Aftershave: A Necessity Not an Afterthought

We’re pretty sure you are familiar with the movie ‘Home Alone’. Some of us who knew little about an aftershave back then must have wondered why Kevin screamed when he applied one. Well, we can tell you now that they are not for children. So keep your ‘Kevins’ away from this skincare product.

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In this guide, you’ll discover why Kevin actually screamed. This is because an aftershave can definitely make you scream if you are not well informed about it. Read on as we give you more details.


Short History of Aftershaves

Barbers were the first to employ the use of a form of an aftershave, although as an antiseptic. They used it to curb the spread bacteria and disease transference from one customer to another.

This was necessary since barbing instruments used were shared among the customers. As a bonus, these antiseptics had a nice scent. Over time, basically every man did this as a form of a closing ritual after shaving.

The downside of this first set of aftershaves was the fact they were fully loaded with alcohol. Some of them had a whopping alcohol concentration of 90 percent.

This caused a whole lot of problems such as irritated and dry skin. It was also a common occurrence to experience ingrown hairs because the hairs couldn’t pierce through the skin due to dryness.

A new generation of aftershaves were designed and emerged to counter these problems. Hence, the alcohol content was either removed completely and replaced with natural ingredients or reduced to the barest minimum.


What an Aftershave Does

An aftershave is used to take care of and maintain the skin after shaving. It moisturizes, calms and rejuvenates the skin. It can also close up pores that have been exfoliated which will prevent breakouts.

Furthermore, the aftershaves we use today still retain the antiseptic properties and functions of their predecessors.

It is, in reality, a skincare product rather than a shaving product, as most adverts might make you believe. This is so because unlike other shaving products, an aftershave is used after you’re done shaving. It is left on your skin to care for, protect and maintain it. You don’t wipe or clean it off as you would a shaving cream or powder.

Commonly found ingredients in aftershaves include essential oils, herbal extracts and some alcohol content. However, alcohol content is not found in all aftershaves.


Types of Aftershave


There are three forms in which you can find an aftershave. We will take a look at them as well as their various attributes. This would enable you select one that would fit your needs.

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This form of aftershave has the highest concentration of alcohol: about 60 to 75 percent. It has a great similarity to those used back then by barbers.

We do not recommend nor advise you to buy this. The alcohol content is capable of making your skin dehydrated and irritated. You are most likely going to experience the same problem the early aftershave users encountered.

Apart from the harm the alcohol content can pose to your skin, most aftershave lotions use fragrances. Why is this bad? Fragrances are one of those irritants that can hurt any skin type especially sensitive skin.



Gels do not contain high amounts of alcohol like lotions. However, this doesn’t mean all gel aftershaves are alcohol-free. Some of them have a little of it while others don’t.

But we advise that you always go for those without alcohol. Gels don’t usually contain oil. This lack of oil reduces their ability to truly moisturize the skin.

Still, they can effectively cause your skin to be refreshed and protected. It is a good option for oily skin types due to its low oil content.


Balms (or creams)

One noticeable difference between an aftershave used today and one used before the 1980s was the alcohol concentration. When it comes to aftershave balms, a good number and the best of them have no alcohol whatsoever. The ones that contain alcohol do so in little amounts: about 2 to 5 percent.

To still function as an antiseptic, aftershave balms that have no alcohol replace it with ingredients from nature. This makes them less likely to bring about dryness to your skin which is an advantage if you have a dry or sensitive skin.

Balms are highly recommended for use during winter. They contain water and essential oils required for moisturizing the skin during those months when the air is dry.

Despite the fact that aftershave balms contain oils, they don’t leave behind a trail of oil as found in other skincare products. This should make you rest assured and apply your aftershave adequately without the fear of having an oily look.

Balm, gel and then lotion (if necessary): This is the order in which you may want to choose an effective aftershave.

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Aftershaves Ideal for Every Skin Type 

You should consider the skin type you have before buying any aftershave. This is vital since not all ingredients found in certain aftershaves are beneficial to your skin.


Normal Skin

We recommend you pick an aftershave balm. This is especially necessary if you live in a region with a moist or humid climate.


Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you need to keep away from all forms of alcohol and astringent. Go for products containing natural oils such as almond or hazelnut. They are very beneficial for your skin’s health.


Sensitive Skin

An aftershave balm with no scent would serve your skin well. Instead of artificial fragrances, use those with naturally gotten ingredients. Examples of these include rose, orange or lavender. Don’t use any aftershave containing aloe vera; it may irritate your skin.


