Skincare is an important part of the shaving process and aftershaves go a long way to make the daily ritual of shaving much more sanitary and pleasant.
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After shaving, they condition your skin, leaving it healthier and less likely to get irritated or infected.
So, What Does Aftershave Do?
Aftershave is an umbrella term for a wide variety of liquids (also known as splashes), balms, lotions, and gels that are applied to the skin after shaving.
Aftershaves have three main tasks:
1. Antiseptic Against Infections
Most importantly, aftershaves act as an antiseptic to prevent infections of shaving cuts or nicks. Most contain alcohol, stearate citrate or witch hazel to disinfect, this is also what causes that initial sting when you apply aftershave.
2. Sooth Skin and Reduce Irritation
Aftershaves also soothe the skin. They do this in a variety of ways, most commonly by using astringents to reduce irritation. Some go a step further and also numb the skin with menthol. The balms reduce irritation by moisturizing dry skin similar to face lotion.
3. Make You Smell Good
Last but not least, aftershaves are often men’s first introduction to wearing scents. With the high alcohol content, it’s easy for the makers to add fragrances matching popular colognes.
While the scent does not last as long as a true cologne, an enjoyable fragrance can be a pleasant addition to your shaving ritual. If you find your aftershave wears off too quickly during the day, you can also layer with the cologne.
How to Choose the Best Aftershave for Your Skin Type
You should think of these as an addition to your skincare routine and find one that compliments your complexion.
There is a wide array of aftershaves on the market from the traditional splashes to more skin-friendly options like lotions, gels, or balms. Focusing on your skin type and what these aftershaves can do for your skin is the best way to go when making your selection.
With normal skin, you have the most flexibility to try out the various types of aftershave. Start with splashes or gels and if you find yourself needing additional moisture, move to lotions and balms.
You might also find splashes work best in the summer but winter requires a more moisturizing lotion or gel.
With oily skin, splashes should be your first choice. A splash is less apt to congest your skin and if your skin is acne-prone, the astringent qualities can be a benefit. If you find splashes irritate your skin, try an oil-free aftershave gel instead — just make sure it’s light enough not to clog your pores.
Dry skin can come from cold weather, a dry climate or the normal aging process. However, in all cases, you should avoid splashes which often dry the skin further and instead look to more moisturizing options such as aftershave balms and lotions.
If you have sensitive skin, take extra time to look at ingredients. Particularly important is finding an unscented and alcohol-free one. What some aftershaves can do is give you an initial stinging sensation — so avoid these and instead go for ones that soothe.
While aftershaves serve a practical purpose, they also have an aesthetic side. The scent is an important factor for many men. Fragrance options range from reformulations of popular designer men’s cologne to classic barbershop smells. Here are our top picks for best-smelling men’s aftershaves.
Our Top Pick: Eternity by Calvin Klein Aftershave
For an all-around scent that works for casual or work and can segue into the evening, Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein is our top pick. It’s been a best-seller for years and is noticeable without being too heavy.
Sweet notes of lemon, neroli, and bergamot are balanced with rosemary and musk for a scent that manages to walk the delicate line between an inoffensive crowd-pleasure but still unique.
Eternity has been popular for years so if you’re looking for something you’ve never smelled before, keep looking. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true fragrance that will work in a variety of situations, give it a try.
Best Budget Aftershave: English Leather by Dana
English Leather is pure nostalgia in a bottle. It smells like your dad, your grandfather or uncle. But you don’t wear it to be modern and original. You wear it because it’s an men’s classic.
English Leather has been reformulated over the years but is still rugged and refreshing. Good for daily wear and easy on the budget. Every man should try it at least once.
Best Night Out: Calvin Klein Obsession for Men Aftershave
Obsession is a throwback to the powerhouse fragrances of the 1980s. It’s unapologetically bold and wants your attention. While tastes have changed and lighter fragrances have become more popular for daytime wear, going out is no time to be shy. This is a sexy classic.
Best Aftershave for Young Men: Paco Rabanne Invictus for Men Aftershave Lotion
For younger guys who don’t want to smell like their dad or granddad, Invictus offers a bold and modern take on aftershave. Invictus is an elegant mix of fruit, floral and wood notes which is decidedly masculine but not overwhelming.
As a lotion, this aftershave provides some moisture, similar to a light face lotion.
Most Soothing: Proraso Aftershave Lotion
Apply a few drops to freshly shaven skin and watch this work its magic. Not only Proraso Aftershave Lotion fragrant but it also closes pores and invigorates your skin to help you look your best.
Witchhazel reduces inflammation while eucalyptus purifies the skin. This infusion refreshes and tones skin. An essential part of the Italian gentleman’s morning routine.
Every man loves the world of the old-school barbershop, all he needs is this aftershave to unlock it.
Best Classic Barbershop: Clubman Pinaud Aftershave Lotion
Made from only the finest ingredients, this cologne is a classic in every feature. From the glass bottle to its brisk feel on the face.
Clubman Pinaud cologne has gained a loyal following of users ever since it was first released and is fast gaining popularity among more modern consumers.
This could be due to its invigorating formula or intoxicating smell — either way, it will make you feel like you just walked out of an old-time barbershop. It’s a mans-man aftershave.
Best Aftershave for Mindfulness: Soap Commander Aftershave Splash
Are you looking to create more mindfulness in your daily life? With a busy work and personal life, it can be difficult to find the time.
With fragrances with names such as Fortitude, Optimism, Serenity, and Vision, Soap Commander can add intention setting to your morning without adding an extra step to your morning routine.
This works because scent is one of our oldest and most primal senses, which can help connect your mind and body. If you’re struggling to add intention and mindfulness to your daily schedule, be sure to check them out.
What’s the Difference Between Aftershave and Cologne?
While many aftershaves come in the same scents as your favorite colognes, Eau de Cologne and aftershave are not interchangeable.
Cologne is designed for purely aesthetic reasons — to make you smell good. What aftershave does is it’s designed to heal and protect your skin with a scent as a pleasant addition. Because of this, the concentration of essential oils in aftershave is much lower than in cologne and therefore it will not last as long.
Finally, you’ll likely notice that they are available in much larger sizes at a fraction of the cost of colognes. Essential oils are often the most expensive ingredient in making a fragrance so the lower concentration means they’re more budget-friendly.