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

The RoyalShave Guide to Finding the Best Aftershave for Your Skin Type

Handsome man washing face in bathroom in morning

Aftershaves started off simple enough. After a shave, your barber would splash some of the refreshing liquid onto your face to prevent infection from nicks and cuts while leaving you with that ‘just back from the barbershop’ scent. Since then, we’ve learned that traditional aftershave – which used to approach almost 100% alcohol – is not necessarily suited to every guy.

Now you’ll find a wide variety of aftershaves on the market, which can make the process of finding the right aftershave a bit daunting. No matter what a bottle may claim, use this as a general rule: you must choose an aftershave formulated specifically for your skin type. Failure to do so will cause imbalance in your skin, aggravating inflammation, redness, and razor burn.

Continue reading to learn how to select the best aftershave for your skin type.

Sensitive

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When you shave, you’re taking off a layer of skin (and with it, your skin’s natural protective barrier), an act that is tremendously irritating for men with sensitive skin. To replenish moisture while reducing redness and burning, try a rich aftershave balm like The Daimon Barber Cooling Post-Shave Balm. A combination of fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants soothe skin so it’s strong and supple. Plus, menthol cools the skin, leaving you feeling refreshed.

In general, avoid products with fragrance if possible.

SHOP: The Daimon Barber Cooling Post-Shave Balm

Oily/Acne-prone

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Look for a lightweight (read: non-greasy) lotion.

Proraso Moisturizing & Nourishing After Shave Lotion contains alcohol to disinfect, and is enriched with shea butter to reduce irritation. Its super lightweight texture means you don’t have to worry about pores getting clogged.

If you feel a lotion is still too thick for your oily skin, use an aftershave splash instead, which is usually based in antiseptics like alcohol or witch hazel to prevent infection. We like Geo F Trumper Aftershave in Spanish Leather, a rich, woody scent that’ll double as a subtle cologne.

SHOP: Proraso Moisturizing & Nourishing After Shave Lotion

Combination

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You have two options:

  1. Apply a product designed for sensitive/dry skin on your cheeks, and a product designed for oily skin on your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin).
  2. Use a product designed specifically for combination skin. Imperial Barber Products Bergamot After-Shave is safe for use on all skin types but does everything you need an aftershave to do: disinfect, calm, and condition the skin.

SHOP: Imperial Barber Products Bergamot After-Shave

Dry

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An aftershave balm will be your ultimate aly, especially if you tend to get nicks. Balms coat the surface of the skin with a protective layer, preventing moisture loss. Apply only what you need, however, since balms are the thickest of the aftershave lot and can clog pores if used in excess.

Avoid products containing alcohol, especially astringents, the strongest form of toner. Astringents typically contain 20 – 60% alcohol and are better suited for oily skin.

Baxter of California After Shave Balm is alcohol-free and contains a nice mix of tea tree oil (anti-microbial) and glycerin (lubricant).

Tip: Do you have dry, aging skin? If so, follow your aftershave balm with a hydrating moisturizer afterwards, like Taylor of Old Bond Street Dry Skin Cream for Men, which protects your skin’s elasticity with UV filters.

SHOP: Baxter of California After Shave Balm

Normal

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Lucky you – you can use just about any type of aftershave you want! If you’re keen to keep hydrated, glycerin-based Geo F Trumper Skin Food absorbs quickly and can double as a pre-shave treatment.

If you use an aftershave with alcohol, replenish moisture with an all-around lotion like Ernest Supplies Protective Matte Moisturizer. This all-natural, fragrance-free moisturizer is loaded with vitamins A, C, and E to defend against signs of aging.

SHOP: Geo F Trumper Skin Food

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Why You Should Finish Your Shave with an Oil Pass

Brooklyn Grooming

Instagram: @brooklyngrooming

We are avid fans of Michael Ham, the author of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving, and one of the methods he advocates for finishing up your shave is the polishing pass. The idea is that once you’re done with your last pass (ATG), there’s one more step you can throw in to get rid of every last trace of stubble.

The polishing pass can be done with water, but you’ll get better, smoother results using shave oil or pre-shave oil. Keep in mind not to do the polishing pass over any irritated areas, and most certainly not over razor bumps.

How to do the oil pass:

During your shave, let your shave oil sit in warm water so it’s nice and pleasant when you apply it later.

After your shave, coat your wet beard area with a thin layer of shave oil (like Brooklyn Grooming Commando Shaving Oil). Using your non-dominant hand, feel your face for remaining stubble. Begin a process called blade buffing: do short ATG strokes with light pressure, without lifting the blade as you move it back and forth.

Repeat this process anywhere you feel rough spots.

When you’re finished, simply rinse your face and dry as usual, following up with an aftershave to seal in the moisture for a nice post-shave conditioner.

A note on the types of oil you can use:

Any shave oil or pre-shave oil will do for a polishing pass. While marketed for use before a shave, pre-shave oils can be used post-shave. They also tend to be lightweight and contain fatty acids that protect your skin’s lipid barrier.

If your pores clog easily or you are prone to acne, look for non-comedogenic oils like argan oil, shea butter, sunflower oil, and castor oil.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, if your skin is dry or sensitive you may want to consider mineral oil, which is an odorless, ultra-effective moisturizer that doesn’t cause allergic reactions . Johnson’s Baby Oil is a good choice for a gentle oil to use during the oil pass.

Product recommendations:

Oil-Pass-product-picks

SHOP: 1. Taylor of Old Bond Street Pre-Shave Oil, 2. Jack Black Epic Moisture MP10 Nourishing Oil, 3. St. James of London Pre-Shave Oil, 4. The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil, 5. Brooklyn Grooming Commando Classic Shave Oil

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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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