Why use aftershave balm? (what’s the point really?)

In this blog post, I will discuss the necessity and importance of the application of an aftershave balm. I will explain its effect on your skin and all of the derived benefits that it carries. You will also get to know the ingredients that everyone must know about before choosing your next jar.

Why use aftershave balm?

An aftershave balm completely protects your open pores from bacteria that were found on a previously used razor. An aftershave balm seals up your pores to keep all the bacteria from entering your skin.

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Scroll on to read an even more detailed guide on the purposes, uses, benefits, and effects of an aftershave balm. Your frequently asked questions will also be answered comprehensively and simply.

History of aftershave balms and why were they used?

Historically, seventy percent of any aftershave balm was alcohol. Our forefathers were aware that alcohol could fend off bacteria that could infect their wide-open pores after having a shave. At public barbershops, sterilization and sanitization were uncommon practices and the same razor was used customer after customer.

This increased the risk of infections, inflammations and communicable diseases. Alcohol aftershave balm could kill the bacteria. Thus, saving people from catching any skin problems.

● Different types of aftershaves:

There are four types of aftershaves: balm, gel, lotion, and splash. Let me know explain the purpose of each of these four types according to the condition of your skin.

Aftershave balm:

If you have dry skin and you live in an extremely cold and dry place, an aftershave balm is the best solution for you. An alcohol-free aftershave balm can save your facial skin from a ton of pain in freezing cold winters. Sometimes, aftershave gel and aftershave lotion can also be good substitutes for an aftershave balm.

Aftershave gel:

If your skin is oily, you must use an aftershave gel followed by a moisturizer. An aftershave gel will heal irritated skin and relieve razor burns. It includes anti-bacterial and anti-fungal reagents, these medicinal components will eradicate harmful bacteria and fungus, thus preventing clogged sweat pores.

Aftershave lotion:

If your skin is normal, you must stick to a non-alcohol based aftershave lotion. However, you are lucky enough as you have the most flexibility to try out aftershave gels and aftershave splashes as well. Aloe Vera based and witch hazel based aftershave lotions are the best and most recommended products.

Aftershave splash:

Aftershave splashes are good for normal and oily skin conditions. But if your skin is sensitive, never use alcohol-based and scented products. This way you will not face any burning or irritation when applying an aftershave product.

What is the difference between aftershave balm and aftershave splash?

The right aftershave balm can make your shaving a more pleasant experience and it can revolutionize the shaving routine. An aftershave splash is an antiseptic with a lingering fragrance. An aftershave balm is a hydrating fluid with a mild fragrance.

Aftershave splashes are mostly alcohol-based astringents. They tend to tighten and dry out your skin. A hydrating aftershave balm is perfect for you if your skin is prone to cuts, nicks, and dryness after having a shave.

Applying an aftershave balm is a matter of seconds, but it can make the difference between high quality, smooth shave and a rife with razor burns and red bumps. Take a pea-sized to a quarter-sized dab and massage it properly into your facial skin for best results.

What is the difference between aftershave balm and aftershave lotion?

An aftershave balm is normally free from the water content. Its base is formulated with beeswax or oil. It is really dense and intensive.

While an aftershave lotion has the lightest consistency. Its base is formulated with high water content and low oil content. It is also suitable for people suffering from acne due to its lightness.

The ingredients found in an aftershave balm help revitalize your facial skin and help your neck to breathe right. Some of them have Vitamin C added for shiny skin. If grape extract and shea butter are also added to them, they give out an attractive scent.

When you shave and feel dryness on your facial skin, expert dermatologists recommend using an aftershave lotion as part of your post-shave routine. The ingredients in an aftershave lotion are designed to hydrate and last longer on your face throughout the day. Whereas an aftershave balm dries up quickly and won’t last the whole day ahead.

Most lightweight and non-greasy aftershave lotions are perfect for all weather conditions. While the main job of an aftershave balm is to cool, freshen and moisten or help restore your facial skin’s natural moisture balance, It reduces and helps overcome the irritation and redness caused by a super-close shave.

Basic ingredients found in aftershave balms:

Aloe Vera, Alcohol, Tea Tree Oil and Witch Hazel are all different ingredients on which different aftershave balms are based.

● Aloe Vera as an additional layer of soothing relief:

If your skin is burning and you feel irritated after having a shave, an Aloe Vera based aftershave balm will help you get rid of all the painful sensations. Aloe Vera is a 100% organic, natural herb that gives your irritated skin an additional layer of soothing relief that you are seeking to rid the pain.

