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What does aftershave do, why does it burn, and how to use it

What does aftershave do and why does it burn
There are a few mental images that come to mind when thinking about aftershave. One is the movie home alone where Macaulay Culkin splashes aftershave on his face and screams from the burn. The other is the bottle of old spice sitting in my dad’s bathroom that smelled terrible.

Neither of those things made me want to use aftershave, so I guess it just seemed like some old tradition that smelled terrible and burned.  I couldn’t have been more wrong and now that I use aftershave I can’t believe I had been shaving for all of these years without it.

What does aftershave do?

The point of aftershave is to help close pores, soothes skin, stops minor nicks from bleeding after shaving, and some even have a cologne like fragrance leaving you fresh.

The 3 most common properties of aftershave are

  1. Antiseptic
  2. Astringent
  3. Fragrance
Antiseptic - When shaving you are prone to cuts and nicks on your skin and the antiseptic property of after shave usually alcohol or witch hazel will help prevent the infection of these minor cuts.  

Astringent - Shaving when done properly with a razor starts by using warm to hot water that opens pores and loosens skin.  When finished shaving you want to close the pores and an astringent does exactly that.  The function is to constrict skin tissues and in turn close the skin pores.  Cold water will help with this, however a proper astringent does a much better job.

Fragrance - Not all aftershaves are scented, but many are and not a stinky old smell that you might think of.  There is a fragrance for everyone and my personal favorites are the cologne like smells.  Actually I'll use aftershave and enjoy the first few hours of smelling great.  If I need to freshen up a bit, I usually carry a small tin of solid cologne and that will keep me smelling fresh all day.

What is aftershave?

A grooming product most commonly in a glass or plastic bottle in liquid form.  The liquid can range from lotion like (after shave balm or after shave cream) to a thin almost water consistency (after shave splash).  It is applied to the skin after shaving and a common product used as part of a shaving routine.

There are many varieties on the market and there are pros and cons for each, so let’s dig a bit deeper and help you make an informed purchase and get the best aftershave for your skin type.

How do you use it?

Can you use aftershave without shaving?  Absolutely.  Like I mentioned before I’ll use an aftershave when I’m done shaving and it's also fine to splash it on your skin and pulse points anytime.  

Some come with spray nozzles and others are open mouth containers.  Either way you’ll want to start by spraying or pouring a small amount in your palm.  Rub your hands together and apply to the shaved area.  Be sure to apply it to the base of your neck and the insides of your wrists.  These are your pulse points and help diffuse the fragrance for a longer period of time.

Why does aftershave burn?

It all depends, but if you are using an alcohol based aftershave and applying it after you shave then the answer is yes.  I didn't like the idea of the burn at first and now I enjoy it.  It's not painful by any means, however it is enough of a burn to wake you up in the mornings.

Using an aftershave without shaving will not burn your skin at all unless you have an open cut.

If you would rather not have the burn then you'll want to find an after shave lotion or after shave cream.  These are much more forgiving to sensitive skin and provides more of a soothing feel than a burn on shaved skin.

How long does it last?

It typically lasts a few hours post shave.  Men with oily skin tend to benefit from the staying power of fragrances for a longer period of time.  Guys with dry skin will soak up fragrances faster and the aroma will be gone faster than your oily friends.

What is the difference between aftershave and cologne?

Cologne has a single purpose and that is to make you smell good.  Aftershave has the benefits I mentioned above.  The reason cologne fragrance lasts longer is the fact that it includes more fragrance oils than aftershave does.  Aftershave is first meant to perform as an antiseptic, astringent, and lastly fragrance.  That means there are just less fragrances than the cologne counterparts.

Aftershave Splash vs Balm

Splash is liquid form and usually alcohol based.  The definition of a balm is a fragrant oinment used to heal or soothe your skin.  Technically you can use the two interchangeably, however most people refer to balms as lotions, creams, or a thicker substance.

Where to buy aftershave

There are tons of mens aftershave brands on the market.  You'll find the traditional and less enjoyable brands in your neighborhood department stores.  If you are looking for a great smelling manly aftershave we have them right on this site.

Bay rum aftershave

Bay rum is a very common and fragrant type of aftershave.  The bay oil is made by distilling the leaves and or berries of the West indian bay tree.  Some people love the scent of bay rum and others hate it.  No doubt it is a very unique and uncommon fragrance that has been used as an aftershave for hundreds of years.

Does it prevent acne?

Acne is a very problematic skin condition that doesn't have a single miracle to help prevent it.  If you read about claims that aftershave will prevent acne, I would take that advice with a grain of salt.

Alcohol based aftershave can dry out your skin and acne many times is caused by oily skin.  Unfortunately drying out oily skin can lead to your body producing additional oil to offset the dryness leading to extremely oily skin.

If you have Acne and want to try out aftershave just test it like you would any other product.  Small amounts at first to see how your skin will react and go from there.


If you haven't tried out a manly aftershave then I highly recommend giving it a shot.  The feeling, the fragrance, and the soft smooth skin afterwards are something that must be tried to appreciate.

All of our products are backed with 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Checkout our aftershave and if you don't love it we will make it right.

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