Why use Aftershave – Do I Really Need It?
What does Aftershave Do?
If you think about what the act of shaving actually does to your skin i.e. scrapes a sharp blade across it, it is easy to see why it may have a detrimental effect.
When shaving you not only cut the hair but also remove the outermost layer of skin cells, as you do when exfoliating.
Therefore aftershave actually serves some pretty important purposes:
Is Aftershave Really Necessary?
Actually yes, in my opinion and in that of many skincare professionals, it is necessary to use aftershave, to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the detrimental effects of the environment.
The real question is; what type of aftershave should you be using?
Should it be the traditional aftershave splash or would an aftershave lotion or balm be better and how do you choose?
What Type of Aftershave Should I Use?
Which aftershave you choose is subjective, depending largely on your personal choice and what you want from the product.
Here are a few guidelines to give you an idea of which is likely to be the best for you, depending on your skin type.
Aftershave splash, as the name indicates, is a thin liquid which traditionally used a high level of alcohol for its antiseptic qualities.
Aftershave splashes often still have alcohol included in their ingredients nowadays, but they tend to be in lower quantities, with the gentler witch hazel taking its place.
The trouble with alcohol is that it has a very drying effect on the skin, which can lead to flaking and irritation, especially if your skin is already dry.
It also stings! Although some men think that this is proof that the aftershave is doing its job properly, actually it is not a wholly necessary discomfort.
A splash is a good option if you have naturally oily skin, but I would recommend one with no or very low alcohol content, preferably one that is witch hazel based.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent that is milder and less drying than alcohol, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory which soothes the skin rather than stinging it.
An after shave splash that combines witch hazel with moisturizing aloe vera which itself is a natural anti-inflammatory, as well as containing antioxidants and vitamins is ideal.
The distinction between an aftershave splash and an aftershave lotion is often minimal, but in general a lotion is a slightly thicker liquid, less like water.
Whilst some may contain alcohol, there is less of it and more of the moisturizing components.
If you have sensitive skin, lotions tend to be gentler than splashes, especially if you pick and unscented one specifically for sensitive skin.
An aftershave lotion is a good choice if you have combination or oily skin.
Using an aftershave balm will give you maximum moisturizing and protection from the elements and is the best option for dry skin.
Whilst balms can be liquid, they are generally slightly thicker than splashes and lotions and contain carrier oils which are quickly absorbed into the skin.
Typical ingredients include witch hazel, aloe vera, tea tree oil and vitamin E to nourish the skin.
Using aftershave balm will soften and moisturize the skin without leaving it feeling oily, like some thicker moisturizing creams.
A Few Top Tips when Shaving
We have put together a list of steps you can follow when shaving, to minimise the risk of irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs:
If you have any small nicks or cuts, treat them with either witch hazel, a styptic pencil or alum block.
Regular exfoliation helps to keep the skin free from dirt and oil and stops the build up of dead skin cells.
This is important in helping to prevent ingrown hairs, a common side effect of shaving.