to aftershave as a natural fragrance that is gentle on the skin. But, these oils also have properties that are beneficial to the skin. For example, tea tree oil is used as an antibacterial and used as oil control for people with oily skin.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe is also a plant derivative used to soothe dry, irritated, and itchy skin.
Types of Aftershave
Aftershave comes in a few different forms. The one you opt for comes down to personal preference. Let’s take a look at the different types available:
- Aftershave Splash
Aftershave splash is a form of aftershave that comes in a liquid form that you splash or dab onto your skin. Most of these are made with high alcohol content, although you can find some splash aftershaves that are free from alcohol too. Glycerin, which works as a moisturizer, is also often found in splash aftershave.
Some men use Eau de Cologne as an aftershave; however, this isn’t advisable because of the high fragrance and alcohol content.
- Aftershave Lotion
Aftershave lotion is the happy medium between aftershave splash and aftershave balm. It is more fluid and offers a good balance of moisture and fragrance. Aftershave lotion may contain alcohol but will have a far lower concentration than a splash.
- Aftershave Balm
An aftershave balm is far creamier than aftershave lotion, and it is much milder in scent. It is excellent for use in winter or dry climates and can double as a moisturizing cream for men. Balms very rarely contain alcohol and see a high level of shea butter. If you have very dry skin, try using an aftershave balm post-shave.
Post-Shave Skincare for Different Skin Types
Different people have different skin types. Therefore, the kind of aftershave you choose to use may be based on personal preference, but skin type will also dictate the one you use to a degree.
- Oily Skin
If you have oily skin, use an aftershave that works more like an astringent and toner. A product with Witch hazel will be the ideal addition to your skincare routine.
- Dry Skin
Men with dry skin will want to opt for something with a little more hydration. An aftershave balm is usually the best choice here. It is packed with moisture and will do well to soothe itchy skin.
- Normal Skin
If you have normal skin and you’re looking for something that is neither too much like a toner nor too thick, an aftershave lotion is just what you need.
Amazon has a wide selection of aftershave balms, lotions, and splashes to suit every skin type and taste.
Aftershave is more than just a fragrance you splash on after you have shaved. It offers a host of benefits, from soothing irritated skin and preventing infection to keeping your face supple and hydrated.
Aftershave comes in a variety of forms, from splashes and lotions to thicker and hydrating balms. Different types are better suited to the various skin types, making it easier to find a product that suits your needs.
Aftershave is no longer just an addition to your shaving routine; it is a skincare product designed to promote the health of your skin.