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Few things boost a man’s confidence better than a good aftershave. It’s a great way to put some pep in your step before heading to the office in the morning or leaving for a night out, but it has to be the right post-shave product.
Not all aftershaves are made equal, with many drugstore options (and even some high-end products) offering very little in terms of soothing, cooling and fragrance. A good aftershave should heighten the smoothness of a fresh shave, cool your face off and also provide a subtle, masculine scent.
But the proof is in the pudding. Read up on a few common ingredients to look for in post-shave products. Though things like aloe, chamomile, oatmeal, green tea and plant oils are extremely common in post-shave products, we figure you know what those are, so we’ve keyed into a few of the lesser-known but still common ingredients.
Common ingredients in the best post-shave products
- Witch hazel: Extracts from this bush can help with inflammation and reduce skin irritation.
- Shea butter: A fat extracted from nuts of the African shea tree, shea butter consists of fatty acids that can help moisturize skin.
- Allantoin: Allantoin is a chemical compound known for its skin-enhancing and anti-irritant properties. It helps skin retain water, turn over dead skin and generally promote the growth of new, healthy skin.
- Glycerin: This is a chemical compound with antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. As a humectant, it also helps keep skin retain its natural moisture.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a catch-all for a few different chemical compounds. In skincare products, the most common form of vitamin E is usually one of four tocopherols. But whichever E compound you get, vitamin E works like an antioxidant and so reduces free radicals that damage skin. In that regard, it can help repair skin.
- Panthenol: Panthenol, an analog chemical of alcohol, has moisturizing properties that improve skin hydration and elasticity. It also reduces itching and inflammation.
Now that we know a few common ingredients, we want to run through the different kinds of products you can use to treat post-shave irritation. Thankfully, because a new generation of men is looking for alternatives to their dads’ aftershave products, there’s a lot more out there than stinging alcohol-based aftershaves.
What even are the best post-shave products for the grooming-oriented dude?
- Traditional aftershaves: These tend to be fairly liquidy and contain alcohol, which helps to kill bacteria on your skin that may get into pores or nicks.
- Aftershave balm: Aftershave balms tend to be more like lotion in consistency and often lean into plant-based ingredients, especially more modern brands.
- Alum blocks: Alum is a chemical compound that’s a natural antiseptic, meaning it’s antibacterial and good for hygiene. It’s also an astringent, which means it shrinks body tissues, as well as a styptic, which means it naturally shrinks blood vessels and stops bleeding. Because of these natural properties, using an alum block, typically potassium alum, will naturally reduce redness, tone and smooth your skin and stop the bleeding of any small cuts.
- Face masks: Face masks offer all the benefits of aftershaves, just in a mask. Donning a post-shave mask can give the soothing and styptic ingredients more time to absorb into your face.
- Ingrown hair / razor bump treatments: These products are just aftershaves designed specifically to wear down ingrown hairs and razor bumps. There’s no one-shot silver bullet to fix bumps on the spot, but these kinds of aftershaves will soothe your skin and minimize bumps over time.
So now that we know what ingredients and products to look for, if you’re unhappy with your current post-shave products — or you’ve always stuck to the same one — read on.
We’ve rounded up some of the best post-shave products below. Most are balms, moisturizers and lotions of some kind. They vary in consistency, but all work to soothe and hydrate your skin to relieve irritation and razor burn. We also found a few aftershave products you might not have considered but that are just as effective at repairing your skin in that critical moment when you finish shaving. The one thing they all have in common is they’ll leave you feeling smooth, cool and confident after every shave.
1. Bevel Aftershave Restoring Balm
BEST OVERALL AFTERSHAVE
The Bevel Aftershave Restoring Balm lives up to the promise of its name. Lotion-like in consistency, this balm uses things like witch hazel, shea butter and tea tree oil to soothe irritated skin. Plus, a few acids in the formula exfoliate your skin. Though that might be a little irritating at first, in the long run, it will greatly improve your skin.
2. Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm
RUNNER-UP AFTERSHAVE BALM
The Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm was one of the first aftershaves your writer ever bought and it’s as good today as it was then. It’s extremely affordable and works really well for its price, thanks to vitamin E and chamomile. If you’re looking for a first aftershave balm, you can’t do much better than this Nivea balm.
3. Clubman Pinaud Aftershave Lotion
For a highly rated and great-smelling aftershave, go for Clubman Pinaud Aftershave Lotion. Though it’s called a lotion, it really is more like a liquid aftershave, but it’s still plenty effective and comes at a fair price for the number of uses you’ll get out of it. Pro-tip: A little goes a long way in reducing skin irritation and with the masculine barbershop-esque fragrance, so take it easy on the first go.
4. Baxter of California Aftershave Balm
HONORABLE MENTION AFTERSHAVE BALM
Whatever your grooming needs are, you can count on Baxter of California. The Baxter of California Aftershave Balm will soothe and moisturize your skin without leaving it greasy or shiny. Aloe, tea tree oil, allantoin and glycerin are just some of the useful ingredients here, all contributing to more hydrated and less irritated skin.
