Shaving is an integral part of the regular grooming schedule of men. Nowadays, grooming kits of men are incomplete without an aftershave lotion or an aftershave balm. Although, shaving has been a regular habit among men since ancient times, aftershave solutions and balms were not available, in abundance, in the market. The traditional substitute of aftershaves was Potassium aluminium sulphate, popularly known as Potash alum and chemically named as KAI(SO4)2. Potash alum can prove beneficial against the infections caused by shaving and acted as a wound healer. However, as the eras progressed and people faced modernity, aftershave lotions and balms began to be attributed with uses more than just a mere treatment of skin irritations and skin problems.
An aftershave is an astringent based lotion or balm that is more often not scented, to be applied to the skin after shaving. There might arise multiple questions among the common users, regarding the use of aftershaves. Some such commonly asked questions have been addressed below for the benefit of the consumers.
- Do You Need To Use Aftershave?
- What Do You Use Aftershave Balm For?
- What Is The Purpose Of Aftershave Balm?
- What Is Post Shave Balm Used For?
- What Is The Best Aftershave?
- What Are The Advantages Of Aftershave?
- Why Does It Sting When You Put On An Aftershave?
- Is Aftershave Bad For You?
- Do I Need To Use Aftershave?
- What Is The Difference Between Aftershave Balm And Aftershave Lotion?
- How Do You Put On Aftershave?
Do You Need To Use Aftershave?
Well, as the common concept of shaving goes, irrespective of the shaving cream, foam or oil that is used and irrespective of the process of shaving, the concept itself basically deals with scraping off the facial hair with the help of a razor or a blade. Now, that normally gives way to the possibility of skin irritations, rashes, other skin inflammations and even some times small scratches and cuts. Such skin irritations often cause bacterial infections if they are left unaided. Modern day aftershaves contain ingredients that help you to keep your skin protected and also heals minor injuries. However, all are subjective rather than objective. Consumers obviously always have the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to use an aftershave, depending on their own skin types and personal preferences.
What Do You Use Aftershave Balm For?
Shaving often leaves razor burns on your skin. If not burns, the skin of the recently shaved area remains utterly sensitive and prone to skin infections, irritations and rashes. Aftershave balm helps to disinfect the shaved area to against bacterial infections on the skin. It also acts as a moisturizer that soothes and protects the skin from skin irritations.
Aftershave balm causes a tingling sensation on your skin when applied on the recently shaved area as this helps to heal skin inflammations and razor burns by giving the skin a cooling effect. However, the cooling effect provided by the aftershave balms depends on the presence of menthol as an essential ingredient in the aftershave balm and that varies from one brand to another. So, it is advisable that you check the contents before choosing the brand of your aftershave balm (1).
What Is The Purpose Of Aftershave Balm?
Although the initial purpose of using aftershave balms was to disinfect the shaved skin area, modern day aftershaves come with a variety of purposes. Aftershave balms contain, most of the times, denatured alcohol which acts as an antiseptic agent (2). Apart from alcohol, other optional ingredients that aftershave manufacturing companies use against infections are stearate citrate or witch hazel. Witch hazel is produced from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub (Hamamelis Virginiana) found in North America. It is widely popular for its external use on skin irritation, minor bleeding and hemorrhoids (3). Denatured alcohol, when applied on skin can cause momentary stinging sensation. Aftershave balms, however, unlike aftershave lotions, contain less proportions of alcohol that, as mentioned in the preceding sub-topic, is supposed to cause a tingling sensation instead. Certain brands of aftershave balm often add menthol as an ingredient, so shaving cream manufacturers have started using it as an ingredient in their formulations too.
Menthol gives a cooling effect and soothes the damaged skin after shaving. Some aftershaves contain fragrances or essential oils that often serve the purpose of perfumes. However, it is often a part of the marketing strategy of the companies to present their products serving the dual purpose of an aftershave as well as a cologne. Aftershave balms, also, occasionally contain moisturizing agents to soften the skin. Moisturizing agents, however, can be natural as well as artificial. So, it is advisable to check the contents before choosing the brands of aftershave balms.
What Is Post Shave Balm Used For?
Post shave balm is often wrongly made synonymous with the aftershave balm. Unlike the aftershave balms that are attributed with the task of serving various purposes, the term ‘post shave’ more commonly refers to a process that follows the activity of shaving. Be it the barber shop or be it your home, shaving should be mandatorily followed up by a post shave procedure.
