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How to Choose: Aftershaves for Men

Dapper & Done | How to Choose: Aftershaves for Men

This guide is approximately a 5-minute read.

In it, you’ll learn:

  • About different types of aftershaves (e.g. balms, gels, etc.)
  • How to choose an aftershave based on skin type
  • How to choose an aftershave based on shaving concern
  • How to use an aftershave

Let’s get going!


How to Choose: Aftershaves for Men

Think about it: when you shave, you're scraping your skin with a razor blade. Ouch.

Even if you've lubricated well, you're still stressing your complexion each time you use your razor. That's why it's important to take steps to calm and soothe your complexion after you shave.

Aftershave products are the skin care solutions that help you do just that, and this guide will teach you how to choose a men’s aftershave to perfectly complete your shaving routine.

An example of an aftershave is the Instant Relief After Shave from Brickell:

 Dapper & Done | Brickell Instant Relief After Shave


Types of Aftershaves

Aftershaves can come in different forms like gels and tonics. Here is more information on different types of aftershaves:



An aftershave balm is a lightweight product that is either alcohol-free or that contains a small amount of alcohol. Oils are included in the formulas to moisturize and soften skin.

An example of an aftershave balm is the Aftershave: Soothing Balm from Game Day:

 Dapper & Done | Game Day Aftershave: Soothing Balm



An aftershave gel has a silkier consistency than a balm, is usually oil-free, and may contain small amounts of alcohol. Gels have cooling, soothing properties that can be very refreshing after a shave.



An aftershave tonic is similar to an old school splash that barbers used to apply after a shave. The majority of the content of lotions is alcohol, so they're primarily used to disinfect the skin and close the pores after a shave.

An example of an aftershave tonic is the Anchor Aftershave from Brooklyn Grooming:

 Dapper & Done | Brooklyn Grooming Anchor After Shave



"Aftershave lotion" can have two different meanings.

Some brands refer to tonics as “lotions.” You can spot these products because they will usually have alcohol listed as one of their key ingredients.

Other after shave lotions are products that have moisturizing and softening properties like balms but with more oil-based ingredients that give them a heavier consistency.


How to Choose an Aftershave for Men Based on Skin Type

Wondering how to pick an aftershave when there are so many to choose from? One way is to find the formula that's the right match for your skin type:


Dry Skin

Signs That This Is Your Skin Type: If your skin often feels tight or rough or appears flaky or blotchy, you likely have dry skin.

Moisturizing aftershave balms that are alcohol-free will be the best choice for your complexion. Using one will allow you to increase the moisture levels in your skin and to avoid ingredients that can worsen dryness.


Oily Skin

Signs That This Is Your Skin Type: If you have visible pores, shiny skin, and are prone to acne breakouts, you likely have oily skin.

Aftershave gels are a great choice for guys with oily skin, as they will not leave the complexion greasy or congest the pores. During the summer months when skin is usually at its oiliest, you can use an aftershave lotion periodically to help control oil.


Sensitive Skin

Signs That This Is Your Skin Type: If your skin becomes itchy or red, stings or burns or otherwise reacts to certain skin care products, you likely have sensitive skin.

Note: if you have sensitive skin (or aren't sure if you do), please don't test out any grooming products before consulting with your dermatologist or doctor first.

Aftershave balms that are 100 percent alcohol-free are a good choice for sensitive complexions. Because your skin can become irritated easily, choose products that are hypoallergenic or dermatologist tested.


Normal Skin

Signs That This Is Your Skin Type: If none of the above descriptions match your complexion, you likely have normal type skin.

Guys with normal skin types can choose nearly any aftershave balm or gel. Ones with low alcohol content are generally better because they are less likely to cause irritation and dryness.

You may want to try using a balm in the winter and a gel in the summer to keep your skin's moisture levels properly balanced.

Could the Whiskey After Shave Splash from Portland General Store be the right aftershave for you?

Dapper & Done | Whiskey Aftershave Splash from Portland General Store

A Note on Fragrance

One other thing to consider when you're shopping for an aftershave is fragrance.

Some brands offer the same product with more than one scent, including unscented ones. These are often good for men with sensitive skin, as fragrances can sometimes cause irritation.

You may also want to use an unscented product if you prefer to smell only like your cologne or the other products that you use in your daily regimen.


How to Choose an Aftershave Based on Concern

Some aftershaves contain ingredients that make them beneficial for guys with specific shaving concerns, such as:

  • Nicks and cuts. Products with alcohol and witch hazel disinfect the skin and tighten the pores to help reduce bleeding and decrease the risk of infection.
  • Razor burn. Cooling ingredients like aloe vera, eucalyptus, or mint can help to ease inflammation and calm the skin to reduce redness following a shave.
  • Ingrown hairs and bumps. Exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid and glycolic acid can help to remove dead skin that can get trapped in the pores and give rise to bumps. Products with antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil or with antiseptics like alcohol can kill microbes that contribute to folliculitis.


How to Use Aftershave

Aftershaves differ in terms of the ingredients that they contain, but most are used in a similar way.

Once you have completely shaved and wiped away any residue from your shaving lubricant, dispense a small amount of aftershave and gently pat to apply it. Do not rub the aftershave in, as this can cause irritation.

Be sure to apply aftershave to your entire face and neck rather than just to the spots that you shave. Keep the product away from your eye area, though, to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

If you skip shaving, you may still want to apply aftershave prior to bed to reap its skin care benefits.


Step Up Your Grooming Game

If you want to keep on learning to step up your grooming game, here are some additional resources for you:
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  • How to ChooseShaving

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