Dec 9, 2021 | 6 min Read

What Is Aftershave and Why Do You Need It?

This article is updated and republished on December 9, 2021. 

Aftershave is a mixture one applies to their face after shaving to soothe the skin. Traditionally it was an alcohol-based liquid, however, these days one can find aftershave in gel and lotion form as well.

None of these bases are an all-around “best” choice, in fact, it’s important to use the type that is best for your skin.

The ideal type of aftershave will vary from person-to-person. Some swear by the product and others have never used it in their life. Below we answer all your questions surrounding this classic and controversial toiletry. And be sure to stick around at the end for our list of the best aftershaves for men. 

What Is Aftershave?

what is afteshave antiseptic

Aftershave has many benefits. The  toiletry is well suited to cleanse the face after shaving. It comes in different forms and each form has its unique benefits. All types have an antiseptic fluid mixed in them that prevents infection and inflammation from shaving.

What Does Aftershave Do?

what is aftershave

If you’re wondering, “why should I use aftershave,” the main answer is that it  alleviates irritation and prevents outbreaks commonly caused from shaving. The antiseptic solution prevents infections from cuts and can kill microorganisms that may form on your razor during storage. Aftershave’s effects can vary slightly depending on the base but overall it’s a good way to freshen up your face.

This toiletry is usually infused with a fresh scent that can act as a facial cologne. That means in addition to keeping your skin clear, the best aftershaves can also leave you smelling great.

If your razor is dull or pulls hair follicles on your face, the skin can be easily irritated — this can be painful. Although it stings at first, aftershave is a good way to mitigate harm and, in the long run, stop this pain.

How Do You Use Aftershave?

what is aftershave types

To use aftershave, first use a sharp and fresh razor to cut your facial hair. If a razor is dull, it will pull and scrape your skin, making aftershave burn more than usual.

Once you’re done shaving, apply your aftershave. If it is liquid-based you can use your hands or a cotton ball to apply the product. Regardless of the base, the application process is the same:

  1. Tip the bottle slightly so approximately 1/2 tablespoon of aftershave comes out onto your hand or cotton ball.
  2. Dab it on your face, making sure the points which you have shaved are soaking in the majority of the liquid.
  3. Be sure to rub the aftershave underneath your chin as well, as this area can be missed easily.

Feel free to splash a handful of water on your face afterward to remove any lingering liquid that doesn’t get soaked up by your skin.

How Much Do You Need?

what is aftershave and how much do you need

As with cologne, too much aftershave can be problematic. First, wasting this toiletry can get expensive and is unnecessary — a little goes a long way.

Having an overpowering scent profile will do more harm than good. Excessive burning can also be a side effect of using too much aftershave.

So how much do you need?

The ideal amount of aftershave is “a couple of drops,” or about ½ teaspoon. You want to have enough to spread around your cheeks and neck without oversaturating your skin. After trimming a large beard or a full facial shave, it can be helpful to use more to mitigate any chances of swelling and infection — even then, don’t use more than one teaspoon.

What Are The Different Types of Aftershave?

what is aftershave types

The three most common types of aftershave are lotion-based, gel-based and liquid-based (this is the most popular type). In earlier decades, only liquid-based alcohol aftershave was used in barbershops. However, nowadays, options have expanded to accommodate different skin types.

All three types have unique benefits and can be used to achieve different effects. They all use some form of antiseptic to eliminate the chance of infection and inflammation after shaving.

Below are specific details associated with the three types of aftershave.

Lotion-based: Aftershave in lotion form is used to moisten the skin after shaving. The moisture in these products helps with dry skin and as a result, makes the face smoother after a shave. Ideally used in the winter months, lotion-based aftershave should be applied by those who get excessively dry skin — in the winter or year-round.

Gel-based: Depending on the type of gel used with aftershave there can be different benefits. Some gel aftershaves are used to add extra nutrients to the skin (like fish oil), while others are simply used to smell good. This type of product can be good for those with sensitive skin if the proper ingredients, like aloe, are present in the gel.

Liquid-based: This is the traditional type of aftershave. The alcohol in these aftershaves is used as an antiseptic and can cause a harsher burning than gel and lotion aftershaves. However, liquid-based types are typically strong antiseptics and can clean cuts from shaving very well.

Do You Need Aftershave?

when to use aftershave post

When to Use Aftershave?

It is not needed after every shave, however, it can help with certain aspects of health and beauty.

First, if you cut yourself shaving you should use aftershave. The antiseptic treatment will help avert infection and can bring swelling down.

It’s also a good idea to use specific types of aftershave if you have sensitive skin. If you fall into this category look for lotion-based aftershaves meant to soothe and moisten your face. You can also look for natural aftershaves that can be less harsh on the skin.

Another reason why aftershave is a good idea post-shave is simply to smell good.

Best Aftershave for Men

We asked top fragrance experts about their favorite men’s aftershaves.

According to the cologne and scent fanatics, these aftershaves are necessary if you want an effective toiletry product that also smells nice. Here are the top 3 aftershaves for men:

  1. Davidoff Cool Water Aftershave

Davidoff Cool Water Aftershave

Cool Water After Shave by Davidoff is the best and most popular after shave on the market. The aquatic fragrance from famous perfumer Pierre Bourdon evokes top notes of coriander, rosemary, lavender, and sea water. As for middle notes, the scents’ jasmine, sandalwood, and geranium paired with base notes of tobacco and musk make this classic aftershave a certified aphrodisiac scent.

2. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Aftershave

Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani is an iconic cologne, and the aftershave and aftershave lotion editions are no exception. Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea and evoking fresh scents of citrus, oak, and cedar, this aquatic fragrance deserves a spot in any best-smelling and highest-quality aftershave list.

3. 4711 Cologne by 4711

4711 Aftershave by 4711 is uniquely unisex, but that doesn’t mean it’s not well-suited for any man (or woman) that wants to smell great. Notes of bergamot, grapefruit, rosemary, and lemon leave a fruity, fresh scent after you’re finished shaving.

Purpose of Aftershave – In Conclusion

Aftershave is a classic way to boost one’s professional and social profile by making sure you look and smell amazing. While not always necessary, the toiletry is an ideal way to calm and heal your skin after shaving. Especially if your razor is dull or pulls on your facial hair, aftershave can be used to heal your skin before more harm is done.

The important thing to remember with aftershave is that it’s like a facial cologne — meaning it should complement your actual cologne’s scent. When mixed properly, aftershave and cologne can help create your signature scent.

For more fragrance information, read on:

How to Smell Good

Your Guide to the Scent Family and Fragrance Wheel

How to Best Apply Cologne

How to Store Fragrances to Make Them Last Longer

8 Men’s Colognes That Women Love

How to Ship Perfume & Cologne

How Much Cologne Can You Take on a Plane

Best Creed Colognes for Men

The History of Fragrances

The 15 Most Expensive Perfumes Ever Made


Leanna Serras fragrance expert and writer

Leanna Serras is an educated and well-versed fragrance writer with a passion for perfume. She has loved trying new perfumes since she was a child, and has tried everything from fruity to woodsy fragrances in her time cherishing scents. Outside of writing and collecting perfume, Leanna loves fashion, skincare, “the Bachelorette,” and kicking back on the beach.

 

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