Post shave balms, unlike the scented aftershave balms, are more likely to provide moisturization to the skin. People, who shave regularly, often complain about their skin becoming rough and dry. Constant exposure of the skin to sharp razor blades, undoubtedly affect the upper epidermal layer of the skin, making it sensitive and prone to rashes and irritations. Every time you shave, your skin loses moisture. Post shave balms work actively to retain the moisture balance of your skin. Avoiding post shave balms could leave severe razor burns on your skin. However, post shave balms which are high on alcohol content, on the contrary, further irritate and dry out your skin. It is advisable that you have checked whether your post shave balm contains natural moisturizing and skin soothing elements, so that your skin remains healthy and acne-free (4).
What Is The Best Aftershave?
Every aftershave manufacturing brand advertises its product to be the best one available in the market and that too for all sorts of good reasons. However, with the growing number of aftershave manufacturers, customers tend to get confused as to which product they should choose. Here is a guide that, when followed, could lead you to a product which suits you the best. Some of the criteria that a good aftershave balm should fulfil are as follows:
- A good aftershave balm should be able to maintain a balance in the skin type. That is, the product should be able to keep your skin neutral and hydrated – not making it too oily nor leaving any dry patches on your shaved skin.
- Your shaving blade can be of the best quality available in the market, but none of them can guarantee a nick and cut free shave. Accidents might occur any time and even a small cut can lead to serious skin infections if left unaided and unattended. Minor cuts and injuries can be taken care of by your aftershave balm if it contains healing elements like vitamin E.
- Shaving robs your skin off moisture and what you require to maintain the health of your skin is immediate hydration. Your brand of aftershave balm should contain Witch Hazel to reduce skin irritation and also some natural moisturizing elements like Eucalyptus oil or Aloe Vera extracts. Consumers are free to choose the product that they prefer the most.
- Although the presence of alcohol in the aftershave balms save the skin from getting infected, it is not always easy on your skin. Alcohol not only causes a stinging sensation when applied on freshly shaved skin but can also affect your skin if it is sensitive. It is advisable to make a choice for an aftershave balm with either low alcohol content or contain natural alternatives of alcohol like aloe vera and tea tree oil that not only provide moisturization but also provide disinfecting benefits.
- A large number of people are naturally prone to razor bumps and ingrown hairs that tend to irritate the skin after a shave. An appropriate aftershave balm should be such that not only soothes the skin on immediate application but also gives a long-lasting cooling sensation to your skin. Shaving can be really relaxing, if your aftershave balm succeeds to do its job of giving you the ultimate comfort.
- Men often complain about multiple benefits not being available in one particular brand of aftershave balms. However, a thorough market survey would reveal a number of brands which claim their products to be multitasking. Such multipurpose aftershave solutions cover all the major problems such as ingrown hairs to soothing razor bumps to refining beard hair to reduce the 5 o’clock shadow over time with regular use.
- Some brands of aftershave balms are specially formulated for night time shavers. They contain natural elements that hydrate and pump moisture into your skin overnight. Some products also contain light fragrances that provide relaxation and promote a good night’s sleep. Fragrant aftershave balms often contain aromatic essential oils that provide the refreshing effect of aromatherapy. (4)
What Are The Advantages Of Aftershave?
Using an aftershave balm after you shave provides the following benefits(4):
- Fragrant aftershave balms make men feel more confident and presentable in the public space. In fact, this is exactly what major aftershave manufacturing brands advertise through the media as a part of their marketing campaign.
- Aftershave solutions provide a soothing effect to your skin after it has been grazed over multiple times by the sharp razor blades.
- In case of minor cuts and injuries, an aftershave balm can help to stop the bleeding and help your skin heal faster.
- Aftershave balms also have hygienic benefits like keeping the skin free from acne by clearing the pores of your skin and keeping it bacteria – free.
- Shaving often removes the outermost layer of your skin. Aftershave lotion provides lubrication and protection to your skin.
Why Does It Sting When You Put On An Aftershave?
