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These days, aftershave is synonymous with cologne.
But as the name suggests, it’s actually a key component of a solid shaving routine, and any man yet to use it in that capacity is missing out big time.
See, the best aftershave is like medicine for your skin: it helps take care of razor cuts, burns, ingrown hairs, and the rest.
In this review, we’re going to look at the 7 very best aftershaves we’ve found – in the hopes it’ll inspire you to start using it.
Our no.1 choice – Proraso’s Aftershave Lotion – is based on a formula of natural ingredients, promoting skin healing, revitalization and purification. It has a pleasant smell, but it isn’t overpowering – and it’s great value for money.
But we’re aware that won’t be to every man’s taste.
So we’ve got plenty of other options for you, like our no.2 choice – Jack Black’s Post-Shave Cooling Gel – which actually offers your skin UV protection and is completely fragrance-free.
And there’s more:
We’re also going to show you exactly how to apply aftershave properly and explain the difference between balm, splash lotion and gel.
First, let’s look at the 4 key considerations you need in mind when buying aftershave.
|Proraso Aftershave Lotion, Refreshing And Toning||Check on Amazon →|
|Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel||Check on Amazon →|
|Calvin Klein Obsession for Men After Shave||Check on Amazon →|
|Lab Series 3-In-1 Post-Shave Remedy||Check on Amazon →|
|Barberry Coast Bay Rum Aftershave Splash||Check on Amazon →|
|Billy Jealousy Shaved Ice After-Shave Balm||Check on Amazon →|
|Nivea Men Original Replenishing Post Shave Balm||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 4 Things to consider when purchasing aftershave
First, a quick thought about aftershave, something that definitely will inform your buying decision. And the thought is this: an aftershave’s scent should be a small part of the equation when you’re shopping for the product that best suits you.
After all, you can get a decent scent with a cheap cologne – but don’t go crazy when you apply it.
But aftershave has a much more important role than simply making you smell good, and the main reason is that it’s good for your face.
Aftershaves help prevent infections that may occur from cuts and nicks you get from shaving because they contain an antiseptic element.
Aftershaves also contain moisturizers that soften that skin after a shave, as well as “cooling” it following the friction of your shave.
So, yes, you want to consider an aftershave’s scent before you buy it. But there’s plenty of other things to consider before choosing one for your morning routine.
There are four primary types of aftershave: splash, lotion, gel, or balm. Choosing the right one for you depends on your skin type.
- Normal skin
If you have normal skin, the splash type of aftershave is best for you.
- Oily skin
Splashes, lotions, and gels will work well if you have oily skin.
- Dry skin
If you have dry skin – and live in a cold or dry climate – balm types of aftershaves are a good choice for you, especially if you’re just starting to use aftershaves.
- Sensitive skin
For men with sensitive skin, the best bet is to choose aftershave that’s paraben-free and doesn’t contain alcohol that can burn the skin.
The two major aftershave ingredients to look for are witch hazel and alcohol. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
- Witch Hazel
When you think of witch hazel, think “natural.” It’s a natural astringent for your pores and is the main ingredient in all kinds of beauty products. As an aftershave, it works to constrict your pores without drying out your skin.
Witch hazel also has anti-inflammatory qualities that help soothe irritated skin. You’ll also find it in products such as those used to treat bug bites and rashes.
Finally, witch hazel is effective in cleaning the skin because it flushes out bacteria – including bacteria that can cause acne.
Men and women have used rubbing alcohol as a means to scrub their skin for ages. The problem is, alcohol will aggravate irritated skin (and sting when you apply it to your face). Moreover, alcohol will dry out your skin.
Are we suggesting that witch hazel is the better ingredient in aftershave? Yes, we are.
3. Other ingredients
Like witch hazel, there are other natural ingredients that you should look for when choosing an aftershave.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that flushes out the pores of your face to help prevent skin infections. A mix of tea tree oil and witch hazel is very soothing on your face after you shave.
- Aloe Vera
You’ve certainly heard of – and used – aloe vera and its considerable soothing qualities. It helps heal burned skin and lessens the pain, so you know the stuff is good when it’s applied to irritated skin after a shave.
Humectants such as glycerol, sorbitol, and lactic acid are often found in aftershaves and help minimize the dehydrating effects of other active ingredients.
