We’re pretty sure you are familiar with the movie ‘Home Alone’. (If you are NOT, our first recommendation in this guide is that you go see it). Some of us who knew little about an aftershave then must have wondered why Kevin screamed when he applied one. Well categorically, we can tell you now that they are NOT for kids; so keep your ‘Kevins’ away from this skincare product.
In this guide you’ll discover why Kevin actually screamed. (Hey, we are NOT going to say explicitly that this is why he screamed. If we did that, it will be a ‘home alone review’ and NOT an aftershave buying guide). An aftershave can definitely make you scream if you are not well informed about it. This guide will give you the information you require concerning an aftershave.
Short History of Aftershave
Barbers were the first to employ the use of a form of aftershave although as an antiseptic. They used it to eradicate bacteria and reduce the transfer of diseases from one customer to another. This was necessary since instruments used were shared amongst the customers. It also curtailed infection risk and as a bonus they had a nice scent. Over time, basically every man did this as a form of 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 also moisturizes, calm and rejuvenate 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 properties and functions of their predecessors as a sort of antiseptic.
An aftershave is really a skincare product rather than a shaving product as most advertisements might make you believe. This is so because unlike other shaving products that you use while shaving, an aftershave is used after you’re done. And 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 found in aftershaves include essential oils, herbal extracts and a level of alcohol content. (However, alcohol content is NOT found in all aftershaves).
Forms of an Aftershave
When going to purchase an aftershave, there are certain considerations you need to make. One of such is the form you would like your product to come in. Why is this important?
There are three forms in which you can find an aftershave and selecting the right one is important. We will take a look at them as well as their various attributes. This would enable you select one that would fit your need.
For easy understanding and remembrance, we’ll list them in descending order with the most preferred form coming last.
This form of aftershave has the highest concentration of alcohol of about 60 to 75 percent. If you notice, this aftershave and those used back then by barbers are somewhat similar. We strongly do not recommend nor advise you to purchase 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. Alcohol in aftershaves is responsible for that stinging feeling that can make you scream.
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 the most harmful irritants out there that can hurt any skin type especially sensitive skin type. Here is a major warning for everyone, especially if you have a sensitive skin type. If you love your skin, avoid aftershaves in lotion form like a plague.
Gels are not guilty of possession of high alcohol like lotions. However, some of them possess a content that’s reasonably low while others don’t. But we advise that you always go for those without alcohol. Aftershave gels do NOT have oil unlike balms. This lack of oil reduces their ability to truly moisturize the skin. Still they can effectively cause your skin to be refreshed, mild, and protected. It is a good option for oily skin types due to its low oil content.
Balms (or creams)
Once noticeable difference between an aftershave used today and one used before the 1980’s 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 possess alcohol do so in little amount of 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 type. So we strongly advise you choose an aftershave balm if you possess a sensitive or dry skin; and make it one with no alcohol content.
Balms are highly recommended for use during winter. Balms contain water and essential oils required for moisturizing the skin during those months when the air possesses little moisture. 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 can choose an effective aftershave. However, this is not a hard fast law engraved in stone and sealed in a tomb for preservation. This recommendation is highly dependent on what’s next in this guide.
Aftershave Suitable for Every Skin Type
You should consider the skin type you have before purchasing or making use of any aftershave. This is vital since not all ingredients found in certain aftershaves are beneficial to your skin’s health.
We recommend you pick an aftershave balm form. It is also necessary if you live in a region that the climate is mostly moist.
A person who possesses a dry skin needs 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.
An aftershave balm with no scent would serve your skin well. Instead of artificial fragrances use those that are filled with naturally gotten ingredients. Examples of these include rose, orange or lavender. Do NOT use any aftershave containing Aloe-Vera; it will irritate your skin severely.
As much as we recommend against using an aftershave lotion, those with oily skin can still benefit from this form. However, go for one with the least possible content of alcohol. Lotion aftershaves can close up skin pores and have the ability to tone the skin. So it really helps with those skin 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. This is used 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.
Other Considerations When Choosing your Aftershave
Ensure that you always go through the product’s label. When you check labels, look out for the ingredients contained in it plus their concentration levels.We mentioned earlier that you keep away from fragrances. You should also avoid dyes as well. These two can irritate your skin severely and cause allergies.
Buy products packed with natural ingredients
Your aftershave should have natural oils such as jojoba, olive,grape seed, coconut, macadamia, almond, avocado etc. These are essential due to their ability to bring about moisturizing and healing. These natural ingredients work
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 and if it doesn’t then you’re good to go. A good aftershave will always get absorbed into the skin and will NOT leave traces of oil on the skin’s surface. So when conducting your patch test, watch out for that.
The scent of the aftershave
Do NOT go for an aftershave with an overly excessive scent. If the smell is so 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 contained in an aftershave. So we’ll be grouping certain ingredients under certain functions they perform. This will give you a better understanding of the ingredients and what they do when you read your product’s label.
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 on those shaved skin areas. Here are the ingredients your aftershave should contain: Coconut oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil.
Consistent shaving can leave your skin’s mantle overly exposed and can cause dryness of the skin. One of the functions of an aftershave is to protect your skin from drying out. Vegetable glycerine, coconut oil and aloe juice, grape seed extracts, borage oil and Shea butter are examples of moisturizing ingredients.
Irritations such as redness, swelling etc might occur due to contact of shaving instruments with your skin. It is therefore important that your aftershave contains ingredients that can soothe the skin. Birchword 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.
Your aftershave also purifies your skin of foreign particles and impurities. If such particles or purities remain on your skin, they can clog up your skin pores and cause damage. A good aftershave will have certain ingredients that fulfill this function. Examples of such purifying ingredients are sandalwood, rosemary, immortelle and juniper.
It is a common occurrence to get cut if you are NOT careful while shaving. If a cut occurs, then you will need to treat them. Well 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
- Your aftershave can be used either after you shave or before going to bed
- Slap lightly your aftershave on your entire face and neck. Most people use it on only shaved areas; this ought NOT to be.
- While using it, keep it away from areas around your eye.
- Allow it to get dry naturally by air.
Tips on Having an Excellent Shave
In order to have an excellent shave, you must stick to these tips.
- Get the right number of blades.
- Use a beard brush.
- Shave in the direction of your hair growth.
- Do NOT rub your shaved skin.
- Use a shaving cream of impeccable quality.
To prevent irritations, and those unpleasantnesses you get after shaving, an aftershave should NOT be an afterthought but a necessity.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.