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 Does Aftershave Do?
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.
Other Benefits Of Aftershave
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Of Aftershave
Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm
Why Humānery Love It: The Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm has a refreshing, menthol scent, which instantly invigorates skin and senses - and a little goes a long way! Featuring a sleek bottle design, the power-packed formula helps to prevent dryness, even in the colder months. We love how soothing this instantly feels thanks to its formulation of natural oils and it’s great to use as a 2-in-1 featherlight moisturiser, helping you to achieve a minimalistic skincare routine. The aloe extract is extremely calming, so if you are prone to itchy stubble, redness, or cuts so you can benefit from its healing properties, plus a flawless finish.
BARBER PRO Post Shave Cooling Mask with Anti-Ageing Collagen
Why Humānery Love It: a best-selling Beauty Awards winner, designed to soothe and calm irritated skin. Step up your grooming game with this everyday skincare essential, and never go another day with post-shave redness! A powerful blend of vitamins, herbs, and botanicals targets razor bumps while locking in moisture. Tea Tree and Aloe Vera reduce itching and amp up hydration, together with Hyaluronic Acid, Charcoal, Witch Hazel, and Citrus extract, for a brighter, smoother, radiant complexion.
Why Humānery Love It: Developed by experts in biotechnology, it contains all the right ingredients to soothe and nourish after an abrasive shave.Mineral-rich Thermal Spring Water helps to keep the skin hydrated while minimising razor burn, while its cleansing formula doubles up as a toner, streamlining your morning ritual. Make redness and irritation a thing of the past, and say hello to a more radiant complexion.
Price: Now £25.99 | Was £37.50
HEATH Post Shave Repair
Why Humānery Love It: Post Shave Repair from HEATH is to be used after shaving or when your skin needs some extra special care. Aloe vera has been found to have many health benefits for the skin, from helping to heal wounds to moisturising and boosting the blood flow, while killing off harmful bacteria. Pollustop is a polysaccharide which forms a non-occlusive film on the skin and hair to protect against pollution. Ginseng is a powerhouse protein that will make your skin look healthier, so if your skin is feeling especially dry and dull, ginseng's energizing elements will brighten your complexion! We love that this product is vegan, cruelty-free, 92.30% natural, and does not contain parabens, sulfates, or any artificial colourants.
James + Jake How Smooth Calming Post Shave Cream
Why Humānery Love it: Tired of irritated skin after your shave? James + Jake's How Smooth Calming Post Shave Cream might be just the ticket! Containing Shea Butter which has a variety of benefits to your skin and has been effective in treating acne, reducing razor irritation and bumps, without clogging your pores. Also, Vitamin E helps to reduce dark spots on your skin as well as repair skin collagen, and reduce puffiness of the skin.Additionally, Sandalwood is a popular beauty remedy and is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing blemishes, soothing the skin, and treating acne. We love the fact that this product is free from fragrance/artificial colours and packaged in a lightweight, travel-friendly, recycled, and recyclable jar.
Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm
Why Humānery Love It: Raw Naturals Mr Cool After Shave Balm is a refreshing addition to your daily skincare routine. While shaving can be harsh on delicate facial skin, adding a moisturising aftershave balm can help to minimise damage and restore skin to its natural best. Allantoin works to alleviate unsightly razor burn and heal signs of irritation. We recommend pairing with Raw Naturals The Grease-Free Face Cream for a super-charged dose of added hydration every morning!
Benny's of London Shaving Balm
Why Humānery Love It: Experience the feeling of soft and soothed skin post-shave, with Benny's of London Shaving Balm. Enriched with nourishing ingredients that soothe and minimise skin irritation, it offers the exotic scent of Pomegranate Noir which instantly uplifts. This luxurious balm is guaranteed to become your favourite new everyday skincare staple - but don't worry - you won't run out in a hurry, this large size tub is made to last! Developed in the UK by the experts in quality men's grooming products.
ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm
Why Humānery Love It: ADAM Grooming Atelier Post Shave Balm is a blend of essential oils that hydrates your skin without leaving it greasy. Expertly formulated by barbers and skincare professionals, it leaves you with a fresh post-shave feel that won't cause irritation. Almond oil is a known moisturiser that evens skin tone and reduces inflammation. Cedarwood reduces blemishes and break outs. Menthol cools the skin for a soothing feel. Together, these specially selected natural ingredients protect and strengthen your skin, giving it the hydration boost it needs after the stress of a shave. We love the cool and invigorating scent - the perfect way to start your day!
The London Grooming Company Aftershave Balm
Why Humānery Love It: Made with nourishing Jojoba Seed and Almond Oil, The London Grooming Company Aftershave Balm is more than just a fragrant scent. This Aftershave Balm offers the benefit of a moisturising lotion, designed to help enrich your skin with the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight redness or irritation that can be caused by exposure to the razor. Specially formulated to help cool, hydrate and relieve the skin, acting as an antiseptic and stimulating the cells to prevent dryness, soreness, or any other nasty side effects of razor burn.
ClarinsMen After Shave Soother
Why Humānery Love It: ClarinsMen After Shave Soother calms and moisturises the skin post-shave. This alcohol-free balm smooths and comforts your face, keeping it nourished to prevent drying out after shaving. It contains soothing puslane, Centella, and blue alpine thistle which reduce redness and heal irritations and razor burn without leaving your skin feeling oily. And if you've tried single-function post-shave balms before, don't be fooled: Clarins Men After Shave Soother is a gamechanger for anyone who shaves, whether it's daily or less regular exposure. It heals damaged skin, rehydrates after washing and razor stress, and gradually eases irritable, sore skin resulting in a clear and refreshed complexion.
Gentlemen's Tonic Soothing Aftershave Balm
Why Humānery Love It: Awarded ‘Best Aftershave Product of the Year‘ by Health Magazine, Gentlemen's Tonic Soothing Aftershave Balm contains enriching and protective ingredients that your skin craves after shaving.Made in the UK, it contains natural oils such as Avacado Oil that have antiseptic and healing properties, while Shea Butter and Cucumber soothe and refresh. The signature scent of Babassu and Bergamot instantly uplifts. An enriching, highly absorbable formula, suitable for men with dry and sensitive skin.
Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion
Why Humānery Love It: Lightly hydrate your skin after shaving with Aēsop's Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion featuring Moroccan Neroli Blossom and Panthenol for calm and soothed skin. This post-shave formula is the ultimate rescue remedy for irritated and aggravated skin post-shaving.
Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & Moisturiser
Why Humānery Love It: Telfer & Ross Soothing After Shave Balm & Moisturiser is made with Aloe Leaf Extract to heal the skin after exposure to harsh razors. No shave is complete without a moisturising balm to aid your skin in its recovery. It's easily absorbed and designed to soothe red or irritated skin and prevent razor burn.This luxury Balm is made with all-natural ingredients and is fragrance-free, so it's suitable for even the most sensitive skin.