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How to Use Aftershave Like a Pro

Aftershave is an indispensable tool for men who shave daily, especially those with mildly sensitive skin. 

Today, we want to focus on how to use aftershave, how often it should be applied, and where it fits into the larger part of your grooming routine.  

For example, should you use a face moisturizer with an aftershave balm?  

Let’s begin:

Related: Not all aftershaves will sting when applied.  Here are some skin-friendly aftershaves for your review.

How to Use Aftershave

In order to use aftershave effectively, you will want to do the following:

diagram going over three steps to apply aftershave
  1. After shaving, rinse your face thoroughly and pat dry with a clean hand towel.
  2. Pour out about a dime-sized amount of aftershave into the palm of your hand.
  3. Rub your hands together to ensure an even coating on both hands and rub thoroughly onto the surface of your skin.

If you are using a thicker-bodied aftershave balm, then you will want to scoop out a fingertip-sized amount and massage it between your hands until the balm has fully dissolved and no lumps of the balm remain.  Then rub it thoroughly into your skin.

But Shouldn’t You Wash Off Aftershave?

In a word – NO!

Think of aftershave as a mix between lotions, cleansers, and colognes:

venn diagram demonstrating how aftershave is part face cream cologne and cleanser

For some reason, men who use aftershave for the first time often wash it off immediately.

Aftershave needs to stay on your face after it has been applied – here’s why:

The Right Aftershave Moisturizes like a Face Cream

A good aftershave, such as an aftershave balm, will help to retain the moisture in your skin.

This will help to prevent dryness or ashiness on the surface of your cheeks (especially in the dry winter months).  This increased moisture will also assist in easing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – leading to a more youthful and vibrant look.  However, don’t ditch your face cream just yet as you still want to apply it afterward.

Additionally, not all aftershaves are the same as some may lack moisturizing properties – more on this in a quick minute.

Aftershave is Subtly Scented Like a Cologne

Now with the scent of aftershave, don’t expect it to fully replace your favorite cologne…

…it’s not that strong.

However, do expect that it will provide a nice subtle fragrance for the morning hours.  While some men may love this additional layer of fragrance, others may understandably not.  

Should you prefer a nice aroma to complement your style, consider getting an aftershave that matches your cologne (i.e. woodsy aftershave for a woodsy cologne).  This makes it much easier to layer the scent without having conflicting aromas – which can be off-putting.  

Should you not like scented products, no problem –there are plenty of unscented aftershaves available.  This way you get all the great moisturizing and cleansing benefits minus the scent.

Aftershave Disinfects

Some aftershaves contain denatured alcohol or witch hazel that provides both astringent and antimicrobial properties.  These key active ingredients will reduce the risk of minor surface cuts from being infected by bacteria while also helping to stop any bleeding that may have been caused by the razor blade.

Some men, particularly those with oily skin, may find these properties advantageous in reducing the occurrence of acne or pimples after shaving.  An aftershave with aloe vera, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient (source) is recommended.

6 Serious Signs That You Need to Use Aftershave

When shaving, if you are experiencing the six following signs, then you should strongly consider using aftershave:

  1. Tightness
  2. Dry Skin
  3. Burning
  4. Itching
  5. Irritation
  6. Redness

While a good aftershave can help to lessen the severity of the symptoms, there may be other issues going on with your shaving routine.  Here’s a list of 14 errors men make when shaving that can cause razor burn.  Do yourself a favor and give it a quick read if you experience any of the above symptoms once you’ve finished shaving.

Different Types of Aftershaves

Aftershaves differ significantly from one another.  The three main types are splashes, lotions, and balms.  Each of them carries unique properties – such in that some may sting (includes alcohol) and some may not (includes witch hazel).  

Additionally, some aftershaves are moisturizing-focused – such as aftershave balms and select aftershave lotions.

If you want to learn more, we recommend that you give this article a read where we explain the key differences between aftershave splashes, lotions, and balms.

How Often Should You Use Aftershave?

Whenever you shave, you should use an aftershave:

flow chart of how shaving dictates aftershave use

This holds especially true for aftershaves that carry moisturizing properties – such as aftershave balms and lotions.  

The reason being is that when shaving, the act of dragging a razor blade across the surface of your skin is really tough on your skin’s natural moisture barrier.  When you apply an aftershave, it will assist your skin in better retaining this moisture.

Additionally, witch hazel-based aftershave may help to tone skin with repeated use.*

* This is a common claim; however, we are unable to find scientific evidence that this has been proven.

Can You Use Aftershave Without Shaving?

Not every man shaves daily, especially when it comes to the weekends.

And to be quite honest, we can’t blame them, either, as shaving isn’t always the most pleasant process in the world.

When taking a break, applying aftershave isn’t necessary.  While a moisture-rich aftershave may be helpful with your skin, simply applying a regular face cream will suffice.  

Just make sure that you are cleansing your face first before you apply a face moisturizer to remove any pollutants or dead skin cells from clogging your pores.

Can You Apply Aftershave on Your Chest, Arms, or Groin (Balls)?


Just like the skin on your face, the shaved skin on the rest of your body can always use a dab of aftershave.  However, we recommend that you lather on an unscented aftershave as not to  cause irritation since the skin may be more sensitive elsewhere on your body.

As a side note, man-to-man – some women might find it strange that your junk smells like sandalwood or other manly fragrances.  So, if you have a shot of getting lucky later today or tonight, we would advise you to probably not apply this beforehand…

Aftershaves That Work as Hard as You

Whether you have a fresh bottle in your hand as we speak, or you are looking to replenish – we go over some detailed reviews of all the popular aftershaves here.

There, we provide you with the same no-nonsense attitude that we gave to you here today.

So, go ahead, check it out and be pleasantly surprised with what we rounded up for you.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more.

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