Applying an aftershave post shaving, causes the stinging sensation basically due to the presence of alcohol as one of the key ingredients in it. Although shaving might be a smooth process for most men, the memory of the stinging that follows, when an aftershave is applied, is a major setback for them. However, as most dermatologists say, the stinging sensation caused by the aftershave is actually beneficial as the alcohol present in the aftershave lotion or balm helps in healing the irritated and often inflamed skin after you shave. Aftershave with alcohol content holds the element SD 40 alcohol, an effective antiseptic which performs the function of the ingredient base in vital aftershave-oriented brands. Alcohol-free aftershaves may contain Polyquaternium – 10 that serves the role of a preservative against the growth of noxious microorganisms. Another major cause of the stinging post shaving is the presence of Witch Hazel which functions similarly as SD-alcohol 40. (1)
Is Aftershave Bad For You?
Although aftershave lotions are popularly known for their disinfecting qualities, the application of aftershave causes a strong burning sensation on your skin. The major reason behind this burning and stinging sensation is the high alcohol content in your aftershave balm. Although the main objective behind the addition of alcohol as an integral ingredient in aftershave balms is its quality to disinfect the already irritated skin. An element that causes an instant burning sensation may not be considered hundred percent good for the skin. Rather, certain aftershave balms are so high on the alcohol content that the burning sensation becomes doubly severe causing further skin irritation and rashes. Especially, if your skin is already dry, the alcohol tends to suck away the moisture from your skin leaving it further dry. Also, if you have sensitive skin, aftershave lotions or balms, having high alcohol content, should preferably be avoided.
Dermatologists always recommend that users must always check the contents of their aftershave lotions before using it. You can preferably use an aftershave soother or a mild aftershave balm in place of an alcohol rich aftershave lotion so that the lost moisture is restored back to your skin. Another disadvantage of using an aftershave splash is that unless you have proper control on the amount of the product you are applying, the fragrant agent can pose to be a cause of utter discomfort for you as well as the people around you who are inhaling your scent. In fact, certain aftershave lotions use so strong fragrances that they cause tingles and irritations in your nostrils! So, demo uses are always recommended.
Do I Need To Use Aftershave?
Well, the answer to this question depends entirely on your personal choice. Here is the guide about the advantages as well as disadvantages of using aftershave. The final decision is always yours. Some of the major advantages of using aftershave are as follows: (4)(5)
- It helps to keep your skin healthy as shaving definitely tampers with the upper layer of your skin.
- It re-hydrates your skin and acts as a moisturizing agent.
- It heals the minor cuts and injuries that might have been caused by the razor blade.
- It kills the bacteria and cleans the open pores of the skin, thus proving beneficial for acne and rashes.
- It provides you with a mild fragrance in case you forget to apply your perfume or deodorant spray.
Aftershaves, however, should be carefully chosen depending on your skin type to avoid any side effects. Make sure you choose dermatologically tested products and those containing herbal extracts. Apart from that, whether you should use an aftershave, and if yes then which product, depends entirely up to the individual’s choice.
What Is The Difference Between Aftershave Balm And Aftershave Lotion?
Although, aftershave lotions and aftershave balms are apparently known to be synonymous. A close study reveals that there are certain subtle differences between the two.
These lotions are generally used to get a soothing sensation on the recently shaved skin that tends to get irritated. However, aftershave lotions are most of the times very high on alcohol content that results in a severe stinging sensation when applied on the skin. They are also strongly fragrant.
Aftershave balms on the other hand have a number of qualities like moisturizing and replenishing the dehydrated skin post shaving. It also helps to make the skin smooth and soft and heal minor cuts and injuries by stopping the bleeding. Aftershave balms are also highly effective in reducing razor burns. Unlike aftershave lotions, aftershave balms are low on alcohol content, hence causing less or rather no stinging effects. Aftershave balms also have a minor scent as compared to aftershave lotions.
How Do You Put On Aftershave?
One major mistake that most aftershave users do is to apply the product directly on to their shaved skin. However, although some companies name their products as aftershave splash, splashing it directly on your face is definitely not a good idea. It increases the chances of burning and irritation. Rather, make sure your face is perfectly clean and all the shaving cream/foam and residual facial hair has been washed off. The face should be dry or damp before applying aftershave solution but never dripping wet. The best process of applying an aftershave is by taking a small quantity of it on your palm and rubbing your palms together so that the excess alcohol evaporates. This will lessen the chances of burning skin sensation while providing all the benefits that it is supposed to offer. (6)(7)
We hope to have succeeded in guiding you through your grooming queries and answered all the questions that might have popped up in your head time and again, regarding the use of an aftershave.
Hope you find the information helpful. Happy shaving!