The RoyalShave Guide to Post-Shave Products

Your skin is at its most vulnerable after a shave. You’ve just abraded the top layer of skin, and with it your natural protective oils. Your skin will also be drier due to the use of shaving soap or cream. To ensure your face stays irritation-free over the course of the day, you’ll need to replenish with a tailored post-shave ritual. Below, we cover six aftershave products to consider, and mark which skin types befit each product.

Remember, before using any products: wash your face with cold water to tighten up blood vessels and reduce redness and swelling.

Aftershave Splash

Best for: Normal or oily skin

Aftershave splash is an antiseptic with a lingering scent, although the scent is lighter than a dedicated cologne. Aftershave splashes usually contain alcohol to kill bacteria and are antiseptic in nature, meaning they constrict blood vessels to tighten pores and smooth skin.

While these properties are immensely beneficial for plenty of wet shavers, gentlemen with dry or sensitive skin will want to avoid aftershave splashes in general, due to alcohol content. Alcohol can be too drying for sensitive or dry skin, especially right after a shave when skin is particularly vulnerable. If you have sensitive skin and still want to use an aftershave splash, look for one with witch hazel in place of alcohol.

SHOP: Geo F. Trumer Aftershave

Aftershave Lotion

Best for: Normal, dry, or sensitive skin

Aftershave lotion is thicker in consistency than aftershave splash, and ranges in consistency from liquid to cream. Non-greasy, an aftershave lotion absorbs quickly to cool and refresh skin while replacing lost moisture. Unlike aftershave splash, aftershave lotion won’t dry out skin. Conditioning agents and antioxidants defend skin from unwanted elements post-shave.

Aftershave splash also has a subtler scent and tends not to contain alcohol, so it won’t irritate dry or sensitive skin.

SHOP: The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Aftershave Lotion

Aftershave Balm

Best for: Normal, dry, or sensitive skin

Aftershave balm has the thickest consistency of all the aftershave varieties, making it highly emollient and soothing for those with dry or sensitive skin. We also recommend aftershave balm for men of all skin types during the winter, when the climate is cold and dry. When it comes to application, a little goes a long way. Depending on the thickness of your balm, you can use anywhere from a dime-sized amount to a quarter-sized amount. While some balms contain alcohol, the best contain none, substituting less-irritating essential oils.

With a subtler fragrance than splash and lotion, aftershave balm is a good choice if you regularly apply cologne and don’t want a conflicting fragrance.

SHOP: Proraso Aftershave Balm – Green, Refreshing and Toning

Alum Block

Best for: All skin types

An alum block is a necessity for all skin types. Made of potassium alum, these products have several important functions: they stop bleeding from nicks, they are antiseptics that kill bacteria, and they provide feedback for your shave. Running an alum block across your face will make sensitive areas sting, so you’ll know where you applied too much pressure or the wrong angle. Less stinging = a better shave. This feedback can be used to improve future shaves.

There are other reasons you should add an alum block to your shave routine – see them in our Alum Block 101 post here.

SHOP: Osma Alum Block

Styptic

Best for: All skin types

When you’ve got a big nick and need to stop the bleeding fast, a styptic will do the job. Made with aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate, a styptic can come in either a pencil or a pen form. But be careful: because a styptic is a stronger astringent than an alum block, it will also sting more.

SHOP: RoyalShave Alum Pen

Cologne

Best for: All skin types except dry or sensitive skin

To smell fresh long after you’ve set your razor down, spritz on cologne. Keep in mind that you cannot substitute cologne for aftershave, since a cologne doesn’t have antiseptic properties. However, do match your aftershave scent with your cologne, or you’ll risk offensive odor mixing.

Because fragrance and alcohol are some of the top skin irritants, it’s best to avoid using cologne if you have reactive or dry skin.

SHOP: Truefitt & Hill Cologne

5 Vintage Wet Shaving Products You Should Be Using Today

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Photo: Badger and Blade

There’s something undeniably intriguing about vintage wet shaving products. Shaving with a vintage razor (especially one that was passed down) may remind you of your father or grandfather, adding a nostalgic dimension to your daily shave routine.

In addition to vintage/collector’s pieces, there are a small number of old school items still in production today. These are time-tested grooming superstars that deserve your attention. From an alum block that has been produced in France the same way since the 1950s to a revival of the WWII Bakelite safety razor, we take a look at five vintage wet shaving essentials you should be using today.

Study this list before you pick up your next aftershave or DE razor.

Osma Alum Block

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Bloc Osma has been producing natural potassium alum blocks since the mid 1950s. Unlike many alum block makers, who cut costs by sourcing their alum from Asia, Osma Laboratories reduces their carbon footprint by only using product found in France. 100% crystalline alum soothes and cools the face while stopping bleeding from minor cuts. Alum blocks have a myriad of benefits: they are natural astringents, tightening pores and combating oil. They also act as antiseptics, killing surface bacteria.

Fun fact: Alum blocks are the first known aftershave. They were used by the ancient Egyptians more than four thousand years ago as antiseptics.

