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What Is Aftershave and How to Use It

The art of shaving is one that has been around for centuries. It is an essential part of a man's daily routine, and it can make a big difference in his appearance. But it's not just about the shave itself — aftershave is an integral part of the process, too.

If you're unsure about aftershave and how it can fit into your shaving routine, don't worry — we're here to help. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about aftershave, including what it is, why you should use it, and how to apply it correctly.

What Is Aftershave?

Aftershave is a product applied to the skin after shaving to help prevent infection, calm razor burn, and soothe the skin. But there are many different types of aftershave products available, so it's essential to understand your options.

Aftershave Balm vs Aftershave Lotion vs Aftershave Splash

The first thing you need to understand when selecting an aftershave is the different consistencies available. Aftershave comes in three different forms — balm, lotion, and splash.

  • Aftershave Balms – These are typically the thickest consistency and provide the most moisture to the skin. They're a good option for dry skin, as they can help soothe and hydrate the skin after shaving. In addition, many balms tend to be alcohol-free, focusing their ingredient profile on natural ingredients that provide similar benefits to traditional aftershave without the drying effect.
  • Aftershave Lotions – Lotions are a middle-of-the-road option when it comes to consistency. They're not as thick as balms, but they're also not as thin as splashes. They also tend to contain alcohol, though generally less than splashes. Lotions provide a balance of moisture and protection to the skin but may still cause some drying.
  • Aftershave Splashes – These are the thinnest consistency and contain the highest amount of alcohol. Sometimes around 70% alcohol, these splashes deliver a potent sting upon application. However, they also work to close the pores and help to prevent infection. Splashes are often recommended for those with oilier skin types, as they can help to control shine. But prolonged use can lead to dryness and premature signs of ageing, so it's important to use them sparingly.

Alcohol-based Aftershave

Alcohol-based aftershaves are the traditional type of aftershave you might have heard about from your grandfathers or father. These products contain ingredients that act as sanitisers for the face after shaving facial hair. They hark back to a time when shaving was about necessity, not a luxury, so the focus was on function over form. In actuality, shaving was probably anything but enjoyable and quite painful for some men, especially those with sensitive skin.

Typically, alcohol-based aftershave contains isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) or ethyl alcohol (ethanol). These ingredients are included for their ability to kill bacteria or other unwanted microbes on the skin of your face after a shave. Their purpose is to prevent infection, not to moisturise the skin, as many other aftershave products do today.

If these ingredients sound familiar, they should. They are similar to what is used in products like hand sanitiser or household cleaners. Unsurprisingly, this is also why alcohol-based aftershaves infamously sting when you put them on your face — they’re antibacterial. But are they actually helpful beyond the initial sting?

Aside from preventing infection, alcohol-based aftershaves present little to no benefit and can actually be more damaging to your skin than beneficial when used over time. According to an article published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, a team of researchers recommended limiting skin exposure to isopropyl alcohol due to its potential for damage. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology called into question the safety of ethyl alcohol exposure and questioned existing studies that claimed little risk, citing industry bias.

Dermatologically speaking, the harshness of these ingredients and potential long-term damage is due to the fact that the alcohols used are irritants that dry out the skin. If you have sensitive skin, these products can cause redness, itching, burning, peeling, or flaking. But even if you don't, you may still experience some degree of skin irritation, redness, or burning sensation that lasts longer than the initial post-shave application of the product. Not to mention that excessive drying of the skin may accelerate the ageing process.

So, if you're looking for an aftershave that won't irritate your skin, you will want to steer clear of alcohol-based products.

Non-alcohol-based Aftershave

As the name implies, non-alcohol-based aftershaves don't contain harsh alcohols like isopropanol or ethanol. Instead, they rely on other ingredients to provide bacteria-killing properties but also additional benefits like hydration, skin protection, and reduction of irritation.