5. Cool Water by Davidoff Aftershave
HONORABLE MENTION AFTERSHAVE
For a fairly traditional “old school” aftershave, we like the Cool Water by Davidoff Aftershave. It’s liquidy, it smells great and will soothe and tighten your skin right up after a shave. Like many other classic aftershaves, it does rely on alcohol for its antibacterial and drying properties, but alcohol-based aftershaves never really bothered our skin; we just happen to prefer the consistency of balms most of the time.
6. Proraso Aftershave Balm for Sensitive Skin
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Everything on this list will help with razor burn and skin irritation, but depending on the ingredients, you could end up with irritated skin if you have sensitive skin. Proraso Aftershave Balm is one of the best aftershave products we’ve found for sensitive skin. It’s the only aftershave product we’ve found that makes use of oatmeal (avena sativa kernel extract) in its formula. There’s a reason we make kids take oatmeal baths when they have chickenpox. Oats have natural anti-inflammatory qualities and can help with skin issues like eczema and psoriasis as well as generally dry skin. That makes it the perfect ingredient for those with sensitive skin. Add in some green tea extract for its skin protection properties and some glycerin for improved water absorption and you’ve got one of the best aftershave products for dealing with sensitive skin.
7. Ahava Men’s Soothing Aftershave Moisturizer
If you’re not keen on a little post-shave burn, go ahead and skip this one. But, if you can deal with a slight burning sensation in your aftershave (and only when you have a lot of small cuts), the Ahava Men’s Soothing Aftershave Moisturizer is so incredibly restorative. Yes, the Dead Sea minerals do burn on cuts a little, but the other ingredients, such as ginkgo biloba, ginger and ginseng extract, work to soothe, repair and refresh your skin in a way we’ve never really gotten from other aftershave balms.
8. Imperial Barber Grade Products Bergamot Aftershave
The best aftershave products don’t need to be all about fragrance or this or that ingredient. Sometimes we just want something that works and offers great bang for our buck. Nothing we found offers better value than Imperial Barber Grade Products Bergamot Aftershave. It costs a little bit more upfront than other nominally cheaper aftershaves, but you get 9 ounces of product here, which is almost three times as much aftershave as other competing aftershaves. But this isn’t just a great value.
Made by two professional barbers, it’s got macadamia nut oil to moisturize and protect your skin, chamomile for adding soothing power and witch hazel extract for its antiseptic and refreshing properties in addition to the bergamot essential oil for a bit of fragrance. The only downside is the bergamot scent isn’t very strong. We don’t necessarily want something overpowering, but it’s less than subtle, which isn’t great if you’re looking forward to that great citrus bergamot fragrance. But if you just want the most amount of aftershave for the least amount of money, this is the best aftershave product for that.
9. The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Aftershave Balm
When you want the best aftershave products, you need to go to the best grooming companies. The Art of Shaving’s main focus is creating high-quality products with natural ingredients to help the man who shaves every day. Given shaving products are the company’s expertise, it shouldn’t surprise to see The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Aftershave Balm on this list. To be one of the best, you’ve got to use the best ingredients and you can find everything you’d expect in a great hydrating aftershave in The Art of Shaving’s balm, including shea butter, essential oils, citrus and plant extracts and glycerin-related compounds, which help skin absorb water for added moisture and smoothness.
What you end up with is an alcohol-free solution to address skin irritation with nature’s ingredients designed to do so. And if you’re not sold, we really love the masculine sandalwood scent too. Nothing says “I smell like a man” than the rich woody scent of sandalwood. If you think this balm is right for you — but would prefer a different scent — The Art of Shaving produces this balm with different fragrances, such as lavender, bourbon and bergamot & neroli as well as an unscented version. The only downside for these products is they do cost quite a bit more than competing aftershave products.
10. Lather & Wood Shaving Co Unscented Aftershave Balm
With almost every male grooming product carrying a fragrance these days, it can be super easy for scents to clash when you’re in close proximity to someone. Not only that, but added fragrances can also add to irritation for some people’s sensitive skin. That’s where a great unscented aftershave balm like Lather & Wood Shaving Co’s Unscented Aftershave Balm can help. It’s non-drying so it won’t sting when applied and key ingredients like aloe, coconut oil, vitamin E and more work to stop razor burn in its tracks and hydrate and soothe your skin. The non-greasy formula absorbs into your skin for maximum moisturization so your skin will maintain its smoothness for the rest of the day. Given the ingredients, the lack of added fragrance and this balm’s non-drying qualities, it’s a great option for sensitive skin and just an all-around great aftershave product.