OK, our heads aren’t so far in the sand that we don’t think scent will be at least part of your buying decision. So, let’s take a closer look:
- Fragrance duration
How long a scent lasts on your skin depends on many variables, not the least of which is body chemistry and skin type.
Oils are the main ingredient in fragrances and will dissipate more quickly when applied to dry skin.
However, the fragrance will last longer when applied to oily skin.
Alcohol, meanwhile, also affects fragrance duration because it evaporates quickly. If the aftershave contains less fragrance (but also alcohol), the scent will fade at a faster rate.
- Types of fragrance
The most popular types of fragrances used in aftershave are floral, citrus, oriental, and woody. It’s important to note that quality fragrances are multi-layered and appeal to a person’s sense of smell in three stages, top, middle, and base.
The top layer of the fragrance is what you’ll smell when first opening the bottle. But that layer lasts the least amount of time, while the middle layer makes up the bulk of the fragrance.
The base layer comes out when the top layer has completely evaporated and combines with the middle layer to provide the lasting scent.
Now let’s move on to the heart of the matter – the best aftershaves available today.
The 7 best aftershaves in 2020
Proraso’s Aftershave Lotion takes you back to the golden age of barbershops when a haircut and a shave was something every man looked forward to with enthusiasm.
You know, the hot towel to soften your beard, the super-close shave with a quality straight razor, and all followed by a splash of fragrant, refreshing aftershave on both cheeks.
But that’s not a surprise when you consider that Proraso has been around since 1948 and is one of Italy’s most iconic brand names.
Proraso’s products are a staple of Italy’s culture and have evolved with all-natural formulas that don’t include parabens, silicones, or artificial colors.
Their Refreshing and Toning lotion is both the best aftershave for men and the best aftershave lotion. Proraso also makes an excellent aftershave balm.
Moreover, we’ve also reviewed Proraso’s superb shaving soap and shaving cream in previous posts. If you’re truly serious about wet shaving, then you owe it to yourself to check out all of Proraso’s products.
But back to their aftershave lotion, which is of superior quality for a variety of reasons:
- The lotion is formulated with a selection of fresh, natural ingredients. Eucalyptus oil tones purify your skin and facial hair, while menthol refreshes and revitalizes your face after you shave. Witch hazel is also included and reduces rashes and razor burns.
- It has a pleasant scent that is clean, mild, and doesn’t linger the entire day. It will dissipate within an hour or two and blends well with colognes.
- You’ll love the price, as you can purchase the Refreshing and Toning Lotion on Amazon for $14. When you consider that many quality aftershaves sell for upwards of $40 … well, you get the picture.
- You’ll like the immediate relief this lotion provides after your shave and the fact that it refreshes and tones your skin.
- Proraso Aftershave Lotion includes no animal-based ingredients to make it vegan-friendly.
- Over 95% natural ingredients
- Refreshes and revitalizes the skin after shaving
- Pleasant scent that doesn’t linger
- Scent has a slight medicinal smell
Proraso is known for its superior wet shaving products, and its Aftershave Lotion is certainly no exception. You’ll love the way your face feels after gently massaging this lotion into your skin.
We all should strive to get the best shave possible every time we step in front of the bathroom mirror, or grab our razor while in the shower. Like everything else in life, we may not always be on top of our game.
Whatever the reason – lack of attention, a dull blade, weariness – your shave becomes a battleground in which the skin on your face loses every time. Nicks. Cut. Razor bumps.
But not all is lost.
A quality aftershave will salvage an otherwise dreary experience, and Jack Black’s Post Shave Cooling Gel will put you back on the right track.
It’s an alcohol-free, soothing lotion that wins the battle against razor burn, redness, and irritation due to shaving. Better yet, it doesn’t sting your face like other aftershaves, and who needs additional discomfort after an uncomfortable shave?
And there’s more:
- Jack Black’s Post Shave Cooling Gel has a cooling effect that closes your pores after your shave while calming what feels like a hornet’s nest on your face.
- It contains aloe extracts, and we all know how beneficial aloe is in treating irritated skin. Chamomile and witch hazel also help soothe your face.
