how to use aftershave

How To Use Aftershave (And No, It Shouldn’t Sting)

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Ok…you probably know how to use aftershave…


…I will bet you $10 Schrute bucks you will be surprised to learn how using the RIGHT aftershave can change EVERYTHING.

(Hint: A quality aftershave should NEVER sting when applied).

When used properly, aftershave is one of those special tonics that men find themselves relying on time and time again to not only reduce razor burn, but to also help ensure that their skin feels incredibly smooth and free of any lingering bacteria long after they shave…

…oh, and did we mention that aftershave can smell amazing too!?!

Now just a quick note how we broke some things out for you today in this article:

First up, we are going to go over all the steps on how to use aftershave.

This will give you all the information that you need to know in order to get the best results.

These will be the SAME EXACT STEPS that other wet shave enthusiasts and your local barbershop employ daily.

But afterwards we are going to dive a bit deeper into to the world of aftershave.

Specifically we are going to dive into the nuances of aftershave (i.e. should you wash it off once your done?!)…

…if you can use this on other parts of your body (i.e. your junk)…

…common traps to avoid when selecting aftershave (seriously, you are going to want to pay attention – I didn’t know this secret until just recently)…

…and exactly what aftershave is doing to your skin when it is applied.

While we will get to all that good stuff in just a second, I first want to cover the reason why you are likely reading this article in the first place – using aftershave to its fullest potential:

How To Use Pre Shave Oil

How To Use Aftershave…The RIGHT Way


…I have seen many of men tell me that they apply aftershave like this:

They literally get a bottle and splash a little bit on their face and head out the door…

…this gentleman, is NOT the way to use aftershave.

Secondly, if you just tip over the bottle and have just a little bit in the palm of your hand, this also is NOT the right way to apply aftershave.

Instead you are going to want to do this:

how to use aftershave balm

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

Seriously, that’s all that it entails to apply aftershave.

A completely simple process.

But here’s the deal:

As simple as that may seem, here are a few traps that SO many men fall into when applying it the first time (and you may have been susceptible to these as well):

First off, it’s incredibly important that you fully rinse out your face before you apply this stuff.

The reason being is that when you shave, you are dragging a razor across your face.

When you do this, you are taking a lot of old (and dead) skin cells along with bacteria with it.

Your skin at this point is open to possible infection due to the act of shaving.

Secondly, if you use the same hand towel you use daily every time you take a leak, there are likely bacteria hanging out on that towel as well…

…I watched way TOO many shows on the Discovery Channel as a kid that showed the germs of a bathroom environment…

When possible, you will want to make sure you use a clean towel to pat dry your face.

This will help to significantly reduce the possibility of harmful bacteria of causing irritation or infections from occurring.

Lastly, the even coating on your face will ensure that all parts of your skin are covered in order to ensure best results.

But Shouldn’t You Wash Off Aftershave?

In a word – NO!

Think of aftershave like a lotion or a cologne (or perhaps a mix between the two):

why aftershave balm is different

Many men who use aftershave balm for the first time like to wash it off immediately.

Perhaps because it contains a fragrance or perhaps they just are self masochists and don’t want to have better looking skin on their face…

…I really don’t understand the reasoning.

Aftershave needs to stay on your face after its been applied…here’s why:

First off, it will help to retain the moisture on the surface of your skin.

This will be key to not only ward off any ashiness or skin flakes on the surface of your cheeks (especially in the dry winter months), but will also help to erase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Any man in their mid 30s or later will know instantly what I am talking about.

Those fine lines you get around your mouth, applying and leaving aftershave balm on in this area will help to reduce the valleys so to speak of these wrinkles.

This will help to ultimately help you look a bit more youthful and vibrant.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is that many of the ingredients contained in aftershave balms will be both naturally antiseptic and antifungal.

This will help to not only reduce the occurrence of acne, but will help ward off any other skin blemishes or irritation long after you shave.

In short, just remember this:

When you apply aftershave balm, its doing A LOT of good things for your skin throughout the day.

Don’t wash it off.

Now with the scent of aftershave, don’t expect this stuff 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 not…

No matter the bucket you fall into, take this advice:

If you dig scents, get an aftershave balm that compliments your cologne (i.e. woodsy aftershave balm to match your woodsy profile of cologne).

