The Aftershave Guide

Aftershave Guide

In the past, we already discussed various parts of wet shaving including, razors, soaps, cremes and brushes. Today, I am going to focus on aftershaves because it is the final step in a smooth shaving routine and choosing the right one will help you to maintain your skin. Of course, we offer you a list of recommended aftershaves at the end of the article.

Shaving Series

Make sure to check out the other parts of the series:

  1. Double Edge Razor Guide
  2. Straight Razor Guide
  3. Shaving Brush Guide
  4. Shaving Cream Guide
  5. Shaving Soap Guide

Don't forget your aftershave

Don’t forget your aftershave

Brief History

Aftershaves were first introduced in barbershops. Barbers used the high-alcohol splash as antiseptics (they contain as much as 90 percent alcohol) to kill off bacteria and to minimize the transmission of disease from one client to another through shaving instruments; they would also reduce the risk of infection on the client’s face; and they smelled nice.

Splashing on aftershave soon evolved beyond its practical purpose and became a tradition, one that our fathers and grandfathers readily picked up. They liked the seemingly revitalizing sensation caused by the alcohol, and the tingling effect. The high alcohol content of the aftershaves, however, left the skin very dry and irritated. In some cases, the tightness and dryness of the skin created a barrier-like surface that was difficult for hair to pierce through, causing ingrown hairs to develop. Additionally, the irritated skin often didn´t have time to regenerate. It was not until the late 1980s that men started to become more aware of the importance of skin care and its daily maintenance; so a new wave of aftershave products with more beneficial properties were launched.

Aftershave Guide

Aftershave Guide

Aftershave Types

Aftershaves come in three forms –balms (sometimes called creams), gels, and lotions. They’re all really more about skin care and maintenance than anything else. In addition to having antiseptic properties, their purpose is to soothe, moisturize, and regenerate the skin after shaving. Unlike other products used during the actual shave, aftershaves have a longer-lasting effect because they’re not immediately wiped off (as shaving cream is).

Some aftershaves are scented; some contain herbal extracts and essential oils, some have high alcohol content; and some have oil. Others don’t have any of these ingredients.

Although aftershave balms might be marketed as shaving products, they are really skincare products. Many balms contain alcohol (2 to 5 percent), but the best ones contain none at all. Alcohol-free balms substitute alcohol with natural ingredients such as essential oils; they are equally antiseptic but don’t cause dryness. Because balms contain very little or no alcohol, they’re not as dehydrating as splashes and lotions. Balms are recommended for men with sensitive or dry skin, and for use during dry winter months, when there is less moisture in the air and when the skin is prone to dryness. Balms also contain water and oils to moisturize the skin without leaving an oily residue.

Like balms, aftershave gels have a fairly low alcohol content compared to lotions – some don’t contain any alcohol at all, which is preferred. Unlike balms, however, they don’t contain oil, which makes them less moisturizing. Gels can be very refreshing and soothing, and are usually good at protecting and maintaining healthy skin. A very popular aftershave gel in the wet shaving community is Skin Food by Geo. F. Trumpers.

Antica Barbiera Colla Aprict Hull Aftershave

Antica Barbiera Colla Aprict Hull Aftershave

Of all the aftershaves, lotions have the highest alcohol content (60 to 75 percent) and are very similar to the splashes barbers used in the old days. Remember, placing alcohol on sensitive skin that has just been shaved causes pain. While it is true that alcohol is an antiseptic,  using lotions is not recommend at all because they dry out and irritate the skin and don’t have any beneficial properties. Also, the alcohol in them drastically tightens the pores. When pores are tight, hairs tend to get caught in them, which can lead to ingrown hairs. Lastly, all lotions contain synthetic fragrances and sometimes dyes.

So, stick to balms or gels for the best results.

How to Use Aftershaves

After shaving or before bedtime, pat the aftershave gently all over your face and neck, not just on the specific shaving area. Avoid the eye area. Allow to air-dry.

How to Choose

An aftershave should soothe, nourish, and moisturize the skin; stimulate cell regeneration; and help maintain clean, healthy skin.

Always check product labels carefully, look for all natural ingredients, and stay away from dyes and synthetic fragrances. They can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. On the other hand, natural ingredients such as plant and mineral extracts, nut and vegetable oils, wax and essential oils, are biodegradable and work in harmony with the body’s natural functions and cycles.