- Another of its ingredients is sage, which helps regulate the circulation of blood to your hair follicles while promoting healthy hair growth.
- The Post Shave Cooling Gel also contains lavender oil, which has antiseptic qualities that help heal the skin after a rough shave. It even helps reduce the pain and redness caused by sunburns.
- It’s paraben, fragrance, and colorant free. It’s also vegan, and certainly among the best natural aftershave products available.
Reviewers and everyday shavers also like the fact that you need only to apply a small amount to your face to get its full benefits.
- Heals, hydrates, and calms irritated skin
- Natural ingredients
- It even protects the skin from UV damage
- No fragrance (if you like fragrance)
It’s hard to beat this lotion if your face is irritated easily (and after a bad shave). But it’s good for anyone no matter their skin type, and the fact that you can use it as sunburn protection is worth noting.
Calvin Klein is a household name for a reason: consistently excellent products. Their Obsession scent has been around since the 80s, and its reputation speaks for itself: simply put, you can’t go wrong with a scent like this.
Trying to describe it is tough – with its top notes of cardamom, grapefruit, and Sichuan pepper, it has a mysterious, masculine burn that slowly softens into the heart notes of cedar, labdanum, and leather. The base notes of Ambroxan, black vanilla, and patchouli create a long-lasting musk that is distinctive and sexy.
All of which sounds a little over the top, but the truth is, if you haven’t smelled Obsession before, your best bet is just to try it for yourself.
Of course, plenty of the aftershaves on this list smell great – but few compare to Obsession. And with its moisturizing qualities on top, this is an aftershave which will leave you feeling clean, energized, and smelling absolutely great.
- Amazing smell that is long-lasting for an aftershave
- Moisturizes your skin
- Attractive bottle
- Some reviewers complain the cap is difficult to use
A classic scent that will also keep your skin tight and moisturized – what’s not to like?
Ah, the torment of pseudo-folliculitis barbae. If you suffer from it or have suffered from it, you have our sympathies.
We’re talking about razor bumps or, to break it down even further – ingrown hair. The latter is the cause of razor bumps, which contribute to a fairly lousy shaving experience for anyone who has to deal with them.
But that’s where Lab Series 3-in-1 Post Shave Remedy enters the picture. While plenty of aftershaves claim to deal with pseudo-folliculitis barbae effectively, Lab Series 3-in-1 Post Shave Remedy doesn’t just talk the talk.
Ingrown hairs result when newly-shaved hairs curl back toward the face and eventually penetrate the skin.
They’re uncomfortable as hell and trying to shave over and around them is usually a pain in the ass. The 3-in-1 Post Shave Remedy helps relieve and prevent ingrown hairs and subsequent razor bumps.
The 3-in-1 gel has a blend of plant-based ingredients that help refine beard hair.
Users notice results in as few as two weeks when their facial hair comes back thinner and finer. The gel also increases the skin’s exfoliation process to allow hair follicles to remain open – meaning that your facial hair grows out instead of inward.
So, we’ve already touched on the three benefits mentioned in the Post Shave Remedy’s name, but it’s worth listing them;
1) It soothes skin to leave it feeling refreshed and invigorated;
2) It influences beard growth by ensuring that it comes back softer and finer than before, and
3) It moisturizes your face to leave it feeling refreshed and invigorated.
One of its other attributes is that it slows down beard growth on the areas of the face where it’s applied. That’s not ideal for would-be beard growers, of course, but we’re only talking about the parts of your face that you keep clean-shaven.
Finally, 3-in-1 Post Shave Remedy’s long list of natural ingredients – which doesn’t include parabens – provide antioxidant protection that helps renew the skin after shaving.
Then again, Lab Series products have delivered excellent results since the company formed 30 years ago. Their line includes anti-aging and oil control products. You’ll find their products in over 30 countries.
- Prevents razor bumps and burn
- It’s an excellent moisturizer
- Controls the growth of facial hair
- Not many, but it’s not for you if you prefer something with fragrance
The 3-in-1 Post Shave Remedy is truly a unique product, and it’s one that’s lab-developed and tested. It does more than just soothe your face after you’ve run a razor over it.