“Aloe Vera has lots of uses,” said Kim Chang, an aesthetician with the Baylor Aesthetics Studio. “It contains antioxidants, enzymes, Vitamins A and C, and it is highly anti-inflammatory. It can help treat burns, acne, and dry skin.”

Chang added that when it comes to acne, Aloe Vera works best on superficial surface acne rather than cystic or deeper acne. “The enzymes in it can also help exfoliate the skin to make it smoother, but if you are looking for something stronger I would recommend using a grainy exfoliator paired with a pure moisturizer,” she said.

“One popular question is, can it help get rid of my wrinkles, and the simple answer is no. A big thing to differentiate is that it doesn’t reverse your skin from ageing, but helps prevent you from getting deeper wrinkles and lines,” Chang added. “Some people believe that Aloe Vera drinks might help support collagen in your skin which prevents the signs of ageing, but there has been little research to support this claim,” she said.

● Alcohol will sting your freshly shaven skin:

Some men are masochists. If you use an alcohol-based aftershave balm, no doubt it kills all the dangerous bacteria but it will sting you as soon as you splash it on your skin. Alcohol-based aftershave balm will tighten your skin and leave it completely dried out.

Your skin will be so dried that it will flake and peel away. This type of aftershave balm must be avoided as it has fewer benefits and more harm.

● Tea Tree Oil is the best cleanser:

Tea tree oil is a 100% natural cleanser. It will protect your wide-open pores against any sort of infection. “Tea tree oil, when properly diluted, may help mildly to moderate acne,” says Jessica J. Krant, M.D., M.P.H., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a member of Consumer Reports’ medical advisory board. That’s because it is known to be antiseptic, mildly antifungal, and mildly antibacterial, she says.

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If tea tree oil alone isn’t strong enough to clear up acne, combining it with other medications, such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids (retinol, tretinoin) may do the trick, Krant says. “Retinoids add benefit by working to exfoliate and normalize cell development and turnover rates,” she says.

● Witch Hazel is a natural astringent:

Though the name is not appealing, yet its benefits are marvellous. Witch Hazel has the ability to constrict your wide-open pores, in contrast to the cheap alcohol-based aftershave balms. Witch Hazel is a 100% natural astringent that will moisten your skin.

Witch Hazel has four species growing in North America. They are also called Winterbloom. In 1846, a chemist and druggist, Alvan Whittemore first produced and sold Witch Hazel extract in Essex.

In 1866, Dickinson started the commercial production of Witch hazel extract also in Essex. Native Americans used Witch hazel extract for medicinal purposes. They treated inflammations, swellings, and tumours with it.

Witch Hazel is a great anti-inflammatory ingredient that will provide you with soothing relief. It is also a helpful remedy for bug bites, general rashes, and poison ivy. It will flush out acne-causing bacteria and if you already have acne it will help you combat it.

Witch Hazel works like Listerine. It saves you from the painful and unbearable sting when splashing it on any part of your body. Witch hazel extract is also a natural remedy for both eczema and psoriasis used in aftershave balms and ingrown nail applications.

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The bark and leaves of the North American Witch-hazel are used to produce an astringent decoction as a cooling agent in non-alcohol based aftershave balms. Historically, this decoction was commonly used by the Native Americans for medicinal purposes. Today, it is widely sold at pharmacies as semisolid cream, gel, ointment or salves.

Witch hazel water can be prepared both by distillation and maceration. In the USA, it is available as an over-the-counter drug for external use only to heal post-shave irritations. Besides its common use as the main ingredient in aftershave balms, it can also heal diaper rash in infants.

Can your aftershave balm make you sexually attractive?

Yes, the latest scientific research shows that the scent of Hedione creates sex-specific activation patterns in the human nose which connects to the brain. “These results constitute compelling evidence that a pheromone effect different from normal olfactory perception indeed exists in humans,” says scent researcher Prof Hanns Hatt fro, Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany.

“In the next stage, we want to find out which physiological and psychological parameters are affected when Hedione activates the pheromone receptor,” added Prof Hatt. “We have already launched the relevant studies. But we also have to search for scent molecules in bodily secretions, which resemble Hedione and activate the receptor. With its help, humans could actually communicate with each other.”