11. Aramis Advanced Moisturizing Aftershave Balm For Men
If you’re looking for an old-school, masculine fragrance in your aftershave balm, Aramis Advanced Moisturizing Aftershave Balm is for you. Aramis is not actually a company that makes things. (All Aramis-branded products are produced by Estée Lauder.) Aramis is actually just the name of the fragrance, and it’s so popular and smells so great — it’s one of the highest-rated aftershaves for scent on Amazon — that anything with the Aramis name just means it has the signature Aramis fragrance. The fragrance, first produced in 1963, smells leathery with jasmine, amber, sandalwood, clove and moss. So yeah, it’s the scent of a refined, sophisticated man, like the Aramis of The Three Musketeers for which it is named. And, of course, it wouldn’t be one of the best aftershave products if it didn’t have some plant-based oils and extracts to soothe and hydrate your skin.
12. Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel
BEST COOLING GEL
This Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel is slightly more expensive than a typical drugstore aftershave, but it’s worlds better. It utilizes botanicals, including sage, lavender, aloe and chamomile, to heal skin, fight bacteria, and moisturize after a shave, preventing dryness and flakes. You’ll have less redness from razor burn and irritated skin and this cooling gel can even help with sunburn thanks to the aloe.
13. Pacific Shaving Company Caffeinated Aftershave
BEST CAFFEINATED AFTERSHAVE
This product has everything we’re looking for in the best post-shave products: it soothes irritated skin after a shave, it has cooling spearmint and menthol, it’s from a grooming brand we trust and — even better — it’s affordable. Plus, it’s made here in the United States.
Pacific Shaving Company not only makes a whole line of great shaving products, including shaving creams and razors, but they’re also all made in the United States. That makes it all the more surprising that the company’s caffeinated aftershave cost so little for a bottle with the standard 3.4 fluid ounces. Unlike most competing aftershaves, Pacific Shaving Company uses caffeine as its primary rejuvenating ingredient. In addition to its well-known stay-awake properties, caffeine is also rich in antioxidants and in small doses on your skin works to reduce redness, puffiness and irritation. But that’s not all that’s in this aftershave. Organic oils like olive, argan and spearmint as well as shea butter and plant extracts work to add moisture and hydration to your skin to keep the irritation at bay after a close shave.
14. Taylor of Old Bond Street Alum Block
BEST AFTERSHAVE STONE
Post-shave stones may not be as common as they once were in the early 20th century, but given their low price, they make for a great alternative to other post-shave products.
For our pick, we like the Taylor of Old Bond Street Alum Block. As promised in the intro section, it’s literally just a block of potassium alum and will deliver all the benefits alum promises to do.
The only thing it doesn’t do is moisturize, so we’d recommend pairing this with a facial moisturizer, especially if your skin is on the sensitive side. Make sure you rinse your face after rubbing the block over it too as it’s not meant to sit there all day.
15. Gentleman Jon Alum Block
ALSO CONSIDER STONE
We tend to trust Taylor of Old Bond Street because we’ve used their shaving products, but if you’re just looking for a great but cheaper alum block, the Gentleman Jon Alum Block is a great alternative. It’s a slightly smaller block of alum than Taylor’s block, but it’s the same potassium alum so it will literally do the exact same things. It also comes in a plastic case for increased portability, which always helps.
16. Bump Patrol Sensitive Strength Aftershave
BEST FOR RAZOR BUMPS
If razor bumps are your primary post-shave problem, turn to a razor bump aftershave like the Bump Patrol Sensitive Strength Aftershave. Not only will it help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs from occurring in the first place, but it also promises to minimize any new bumps within 48 hours. Reviewers did complain that it smelled strange, but they also validated the brand’s promise to reduce bumps, so there’s a tradeoff, but an agreeable one for our razor bumps.
17. Grooming Lounge The Shavior Aftershave
ALSO CONSIDER FOR RAZOR BUMPS
For another great razor bump treatment, check out the Grooming Lounge The Shavior Aftershave. This lotion-like post-shave product uses glycolic acid, allantoin, chamomile and bisabolol, an alcohol compound with anti-inflammatory properties, to bring your red, irritated skin under control. Thankfully, multiple users reported that The Shavior does indeed minimize bumps and ingrown hairs, even after the roughest of shaves.
18. Scapicchio Anti-Aging Aftershave Serum
BEST AFTERSHAVE SERUM
Serums generally are concentrated versions of ingredients for a specific purpose. In marketing, they’ve come to be associated with anti-aging and skin treatment products. That’s more or less what you’re getting with Scapicchio Anti-Aging Aftershave Serum. Similar to other serums, it has the consistency of a thin, light lotion but instead of being designed just for anti-aging or dark spot treatment, it’s designed to work as an aftershave balm too. Hyaluronic acid, a molecule naturally produced by the body for skin, drives the anti-aging process and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles by helping with tissue regeneration. At the same time, familiar ingredients like tea tree oil, glycerin, shea butter and olive oil help condition, soothe and hydrate your skin from the razor burn and skin irritation, leaving your skin soft and smooth and ready for the day.
19. Barber Pro Post-Shave Cooling Mask
BEST AFTERSHAVE MASK
A good mask can work wonders for the skin, but it’s hard to find any that are made for guys’ skin like this one from Barber Pro. It’s infused with collagen, the naturally occurring protein responsible for keeping skin youthful, which firms, cools and soothes the face.