You already bought the razor and shaving cream, right? Really Do you need a lotion or gel to apply afterwards? While an aftershave may seem like one of those potentially unnecessary purchases, even the most minimalist dermatologists recommend its use. Why? Simply put, shaving not only cuts the hair, but also the outer layer of skin. This can disrupt the skin barrier and lead to a lack of moisture, not to mention the potential for irritation in the form of scrapes, cuts, and rashes.
Since shaving is potentially irritating, it can make the skin more sensitive than normal, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. An aftershave product, which can be in the form of a gel, lotion, splash or spray, can help increase skin hydration, which can protect the skin barrier.
However, the problem with many aftershaves is that they contain drying ingredients, including alcohol, as well as potentially irritating ones like fragrances. Unfortunately, these ingredients can be harsh on the skin, stripping away essential oils and potentially causing irritation, especially for people prone to sensitive skin, says Jeremy Fenton, MD, a dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Fortunately, many aftershaves on the market today are alcohol-free and designed to soothe and moisturize skin, rather than irritate it.
What ingredients to consider in an aftershave lotion
When shopping for aftershave, it’s important to look for brands that don’t contain alcohol. “Alcohol dries and irritates, as it works very well to remove fat. However, the oil on the skin is one of the most important things to protect it,” says Dr. Fenton. “In general, people with sensitive skin need to maintain a healthy level of oil, and alcohol just removes too much.”
Fragrances are also a big no-no, especially for sensitive and prone skin. “Fragrance doesn’t have any benefits other than smell, plus they can cause an allergic reaction or just be irritating, so it’s safer to avoid them,” says Dr. Fenton. “In all areas of dermatology, we always advise people with sensitive skin to avoid fragranced products and the same goes for aftershave.”
The ingredients you want in an aftershave lotion
What you should look for are hydrating ingredients that add moisture to the skin and help prevent dryness, such as glycerin, shea butter, or hyaluronic acid. Also, because shaving can stress the skin, Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York, recommends buying aftershave lotions that contain soothing ingredients, such as aloe or chamomile, as they can help soothe skin and can calm redness.
The best aftershaves for sensitive skin
Nivea Men Sensitive Aftershave Balm — $17.00
This is one of the most popular aftershave lotions on the market, especially for people with sensitive skin. Not only does this balm work to soothe and hydrate skin, it also helps lock in moisture, which helps minimize moisture loss after shaving, notes Dr. Garshick. “Despite being a balm, it feels light and absorbs easily, without leaving skin feeling greasy,” he says. “It nourishes the skin with vitamin E and also contains chamomile, which is soothing.”
Dove Men+Care Sensitive Shave Balm — $19.00
Although the product itself doesn’t state that it’s ideal for sensitive skin, Dr. Garshick notes that its ingredients are ideal for this particular skin type, as they can help soothe dry skin after shaving. “This shaving balm contains vitamin B5, which is hydrating and prevents redness and inflammation, as well as glycerin, which keeps skin supple and hydrated,” he says. “It’s also alcohol-free and doesn’t leave skin feeling dry.”
Jack Black Refreshing Aftershave Gel — $21.00
This sleek-looking aftershave contains a myriad of soothing ingredients that help soothe and reduce redness, including aloe vera, clary sage, and lavender. It also contains chamomile, which has anti-inflammatory benefits and can help reduce redness and soothe skin, notes Dr. Garshick. “Sage, lavender, rosemary, and balm mint all have antioxidant benefits to help neutralize free radical damage,” she says. “It’s fragrance-free and alcohol-free, so it will improve razor irritation and stinging without causing dryness.”
Ursa Major 4-in-1 Essential Facial Toner — $32.00
This brand is known for its mild ingredients. Y impressive results, so it’s no wonder the facial toner is worth recommending. It contains soothing aloe vera and green tea, which act as antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals that contribute to the effects of photoaging, explains Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Willow bark is also a natural source of beta-hydroxy acids that gently exfoliate the skin,” he adds.
Shea Moisture Men Restorative Aftershave Cream — $11.00
The key ingredients in this aftershave are azelaic acid, which helps reduce the buildup of bacteria that causes breakouts in pores and reduces inflammation, and tea tree oil, which soothes skin and soothes redness. and swelling. It also contains shea butter and glycerin, which work together to moisturize the skin. Dr. Garshick recommends using this morning or night after shaving. While it can be used for all hair types, he notes that it was made especially for those with curly facial hair.
Bliss Bump Attendant Ingrown Eliminator Pads — $22.00
While not designed to be used immediately after shaving, Dr. Garshick recommends that some people use these pads about 12 hours after shaving to help reduce potential razor bumps by gently exfoliating the skin. “It contains a combination of salicylic acid and glycolic acid plus green tea extract to calm and soothe skin,” she says. “It’s also formulated with niacinamide to help reduce redness and lavender oil to soothe skin.”
Andalou Naturals After Shave — $14.00
Made with 98 percent naturally-derived ingredients that are Non-GMO Project Verified, this brand of aftershave may be ideal for someone with sensitive skin, according to Dr. Garshick. “It’s designed to soothe and cool, and can help reduce the potential for ingrown hairs, clogged pores, and irritation,” she says. “Contains antioxidants, including CannaCell, as well as organic hemp seed oil to soothe and tone skin.” Another plus is that this aftershave is alcohol-free, so it can be applied to clean skin after shaving without drying it out.
Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion — $17.00
Although not technically an aftershave lotion, Dr. Zeichner is a big fan of using this intensive aftershave repair lotion. Not only does it contain triple-purified petroleum jelly, which can help heal minor skin scrapes and cuts, but the texture of the lotion itself is nice and smooth—it’s easy to spread on and doesn’t feel sticky or greasy. “The product carries the seal of the National Eczema Association, so it can be used even on people with sensitive skin,” he adds.
Thayers Unscented Facial Toner — $11.00
Although it’s not an aftershave either, Dr. Camp recommends this alcohol- and fragrance-free toner as a good choice for those with sensitive skin. “In addition to acting as an astringent, witch hazel has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” he says. “This product also includes aloe vera to soothe the skin and glycerin, which draws water into the skin and helps it retain moisture.”
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts and more? Sign up to receive information directly to your inbox.
These products are independently selected by our editors. Making a purchase through our links may generate a commission for Well+Good.