The Purpose of Aftershave | Why You May Want to Include It In Your Shaving Routine
Aftershave might seem like an unnecessary step to someone who has never used it before. If you’ve never tried aftershave (or if you’ve tried the wrong kind of aftershave), you don’t know what you’re missing. Your skin is a little more sensitive post-shave, and an aftershave product can help you restore moisture and soothe your face.
Using the right kind of aftershave is more important than splashing on whatever you happen to have around. Some aftershave can actually irritate your skin further. Understanding the differences between aftershave products and knowing what to look for will help you find the perfect aftershave for your skin’s needs.
What Shaving Does to the Skin
Shaving obviously removes hair from the surface of the skin. That’s why we do it. It’s the other things that happen as a result of this process that a lot of men probably don’t think about. Your razor cannot distinguish between your hair and your skin. You know this if you’ve ever cut yourself shaving. When your razor is shaving away the hair, it’s also taking the skin cells from the surface with it.
Most of these cells are dead cells that would need to come off anyway. This is only a problem when you shave faster than your cells are ready to shed. If you’re an everyday shaver or an every other day shaver, you might find that your skin gets a little dry, sensitive, or irritated from the frequent exfoliation.
Moisture is one of the most important parts of your shaving routine. You need to be prepping your skin before a shave, shaving with a high quality hot lather, and finishing off your routine with an additional touch of moisture on your smooth skin. This will help to combat irritation and dryness, as well as improve the quality of your shave.
What Aftershave Does For Your Skin
Aftershave is a post-shaving treatment designed to soothe the skin. It provides important replenishing moisture and nutrients your skin needs when it’s in a slightly more sensitive state. Many aftershaves contain ingredients that remove bacteria from the skin, and ingredients to help combat ingrown hair and razor bumps. There are two ways to approach post-shave care, and one kind of aftershave is vastly better than the other.
The Difference Between Aftershave Lotion and Aftershave Balm
Using the wrong aftershave can actually harm your skin. The words “lotion” and “balm” probably conjure specific images. A lotion is a moisturizing cream, and a balm is a thick, heavy moisturizer. This is the case with almost any kind of personal care product. Aftershave is a lot different. In this case, “lotion” means alcohol and “balm” means lotion. It can be a little difficult to follow, but let’s touch on the difference between aftershave lotion and aftershave balm.
Aftershave lotion is a clear, alcohol-based astringent and drying product. It doesn’t actually moisturize the skin. It’s a lot like a toner you might use as part of an acne care routine. Aftershave lotion has a few beneficial ingredients, but it’s mostly designed to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin.
You definitely don’t want infected cuts, nicks, or scrapes after a shave. The idea of applying something that might prevent that infection seems appealing. When you use an aftershave lotion, you’re killing that bacteria at the risk of drying out your skin. If you’ve ever noticed that aftershave lotion stings or burns, that isn’t a good sign. It doesn’t mean the product is working, it means the product is irritating you.
Alcohol combined with artificial fragrances will make an aftershave lotion doubly irritating. Alcohol is an irritant all on its own, as is artificial fragrance. The two together can leave your skin dry, patchy, sensitive, red, and itchy.
Unless you have exceptionally oily skin, aftershave lotion will be less irritating. This still doesn’t mean it’s the most beneficial formula for you. Even if you don’t notice any redness or uncomfortable sensations when you apply aftershave, it’s most likely not the best thing to use.
Aftershave balm is more like an actual lotion. It’s a thicker formula packed with moisturizing ingredients. Some aftershave balm will contain antibacterial ingredients like witch hazel, which is a more comfortable and less drying alternative to alcohol. Some formulas utilize ingredients like tea tree oil for the same purpose.
Ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, vitamin E, lavender essential oil, and chamomile provide your skin with deep, soothing moisture after a shave. Some aftershave balm formulas are so well-balanced and deeply hydrating that your skin will benefit from using them every day, whether or not you shave. Aftershave balm can be a wonderful alternative to traditional moisturizer for men with dry skin that requires deep quenching.
Creating the Perfect Grooming Routine
Before you shave, hop in the shower. Take a nice hot shower and spend some time relaxing. The hot water and steam will work together to improve your circulation and open up your hair shafts, allowing them to absorb water. This absorption temporarily increases the diameter and the softness of your coarse beard hairs, making them easy to shave.
While you’re in the shower, you might want to exfoliate your face. Using a gentle exfoliating product once or twice a week can help to get rid of the dead skin on the surface of your face. This will lead to a smoother, closer shave. Your razor won’t get clogged up with dead skin cells, ultimately dulling the blades faster and increasing the risk for nicks or razor bumps.
When you get out of the shower, gently blot your face dry with a towel. Apply a pre-shave oil to your face. You can use a readymade shave oil, or a raw oil. Coconut oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil work perfectly fine on their own. They all offer moisture and beneficial vitamins to your skin.
Then, warm up your shaving cream in your hot lather machine. Hot lather will help to maintain the warmth on the surface of your skin, keeping your beard hairs soft and workable. Apply your hot lather with a shaving brush, swirling it through the hair and allowing it to reach the surface of your skin. Then, take your time slowly and patiently shaving.
Then, rinse away the hair and remaining lather on the surface of your skin. Pat your face dry, and massage your aftershave balm into your skin. If you shave your neck, don’t forget to apply your aftershave there. It needs just as much moisture and care as your face. The end result will be a soft, smooth, clean face and throat.
What you do before and after you shave matters just as much as what you do while you’re shaving.
Products like pre-shave oils and aftershave aren’t unnecessary steps. They’re more like floss and mouthwash in an oral care routine.
You deserve to spend some time taking care of yourself, and your shaving routine is a big part of self care. Go the whole nine yards and treat yourself to a thorough pampering session every time you need to shave your face.