What Does Aftershave Do – Pros And Cons

man having his beard shaved

The word ‘Aftershave’ reminds us of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Carson Culkin) in the movie Home Alone, dabbing aftershave on his face and screaming when it stung! That gave most of us the impression that aftershaves sting or are not very comfortable. But aftershaves are a must-have grooming product for men, especially if you shave daily. Many men think that beauty or grooming products are only meant for women. But taking care of your skin is as important for men as it is for women. So what does aftershave do?

The main function of an aftershave is to disinfect your skin post shaving and soothe it from the irritation caused by razor blades. Aftershaves come in a variety of fragrances, numerous brands and multiple types so you can choose the perfect aftershave depending on your skin type.

What Does Aftershave Do?

man taking care of his facial skin

Facial skin is delicate. Running a razor blade over your face every day can cause harm to the skin. Sometimes, shaving results in small cuts or bruises to the skin. These are open wounds that come in contact with water and dust all day, which can cause acne or infections. Shaving also dries out the skin considerably and some people might even suffer from skin flaking. Moisturizing the skin post shaving is extremely important to keep the skin healthy and protected.

An aftershave is the most vital product you must end your daily shaving regime with. Aftershaves come in different types suitable for different skin textures. The ingredients they contain differ depending on the type, but some basic contents are common.

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ingredients antiseptic agent aftershave

The main ingredient in most aftershaves is an antiseptic agent such as alcohol, stearate citrate or witch hazel. What does aftershave do?  The primary purpose of an aftershave is to protect the skin from infections and soothe irritation. Some aftershaves contain methanol, which provides a cooling or numbing sensation to the skin. Depending on the type of aftershave, it can contain other ingredients such as tea tree oil, argan oil, aloe vera, chamomile extract, shea butter, licorice extract, rosemary, sandalwood, bergamot extract or eucalyptus extract.

What does aftershave do? With the help of all these ingredients that are included in aftershaves, it moisturizes and soothes the skin and provides a nice fragrance, helping you feel clean and fresh all day.

Ingredients to Avoid

ingredients that harm the skin

Apart from all the ingredients in aftershaves that are good for the skin, there are a few that you must stay away from. For example,  propylene glycol is a type of alcohol that is used as an astringent in aftershaves. Solvents such as benzyl acetate and ethyl acetate that are commonly used in perfumes and aftershaves are known to be carcinogenic and cause respiratory issues.

Aftershaves in earlier times didn’t smell nice, and many people avoided using them. Manufacturing companies had to add synthetic fragrances to the products to make them more appealing to our senses. But these synthetic fragrances can cause allergies, diseases or respiratory problems in certain people. Depending on your skin type, allergies or skin sensitivity, you can use the regular aftershaves available in the market or opt for herbal and natural variants.

Types of Aftershave

types of aftershave for facial skin

Aftershaves come in various forms. The most commonly known aftershave is the ‘aftershave splash’. This is aftershave in a liquid form that must be dabbed on the skin after shaving. If you have normal skin, with hardly any issues, you can opt for the splash type of aftershave. The aftershave splash generally contains alcohol or stearate citrate for its astringent properties and may sting a little.

Another type of aftershave that is really good if you suffer from dry skin is the ‘aftershave lotion’ or ‘aftershave balm’. The lotion type of aftershave is thicker in consistency than the splash. This has more moisturizing properties and can be applied on the skin like a cream. Aftershave lotions will not sting.
Aftershave gels are similar to aftershave lotions as they provide heavy moisturizing to the skin too. These are best for cold and dry climate areas where the skin is prone to drying, flaking or breakouts. Aftershave gels are thick and can provide much needed soothing and relief to irritated skin.

You can also use more than one type of aftershave at a time, depending on the requirements of your skin. What does aftershave do? An aftershave splash is necessary if you often have nicks and bruises after a shave. You can use an aftershave lotion over this to moisturize the skin and prevent dryness. While using a combination of aftershaves, it is important to remember that the thinnest aftershave (splash) must be applied first and the thickest (gel) last.

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History of Aftershave

man showing how proper aftershave looks like

Shaving opens the pores of the skin and makes it vulnerable to bacterial infections. In the early days, barbers used a single-edge razor for every client, which meant they used the same blade for multiple customers. This increased the risk of bacterial infections and transfer, so an aftershave splash that contained germ killing alcohol or a similar ingredient was a must-use product. Aftershaves used in the early 1900s had a high concentration of alcohol.

Is There a Need for Aftershave?

supplies needed for aftershave

There are a lot of men who don’t care to use aftershave or any post-shaving product. If you have not been shaving for many years, you may not notice the harm caused to skin due to shaving but shaving every day is detrimental to your skin in the long term and proper care must be taken to avoid infections and dryness.

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What does aftershave do? It keeps bacteria from entering the pores or any open cuts that may have occurred while using the razor. Bacteria can collect anywhere. How you store the razor and shaving cream/foam can also contribute to bacteria build-up. As shaving is a daily activity for most men, the risk of infections is high. Hence an aftershave splash is required to protect the skin.


An astringent is any agent that closes the pores of the skin. These are opened while shaving and can allow harmful bacteria, germs and dust to enter the skin. Aftershave splashes contain astringents that close the pores and give a cooling effect to the skin.


Most men will be of the opinion that shaving dries out the skin as it takes away all the moisture from your skin. Aftershave splashes that contain alcohol also contribute to skin drying to a certain extent. Dry skin can also cause redness, swelling, itching or ingrown hair. To combat this problem, you need to moisturize your skin after shaving.


Apart from the antibacterial and moisturizing properties, aftershaves are known for their pleasant fragrances. These fragrances work on your skin and your mind. What does aftershave do? Using an aftershave that has a good smell can help your skin feel fresh, clean and hydrated throughout the day. A nice fragrance also uplifts your mood. If your skin feels dull or dry in the day, you can reuse your aftershave and have your skin feeling healthy again.

Pros and Cons of Aftershave

What does aftershave do? Protection from bacteria and skin hydration are the biggest advantages of using aftershave. Aftershaves have anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the skin and treat redness or itching often caused due to razor blades. Acne is caused due to oily skin and many other reasons. Aftershaves that contain alcohol are known to dry out the skin a bit. So an aftershave can prevent acne to some extent if not treat all the causes of it.

Aftershave comes in different types and fragrances that suit the needs of your skin. Being a daily necessity, they are pocket-friendly, unless you wish to splurge on expensive brands, and can be carried around easily. Aftershaves can provide a touch of fragrance and serve as cologne too at times when you can’t carry a perfume around. So now you know what does aftershave do.

The most common problem that men do not wish to go through is the sting. Aftershaves sting because they contain strong ingredients that combat bacteria build up. But the sting can be avoided by choosing alcohol-free products.

Aftershave splashes that contain alcohol can dry the skin too. So using aftershave balms or lotions after a splash is a good option that can provide protection from bacteria as well as hydration to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you can choose herbal products that are unscented, alcohol free and which contain natural moisturizing agents like aloe vera or shea butter.


man showing his facial skin

The soothing sensation that an aftershave provides, along with protecting your skin and moisturizing it makes aftershaves an ideal and must-have grooming product for men. If you have stayed away from aftershave till now, find one that is best suited to your skin and use it. You will notice the effects immediately. A healthier, smooth and soft flawless skin will make you feel and look good along with making you smell great. But always test any product for skin sensitivity before using it.

Last update on 2021-05-24 at 15:57 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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