To find out if aftershave balm could have an impact on the female brain, the researchers analyzed brain activity when a woman smells Hedione. Then they compared the results found, with the effects triggered by phenyl ethyl alcohol, an outdated floral scent. They found that Hedione activated the limbic system of the human brain much more strongly than phenyl ethyl alcohol did.

Hedione actually activates a specific area of the hypothalamus in the female brain which is responsible for flooding their body with sex hormones. This promotes sexual responsiveness, as pheromones do in animals, especially in mice.

These latest studies have proved that like all other mammals an organ located at the base of the nasal septum still works in humans. It picks up pheromones and is stimulated by Hedione. Hedione is not just an ingredient added to aftershave balms, it is now commonly used in feminine products as well to attract the sexual attention of men.

What are the major benefits of using an aftershave balm?

Whether you shave your beard downwards or from your neck upwards, an aftershave balm is a must-have. If you deal with consequential offshoots of shaving wherein minor burns, bumps, cuts, nicks, irritation and scratches are inevitable, the only solution is the right aftershave balm. Hydration using an ample quantity of an aftershave balm is a real blessing.

The biggest benefit of an aftershave balm is the most enjoyable cool and rejuvenating feeling experienced at its application. It provides your face with the height of suppleness and smooth texture anyone may desire to obtain. Its fragrance is captivating and enticing.

Astringents added to the aftershave balms cleanse both your hair follicles and your facial skin cells. These astringents are responsible for counteracting the chemical reagents, dust, dirt and excessive oil on your facial skin that make your facial skin appear brittle and lifeless. Their scent leaves a good impression among people and helps groom your confidence.

What are astringents?

Astringents are also called adstringents. They are responsible for constricting and shrinking body tissues. Witch Hazel is the most commonly used astringent.

Astringency is found is unripe fruits, berries, cherries, lemon and banana skin which creates a dry sensation in your mouth. Today, astringents are used in the medical field to control the internal discharge of blood and mucus as they contract and constrict the internal tissues. Astringents are added to eye drops to reduce the redness of eyes.

When astringents are applied to the external skin, they cause mild coagulation of skin proteins and protect your skin. Astringents are really helpful for people suffering from acne if they have oily skin. They relieve allergies, athlete’s foot, bug bites, cuts, and other fungal infections.

What are the major features of a good aftershave balm?

The best aftershave balms have antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic ingredients added to them. An example of an antiseptic agent is stearate citrate which helps you avoid any sort of infection, inflammation, and irritation. The best aftershave balms have astringents added to them that gives your facial skin the right pH level.

Menthol is also a main feature of a good aftershave balm. It numbs the facial skin in case of any skin damage. Another feature of any good product is cost-effectiveness, it must not be a burden on your wallet.

Good aftershave balms can help you overcome the mistakes of improper shaving that can lead to the removal of excessive skin layers and ingrown hair. They help combat redness. They relieve the damage caused to your delicate facial skin after razor shaving with alkaline shaving soap.

Good aftershave balms have additional features, including; emolliency, freshening effect, revitalization, rejuvenation, imparting fragrance, skin toning and preventing ingrown hair. Some more features are anti-aging or anti-wrinkle and skin lightening properties.

When you use your shaving brush to lather up, it exfoliates your face and removes the dead skin layers that could prevent you from getting a clean, closer shave. The razor skims over your face and slowly exfoliates even more. Good aftershave balms will feed and saturate your facial skin after the removal of dead skin cells.

Good aftershave balms bestow a lingering, lasting scent that leaves everyone within your radius with a titillating erotic experience. They bring about an air of charm, grace, and mystique to you that leaves people wondering about the kind of person you are. However, this is true provided you pick the best aftershave balm for you.

What is a Bay Rum aftershave balm?

Bay Rum is a fragrance used in aftershave balms. Bay leaf from West Indies, Jamaican Rum and species combine to give out a distinctive, pungent, sweet, spicy and woody scent. It dates back to the 16th century.

Sailors who were stuck on ships for months began to stink so they discovered the great perfume of West Indies Bay Leaf. They would rub the dry Bay leaves on their skins to leave the fragrant oil on their bodies and thus mask the unbearable stink. Meanwhile, the slaves working on farms discovered that molasses could be fermented into a pleasant alcoholic beverage.

The slaves’ recipe was used by the brewers who distilled it and made it ten times stronger, making the rum. Sailors thought to make an easy-to-apply cologne. They took the rum to steep the Bay leaves to extract their essential oils.