The scent of Bay Rum conjures up images of grizzled sailors and pirates who sailed ‘round the Caribbean Islands centuries ago. After months spent on the open sea, sailors reached land in desperate need of a shave and, well, anything that helped them smell better.
Enter Bay Rum aftershave, which resolved both the issue of taming irritated skin and the problem of stinking like someone who just spent significant time away from land.
Bay Rum was effective then, and it’s effective now. The Barberry Coast Shave Co. has wedded the past and present into an aftershave splash that smells great and is healthy for your post-shave skin. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat.
The best aftershave splash on the market, as well as the best smelling aftershave, Barberry Coast’s Bay Rum splash is handcrafted with all-natural ingredients and aged to perfection (for at least 30 days) before it’s made available to the buying public.
Barberry Coast uses glycerin, not alcohol, to help moisturize your face without the stinging and other irritation that may come with alcohol-based products.
The Bay Rum Aftershave includes a unique blend of exotic spices, citrus, essential oils, and extracts – as well as the essence of bay leaves found in the West Indian Islands.
Again, its ingredients are all-natural, vegan, with no GMO oils or parabens.
Applying this splash to your face after a shave will give you a quick burning sensation that’s not at all uncomfortable and will awaken your senses. You’ll not only feel ready to face the world, but you’ll smell damn good, too.
And some men suggest the Bay Rum is like catnip for the ladies (it’s worth a try, anyway).
Here’s another thing to like about Barberry Coast Bay Rum Aftershave Splash: It comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee. If you don’t like it, for any reason, you’ll get a full refund.
- Excellent scent
- All-natural ingredients
- Money-back guarantee
- Scent may be too strong for some
Barberry Coast is in the business of producing unique men’s grooming products, and its Bay Rum Aftershave Splash is unlike any other. It smells great, but also provides excellent re-moisturizing and replenishing for your skin.
Billy Jealousy’s Ice After-Shave balm does exactly what it’s supposed to: it cools the skin when you’ve shaved and really effectively soothes whatever razor burn or itchiness you’ve accrued with its cooling effect and deep hydration which comfort the skin and helps combat ingrown hairs. You’ll notice the difference almost immediately.
It restores your pH very quickly and moisturizes and conditions not just your skin but your beard, too, if you’re a fellow beardsman. It even won Best Splurge at the 2006 men’s Health Grooming Awards!
This is a great balm to use with any razor (though it is especially well paired with a safety razor). And the scent is very clear and fresh, making for a really nourishing, reassuring, and energizing aftershave to use first thing in the morning or before you go out.
It is worth noting that it isn’t all rainbows: the squeezy tube can be a little annoying, and because it can be inconsistent, you may end up wasting a fair bit of the balm, which sucks.
You’ll also want to be sparing with it: it’s very thick (which is good), but if you use it in the quantities you’ve likely become accustomed to, you’ll end up with excessively thick, sticky stuff on your face all day.
But if you are careful with it, you’ll get incredible, invigorating results.
- Restores the skin and makes it smooth and clean
- Soothes any razor burn very effectively and quickly
- Lovely oak smell that lasts without being imposing
- The squeezy tube is a little tricky to use, some report
An award-winning, top-quality balm that is unusually thick nourishes your skin beautifully and lasts all day long with a calming, cool scent.
Nivea is fairly new to the U.S. market, but their lotions have been available in Germany for over a century.
They also offer more than 1,600 products, including their iconic Nivea Crème, as well as their Nivea Men Original Replenishing Post Shave Balm, which is proving to be a hit in America.
Nivea also offers a post-shave balm for men with sensitive skin, but many users have found the Original Replenishing Post Shave Balm to be just as effective with skin that’s easily irritated.
The difference is that the latter contains more alcohol – and leaves a mild burning sensation after it’s applied.
But it’s still a good aftershave.
Nivea’s Original has a mild, non-greasy formula that uses Vitamin E and Provitamin B5 that replace and regenerate skin, while special moisturizers provide long-lasting moisture.
Your skin will feel refreshed and replenished long after you’ve shaved, and the balm absorbs quickly into your skin.
And while, again, it’s not sold as being specifically for men with sensitive skin, it helps protect against skin irritation, and men with touchier skin will like that. But it is a bit stronger than the sensitive skin version, no question.
