What Is Aftershave & What Does It Do?
Jack Goodson
Jan 15, 2022
6 mins reading

What Is Aftershave & What Does It Do?

Skin is sensitive to razor burn, irritation, and ingrown hairs. Aftershave is a product that you apply on your skin after shaving. It helps prevent these issues by killing bacteria and helping to soothe and heal your skin after shaving. It also moisturises the skin so that it stays healthy.

What Are The General Benefits Of Using Aftershave?

Hydrate: Aftershave is a great way to hydrate your skin after shaving. This product will help protect freshly exposed skin from becoming dry and itchy, as it is important to moisturise to keep skin healthy and looking good. (Plus, it helps to keep the area smelling fresh!)

Soothe: Aftershave helps to soften and soothe skin after shaving. Shaving can scrape off the top layer of your skin, leaving the raw, sensitive layer underneath in desperate need of attention. Aftershave cools the "burn" and converts it into a mild tingling, relieving you of immediate pain while preventing redness and irritation in the days ahead.

Disinfect: Aftershave also prevents your freshly-shaved skin from becoming infected! Aftershave helps fight bacteria that may cause breakouts or acne on your face post-shaving.

Different aftershaves use different disinfecting agents, each of which could have a different effect on your skin.
    • Alcohol-based aftershave often uses ethanol as the alcohol. Ethanol's key features make it an excellent antibacterial product, tightening pores and producing an unfavourable habitat for dangerous bacteria to grow. However, because ethanol can reduce sebum production by the skin's sebaceous glands, it may not be appropriate for people who suffer from dry skin.

      Note: When applied to newly shaven skin, alcohol-based aftershaves definitely have a stronger sting.

    • Witch Hazel has been used for centuries as a weak antiseptic. Nowadays, Witch Hazel is frequently used in place of alcohol as the base for aftershave, used to complement the astringency (tightening of your pores) caused by alcohol. Plus, it offers great antibacterial protection to the skin.

      Note: Because its astringent impact on the skin is not as strong as alcohol, it also does not sting or burn as much.

        What Else Does Aftershave Do?

        Different aftershaves are specially formulated to treat a range of specific skin concerns. Learn how the right aftershave can help you deal with some of the issues listed below. (For specific recommendations on Humānery's top picks for aftershave, scroll to the end of this article.)

        Soothe Irritated Skin

        Shaving can be a rough process for many. Even if you manage to avoid accidental scrapes, there’s the possibility your skin is easily irritated. If this is the case, you should seek out aftershaves containing cooling ingredients and apply a thin layer first, then use a thicker balm afterwards. If you come across aloe vera in the ingredients, you know you’re on the right track, as its anti-inflammatory properties are vital to calming irritated skin.

        Check out Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm and Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion for the same.

        Reduce Skin Redness

        It’s important to note that skin redness and irritation can appear separately and don’t always come as a pair. That said, if shaving leaves your skin looking several shades redder than when you started, it’s again time to rely on the all-important key ingredient of aloe vera. Similar to how it helps to soothe irritated skin, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties also reduce skin redness quickly.

        Check out Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & MoisturiserJack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel and ClarinsMen After Shave Soother for the same.

        Treat Razor Burn

        If you've ever experienced a red rash after shaving, you've most certainly had a razor burn. While it usually disappears in time, if persistent, aftershave can help relieve symptoms such as tenderness and small red bumps. To apply the aftershave properly, rinse the affected area and dry it slowly, patting instead of rubbing. Once dry, gently apply the product. Facial razor burn can be more stubborn than other areas.

        Check out Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm and Baxter of California After Shave Balm for the same. If using aftershave has not helped, try some of our other recommendations in our facial skincare for men article.

        Prevent Ingrown Hairs

        An ingrown hair can be an uncomfortable experience. Usually found in those with rough or curly hair, it involves the hair growing inwards into your skin. Shaving can make ingrown hairs much more likely. If you’re suffering from this condition, aftershave creams are the answer. These creams unclog pores and stop the hairs from growing inwards by introducing extra moisture. Check out Kiehl's Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief for the same

        Moisturise Dry Skin

        Even if your dry skin issue is not the direct result of shaving, certain aftershaves can still help. Dry skin is due to a lack of moisture, which means you should pick an aftershave that is nourishing and offers protection from the harshness of the outdoors.

        Check out HEATH Post Shave Repair and Anthony After Shave Balm for the same.

