Why Should You Follow A Post-Shave Regimen?
Firstly, remember that shaving is like intense exfoliation. Not only do you cut your hair but you also remove a thin layer of skin. As scary as it’s sounds, this is actually quite normal.
In fact, it can actually be healthy for your skin as you often remove a layer of dead skin too. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of your skin afterwards by moisturising as you would after any exfoliation.
Furthermore, don’t let anyone fool you. Even in the age of hygiene and sterilisation, shaving is still a hazardous practice. Even for the most experienced wet shavers, it’s easy to suffer from nicks, ingrown hairs and rashes.
If left untreated, a cut can even become infected. Meanwhile, rashes aren’t only uncomfortable but can become sore and even cause flaking skin. That’s why it’s always important to wash your face and moisturise after shaving at the very least!
Common Complaints When Shaving
It’s not uncommon for a lot of men to experience several forms of irritation after shaving. These dermatological grievances can be caused by a number of issues from allergies to incorrect shaving techniques as well as sensitive skin.
Below are a few common complaints for which we provide some tips to treat them.
My Skin Is Dry & Peels After Shaving
Usually experienced above the top lip, dry and peeling skin is a frustrating experience that can even be quite painful. If you only experience this discomfort across the top lip, it may be because you apply too much pressure when shaving.
Like the rest of the face, the moustache area requires several passes for full beard removal. Consider reducing the pressure you apply as you shave here with a lower shaving angle. Furthermore, you skin is peeling because it’s dehydrated, which indicates sensitive skin.
When applying a balm or moisturiser, prioritise the moustache area and see how it reacts.
My Skin Is Sore After Shaving & I Have Bumps
Irritated skin is known as “razor rash” and can be caused by a number of factors. This is the most common injury caused by shaving and is much more frequent with cartridge razors.
Firstly, the razor or blade that you use may be too aggressive. If it’s a cartridge razor, that’s because you’ve exposed your face to multiple blades, which may be too much for your skin.
Consider switching to a safety razor with a safety bar and a milder blade like Derby Extras. If you shave with a straight razor, it may be over-honed so consider taking it to a professional to see what he or she thinks. It’s also very important to properly lather your shaving soap and hydrate your face afterwards.
On the other hand, bumps are caused by ingrown hairs. They’re a very frustrating and tender issue, which again can be caused by an aggressive razor blade. Witch hazel is an excellent natural remedy for ingrown hairs so consider using a product that contains it.
I Keep Cutting Myself When Shaving
Even the most experienced wet shaver cuts himself time and again. However, if you find this to be happening far too regularly for your liking, you may again be using a razor that’s too aggressive. As mentioned above, a safety razor with a safety bar with mild Derby Extra blades may help with this.
If you’re shaving with a straight razor, maybe your technique is slightly off, which is causing you to create incisions in your skin. Read up on how to shave with a straight razor to ensure that you’re doing it correctly. For instance, you may be making slight slicing movements, which rips through skin.
Also, don’t forget that shaving soap creates a protective cushion against the skin. Either opt for a superior shaving soap or learn how to make a better lather with it.
Why Shouldn’t You Use Normal Aftershave?
Most classic aftershave brands contain alcohol, which is actually counterproductive after shaving. As American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman said “alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older.”
However, when hygiene was poor, alcohol was a necessary additive in aftershave to ensure that cuts were properly disinfected. Today, it mostly acts as a solvent to stabilise oils in aftershave but actually causes dryness and even irritates the skin.
When you splash aftershave on your face, you feel a burning, tingling sensation. In fact, that’s your body telling you that it’s being harmed. Whilst some people enjoy that bracing feeling, others are quite averse to it.
If you do choose to continue using alcohol-based aftershave, be sure to pair it with a rich moisturiser. Overall, men with particularly sensitive skin do best to avoid alcohol entirely as it can even causes rashes. Instead, opt for a witch hazel based aftershave.
What Are Alum Blocks?
You may have heard about alum blocks if you’ve read up on any shaving forums. We even highly recommend one by Féret, which you can learn about above. Overall, an alum block is every serious wet shaver’s fundamental tool.
Usually made from potassium aluminium sulfate, it’s a naturally occurring crystal that used to be mined from volcanic sediment. Its use predates the Ancient Egyptians as a natural antiperspirant and is still found in many deodorants today.
Potassium alum works by blocking pores and preventing sweat, oils and liquids escaping. In shaving it’s used to stop bleeding and reduce irritation by fulfilling a similar function.
Furthermore, it’s also a naturally anti-bacterial, which means it offers a triple action in soothing, hemostasis and disinfection.
Used before shaving, alum offers astringent properties that can prepare the hair and actually makes it easier to shave. However, it’s usually used after shaving to soothe razor rash and prevent the outbreak of spots. The final result is the feeling of freshness and toned skin.
How To Treat Your Skin After Shaving
Fully taking care of your skin can involve a number of products, which you are probably familiar with now. However, did you know that following them in a particular order maximises their impact?
Whilst some products clean, others moisturise and there are those that close the pores. Therefore, it’s good to keep in mind their effects and how to optimise them for your skin.
You might also be experiencing some discomfort after shaving. By following the guide below, maybe you will be able to figure out why.
- Rinse Your Face With Cold Water
- Gently Pad Your Skin Dry
- Apply A Moisturiser Or Lotion
- How To Apply An Alum Block
- How To Apply Your Preferred Aftershave
1. Rinse Your Face With Cold Water
After you’ve finished shaving, it’s important to rinse your face. Firstly, you will still have traces of soap, which may burn the skin if left to dry. Secondly, as uncomfortable as it may seem, using cold water actually has greater benefits than warm water.
Before shaving, you moisten the face with warm water to open the pores, which makes shaving easier. In a similar fashion, the skin’s pores naturally close when exposed to cold water.
This ensures that the skin won’t lose any more moisture or natural oils now that shaving is finished. Furthermore, the combination of tightened pores and the capillaries closing will also stop any bleeding caused by cuts.
Finally, warm water may feel nicer at first but when cold, it actually leaves a longer-lasting soothing effect.
2. Gently Pad Your Skin Dry
Now that your face is dripping with water, you’ll need to dry it before applying any products. Otherwise, they’ll dilute and run off your skin.
Avoid scrubbing at your face with a rough towel, which will just inflame any irritation. Instead, pick a towel that’s soft and absorbs really well. By padding away the water, you’ll avoid escalating any irritation.
3. Apply Moisturiser Or Lotion
Always apply your moisturiser before anything else. As your face is at its driest, it is begging for hydration. Therefore, it will absorb the first liquid it will come into contact with the most.
If you apply aftershave first, it will mostly absorb alcohol, which will have a negative impact as mentioned above.
Furthermore, applying the lotion first when it will be its most effective and your skin will be properly nourished. Your skin will now absorb the proper nutrition it needs to replenish itself after shaving.
Finally, bear in mind that certain lotions such as Proraso’s Gel Riparatore (pictured) contain traces of alum anyway. These creams are designed to simultaneously hydrate and seal the skin.
As much as they are effective alone, they also work very well after applying moisturiser. However, you can skip the use of an alum block if you own one of these.
4. How To Apply An Alum Block
To use an alum block, simply wet it under the tap or dip it in water. You’ll notice how the dry crystal has become quite slippery now it’s wet.
Much like salt, it dissolves in contact with water and now can be applied over your face. This makes it a very enduring product, which doesn’t expire and is easy to store when dry.
Due to its ability to seal the pores and close off any bleeding, an alum block is always best applied before an aftershave and after moisturiser. By using it now, the alum will lock the moisturiser into the skin, which makes sure that it’s all absorbed rather than evaporates.
This way, the alum block will not only achieve its own function by also symbiotically help the moisturiser work better for you. If you apply it the other way around, the moisturiser may not be able to reach the pores due the alum block creating sealing the skin.
Likewise, an alum block is best used before your aftershave. This way, it forms a protective coat over the skin, which will reduce any burning caused by alcohol. Enough will still reach your face to provide that tingling sensation with the irritation.
When finished, place your alum block somewhere ventilated so it can dry naturally.
5. How To Apply Your Preferred Aftershave
Although a drying practice, a lot of men swear by aftershave. There are many products available today, which are either based on alcohol of witch hazel. As we previously discussed, witch hazel has many medicinal benefits whilst alcohol primarily disinfects.
Now that your face has been protected by the alum block, you can splash on your preferred aftershave:
- Serve a teaspoon amount of aftershave into your palm.
- Lightly rub your hands together to spread it.
- Separate your hands for a few seconds to allow the aftershave to cook off.
- Gently stroke the aftershave onto your face with the grain from onto your face and neck.
- Gently slap your skin to provide relief if you experience stinging.
When rubbing the aftershave, don’t apply too much pressure. Doing so will rub away the fragrance’s head, which causes it to evaporate too soon. Similarly, letting it cook off in your hands momentarily will allow some alcohol to evaporate from the oils.
Take care not to over-apply as this will not only cause more burning but can make the fragrance overpowering. Some splash bottles are more generous than others. For instance, we’ve observed that Tabac Original delivers like a Tabasco bottle. However, Old Spice flows freely from the neck.
You can learn more about aftershaves in our dedicated guides to men’s fragrances.
Top 10 Best Aftershave Balms & Lotions
Now that you have learned all about the best steps to take towards soothing irritated skin after shaving, check out our preferred balms, lotions, and alum blocks. Below, we’ve presented the top 10 best balms and lotions to use after shaving:
- Dr Carver’s Post-Shave Dew
- Eucalyptus Aftershave Balm
- Féret Parfumeur Bloc Hyalin Alum Block
- Rascal Sandalwood Face Moisturiser
- Unscented Aftershave Balm
- Pré de Provence No. 63 Aftershave Balm
- Baxter Of California After Shave Balm
- Lather & Wood After-Shave Balm
- Proraso Lozione Dopobarba Aftershave
- Green Stix Razor Nick Remedy
Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to see them all!