Oily Skin

As much as we recommend against using an aftershave lotion, those with oily skin can still benefit from it. However, go for one with the least content of alcohol.

Lotion aftershaves can close up skin pores and have the ability to tone the skin. So it really helps with those breakouts that are common with oily skin types.

To avoid the stinging pain caused by the alcohol in your aftershave lotion, we advise you use it with a post-shave balm. Use it immediately after shaving and before using the aftershave.

A post-shave balm will keep your skin from drying out and prevent the common burning sensation associated with alcohol.

Proraso After Shave Lotion, Moisturizing and Nourishing, 3.4 Fl Oz







Other Considerations When Choosing an Aftershave 


Check Labels

Ensure that you always read the product’s label. When you check labels, look out for the ingredients contained in it plus their concentration levels.

In addition to avoiding fragrances like we mentioned earlier, avoid dyes too. These two can irritate your skin severely and cause allergies.


Buy Products with Natural Ingredients

Natural oils such as jojoba, olive,grape seed, coconut, macadamia, almond and avocado will serve you well in an aftershave. These are essential due to their ability to bring about moisturizing and healing.

Other natural ingredients you can look out for are plants and mineral extracts, vegetables and nuts. Choose an aftershave that contains an ingredient that serves as an anti-inflammatory. A good example of such is shea butter.


Do a 24-hour Skin Patch Test

What is a 24-hour skin patch test? This is applying a particular product to part of your skin and observing it for 24 hours. Then you wait to see if you get any irritation or reaction.

If you do, then you shouldn’t use the product. But if you don’t, then you’re good to go. A good aftershave absorbs easily into the skin and won’t leave traces of oil on the skin’s surface. So when conducting your patch test, watch out for that.



Do not go for an aftershave with too much scent. If the smell is too strong, it will be somewhat difficult for it to get absorbed by your skin.


Functions of Certain Ingredients

We mentioned before that your aftershave performs different kinds of functions. These functions are a product of the ingredients in an aftershave.

So we’ll be grouping certain ingredients under the functions they perform. This will give you a better understanding of the ingredients and what they do.

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Anti-aging Ingredients

Due to constant exposure to blades and other shaving instruments, the skin can become rough and begin to age.

Certain ingredients can help to battle this necessary evil of aging if you notice the signs of aging on those shaved skin areas. Some of these ingredients are coconut oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil.


Moisturizing Ingredients

Consistent shaving can leave your skin’s mantle overly exposed and can cause dryness. Vegetable glycerin, coconut oil and aloe juice, grape seed extracts, borage oil and shea butter are examples of moisturizing ingredients.


Soothing Ingredients

Irritations such as redness and swelling might occur due to skin contact with shaving instruments. It is therefore important that your aftershave contains ingredients that can soothe the skin.

Birchwood extracts and shea butter can help you battle razor burn, redness and other irritations that occur due to shaving. Chamomile, Vitamin C, witch hazel, green tea, seaweed extracts and oatmeal extract are also part of this group of ingredients.


Purifying Ingredients

Your aftershave also rids your skin of foreign particles and impurities. If such particles or impurities remain on your skin, they can clog up your pores and cause damage.

A good aftershave will have certain ingredients that perform this function. Examples of such purifying ingredients are sandalwood, rosemary, immortelle and juniper.


Healing Ingredients

It is a common occurrence to cut yourself while shaving. If a cut occurs, then you will need to treat them. Most aftershaves help you with this as well.

Ingredients like allantoin, witch hazel and aloe vera have the capacity to bring about healing of such cuts and bruises. So if you are constantly cutting up yourself, one of these ingredients should be in your aftershave.


Using an Aftershave Appropriately

i. Your aftershave is good for use either immediately after you shave or before going to bed.

ii. Slap your aftershave lightly on your entire face and neck. Most people use it only on shaved areas but this is not quite correct.

iii. While using it, keep it away from areas around your eye.

iv. Allow air to dry it naturally.

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Tips on Having an Excellent Shave 

In order to have an excellent shave, you may want to stick to these tips…

i. Get the right number of blades.

ii. Use a beard brush.

iii. Shave in the direction of your hair growth.

iv. Don’t rub your shaved skin.

v. Use a shaving cream of impeccable quality.

To prevent irritations and the unpleasant feeling you may get after shaving, an aftershave has to be a necessity for you.

Thoughts? Let us know in the comments section.