Now if you hate scents, just go with an unscented aftershave balm.  This way you get all the great benefits minus the scent.

Different Types of Aftershaves?!

You may have noticed that throughout this article I have been talking about aftershave balm.

This is drastically different from an aftershave splash or lotion.

Here’s a quick summary:

aftershave splash vs aftershave lotion vs aftershave balm

If you value your skin and want to look your very best, you should NEVER use an aftershave splash or lotion, here’s why:

These types of aftershaves (splash and lotion) rely on alcohol as the primary disinfecting agent.

To be a bit more specific, they often rely on denatured alcohol (a simple alcohol).

These alcohols will STING when applied to your skin.

While alcohol is VERY effective at being a disinfectant, it is also prone to drying out your skin.

This will not only worsen those fine lines and wrinkles I was talking about earlier, but will also dry out your skin incredibly bad too – which may further lead to irritation.

So, if you have a aftershave splash or lotion in your hand, take a look at the side of the container and check out some of the ingredients.

If you see denatured alcohol on the list, you may have to lower your expectations a bit concerning the final results of said product.

But what makes balms so much different?

First and foremost, they contain a rich mixture of ingredients that will naturally compliment your skin.

This means that they often rely on natural carrier oils like jojoba or argan that are derived from plants and trees.

Not only are these ingredients often organic and all natural, but they are much less abrasive to your skin.

Secondly, many aftershave balms may like to rely on witch hazel (another natural ingredient).


Witch hazel is a natural astringent.

While there is a common misconception that your pores open and close depending on the temperature or moisture, this is just simply not biologically true (source).

Instead, what the astringent property in witch hazel does do is restricts the blood vessels that lie beneath the surface of your skin.

So, if you accidentally nicked yourself during your morning shave this can be an effective way to resolve it so you don’t find yourself applying toilet paper to your face (here’s how you REALLY should be fixing a razor cut).

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, witch hazel is a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.

Therefore, if you have acne or sensitive skin, the witch hazel will work to fully flush out the bacteria that may be trying to hide in those pores…

…all without stinging like denatured alcohol.

How’s that for a win/win situation?

How Often To Use Aftershave?

Whenever you shave, you can use an aftershave:

how often to use aftershave

The reason for this is due to the simple fact that every time you shave, you are still dragging a razor across the surface of your skin.

Therefore, it will be in immediate need of repair shortly thereafter.

In addition, regular application of aftershave will help to not only get your skin incredibly soft, but prolonged use will help act as a toner for your skin.

So, if you have any sort of patchiness or splotches of redness on the surface, you should see the effects aftershave balm take place after a couple of weeks.

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.

Shaving isn’t always the most pleasant process in the world.

But for those men who have skin complexions that they are trying to even out, or simply wrestling acne long after puberty has passed, the regular application of aftershave should only deliver positive results for your skin with regular application (whether you shave or not).

If you don’t shower daily, we would at the very least recommend cleansing your face first before you apply aftershave balm.

While the ingredients in aftershave are non-comedogenic (i.e. doesn’t clog your pores), it’s still considered wise to keep the surface of your skin clean prior to application.

applying aftershave

Can You Apply Aftershave On Your Groin (Or Balls)?


Just like the skin on your face, the skin on your groin or balls can always use a dab of aftershave balm.

While you might not be working for perfectly toned junk, if you want to not have any sort of itching or mild skin irritation long after you shave, then a light application will be more than fine.

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…

Aftershave Balms To Get You Started

While we could still go on for countless more paragraphs outlining the best aftershave balms on the market and give you a few to suggest, we feel like that is best suited for another article…

…and in fact, we have written about this quite extensively here.

In our best aftershave balm article, not only do we go over the top brands, but we dive even deeper into their core differences and tell you the very best one that should work for your skin type (hint: it’s this one).

About The Author

Shawn Burns

Shawn is the founder and senior editor at Tools of Men, the leading style and grooming source trusted by men in 187 countries. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. He is an expert in all things men's grooming related. His work has been mentioned on countless sites including The Wall Street Journal, NBC, AskMen, Vice, WikiHow, and the New York Times.

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