Look for aftershaves that contain shea butter (an anti inflammatory) or natural oils such as avocado, coconut, grape seed, macadamia, almond, olive, or jojoba, which all have healing and moisturizing properties.

Always test an aftershave, either on your skin or face, before purchasing to see how it feels. Make sure the aftershave penetrates your skin without leaving any oily residue.

Choosing an aftershave should also depend on what best suits your skin.

Normal Skin

For normal to oily skin or for use in humid climates, balms are recommended. The traditional British shaving products suppliers like Truefitt & Hill, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Gentlemen’s Tonic, Edwin Jagger, and D.R. Harris all have great aftershave balms in the product range.

Dry Skin

For dry skin, avoid anything that contains alcohol or is an astringent. Natural oils like hazelnut or almond can be very helpful. Use gels or follow up a shave directly with moisturizer every morning and at bedtime. The moisturizer of Triumph & Disaster called Gameface is a good option.

Sensitive Skin

For sensitive skin, it is better to use an unscented aftershave balm or one that’s scented with natural essential oils such as lavender, rose, or orange, that don’t cause skin irritations. Try to avoid aloe vera. It will simply aggravate the problem. Castle Forbes has a great lavender scented aftershave balm with plenty of essential oils.

By far, the best skin-care products are those that will restore a balanced pH level and won’t destroy the acid mantle.

And last, but not least, you should really like the scent of the aftershave. If you want your favourite cologne scent and you are not convinced by the aftershave of the brand, don’t use it.  After using your favourite aftershave, just dab your favourite cologne on  your shoulders, lower neck, or back of neck.

Please find the following list of some aftershave products not well known to the public, but worth mentioning. If you know of any aftershave that is not on the list and should be, please let us know.

BrandAverage Price in $Rating 0 -5Where to BuyWeightPrice per OunceScentOrigin
Antica Barbieria Colla705Shop Now3.520Almond, Sandalwood, Green Tobaco Italy
Anthony Logistics (The Cool Fix)254Shop Now5.34.7MentholUSA
The Art Of Shaving404Shop Now3.511Sandalwood, Lemon, Ocean Kelp, UnscentedUSA
Baxter of California184Shop Now44.5Lemon & MentholUSA
Boellis653.5Take a look3.519Panama 1924Italy
Castle Forbes505Shop Now3.514Cedar & Sandalwood, Lavender, LimeUK
D.R. Harris504Shop Now3.514Arlington, Unscented, Malborough, Almond, Windsor, PinkUK
Edwin Jagger404.5Shop Now3.511Aloe, Limes & Pomegranate, Cooling Menthol, SandalwoodUK
Floid303Shop Now56MentholSpain
Geo F. Trumpers275Shop Now3.57.7Coral, Extract of Limes, SandalwoodUK
Gentlemen‘s Tonic504.5Shop Now3.514Babassu and BergamotUK
Institut Karite332Shop Now8.454Milk CreamFrance
Lucky Tiger (After Shave and Face Tonic)204.5Shop Now82.5Bitter OrangeUSA
Kiehl's183Shop Now4.24.3MuskUSA
Korres234Shop Now511.5Marigold & Ginseng, Greece
Mühle204Shop Now3.55.7Aloe Vera, Sea Buckthorn, SandelwoodGermany
Mühle Organic345Shop Now3.59.7UnscentedGermany
Musgo Real324Shop Now3.59Classic, Oranger Amber, Oak Moss, Spiced Citrus, Lanvender, Lime BasilPortugal
Pankhurst403.5Shop Now2.516Bay RumUK
Proraso163.5Shop Now3.54.6Aloe VeraItaly
Penhaligons804Shop Now516Blenheim Bouquet, Endymion, Opus 1870UK
Scottish Fine Soaps234Shop Now2.58.8ClassicUK
Taylor of Old Bond Street244Shop Now2.59.6Sandalwood, Mr. Taylor, Shaving SoapUK
Triumph & Disaster554Shop Now318.3Gameface MoisturiserNew Zealland
Truefitt & Hill504Shop Now3.5141805, Almond, Grafton, Lavender, No. 10, Rose, Sandalwood, Trafalgar, West Indian Limes, Ultimate ComfortUK

17 replies
  1. John T. McCoy
    John T. McCoy says:

    I have been very happy with Nivea Men ‘Sensitive’ Post Shave Balm. It only costs $5-7 for 100 ml. It is very soothing, and it dries quickly without being oily.