SHOP: Osma Alum Block

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D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion

D.R. Harris boasts the title of the oldest pharmacy in London, and also holds the Royal Warrants to Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. D.R. Harris was founded in 1790 on St. James Street, where it still operates today. The D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion is part of the British pharmacy’s classic collection.

This non-oily pre-shave enhances glide and cushions for the shave ahead. A subtle blend of fern and citrus make this pre-shave a delight for the senses.

SHOP: D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion

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Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor

The Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor is a modern edition of a classic razor from the Boker range. Around the beginning of the 20th century, Boker came out with a razor featuring blade steel that contained real silver, which they called “Silver Steel.” Because the blade contained silver, the cutting performance was literally cut-throat.

Thus, the “Silver Steel” etching references the days when silver was included in the blade. The current version employs a sharp, extra hollow carbon steel blade with a grooved thumb rest. Timeless faux tortoiseshell rounds out this elegant piece.

SHOP: Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor

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Ballistol Lubrication Oil

Straight razors are beautiful tools of precision, but in order to keep them sharp, consistent maintenance is mandatory. Prevent your razor from rusting while promoting free joint movement with Ballistol, a lubrication oil. Invented in 1904 by Dr. Helmut Klever for the German Imperial Army, Ballistol (from the words “ballistic” and “oleum,” the Latin word for “oil”) quickly went into use for cleaning and maintaining the metallic parts of a rifle, as well as its wooden stock.

By the 1940s, hunters, hikers, and other outdoorsmen had adopted Ballistol. If you’re worried about using a propellant on your pricey safety razor, don’t be – Ballistol is biodegradable, and doesn’t produce byproducts that are harmful to the environment. It’s non-carcinogenic and safe for use on skin.

SHOP: Ballistol Lubrication Oil

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Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set

During the WWII metal shortage, companies were pressed to find a high-functioning substitute. Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, went into service for a number of applications, including DE razors. The plastic was named after Belgian scientist Dr. Leo Baekeland, who invented it in the early 20th century. Popular manufacturers of these Bakelite safety razors included Souplex and Wardonia.

A few years ago, Merkur brought back this retro design with their 45 Bakelite Safety Razor, outfitted in a pop of red and black. Because the razor is made of plastic, it is much lighter than your average DE razor, but don’t let the light weight fool you – customers who have used this razor say it produces an aggressive, close shave.

The Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor’s plastic construction requires less maintenance than metal razors.

SHOP: Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set

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Post-shave routine: should you use an alum block?

Muhle Alum Block

Muhle Natural Alum Stone

You’ve set down your razor, dried out your brush, and refreshed your skin with a warm water rinse followed by a cool water rinse; what’s next?

While you can move straight to the aftershave, we’d like you to consider adding one step in between: using an alum block. An alum block looks like a big crystal slab (which is, indeed, what it is) and could be your savior if your skin veers on the oily side.

Consider the following Alum Block 101.

What is an alum block?

An alum block is the world’s oldest aftershave – 4,000 years old, to be exact. Used by the ancient Egyptians for its healing properties, alum is a mineral that is both an astringent and an antiseptic.

You can rub an alum block over your skin after a shave to stop nicks and cuts from bleeding. Alum feels cool and refreshing, but be warned that it can also cause a stinging sensation as it kills bacteria. Using an alum block regularly can actually lesson the severity of acne and other skin maladies, since it cleans your skin and then closes the pores.

In addition, an alum block can give you feedback on your shaving technique, since a better shave will cause less sting. Because alum is such a dense mineral, a soap-sized block like Muhle Natural Alum Stone can last you a year, sometimes even a few years.

Beyond shaving, you can use alum as a natural, fragrance-free deodorant. If you have oily skin, you can apply alum even on days when you’re not shaving to dry out grease and pimples.

Are there different types of alum blocks?

Alum blocks are either made of potassium alum or ammonium alum. While both types work well, ammonium alum tends to sting less.

How often do I use an alum block?

It depends entirely on what your skin can tolerate. While many men can use alum after each shave, some men apply the block every other day, or weekly. Alternatively, if you have sensitive skin you may want to avoid alum altogether. The salts in alum may be too drying, causing irritation and redness.

How do I use an alum block?

After rinsing your face with cold water, run the alum block over your still-damp face. Be careful to glide the block rather than rub, since the pressure may cause abrasion. It’s best to rinse the alum off after you shave, but you can let it sit on your skin for a few minutes first to enhance the toning effect.

Then apply your favorite aftershave. Voila! You’re done.

How do I care for my alum block?

Let the block air dry and store it away from water. You can also place it in a plastic container or Ziploc bag when not in use.

What’s the difference between a styptic pencil and an alum block, and can I substitute one for the other?

Alum blocks and styptic pencils are two entirely different beings. A styptic pencil is made of either titanium dioxide or aluminum sulfate anhydrous, and is a tool strategically designed to stop bleeding from nicks. Alum blocks can also stop bleeding, but they are primarily a skincare treatment.

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