How to Find the Right Post-shaving Routine For Your Skin
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Why should you use an aftershave after shaving? Is it just perfume? The fact is that the best aftershaves can mean the difference between a red-flamed face and a smooth result. Read on to find the right post-shaving routine for your skin.
The outer part of the skin (stratum corneum) is made up of dead skin cells. These protect the body from bacteria, sunlight and toxins. With age, the production of new skin cells slows down so that the dead cells accumulate. These can crack, peel off and attract dirt. Women’s magazines call this “tired skin” etc.
Removing the excess horny layers is called exfoliation. Classic wet shaving exfoliates the skin thoroughly: The shaving brush scrubs away the loosest skin cells and the razor removes even more. This rejuvenates the skin (good!); but leaves raw skin lacking in protection (bad!).
This is why your skin can become red and irritated after shaving. The shaving foam also cleanses some of the sebum (skin oils) so that the face can feel stiff and strange. The purpose of the aftershave is to cleanse, soothe and protect this bare skin.
Different Types of Aftershave
There are 4 types of aftershave: Lotion, cream, gel and alum. Most people choose one type, but several of them can be combined for the desired result.
The All-time classic: Aftershave Lotion
Also known as aftershave splash, aftershave lotion, shave tonic or simply aftershave. Aftershave lotion has toners that sterilize the skin. This avoids infections in unprotected skin and in any cuts. Traditionally, they have been based on alcohol.
Since aftershave is degreasing, they are superior for cleansing oily and impure skin. They remove blockages in the pores so you avoid pimples and blackheads. If, on the other hand, your skin is dry or sensitive, you should avoid aftershave and use a regular toner instead.
Aftershave lotion does normally not contain any moisturizers. We recommend everyone who lives in a dry, climate to use a face moisturizer in addition. You can use aftershave lotion as a discreet perfume – they smell more subtle than cologne, but a bit stronger than some of the other types of aftershaves.
Recommended for: Oily / impure skin, you who already have a face cream you love
Not recommended for: Dry skin, those who want to avoid perfume or alcohol
The all-rounder: Aftershave Cream
Also known as aftershave balm, aftershave cream and post-shave balm. These are light face creams that soothe the skin after shaving plus add moisture to it. This is the most popular type of aftershave.
Aftershave cream adds a protective layer over the bare, freshly shaved skin and restores the moisture balance after the shaving foam has dried it out. Aftershave cream is usually thinner than oily face creams to avoid clogging the pores. They may contain a slight odor, but this is usually weaker than in aftershave lotions.
Aftershave cream is not antiseptic. The best aftershave creams are mainly alcohol-free and thus better suited to dry and sensitive skin than aftershave lotion. If, on the other hand, if you have oily skin or are struggling with blackheads and pimples, we recommend cleansing first with aftershave lotion or alum.
Recommended for: Normal / dry skin, you who want an all-in-one solution
Not recommended for: Those who need an extra oily face cream
Lightweight: Aftershave Gel
This is a variation of aftershave cream that instead of being a milky cream has the consistency of a transparent gel. Aftershave gel is an extra light face cream.
Unlike aftershave creams, aftershave gels usually do not contain oil. They are thus ideal for you who have oily skin, but still need to soothe / protect the skin after shaving. Like other moisturizers, aftershave gel can be nicely combined with aftershave lotion or alum.
Recommended for: Oily skin, and/ or if you want an all-in-one solution
Not recommended for: Dry skin
Natural Remedy: Alum
Alum is a block of the mineral potassium-aluminum sulfate. This is a 100% natural aftershave that disinfects the skin. Alum kills bacteria so that you avoid local infections and thus rashes. The mineral is also astringent, i.e. causes the blood vessels at the end of the skin to constrict. Thus, the face becomes less red-flamed and any small cuts stop bleeding.
The alum block is moistened with cold water and massaged lightly against the shaved area. Since alum does not add moisture, we recommend that you follow up with an aftershave cream or other moisturizers afterwards.
Although alum is odorless, it breaks down foul-smelling bacteria in the armpit and can thus be used as a mild deodorant. Note: Alum is not the same as synthetic aluminum chlorohydrate found in antiperspirants. Alum has no known side effects or allergy effects.
Recommended for: Impure / sensitive skin, if you want to avoid alcohol and perfume
Not recommended for: None.
Do This after Shaving
It takes a very short time to use aftershave, and it could not be any easier. Here is a complete, professional routine as you would get in a good barbershop:
- Step 1: Shave
- Step 2: Rinse. Remove all shaving soap, shave gel or cream coating with cold water. Cold water causes the blood vessels to constrict. Check out our comparison guide about shaving cream vs soap, gel and foams.
- Step 3: Drying. Use a separate, clean towel, not what you use for hands or body. Press it lightly against the skin so as not to rub bacteria outwards.
- Step 4 (optional): Disinfect. Disinfect the skin and the pores with aftershave. Take out a small amount in your hands and pat lightly on the shaved area. Alternatively, you can moisten an alum block and massage lightly on the skin.
- Step 5: Moisture. Protect the skin with aftershave cream or gel. Lightly tap the spout against the palm of your hand until a quantity the size of a quarter (coin) comes out. Massage into the shaved area with circular motions.
Congratulations, you now have smooth and exfoliated skin that is rejuvenated, stretchy and free of rashes!