This is how the Bay Rum was born. The islanders made it more flavorful by adding in cinnamon, citrus rind, and cloves. Soon Bay Rum became one of the most popular aftershave products in the rest of the world.

American-based barbershops prepared their own Bay Rum aftershave balms to slather on their customers. It was very common until 1950. After World War II, Bay Rum waned in popularity.

Bay Rum aftershave balms are available even today at local drugstores around the globe. You can easily prepare one for yourself at home. You can customize it to your liking by adding allspice, coconut oil, lavender, orange oil, juniper, and rosemary.

Frequently Asked Questions:

● What are the disadvantages of using aftershave balm?

The biggest disadvantage associated with an aftershave balm is sensitive skin. People with skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis need special medicated aftershave balms which are very expensive. Sensitive skin cannot tolerate any fragrance either.

● Does an aftershave balm sting?

Yes, an aftershave balm stings only if you are lazy enough to shave without taking a hot shower, without applying enough shaving cream or shaving soap. Such an improper shave leaves uncountable minuscule cuts, micro-abrasions on your facial skin. Thus, your aftershave balm triggers a pain response but quickly evaporates leaving you with a soothing tingle.

If your aftershave balm stings like crazy, it is a sign that you are probably shaving wrong. Your razor blade is dull, unhygienic and needs immediate replacement. You also need to be generous in the application of shaving cream.

● What are the natural substitutes of an aftershave balm?

100% natural aftershave toner, 100% natural mousse, 100% natural butter, 100% natural essential oil, Vaseline which is an oil-based lubricant made up of 100% natural petroleum jelly and Neosporin are some natural substitutes of an aftershave balm.

● How did aftershave balms become so popular?

Aftershave balms began to be commonly used not long after the menfolk started shaving with metallic blades. The earliest aftershave balms were organic aromatic oils or the fragrances of the day. They offered very little help in the way of antiseptic or anti-inflammatory purposes.

Later, after the perfume industry started to distill and successfully market scents, the benefits for the freshly shaven face became apparent. At that time, a variety of aftershave mixtures became common for tonsorial establishments. Soon shave moved out of barbershops and public places towards the homes.

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The demand and supply of different aftershave balms began to expand very quickly. Many famous brand names began to appear. After the invention of safety razors, the demand for aftershave balms swelled even larger.

With the passage of time, best aftershave balms became the largest sellers. Today, you can see a big evolution in aftershave balms. Modern aftershave balms focus more on antibacterial features rather than only fragrance.

Best brands nowadays, boast their “100% natural” ingredients. There are thousands of varieties commonly available in almost every drugstore around the globe. Your choice may vary according to your experience.

● What is an alum block and how to use it?

An alum block is an original antiseptic aftershave. It is made up of 100% natural potassium alum which has astringent qualities. It helps in healing minor cuts by constricting the blood vessels and contracting the pores.

It fights razor burns, kills the microbes, improves your skin tone and prevents ache. Styptic Pencils and Alum matchsticks are the best alternatives for alum blocks. Alum matchsticks are very convenient for travellers.

Always use your alum block before applying your aftershave balm.

After you have finished shaving, rinse your face with cold water to remove any residue of your shaving cream or soap. Make sure the water is really cold as it will help in quickly closing your pores. Let your alum block smoothly glide over your facial skin.

Splash some cold water over your alum block. Make sure its entire surface is wet, as a wet alum block will glide over your facial skin even more smoothly. If you like, you can soak your alum block in icy water to increase the tingling effect.

Rub the block softly over your freshly shaved face and neck. You will feel some tingling, don’t worry its perfectly normal and the alum is supposed to do it. Now you are ready to apply your aftershave balm.

Always rinse your alum block with water after each use. Dry it with a clean towel. Don’t leave a single droplet of water on it or it will start to dissolve after some time.

Store it inside its plastic case, in a dry, shady place.  


To conclude this blog post, I would say that it is really important to use an aftershave balm. The purpose of an aftershave balm is manifold. Its real importance lies in its capability to prevent inflammations and infections. Its secondary purposes are hydration or moisturization of your facial skin.

An aftershave balm is really important to feed and nourish your freshly shaven facial and neck skin after you have just removed your dead skin cells. It will cleanse, tighten, protect and soothe your freshly exposed layer of skin. Some of them have additional purposes like anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle.

Don’t just be attracted by appealing and colourful packaging. While buying an aftershave balm read carefully all the ingredients and any allergy warnings.

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