The only real drawback with this balm is its scent, which some critics say is too strong and too stereotypical of masculine drug store scent.
- Vitamin E and B5 regenerate, replenish skin
- Long-lasting moisture
- Absorbs quickly into the skin
- Strong scent bothers some users
Yes, it uses alcohol – not witch hazel – but this is still a good product that’s effective for soothing skin after a shave. And some users say the Original version is just as good for sensitive skin as the one designed for sensitive skin.
How we chose the best aftershave of 2020
What makes for a quality aftershave? We hope we’ve answered at least part of that question with our reviews while giving you some ideas on what products are best for you.
In choosing the best aftershaves of 2020, we took a variety of factors into consideration, including ingredients, how they feel on the skin, and – of course – how effective they are.
As with all of our reviews, we did a lot of research and perused the reviews of others who care as much as we do about proper grooming.
While we don’t have the time to try every aftershave available, we’re confident in our ability to weed out the mediocre (or worse) products while uncovering the best.
Be kind to your face: How to apply aftershave
Applying aftershave, like applying shave soap, shave cream, or shaving, is like a lot of things in life, i.e., it seems simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
No, it doesn’t require a degree in chemical engineering. But there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way, and using a bit of technique when applying your aftershave will keep your face feeling great the whole day.
Many have weighed in on the proper way to get that soothing, healing, refreshing aftershave on your face, including this very helpful video:
We can also break it down – step-by-step – in writing.
- Immediately after you’ve shaved, pat your face with cold water to close your skin pores and then gently dry your face with a clean towel.
- Put a small amount of aftershave (balm, lotion, gel, splash) in the palm of your hand. Gently rub your hands together to spread the product evenly.
- Use an upward, circular motion to massage the lotion into the newly-shaven areas of your face. This type of motion helps your face absorb the product quickly.
- Let the aftershave soak into your skin until it’s no longer visible; this could take a few minutes. In some cases, you may have to apply a second coat of aftershave to ensure that you’ve covered all areas of your face.
A couple of other thoughts when it comes to applying aftershave:
1) You can use a moisturizer on your face after you shave and before you apply aftershave, especially if you use a product that contains alcohol – which can dry the skin out,
2) You may also want to apply witch hazel to your face after you’ve shaved to remove any residue that was left behind after you rinsed your face. This isn’t a mandatory step, however, and many of the best aftershaves already contain witch hazel.
What’s the difference: Balm, splash, lotion, gel?
As indicated by our product reviews, aftershave comes in many different forms, with the main types being balm, splash, lotion, and gel.
We’ve already discussed what type of aftershave is best for different types of facial skin, but let’s dig deeper and take a closer look at each type.
Put simply, an aftershave balm is a hydrating lotion with a mild scent – but not always – that goes away shortly after you apply it to your face. Balms are usually alcohol-free – but not always – and are effective in reducing the effects of razor burns after shaving.
You may notice a slight stinging sensation when you first apply balm to your face, but they’re very effective in tightening the pores of your skin.
Balms are great for men with dry skin because they’re ultra-lubricating and stay close to the surface of the skin.
They’re thicker and heavier than other types of aftershave, and you should avoid them if you’re acne-prone.
Splash is an antiseptic that is often alcohol-based that tightens and dries the skin.
They’re good for cut and nick-prone men because they work to prevent infection.
If you have dry skin, avoid alcohol-based splashes, and stick with those that use witch hazel instead. If you have oily skin that can stand a bit of dryness, use an aftershave splash.
Like splash, aftershave lotions tend to have a strong scent than other types of aftershaves.
The scent may even be strong and long-lasting enough for you to use it in place of cologne. The lotion works as a skin toner and tightens the pores after shaving. Lotions work great with oily skin.
There’s not a huge difference between aftershave lotions and gels, but gels are great for cooling down your skin and reducing post-shave burning.
The skin quickly absorbs gel, which makes them great for humid climates when you know you’re going to be sweating soon after your shave.
Because they absorb so quickly, gels may not provide enough moisturizing for some.
With that, we’ll wrap up another of our “Best of” product reviews. As always, we encourage your feedback and welcome any comments – whether they’re about the products listed in this post or a personal favorite that didn’t make the list. We’d love to hear from you.