    Santa Maria Novella Emulsione Analcolica (balm) is supposedly excellent and very healing. It is $65 for 100 ml. I hope to try it soon.

    D.R. Harris Pink Aftershave (splash) has a very low alcohol content, and its scent fades quickly so as not to interfere with colognes. It’s another one I hope to try soon. It is $35 for 100 ml.

    An article I read suggests that one should splash lotions on damp hands and rub your hands a while to dilute and evaporate the alcohol content.

    I have sensitive skin. I would appreciate any feedback. This is a very useful and timely guide, since I am beginning to explore new aftershave options. Thank you!

    • Karl H. Lincke
      Karl H. Lincke says:

      Thanks John, if you have sensitive skin you should stick to afterbalms with out alcohol. You normally can not go wrong with the unscented ones. If you prefer gel you should definitely try Geo F. Trumpers Coral Skinfood. It may take you a while to get used to the scent, but you will inmediatley notice the healing effect of rosewater. on your skin.

      • Karl H. Lincke
        Karl H. Lincke says:

        Thank you, Karl, for your response and recommendation of the Geo F. Trumpers Coral Skinfood. I will give it a try.

        After reading several forum remarks that the D.R. Harris Pink Aftershave formulation has changed for the worse, I have also decided to try Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. It has been recommended for Rosacea and minimizing pores; I have mild Rosacea and large pores on my nose. It does contain Aloe Vera (inner filets), which you have cautioned against. I have done some research and have found very few side effects. I wonder what you have discovered bad about it, and I would greatly appreciate knowing more.

        Thank you for your response and a great article!

  2. Domenico
    Domenico says:

    Can you justify the two different scores for the Edwin Jagger and Muhle balms? They have exactly the same ingredients and 2 out of 3 of their fragrances are also the same.

    • Karl H. Lincke
      Karl H. Lincke says:

      A lot of people believe that Edwin Jagger and Mühle balms are the same products. The German Brand Mühle even sells the products of the British Brand Edwin Jagger on their homepage. But as you can see in the list Edwin Jagger has two scents that Mühle does not has:”Limes & Pomegranate” and “Cooling Menthol”. I personally prefer both of them to the others and that is why Edwin Jagger scores slightly better than Mühle.

  3. Mare
    Mare says:

    A cup of tea with one sugar cube, and a cup of tea with five sugar cubes both have the same ingredients. I would definitely not want one of those cups of tea, though.

  4. Park Jacob Weatherby
    Park Jacob Weatherby says:

    Great information thanks for the helpful insight however I would like to share that Nivea for men has an excellent aftershave balm for sensitive skin at a readily affordable price!

    Park

  5. Bradley Viljoen
    Bradley Viljoen says:

    I can certainly recommend Geo F Trumper for all their products, having used them for years.

    Their Skin Food (in Sandalwood my favourite) is excellent. I do use their Skin Tonic in rosewater on hotter days (i find that the Skin Food on hot/humid days makes me get a perspiration line on my upper lip). The Skin Tonic however leaves me cooler but, i am now not sure what is in there now that i think of it! I will certainly ask next time i am in there.

    I urge those of you not using Geo F Trumper to try them.

    • Karl H. Lincke
      Karl H. Lincke says:

      You are right Bradley, Geo F. Trumpers Skin food is a great product. My favourite is Coral, because of its healing and cooling effect..

  6. steve chudoba
    steve chudoba says:

    Thanks for the information. I use art of shaving lavender balm because it moisturizes my skin and feels great and a bouns there is no burning afterwards. In addition, the smell of lavender is really calming beforw heading off to work in the morning.

  7. Larry P. Burton
    Larry P. Burton says:

    I also use Geo. F. Trumpet products, as does Mr. Viljoen. I use two of their products. The first being Extract of Limes, which I then follow with Coral Skin food. I highly recommend their products.

  8. Carmen Kaiser
    Carmen Kaiser says:

    The use of aftershave products depend on a lot of factors, including the skin type and whether you want your lotion or balm to be scented or simple. It is true, however, that people having sensitive and oversensitive skin should use nonalcoholic aftershave balms only!

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