I have long advised men not to use aftershaves and colognes that contain alcohol immediately after shaving on the basis that the alcohol these products contain will dry the skin leading to irritation and even premature ageing due to wrinkles.
I’ve always said that freshly shaved skin needs moisturising after shaving so use an aftershave balm, not an aftershave containing alcohol I told to anyone who would listen.
However, after talking to a customer who swears by Proraso Sandalwood Aftershave I took the plunge and bought one, more to prove him wrong than any great desire to test the product.
My memories of using aftershave like many men of my age group are of my dad splashing on Old Spice after shaving and him actually wincing in pain when the alcohol stung his skin. I assumed this was good for shaved skin, why else would he do it? I duly followed suit and for years I shaved then applied aftershave until one day, sometime in the 1990s my wife bought me an Aramis Aftershave Balm, wow, what a revelation; it soothed and cooled my skin rather than burned it. From that day until 1st March 2018 I was strictly a balm only user.
On 1st March I shaved, dabbed my face with a towel then tentatively I splashed on some Proraso Sandalwood Aftershave. I waited for the burning sensation I remembered from old, instead I got a mild, pleasant, pleasing, tingling sensation and a lovely whiff of Proraso’s Sandalwood Aftershave. The aftershave dried in more or less immediately, 30 minutes later I was at work and I rubbed my face and neck and the scent was still there, weaker than I had hoped for but it was still there. Two hours later I tested for scent again and as I expected it had gone. Proraso Sandalwood is really nicely scented (while the scent lasts) and it does leave my skin feeling toned and very refreshed with zero greasiness which is not the case with some aftershave balms.
Aftershaves are designed to disinfect freshly shaved skin, the alcohol kills surface bacteria. Any minor nicks you got while shaving will be disinfected and the alcohol will constrict the blood vessels and speed up the healing process. The purpose of aftershave is to leave your skin toned, refreshed and lightly scented. Don’t expect an aftershave scent to last long like cologne for example. Modern-day aftershaves seem to contain less alcohol then the ones I used in the 70s through to the 90s which reduces the burning sensation. Maybe they have been reformulated to produce less burning? In any case, the alcohol mostly evaporates as soon as it comes in contact with the atmosphere.
I am now converted to using an aftershave but not totally, I splash on my aftershave and then a few minutes later I add a post-shave balm, it works for me, maybe it’ll work for you too?
Men with dry skin should probably avoid aftershaves that contain alcohol, men with greasy or normal skin can benefit from using aftershave
I have since experimented with DR Harris Pink Lotion, Prorsao Green (with menthol) Muhle Aloe Vera, Extro Cosmesi Bay Rum, Del Don and Tabacco, Fine Accoutrements Snake Bite and Italian Citrus and latterly The Goodfellas' Smile Italian Orange and Lime & Mint. All have been very enjoyable to use with no adverse side effects and I will happily recommend them to our customers. So, now I’m a convert to aftershaves. I know you'll be disappointed if I don't provide a ranking list based on my experiments, here you go, ten of the best aftershaves: