Top 10 Best Post-Shave Balms & Alum Blocks: How To Take Care Of Your Skin After Shaving
Top 10 Best Post-Shave Balms & Alum Blocks: How To Take Care Of Your Skin After ShavingCharles-Philippe2020-08-19T13:02:24-04:00
Sore skin after shaving? Rashes or ingrown hairs? The perfect shave can sometimes irritate your skin!
In the following guide, you will learn about how to look after your skin after shaving. You will discover the best post-shave balms and other products as well as the best steps to follow when cleaning up after shaving.
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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.
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.
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.
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:
A glycerin-based gel, Dr Carver’s Post-Shave Dew is perfect for the busy man. It’s packed with beneficial ingredients including aloe barbadensis leaf juice, cucumber fruit water, and peppermint leaf water.
The Post-Shave Dew is designed to be quickly absorbed by the skin without leaving a trace. Therefore, it quickly jumps into action as soon as you rub it in before comfortably drying without the stiff sensation produced by some gels.
As a result, it’s ideal for morning shaves. If you’re heading out of the house soon afterwards, you won’t find yourself with an oily residue on your face while commuting to work!
"An excellent product that is easily absorbed to nourish and protect the skin after a shave for the day ahead."
The Art Of Shaving is a celebrated men’s grooming brand that offers a wide variety of services in its physical stores. However, it’s website is excellent and features a wide selection of products.
Their eucalyptus balm is our favourite despite a dizzying range of different scents. It’s glycerin-based so it isn’t greasy and features healthy ingredients like jojoba oil and grape seed extract. The eucalyptus braces the skin yet leaves it nourished and fresh.
Furthermore, The Art Of Shaving has its own refill service. Therefore, when you run out, you can simply head to a physical store to top up the bottle.
An almost mandatory accessory for any wet shaver is the alum block. As we explained in further detail above, potassium aluminium sulfate or “potash alum” is a natural remedy with many uses.
For centuries it was used as a natural antiperspirant but its unique properties also soothe irritation after shaving. By sealing the pores, it stops bleeding and prevents the skin from becoming dry.
With many cheap options available online, it’s hard to pick out the best alum block. However, the most natural option is made by the traditional French perfumer, Féret. Their Hyalin block undertakes a long and complex purification process.
This ensures that only the 100% natural mineral is left, which isn’t mixed with any chemicals or synthetic products. You can use it before shaving to reduce the razor’s friction. However, it’s usually used afterwards to prevent razor rash and soothe irritation. You can even use it as a deodorant too!
Finally, although Féret’s Hyalin isn’t the cheapest alum block, it is a traditional brand with a trusted reputation. You can now pick up a block for only $15 on Amazon, which will last you for years to come.
We recently discovered Rascal when we reviewed a selection of their products. Founded by the innovative minds behind The Gents Place, Rascal caters to men by providing them with grooming products and tools.
Although its moisturiser isn’t specifically designed for post-shave care, we’ve been using it regularly for this very purpose. Its use of chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic properties.
Meanwhile, sandalwood is astringent, which also helps reduce skin irritation. Therefore, it’s been very effective at caring for our skin after a rushed shave!
Not everyone appreciates overly-scented or distractingly smelly creams and balms. Therefore, we wanted to suggest this particular product as an alternative to the eucalyptus balm listed above.
The Art Of Shaving’s post-shave balm uses slightly different ingredients on this occasion. Although it’s still glycerin-based, it is packed with shea butter, which offers excellent hydration while stimulated the hair roots.
Meanwhile, some grape seed extract and a variety of other oils will help reduce irritation and ingrown hairs.
We only just discovered Pré de Provence and we’re very glad that we did! A French artisanal brand, Pré de Provence specialises in skincare products that are heavily enriched with shea butter.
While there are plenty of other products such as the bergamot and thyme balm, we instead opted for the brand’s classic No. 63 formula. It contains additional ingredients such as grape seed oil, aloe vera, and allantoin, which all help hydrate the skin and provide certain healing properties.
Although every man should own a moisturising lotion for after shaving, those with sensitive skin need something more soothing. There are many options available from well-known brands like Nivea and Mennen.
However, Baxter of California has produced one of the most luxurious post-shave balms for any skin type. Providing a thick alcohol-free cream packed with glycerin, aloe vera and allantoin, Baxter of California’s post-shave moisturiser relieves skin after shaving.
Meanwhile, tea tree oil prevents ingrown hairs and menthol tightens the skin to reduce wrinkles. Furthermore, this aftershave balm doesn’t leave any stickiness, which is a common complaint from certain products.
Instead, it is absorbed by the skin leaving it soft and irritation-free. After trying many different lotions, Baxter of California offers the best addition to your post-shave routine.
Finally, at $19 on Amazon, Baxter of California may seem like a pricey option. However, a little goes a long way and you’ll find that this moisturiser will last you a while!
If you are looking for a more natural post-shave balm, Lather & Wood is an excellent option. As a relatively young company, Lather & Wood isn’t as well established as other reputable brands. However, it offers a rich and moisturising post-shave experience featuring natural and organic oils.
When applied, Lather & Wood reveals a warm woody smell, which is comforting but not overpowering. For those that aren’t too fond of fragrances, remember that essential oils are volatile and evaporate quickly so it won’t last long.
Furthermore, its natural oils don’t just smell nice but are carefully chosen to treat ingrown hairs and redness. Regular use will quickly show its positive effects and soothe even the most irritated rashes.
In fact, many head shavers have turned to Lather & Wood’s balm for their scalp, which can be a perilous endeavour.
Being an oil, you can use just a few drops for your entire face. Therefore, although it may seem expensive at $17 on Amazon, it actually offers great value.
Founded in 1948, Proraso is one of the most widely-available traditional brands available. Unfortunately, it’s celebrated gel riparatore isn’t yet easily available in the USA. However, its aftershave lotion can be found on Amazon so it’s with great pleasure that it is featured here.
With old-fashioned values, Proraso’s lotion is free from silicone, mineral oil, SLS or paraben. For those looking for that classically bracing aftershave burn, Proraso contains a little alcohol to make it happen without damaging your skin.
Men with sensitive skin should either refrain from Proraso or pair it with a lotion due to the alcohol. However, unlike most classic aftershaves, Proraso contains sandalwood and shea butter oils for a nourishing effect.
Therefore, the ill effects of alcohol are curbed thanks to its moisturising properties. You can learn about what alcohol does to the skin later in this article.
Finally, at only $14 on Amazon, Proraso’s aftershave lotion is a steal. Offering an authentic post-shave experience, you should certainly consider it as part of your post-shave regimen.
For more persistent bleeding, styptic pencils are a great tool for closing cuts and soothing nicks. Unlike alum blocks, they provide a concentrated and precise application. Traditionally, styptic pencils are long sticks of alum with a plastic handle.
Over time and with regular use, they can get pretty messy. Even if regularly cleaned and a natural disinfectant, it’s off-putting to reapply it to your face. Therefore, single-use styptic matches are an excellent alternative.
Presented in a nostalgic film noir matchbook, these styptics can simply be torn, dipped in water and applied to the face. Being relatively inexpensive, they’re a handy accessory to have on-hand in case of mishaps.
There are many brands around in other stores but only Barberupp seems to currently sell matchbooks on Amazon. Furthermore, they’re selling theirs at only $7 for a pack of 3 matchbooks, which presents excellent value.
Having now learned all about post-shave care, check out some of our related guides to improve your shaving technique: