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What is Aftershave: Everything Explained

By Jason
September 16, 2023
7 minutes
What is Aftershave

What is Aftershave? It is a skincare product you are required to apply after shaving. Nowadays, everyone is aware of these products but this was not the case in the 16th or 17th century. At that time, people used to go to barbers for shaving and there was no concept of self-shaving and applying aftershave.  

However, barbers could not prevent cuts of razors from occurring. To solve this, Roman barbers started applying spiderwebs, vinegar, and oil to soothe the skin. Various experiments continued and at the start of the 17th century, various aftershave products were invented with Richard Barnard being the true originator of shaving powder. Then, in 1917, a true aftershave product by the name Aqua Valva was released. 

Table of Contents:

  • Part 1: What Does Aftershave Do? 

    What Does Aftershave Do

    • Soothes and Refreshes the Skin: After you are done shaving the unwanted hair from your face, your skin needs a soothing product. This is because the razor blades can disrupt your outermost layer of skin. At such times, aftershave comes in handy to soothe and freshen your skin 
    • Closes and Tightens Pores: Aftershaves act as astringents that can constrict your skin pores and tighten them. Closing of pores prevents entry of germs and dirt into your skin thus reducing the risk of breakouts 
    • Skin Hydration and Moisturization: There are aftershave moisturizers that keep your skin hydrated till it heals completely. Similar to a balm or lotion, they form a thick layer on your skin thus preventing the moisture from drying out 
    • Disinfection and Prevention of Infections: Alcohol-based aftershaves usually have ethyl alcohol or isopropanol in them. This agent is the same as those of sanitizers and can kill all the harmful bacteria. As a result, they disinfect your skin and minimize any infection from occurring 
    • Adds Pleasant Fragrance: Other than disinfecting and moisturizing agents, aftershave products also have essential oils in them. These oils have an aroma that provides a pleasant fragrance throughout the day 

    Part 2: Types of Aftershave Products


    Types of Aftershave Products

  • Aftershave products are available in a variety of options. You can choose the type depending on your requirements and suitability with skin. 

    Traditional aftershave lotions

    Traditional aftershave lotions come in two categories: Alcohol-based lotions and Non-alcoholic lotions. The alcoholic lotions can tighten your skin pores, disinfect the skin, and provide relief to your skin. The non-alcoholic lotions are better for those with dry skin as they usually contain hydrating agents. 

    Moreover, aftershave lotions are slightly thicker in consistency. 

    Aftershave balms and creams

    Unlike lotions, aftershave balms are fragrance-free or have a slight scent. This makes them perfect for men with sensitive skin. They use essential oils instead of alcohol to disinfect the skin and provide a soothing sensation. 

    The consistency of these balms and creams can vary from product to product but they all can reduce skin irritation effectively. 

    Aftershave splashes and tonics

    Aftershave splashes and tonics are alcohol-based aftershave products that are thinner in consistency as compared to both lotions and balms. Due to the presence of alcohol, they act as astringents and kill all the bacteria on the skin along with temporarily shrinking your pores.

    They work best for those with oily skin texture and the inhabitants of humid environments.

    Aftershave gels and serums

    Aftershave gels have a silky nature while aftershave serums are liquidy. Both the gels and serums provide you with a refreshing sensation in addition to necessary hydration. Additionally, aftershave serums are enriched in nourishing oils to soften and soothe your skin immediately.

    Part 3: What is the Difference Between Cologne and Aftershave?


    What is the Difference Between Cologne and Aftershave

  • While most people interchange the terms Cologne and Aftershave, they are very different from each other and are not interchangeable at all. This is because they mainly differ in their purposes. The Aftershave products are mainly used for soothing the skin after shaving and preventing the entry of harmful microbes into the skin till it recovers completely. On the other hand, colognes are used to smell good. They have 7% of fragrance in them while aftershave products have only 1-3%  of aromatic constituents which means colognes have a stronger scent as compared to aftershave. Moreover, they vary in consistency. Colognes are in liquid form and can be applied anytime and the aftershaves can be in liquid, gel, cream, or lotion form. They are only applied after shaving. 

    Part 4: Is it Necessary to Use Aftershave? 


    Is it Necessary to Use Aftershave

  • Using aftershave is not necessarily important but you can use it as a prevention from acne and breakouts. It can also be used as a treatment for razor burns, skin sensitivity, and skin irritation. So, use it if you don’t want any side effects of shaving and want your skin to look healthy and fresh after you are done eliminating your unwanted hair. 

    Part 5: How to Choose the Right Aftershave Product? 

    How to Choose the Right Aftershave Product

  • Consider Skin Type and Sensitivity

    Aftershave products have alcohol and various other different ingredients in them depending upon their type. So, go for the one that suits your skin type. For example, if you have sensitive skin then alcohol and fragrance-free aftershave is best for your skin as alcohol and fragrance can irritate your skin. Mostly balms are preferred for this purpose. 

    Furthermore, if you have oily skin then go for splashes and tonics. 

    Consider Personal Preference and Fragrance Options

    After choosing the type of aftershave you want you can choose your favorite brand among all the options available depending upon your personal preference. If you like the coconut smell then buy the product with coconut oil and if you prefer no scents then fragrance-free aftershave is also available. Whatever you want depends upon your taste. 

    Balance Benefits of Alcohol-based and Non-alcoholic Aftershave

    Aftershave products are both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Alcoholic aftershave can be a great antiseptic and Non-alcoholic one can prove a good moisturizing agent. Alcoholic products can irritate the sensitive skin type while Non-alcoholic are neutral and skin soothing. 

    So before choosing the aftershave, make sure you know your requirements and then make the decision.

    Read Product Labels and Ingredients

    Before making the final decision, read the product label and description of ingredients very well. There might be ingredients that you are allergic to or dislike in your skincare products. Careful reading also prevents you from buying expired products. 

    So make sure you have read everything before adding the aftershave to your cart. 

    Part 6: How to Use Aftershave? 

    How to Use Aftershave

  • Skin Preparation 

    Before applying the aftershave on your shaved face or body, you need to prepare the skin. All you need to do is wash your face thoroughly with cold water. Thorough face wash with cold water constricts your pores and prevents the entry of dirt and microbes into the skin. 

    It also gets rid of small shaved hair and excess shaving cream from the skin. After washing, pat dry the area using a towel and then get ready to apply the aftershave. 

    Step-by-Step Guide to Application

    Now your skin is ready for aftershave application. Follow these steps to apply the after-shave and get optimal results. 

    • Start by taking a pea-sized amount of aftershave on your hand. If it’s serum or lotion, you can take 2 drops for application
    • Now rub your hands gently together so that the aftershave spreads evenly on both your hands
    • The next step is the application of aftershave on the shaved area. For application, use your hands and massage the aftershave on the required area in a circular motion
    • At this time, if you feel your skin is still dry, you can add more aftershave 
    • Lastly, let it absorb well into your skin 

    After it absorbs completely into your skin, you can apply a moisturizer to facilitate skin healing. To get yourself the best moisturizer, click Best Moisturizers of 2023

    Tips to Avoid Irritation or Stinging Sensation

    You can avoid stinging sensation or irritation caused by aftershave by following these tips:

    • Use alcohol-free Aftershave: Alcohol-based products can irritate your skin. So, prefer alcohol-free and fragrance-free aftershave to minimize skin irritation especially if you have sensitive skin
    • Use products with Natural oils: Products with natural ingredients can heal your skin without irritating it. So, use aftershave with natural oils for soothing your skin and getting optimal results 
    • Choose Aftershave according to your skin type: Wrong aftershave unsuitable to your skin can sting it and cause irritation. So know your skin type and then choose the aftershave 
    • Do not apply aftershave instantly: Instead of applying aftershave instantly, wash your face first, get rid of shaved hair, and then apply the aftershave

    Moroever, the wrong shaving technique can cause injuries which can irritate your skin on application of any product. So learn the right shaving technique from How to Properly Shave Your Body Hair to minimize the side effects of shaving. 


    Aftershave products are essential to minimize the side effects of shaving, aid your skin in healing, and prevent acne or breakouts. But not all the aftershave products suit every skin type. So before buying one, ensure that you know your skin type and choose the right product.

    Applying aftershave products is important but taking care of your skin before shaving and throughout the day is also necessary to make sure your skin always looks fresh and glowing. You can take care of your skin by building a proper skincare routine. To learn about this routine, Click How to Build a Skincare Routine. 

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