Aftershaves have had a long history or rather a long tradition, one that our fathers and grandfathers have been readily & lovingly following. They were invented because back then straight razors were the only choice available, and these resulted in a number of nicks after shaving, leaving one vulnerable to infection.
However with time as grooming grained popularity and as technology in razors, razor blades or electric personal grooming devices developed, the conventional aftershaves have outlived their usefulness. Thus, over the years as the knowledge about skincare increased, newer variants’ of aftershaves, having additional beneficial properties/ ingredients emerged.
Before we go any further you should be aware of the scientific purpose of aftershaves:
- Completely clear out your pores of any bacteria that may have come in contact with your skin from the razor blades/electric personal grooming devices or your hands during the shaving process.
- Seal the pores to prevent any bacteria from further entering the pores during the course of the day. Thus, helping in eliminating infections, inflammation, red bumps, boils, acne eruptions and ingrown hairs.
Different variants of aftershaves available in the market:
Aftershaves come in three forms –balms (sometimes called creams), gels, and lotions.
They’re all really more about skin care and maintenance than anything else. In addition to having antiseptic properties, their purpose is to soothe, moisturize, and regenerate the skin after shaving. Unlike other products used during the actual shave, aftershaves have a longer-lasting effect because they’re not immediately wiped off (as shaving cream is).
Hence, these days majority of the aftershave soothers or balms or gels are designed to restore critical moisture to freshly shaven skin while helping heal nicks and calm irritation and redness.
WHICH VARIANT IS BEST FOR your SKIN TYPE
Though it totally depends on one’s own individual preference/choice/suitability to use any of the variants; the generally accepted opinion among dermatologists and the rest of the grooming world is as follows:
a) BALMS: balms contain very little or no alcohol and hence they are non-dehydrating. In fact alcohol-free balms substitute alcohol with natural ingredients such as essential oils; which are equally antiseptic but don’t cause dryness. Balms also contain water and oils to moisturize the skin without leaving an oily residue.
Balms are recommended for men with Normal, Sensitive or Dry skin types, and for use during dry winter months, when there is less moisture in the air and when the skin is prone to dryness.
b) GELS: they too contain minimal alcohol but unlike balms, however, they don’t contain oil, which makes them less moisturizing. Gels can be very refreshing and soothing, and are usually good at protecting and maintaining healthy skin. Gels are recommended for men with Normal, Combination and Acne prone skin types.
c) LOTIONS: among all the variants, lotions have the highest alcohol content. While it is true that alcohol is an antiseptic, using lotions having very high alcohol content is not recommended as it tends to dehydrate the skin which in the due course can lead to irritation, flaking and infections.
Therefore be very careful while selecting lotions. Opt for the ones that have ideally no more than 30-50% alcohol and contain some beneficial botanical ingredients. Lotions are recommended for Oily, Combination to oily skin types and Normal skin type during summers.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN AFTERSHAVES:
- Excessive alcohol
- Artificial fragrances
- Artificial colourants & dyes
- Eucalyptus or lavender oil for sensitive skin types
INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR IN AFTERSHAVES
- Aloe Vera
- Witch hazel
- Herbal Extracts
- Essential oils
- Natural oils (tea tree oil, avocado, grapeseed, macadamia, olive, or jojoba, etc)
- Botanical Ingredients
- Tochopherol Acetate or its derivatives
Few useful tips that can go a long way in preventing razor nicks and experiencing a smooth shave:
- Always use lukewarm (in between hot & cold) water for your face.
- Shave rite after you step out of the shower or after washing your face properly with lukewarm water. This helps in softening your stubble. As the hair follicles absorb water they become thicker resulting in their pores to expand naturally; and eventually making the hairs easier to trim in a single shot smoothly without causing friction or nicks or hurting the skin.
- Opt for a moisturizing shaving cream.
- You can also opt for a pre-shave soother.