Shaving is complicated. You can do everything right during your morning shave, but still be left with ingrown hairs or a red, tight rash hours later. And those possibilities become even more likely if you’re not using an aftershave.
Aftershaves are designed to help your skin recover from shaving and avoid those annoying issues that can pop up later. Slap on an aftershave once you put down the razor and rinse off the shaving cream, and your skin will soak up the good ingredients to help calm it down, rehydrate it and generally just keep it happier.
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There are a ton of aftershaves out there, but generally speaking, you should look for products that are alcohol-free (alcohol is what creates that Home Alone-style burn upon application) and contain soothing ingredients. If you like a cooling sensation in your aftershave, look for ingredients like menthol and mint extracts. If you struggle with ingrown hairs and razor bumps, go for an aftershave that specifically targets those issues like versions with tea tree oil.
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The format of an aftershave—balm, lotion, splash—is more of a personal preference. If your skin is prone to dryness, steer towards heavier, creamier aftershaves that deliver a bit more moisture to stressed post-shave skin. But if you’re not a big fan of heavy creams, choose a gel or lightweight lotion. And if you’re really just chasing a quick, extra-fresh feeling, a watery splash could do the trick.
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More than anything else, choose an aftershave you’ll actually use. If it’s just sitting in your medicine cabinet, it’s not going to do your skin any good. And really, anyone who shaves should be using an aftershave. It could mean the difference between a smooth baby soft shave and a neck covered in bumps. As for where to start in your aftershave journey, this list will help you—no matter what kind of skin or budget you have.
- Cooling sensation
- Excellent at moisturizing
This balm hits all the right notes: It’s alcohol-free so it won’t dry out your skin, lightweight and non-greasy so it won’t leave your skin shiny, and contains a healthy dose of Vitamin B5 to help strengthen and protect your skin.
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- Lightweight and easy to apply
- Limits chances of skin irritation
When you have sensitive skin, it can be easily irritated by fragrance. This fragrance-free balm is the answer. It calms down freshly-shaved skin, but won’t leave it irritated or inflamed.
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- Comes in travel-friendly sizes
- Pleasant scent
This thin balm isn’t heavy or sticky and leaves your skin feeling cool, calmed and fresh. The subtle scent helps reinforce that oh-so-important fresh feeling. The price is also wallet-friendly, which is why we recommend the three-pack. Keep one in your bathroom, one in your gym bag, and one in your Dopp kit for travel.
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- Pleasant scent that can double as a cologne
- Lightweight and easy to apply
Somewhere between an aftershave and a cologne, this double-duty product is great to use on your face even if you haven’t shaved. Top notes of the balm include mint and green apple, while the base includes rich scents of oak moss, cedar, and vanilla.
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- Effectively moisturizes the skin
- Relieves burns and bumps
Rich in botanical extracts like willow bark and aloe vera, this aftershave formula instantly soothes razor burn and prevents razor bumps. Plus, even though it’s a cream, it’s lightweight enough to wear under moisturizer or even reapply a couple of times a day.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a classic like Old Spice aftershave (there’s a reason it’s been the go-to for men for nearly 90 years). The light scent is fresh and clean, but doesn’t linger, and the watery liquid is ideal for soothing skin if lotions and creams aren’t your thing.
Lots of aftershaves have scents, which is great if you don’t particularly like to wear cologne or just want that fresh feeling to stick with you once you leave the bathroom. This luxurious lotion is fresh and botanical, but not overpowering—and best of all, the lotion still soothes and calms your skin after shaving.
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The curlier your hair, the more likely you are to get razor bumps. The solution is this aftershave balm, which contains tea tree oil to help loosen up caught hairs and prevent them from turning into bumps. Best of all, it’s alcohol-free so it doesn’t sting or dry out your skin.
When it comes to razor burn and post-shave irritation, one of the most important things you can do is cool your skin down immediately after shaving. If you don’t have a cold towel handy, this aftershave gel is your next best option.
You can still use aftershaves even if you’re not a fan of lotions or creams. This innovative spray is packed with aloe, menthol, vitamins and other botanical extracts to instantly soothe freshly shaved skin without the need for a cream. If you have extra time, spray it onto a hot towel and press it to your face for a barbershop feel.
The best remedy for post-shave redness is aloe, which has been used for years to calm redness and irritation in the skin (and, not for nothing, heal actual burns). In this all-around-great aftershave, it’s paired with another super-cooling ingredient, cucumber extract, for additional power.
There’s a reason you’ve seen Proraso products in your barbershop: they’re just plain good, or they wouldn’t have been around for almost a century. This version of their classic aftershave is packed with soothing eucalyptus oil, cooling menthol, and skin-toning witch hazel.
How We Selected
For the past two years, we consulted with Men's Health's Grooming editors and writers on the top grooming products for men. Experts, including our Grooming Editor Garrett Munce, put a number of aftershaves to the test and evaluated their effectiveness, scent, and value. We also considered top-reviewed aftershaves that had high customer ratings on e-commerce websites we trust.