        Control Acne

        Aftershaves containing alcohol can help destroy germs in your skin. Left untreated, these germs can cause pimples to become even more irritated and painful. Shaving causes many invisible micro-cuts across your skin. If germs enter the cuts, you’re more likely to get an infection. Other ingredients with antiseptic characteristics, such as tea tree oil and witch hazel, can alleviate acne and clean out pores clogged with infected fluids.

        Check out ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm for the same.

        How To Properly Use Aftershave?

        Using aftershave can feel like a daunting task. No matter who you ask for advice, someone will have a different method that works for them. However, we have summarised the essential steps below to ensure you have a solid base from which to find the way that suits you best.
        1. Get your skin prepared by washing it with lukewarm water to dislodge leftover hairs and dirt.
        2. You only require a small amount of aftershave to get the desired effects. If using liquid aftershave, pour into your palm and gently clap your hands together. If using a spritz spray, hold it a short distance away before applying.
        3. Slowly rub your palms across your skin to evenly distribute it across the area and begin the process of calming redness. Remember: let your skin absorb the aftershave, and do not rinse it off!

        You may also wonder what the difference between Aftershave and Cologne is. There’s a simple distinction: Cologne is designed to be worn alone as a daily scent, whilst aftershave counts as an element of skincare as it is used to soothe the skin after shaving, to name but one effect.

        Another question often asked is whether aftershave balm can be used as a moisturiser. The short answer is no. Although aftershave balms are more moisturising than normal aftershaves, they should not be used to replace your moisturiser. The distinction is clear: aftershaves address skin hydration, irritation, and infection after shaving whereas moisturisers address dry skin.

        Our Top Picks Based On Specific Concern

         Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm | Humānery

        1. Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm | £25.95

        A cooling sensation for your skin after shaving! Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm is a great product to calm irritated and red skin post-shaving. Its unique formulation of invigorating myramaze and nourishing oils work at the cellular level to leave you with skin smooth at the touch.

        HEATH Post Shave Repair | Humānery

        2. HEATH Post Shave Repair | £12.00

        Remove the burden of dry skin through HEATH Post Shave Repair’s formulation of aloe vera, pollustop, and ginseng. The wide variety of antioxidants works to boost the firmness and hydration of your skin.

        Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm | Humānery

        3. Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm | £9.99

        Avoid razor burn from the start with Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm. Bring an ultra-fresh finish to all your shaves. By harnessing the power of allantoin, your skin will avoid post-shave irritation and remain smooth and hydrated.


        Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel | Humānery

        4. Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel | £19.00

        Look no further for an alcohol-free aftershave that not only reduces red, irritated skin but is also made from natural ingredients such as sage and aloe vera. Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel is the ideal option for environmentally-conscious buyers.

        Baxter of California After Shave Balm | Humānery

        5. Baxter of California After Shave Balm | £19.00

        If your razor burn refuses to fade, try Baxter of California After Shave Balm. Its alcohol-free formula utilises the power of tea tree and menthol to nourish your skin and remove red bumps and tenderness.

        ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm | Humānery

        6. ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm | £18.00 

        Prevent clogged pores from forming acne with ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm that cools, soothes, and protects freshly shaven skin. Its delicate, moisturising sweet almond oil and oak moss extract leave you with a refreshing scent.

        Anthony After Shave Balm | Humānery

        7. Anthony After Shave Balm | £22.50

        Anthony After Shave Balm provides relief for your dry and irritated skin. Its unique formulation of cooling eucalyptus, corn mint, and natural botanical oils work to soften the skin. The calming effects of rosemary act as an anti-inflammatory to reduce redness.

        Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & Moisturiser | Humānery

        8. Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & Moisturiser | £9.00

        If you have red skin that is also sensitive, use Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & Moisturiser. Its all-natural ingredients such as almond oil and shea butter are non-greasy and fragrance-free, meaning your skin feels less clogged and can breathe easier.

        ClarinsMen After Shave Soother | Humānery

        9. ClarinsMen After Shave Soother | £22.50

        ClarinsMen After Shave Soother makes post-shave recovery simple. By instantly calming and moisturising your skin with non-greasy ingredients such as purslane, centella, and blue alpine thistle, you avoid signs of redness from the start.

        Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion | Humānery

        10. Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion | £35.00

        Stop your skin from feeling irritated and aggravated post-shaving with Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion featuring Moroccan Neroli Blossom and Panthenol for calm and soothed skin.

        Kiehl's Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief | Humānery

        11. Kiehl's Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief | £18.51

        Avoid bumpy skin and ingrown hairs with Kiehl's Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief. The cream's expertly chosen vitamins work to reduce irritation and redness. The lipo hydroxy acid works to gently exfoliate your skin to reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs appearing.