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Which aftershave is best?

Barbers first started using aftershave in the late 1700s to kill bacteria and reduce the chance of infection. It also helped people smell nice when bathing wasn’t as common as it is today.

These original aftershaves were often harsh on the skin and stung badly for a short time. While you still can find aftershave like this, most these days are designed to be pleasant to apply, and both soothing and hydrating for skin. The Lather & Wood Shaving Co. Aftershave Balm is one such aftershave, with jojoba oil and aloe vera to leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed.

What to know before you buy an aftershave

Types of aftershaves

Aftershaves can be categorized into four types. All offer the same main benefit of disinfecting the skin after shaving, but some are more soothing than others.

  • Splashes: Splash aftershaves used to be the most common form and are what most people think of when picturing aftershave. They have a thin, liquid consistency, tend to have high alcohol content and often provide the harsh sting some users prefer. This means they’re effective at disinfecting the skin and closing the pores, but can be overly harsh and drying.
  • Lotions: These aftershaves also tend to have high alcohol content but are thicker than splashes. This can make them easier to apply and also means they have good antiseptic properties. Most lotions also incorporate moisturizing ingredients to help combat the dryness alcohol causes.
  • Gels: Aftershave gels are easy to control thanks to their thicker consistency.  Many gels also have a cooling effect that soothes freshly shaved skin. Additionally, they typically contain alcohol that disinfects the skin. 
  • Balms: These are the most gentle, hydrating skin while disinfecting it. They have little or no alcohol, relying on natural ingredients such as essential oils for their antiseptic properties. This makes them popular, and ideal for those with sensitive skin who often experience razor burn.

Alcohol vs. non-alcohol

Aftershaves may be alcohol or non-alcohol-based. Those that don’t contain alcohol rely on other ingredients for their astringent properties. Some prefer alcohol-based aftershave, feeling that they’re better at disinfecting the skin since they offer that familiar burning sensation.

However, some alcohol-based aftershaves are very harsh and drying, which can lead to more irritation. If you prefer an alcohol-based aftershave, choose one with low alcohol content.

What to look for in a quality aftershave


Aftershaves come in scented and unscented formulas. If you want a scented option, consider fragrances that work well with your natural body chemistry and any other products you use on a daily basis. Common fragrances for aftershaves are citrusy, herbal, woodsy and spicy.


Aftershaves are made with a range of synthetic and natural ingredients that are beneficial for the skin. Aloe vera, shea butter, jojoba oil, almond oil and coconut oil are common natural oils and botanicals used to soothe and hydrate the skin or help with wound healing. Natural astringents such as witch hazel, ginger, and grapefruit and other citrus oils also help with wound healing and killing bacteria. They often are in alcohol-free formulas.

The fragrance comes from essential oils such as bergamot or sandalwood as well as artificial scents. Fragrances that use artificial ingredients often have longer-lasting scents but are more likely to cause irritation.

Whether you prefer natural ingredients or simply want to avoid using chemicals on your skin, you can find aftershaves made without artificial dyes and fragrances, phthalates and parabens. 

How much you can expect to spend on an aftershave

Aftershaves vary greatly in price. Some cost as little as $1 an ounce, while others run as much as $20 an ounce. Most with high-quality ingredients are $5-$10 an ounce.

Aftershave FAQ

Should women use aftershave?

A. “Aftershave” is a term used mostly for men’s skin care products, and most products labeled as aftershaves are intended for those who identify as men. That said, many women use moisturizers and other products after shaving that serve a similar purpose as aftershave.

Do I need to use aftershave if I use an electric shaver?

A. Yes. For some people, electric razors can be just as irritating as using a traditional razor. Aftershave can help soothe the irritation no matter which kind of razor caused it.

What should I look for in an aftershave for acne-prone skin?

A. An alcohol-based aftershave is your best bet, as its ability to disinfect will help reduce breakouts. It’s also a good idea to choose an aftershave made without artificial fragrances and chemicals such as parabens that can irritate the skin and lead to more pimples. 

What’s the best aftershave to buy?

Top aftershave

Lather and Wood Shaving Co Aftershave Balm

Lather & Wood Shaving Co. Aftershave Balm

What you need to know: This aftershave balm is made with mostly organic materials and leaves skin feeling smooth and soft.

What you’ll love: It has low alcohol content and rarely causes irritation, even for those with sensitive skin. It’s backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

What you should consider: Some find the sandalwood scent too strong.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top aftershave for the money

Billy Jealousy Shaved Ice Aftershave Balm

Billy Jealousy Shaved Ice Aftershave Balm

What you need to know: Shaved Ice doesn’t contain any alcohol and has a cooling effect, which those prone to irritation from shaving will appreciate.

What you’ll love: Its gel-based formula is easy to spread, and it is free of parabens and other questionable ingredients. It also helps to restore your skin’s natural pH to keep it healthy.

What you should consider: It can leave behind a slightly greasy texture that takes a while to dry.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Musgo Real Aftershave Balm

ClausPorto Musgo Real Aftershave Balm

What you need to know: With hydrating ingredients including shea butter and jojoba oil, this balm is ideal for those with dry and flaky skin.

What you’ll love: It has a slightly sweet and spicy fragrance that many will find appealing. It is very effective for soothing irritation, making it a good choice for those who often experience razor burn.

What you should consider: Its fragrance doesn’t last as long as some people might like.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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