Why Does Aftershave Burn? (And Tips to Prevent It)

by Jay Kang | Posted on April 4th, 2023

Aftershave: the final touch that takes a shave from ordinary to luxurious. It’s like the cherry on top of a sundae, leaving you feeling refreshed and smelling great.

But have you ever wondered why aftershave sometimes causes that uncomfortable burning sensation? You’re not alone! In this article, we’re diving into the reasons behind aftershave burn and sharing expert tips to prevent it. Let’s get started!

using aftershave

Understanding Aftershave Burn

When you glide that razor across your face, your skin undergoes a bit of wear and tear. Shaving can damage the top layer of skin, making it more sensitive and prone to irritation. Aftershave products, which often have antibacterial properties, can sting when applied to freshly-shaved skin. While the antibacterial action helps protect against razor burn and infection, it can also result in that familiar stinging sensation.

The Role of Alcohol

Historically, alcohol was the go-to ingredient for giving aftershave its germ-fighting power. It’s effective at killing bacteria, but it can also be harsh on the skin, especially when it’s already feeling sensitive post-shave. Dermatologists often advise against using products with high alcohol content on damaged skin, as it can lead to dryness and irritation.

Dr. Jane Smith, a board-certified dermatologist, explains: “Alcohol has antiseptic properties, but it can also strip the skin of natural oils. For individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to dryness, alcohol-based aftershaves may exacerbate these issues.”

Aftershave Splash vs. Aftershave Balm

Aftershave products come in various forms, and the one you choose can make a difference in how your skin reacts. Traditional aftershave splashes, which are liquid-based and often contain alcohol, can be invigorating but may also cause more of a burn. On the other hand, aftershave balms are creamier and more moisturizing, and they’re often alcohol-free.

If you find that splashes leave your skin feeling irritated, consider making the switch to a balm. Balms still offer antibacterial protection, but their moisturizing properties can soothe the skin more effectively.

“People with oily skin may prefer the astringent effect of an aftershave splash,” Dr. Smith notes. “But for those with dry or sensitive skin, an alcohol-free aftershave balm can be a gentler option.”

Shaving Technique Matters

A smooth shave begins with good technique. Using a sharp, high-quality razor and taking the time to prep your skin can make all the difference in preventing nicks, cuts, and irritation. Consider using a pre-shave oil or soap to add an extra layer of protection, and opt for traditional shaving creams or soaps that provide better glide and cushion compared to canned foams.

To minimize aftershave burn, Dr. Smith advises: “Make sure to replace your razor blades frequently, and avoid pressing too hard when shaving. Shaving with the grain of the hair and rinsing the blade often can also reduce skin irritation.”

Prevention and Relief

While aftershave burn can be unpleasant, there are ways to prevent and alleviate it:

  • Choose alcohol-free aftershaves: Seek out aftershave products that are free of alcohol, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.
  • Moisturize: Applying a moisturizer post-shave can help soothe and hydrate the skin.
  • Test products: If you’re trying a new aftershave product, test it on a small area of skin first to check for any adverse reactions.
  • Be patient: Allow your skin to calm down for a few minutes after shaving before applying aftershave. This gives your skin a chance to recover from the shaving process.
  • Cool it down: If your skin feels hot or irritated after shaving, consider splashing your face with cool water or using a cold compress to reduce discomfort.

Remember, every person’s skin is unique, so it’s important to listen to your body and choose products that work best for you. Experimenting with different aftershaves and techniques can help you find the perfect combination for a comfortable and enjoyable shaving experience.

Types of Aftershave Products: A Comparison

There are several types of aftershave products on the market, each with its own unique benefits and potential drawbacks. Here’s a quick comparison to help you choose the right one for your skin:

  • Aftershave Splash
    • Pros: Refreshing and invigorating, often contains antiseptic properties, may reduce oiliness.
    • Cons: May contain alcohol, can be drying or irritating for sensitive skin.
  • Aftershave Balm
    • Pros: Moisturizing and soothing, often alcohol-free, ideal for dry or sensitive skin.
    • Cons: May feel heavy or greasy for oily skin types.
  • Aftershave Lotion
    • Pros: Lightweight and fast-absorbing, can provide hydration without a greasy feel.
    • Cons: May vary in alcohol content, so check the label if you have sensitive skin.
  • Aftershave Gel
    • Pros: Cooling and non-greasy, often provides a calming effect on irritated skin.
    • Cons: Some gels may contain alcohol or other irritants, so choose carefully.
Aftershave SplashRefreshing, antiseptic, may reduce oilinessMay contain alcohol, can be drying or irritating
Aftershave BalmMoisturizing, soothing, often alcohol-freeMay feel heavy for oily skin
Aftershave LotionLightweight, hydratingMay vary in alcohol content
Aftershave GelCooling, non-greasy, calmingCheck for alcohol or irritants

Tips to Prevent Aftershave Burn

To help you avoid the dreaded aftershave burn, here are some practical tips to follow:

  • Opt for alcohol-free aftershaves if you have dry or sensitive skin.
  • Moisturize your skin after shaving to keep it hydrated and supple.
  • Test new aftershave products on a small area of skin before full application.
  • Allow your skin to calm down for a few minutes after shaving before applying aftershave.
  • Use cool water or a cold compress to soothe irritated skin after shaving.
  • Choose the right type of aftershave product based on your skin type and needs.

Wrapping Up

Aftershave burn can be a pesky part of the grooming routine, but with the right knowledge and products, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a fan of the classic splash or prefer a nourishing balm, there’s an aftershave option that’s just right for you. And with a little care and attention to your shaving technique, you can keep your skin feeling smooth, healthy, and burn-free.

Happy shaving!

(All information in this article is provided for educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice. If you have concerns about your skin or shaving routine, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional)

Jay Kang

Just because i'm asian does not mean I don't need shaving. I always wanted to grow a beard when I was young, now I need to shave because hair growth for me is a problem. I'm going through what every man will and has gone through before.