The active ingredients in non-alcohol-based aftershaves typically include botanical extracts and oils that have many natural properties, including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. These natural ingredients provide a much gentler way to cleanse the skin and kill bacteria without the harshness of alcohol. Furthermore, they can help to soothe the skin after shaving, something alcohol-based aftershaves are not designed to do.

Some of the potent and popular botanical extracts and oils used in Seven Potions' Post Shave Balm — a non-alcohol-based aftershave — include:

  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) – Witch hazel has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of North America. The bark and leaves of theHamamelis virginiana tree contain tannins, which are known for their astringent properties. When applied to the skin, witch hazel can help to tighten pores, reduce inflammation, and heal minor cuts and scrapes. It is also an effective antibacterial agent, making it a popular choice for use in aftershave.
  • Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia chinensis) – Jojoba seed oil is a powerful ingredient in both skincare and aftershave products. This natural oil comes from the Jojoba plant, which is native to the desert regions of Arizona, California, and Mexico. Jojoba seed oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not clog pores. This is because it is very similar to the sebum that is produced by our skin, which makes it an excellent moisturiser. It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which make it an ideal choice for people with acne-prone skin. In aftershave products, jojoba seed oil helps to soothe the skin and prevent razor burn.
  • Cucumber Fruit Extract (Cucumis sativus) – Cucumber is widely known as a restorative and cooling agent, making it an excellent choice for skincare and aftershave products. The fruit extract contains numerous nutrients that are beneficial for the skin, including vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant that can reduce the signs ofageing. In addition, cucumber extract helps to soothe inflammation and reduce redness. As a result, it is an ideal ingredient for products designed to calm and nourish the skin. It can also help heal razor burn and leave the skin refreshed and invigorated when combined with other natural ingredients.

In addition to these extracts and oils, non-alcohol-based aftershaves like ours often contain glycerin as a base ingredient. Vegetable glycerin is a hydrating substance that helps the skin to retain moisture, which is vital for keeping the skin looking healthy, vibrant, and youthful.

So, if you're looking for an aftershave that won't dry out your skin or cause irritation, you will want to choose a non-alcohol-based product like Seven Potions' Post Shave Balm.

Why You Should Use Aftershave

A man's shaving routine is not complete without the use of aftershave. When you shave, you are essentially exfoliating the top layer of your skin. This can leave your skin feeling dry, tight, and irritated. In addition, shaving can also cause razor burn, nicks, and cuts. And if you have sensitive skin, you may also experience additional redness, inflammation, and razor bumps.

All of these issues can be addressed with the use of a good quality aftershave. Aftershave helps to hydrate and nourish the skin while also cleansing it of any bacteria that may cause infection. In addition, aftershave can also help to soothe the skin and reduce irritation. And for those with sensitive skin, aftershave can help to reduce the appearance of redness and inflammation.

Indeed, the benefits of aftershave for the modern gentleman cannot be understated. And just in case, here's a quick recap of the help:

  • Reduces irritation
  • Soothes the skin
  • Cleanses the skin of bacteria and other contaminants
  • Reduces the appearance of redness, inflammation, and razor bumps
  • Hydrates and nourishes the skin
  • Promotes healing of nicks and cuts and the regrowth of skin cells
  • Helps prevent folliculitis (hair follicle inflammation) by keeping the pores clean and protected

As you can see, there are many reasons to incorporate aftershave into your daily shaving routine. But how do you use aftershave effectively? Let's learn.

How to Use Aftershave

Knowing how to properly use and apply aftershave is just as important as choosing the right product for your skin type. After all, even the best aftershave won't do you much good if you don't know how to use it properly!

When using an alcohol-based aftershave, it's important to remember that less is more. Simply use a splash or small amount of the product after shaving. You may not even need to rub this kind of aftershave into your skin — just let it air dry. Non-alcohol-based aftershaves, on the other hand, can be applied more liberally to the face and neck without fear of drying out the skin.

You should always follow up your aftershave routine with a goodmoisturiser, whether using an alcohol-based or non-alcohol-based product. This will help to keep your skin hydrated and looking its best.

