Traditionally aftershave was an alcohol-based antiseptic designed to disinfect small shaving nicks. While men’s aftershave and cologne are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to men’s fragrances, generally aftershaves have a lighter scent and shorter longevity than colognes.
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Personally, I like to maintain scents longer. To do this I often layer the aftershave with an eau de toilette or eau de parfum of the same scent.
Also while the alcohol in aftershave keeps cuts from getting infected, if you’re like me – it will also dry pout your skin and might even sting any open cuts. Fortunately, alcohol-based men’s aftershaves aren’t your only post-shave option anymore. More recently, options like aftershave lotions, balms and alcohol-free options have been developed that are more skin-friendly.
Men’s Aftershave: The Favorites
Acqua di Gio After Shave Lotion comes from one of the most iconic and imitated scents of the 1990s. It ushered out the loud-powerhouse men’s fragrances of the 80s, replacing them with lighter, fresh, aquatic-citrus scents.
Designed for warm weather, this men’s aftershave starts with Calabrian bergamot, green tangerine, and neroli, deepening into rose, rosemary, jasmine petal, persimmon, and Indonesian patchouli. I liken it to the fragrance of a walk along the sunny Mediterranean shore.
Dior’s Sauvage After Shave Balm’s scent is a classic men’s fragrance that’s got great versatility — a scent you can wear from work into the evening.
Inspired by the spirit of open prairies, it starts with notes of pepper and Calabrian bergamot, merging into middle notes of geranium, lavender, Sichuan pepper, elemi, pink pepper, vetiver, and patchouli before the base notes of cedar, labdanum, and ambroxan balance the fragrance.
The Sauvage balm provides more moisture and is lovely and calming for sensitive skin like mine.
Middle notes include black pepper, cardamom, Brazilian rosewood, cedar, tarragon, and saffron. The base notes are tobacco leaves, amber, sycamore, musk, and labdanum. Versace Eau Fraiche has got a clean, zesty smell great for warm weather.
Jean Paul Gaultier After Shave Balm is a part of the most iconic men’s fragrance collection bottles — everyone who knows perfume will recognize the “man in the can.” It’s a sexy, bold scent designed for evening wear — clubs, dancing, romantic night out, or even cold weather.
It’s a seductive mix of top notes including fresh mint, bergamot, and lavender. The middle notes are spicy and sweet with orange blossom, cinnamon, and cumin. Base notes are a warm cedar, sandalwood, tonka bean, and vanilla.
Terre D’Hermes After Shave Lotion is earthy and woody, a very modern masculine scent that’s perfect for work or evening wear. Pepper, flint, and citrus give it both freshness and spicy edge. Bay rose and geranium give a touch of sweetness, while patchouli, benzoin, and cedar ground the scent. Terre D’Hermes men’s aftershave is a great scent for almost any occasion, from casual to date night, work to going out.
L’eau D’issey After Shave Toning Lotion is a refined, aquatic fragrance that’s perfect for casual or professional wear. It’s a light scent that’s a good pick for men not used to wearing fragrances. L’eau D’Issey is a blend of citrus and spice combined with base notes of musk, amber, and woods.
In contrast to most Calvin Klein advertising, the men’s aftershave, Eternity, focuses on the quiet joys of family life. Similarly, the Calvin Klein Eternity After Shave scent is crisp, clean, and slightly soapy. It’s a classic fragrance that’s got a blend of greens, crisp jasmine, sage, basil, and rosewood.
What Does Aftershave Do?
Shaving can be hard on the skin, especially if you have acne or your skin gets irritated easily. Aftershave disinfects any small cuts or nicks from shaving and can help them to heal faster. It also soothes and softens sensitive skin.
Aftershave smells nice, too. But the scent is actually secondary to the skin care.
What’s the Best Aftershave for Sensitive Skin?
If you have sensitive skin, try to stay away from alcohol-based aftershaves or ones that feature harsh essential oils like lemon or orange. You may also prefer a lotion or balm aftershave to the traditional splash.
There are many aftershaves out there that are specifically designed for sensitive skin, too. Just keep an eye out for that on the label.
What’s the Best-Smelling Aftershave Balm?
Dior’s Sauvage and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male – both on this list – are available as aftershave balms. Major brands will often make multiple formulations of their aftershave, including a balm.
A balm typically has little or no alcohol and a thicker consistency – these facts will change the scent profile of a product. Certain notes may be more prominent in a balm than a splash, and vice versa.
When Should Men Wear Aftershave?
You should use aftershave after, well, every time you shave. It helps to disinfect cuts and soothe the irritation that daily shaving can cause.
While you can wear aftershave on a no-shave, it might not be the best choice for long-lasting fragrance. Cologne will typically wear better and have better longevity.
Do Guys Still Use Aftershave?
Yes, they do. Aftershave may have a bit of a bad rap thanks to the heavy, dad-like scents available at your drug store, but they are still a useful and popular product.
It’s worth shopping around for an aftershave that you like – it’s an important part of skin care for guys.