Here's a step-by-step guide to using our Post Shave Balm:

  1. Shave – You'll need a reason to apply aftershave, after all. So start by shaving your face (or wherever else you plan on applying aftershave). We recommend using a high-quality razor like the Seven Potions Double Edge Safety Razor and good shaving cream to get a close, comfortable shave.
  2. Rinse – Rinse your skin with warm water to remove any shaving cream or hair. After, follow this with a second rinse of cold water. Rinsing with cold water will help to close your pores and reduce razor burn.
  3. Dry – Using a clean towel, pat your skin dry. You should avoid rubbing the towel on your skin, as this will potentially irritate freshly shaven skin.
  4. Apply – Using your fingers or palms, apply aftershave to the shaved area. Avoid getting any aftershave in your eyes. Start with a small amount and add more if needed. Different aftershaves will have different consistencies that can affect how easily they spread. Our Post Shave Balm is a potent recipe, and a little goes a long way. So start with a dab and build up if needed.
  5. Massage – Gently massage the aftershave into your skin. This will help to evenly distribute the product and allow it to be absorbed more easily.
  6. Enjoy! – Once you have applied and massaged the aftershave into your skin, let it dry. This should only take a minute or two. Once it is dry, you can apply lotion if desired. And that's it! You're now ready to face the world with confidence, knowing that your skin is looking and feeling its best.

Common Aftershave FAQS

We've covered everything from the benefits of aftershave to how to properly apply it. But there's still more to learn about this important grooming product! So let's answer some common aftershave questions.

Can I use aftershave if I have acne?

If you have acne, you may wonder if it's safe to use aftershave. The short answer is yes — aftershave will not cause or worsen acne. In fact, many men find that using aftershave helps to soothe irritation and redness caused by shaving. Just be sure to choose an aftershave that is designed for sensitive skin and avoid products with alcohol, as this can dry out the skin and potentially cause irritation.

Are all alcohols in aftershaves bad?

Not necessarily. Fatty alcohols derived from plants are often used in aftershaves and other grooming products as emollients. These ingredients help to moisturise the skin and can actually be beneficial for those with dry skin. It's the ethanol or isopropanol found in some aftershaves that can cause drying and irritation.

For example, have you ever wondered why our Post Shave Balm is so spreadable and creamy? It's all thanks to the C12-C16 alcohols on our ingredient list! Not only do these act as an emulsion stabiliser, but they also help to increase the balm's viscosity, making it much easier to apply. It's clear then that the inclusion of fatty alcohols in a product can be beneficial, whereas the inclusion of ethanol may not be so desirable.

Can I use aftershave on my head?

Yes, you can use aftershave on your head. In fact, many men find that using aftershave on their scalp helps to reduce razor burn and irritation. Just be sure to choose an aftershave that is designed for sensitive skin — like our own Aftershave Balm. And as always, test a small amount of the product on a less sensitive area first (like your arm) to ensure you don't have any adverse reaction.

Can I use aftershave on my genitals?

Yes, you can safely use aftershave on your genitals. In fact, many men find that using aftershave on their genital area helps to reduce razor burn and irritation. Just be sure to choose an aftershave that is designed for sensitive skin — like our own Aftershave Balm. And as always, test a small amount of the product on a less sensitive area first (like your arm) to ensure you don't have any adverse reaction.

Can I use aftershave if I have sensitive skin?

Yes, and to be honest, you should! If you have sensitive skin, it's important to choose an aftershave that is designed for sensitive skin. For example, many men find that aloe vera or chamomile products are soothing and help reduce irritation. You should also avoid products with alcohol, as this can dry out the skin and cause irritation.

Do I need to use aftershave if I don't shave?

No, you don't need to use aftershave if you don't shave. Aftershave is only necessary if you shave your face (or other parts of your body). If you don't shave, you can still use other grooming products, like moisturiser or cologne.

Is aftershave bad for you?

No, aftershave is not bad for you. In fact, many men find that using aftershave helps to soothe irritation and redness caused by shaving. Just be sure to choose an aftershave that is designed for sensitive skin and avoid products with alcohol, as this can dry out the skin and potentially cause irritation.

Is cologne a suitable aftershave replacement?

No, cologne is not a suitable aftershave replacement. Aftershave and cologne serve different purposes — aftershave is designed to soothe and protect the skin, while cologne is designed to add fragrance. Many colognes indeed contain alcohol, but they are not formulated to serve the same purpose as an aftershave.

What is the best aftershave for men?

The best aftershave is one that works for you and produces the best results. An aftershave should be soothing, protect the skin, and smell great. Many men find that our Post Shave Balm works best for them thanks to its robust profile of natural, vegan ingredients.

 Aftershave and the Perfect Shaving Routine

Aftershave is the last step in achieving the perfect shave. In this section, we'll take you through the process step-by-step so that you can learn how to get the most out of your shaving routine.

The perfect shave starts with the right tools. Ensure you have a sharp, clean razor and good shaving cream or shave soap. Wet your face with warm water to soften the hair and open the pores. Apply the shaving cream or soap and use your razor to shave in the direction of hair growth. Next, rinse your face with cold water to close the pores and apply a small amount of aftershave.

 For tools and products, we recommend the following:

Seven Potions Shaving Brush

With a perfectly balanced handle, the Seven Potions Shaving Brush allows for an easy and firm grip. The ultra-soft synthetic fibres are designed to whip cream into a rich lather, which will then be applied to your face with pinpoint accuracy, thanks in part to its ergonomic design that fits comfortably into any hand size or shape. It is an incredible shaving tool that will provide you with a rich lather and carry it across your face, prepping your face for a close shave.

Seven Potions Double Edge Safety Razor

For a close, comfortable shave without any skin irritation, look no further than the Seven Potions Double Edge Safety Razor. Its single blade design cuts more cleanly through hair, minimising the chances of ingrown hairs and razor burn. Plus, it's economical - costing less for razor blades - and environmentally friendly, producing less unrecyclable waste than cartridge razors. So if you're looking for a safe, comfortable, and eco-friendly shave, this is a must-have addition to your personal grooming toolkit.

Seven Potions Pre-Shave Oil

Our Pure Equilibrium Pre-Shave Oil is a great way to get a close, irritation-free shave. Our oil is specially formulated to lubricate your skin and help protect it from razor burn and other shaving-related irritations. It can be used before you lather your favourite shaving cream or as an alternative to shaving cream for fine details like beard lines. In addition, the oil is scent-free and works with any of our other products or other favourite fragrances.

Seven Potions Shaving Cream

Delivering a luxurious shaving experience that won't leave your skin feeling irritated, Seven Potions Shaving Cream will help you achieve the perfect shave every time. Our high-quality, plant-based, vegan ingredients come together to create a rich lather that will help protect against razor burn and leave your skin feeling smooth and hydrated. With notable anti-inflammatory additions likeCardiospermum halicacabum extract, you can be sure that your skin will stay healthy and look its best with our shave cream.

Seven Potions Post Shave Balm

By now, you're probably well aware and hopefully convinced that Seven Potions offers the best aftershave for men. But what exactly makes our Post Shave Balm so special? First and foremost, it's the ingredients. Our natural, vegan-friendly ingredients are specially chosen for their ability to soothe and protect the skin. Additionally, our Post Shave Balm (and all other Seven Potions products) have undergone rigorous testing to meet EU cosmetic regulations, which are some of the most stringent in the world. So, you can trust that our products are safe for your skin and will do nothing but provide you with the best shaving experience possible.

Aftershave: The Final Word

We hope this article has helped you to better understand aftershave and how to properly use it. Remember that aftershave is an essential part of any man's grooming routine — it helps to soothe and protect the skin, reduces irritation, and leaves you feeling refreshed and confident. So don't be afraid to give it a try! And if you have any further questions about aftershave, feel free to contact us. We're always happy to help.