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The Best Aftershave Balm For Men (+ Splash, Milk, Gel) For 2024

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best aftershave balm for men

What is the best aftershave balm for men? There is a surprising amount of choice in aftershave products, and some widely available aftershaves are actually pretty good (probably because many “megamart” razors and shaving foams are so bad).

Here is a look at the different types of aftershaves and the research on which may rise above the rest. This is a major update of an article that first appeared on Sharpologist several years ago!

Contents – Skip To:

Criteria To Judge The Best Aftershave Balm (And Why Trust Sharpologist?)

Best Aftershave Balm

Best Aftershave Balm Alternative (Splash, Gel, Milk)

What Is Aftershave?

Balm vs. ?

“Good” vs. “Bad” Ingredients

How To Apply Aftershave

What Are The Best Aftershaves? The Criteria And Research: A Buying Guide

What is the best aftershave for men? As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are actually a lot of good aftershaves out there. I will no doubt neglect some from this list (feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments section!). There are also some suggestions for specific circumstances, like the best aftershave for sensitive skin (Click/tap here to read The Thick Beard And Sensitive Skin Myth).

Unlike a lot of other “best aftershave” lists from large consumer or fashion websites that concentrate on sponsorships or just what is available on Amazon, Sharpologist specializes in getting the best, most enjoyable shave possible. The criteria for selecting these products include:

  1. Superior performance to relieve after shave discomfort based on the personal experience of Sharpologist‘s editor (me!), contributors, and readers who have actually purchased and used the products–plus over ten years of research from specialty discussion forums and review sites.
  2. Available in a variety of scents (you won’t use even the best product if you don’t care for the smell) or very mildly scented (or no scent at all).
  3. Time on the market.
  4. Availability.
  5. Price.

Products are listed in alphabetical order. I’ve listed the product ingredients when found on the brand’s website.

[Note: Amazon, Oneblade, and PAA links are affiliate. Some Geni.us links may be affiliate.]

What Is The Best Aftershave Balm?

Let’s first list the best aftershave balm. As mentioned earlier a moisturizing balm has a thicker consistency and is often white in color. There is typically little or no alcohol, so they normally don’t sting, though other ingredients with antiseptic properties might be included. Balms are pretty common so this list is has a mix of products that more widely available (“megamarts,” drugstores/chemists, and some mid-tier retailers at “the mall”) and generally relatively inexpensive; and products that are more likely in the specialty niche and more commonly available from online sources vs. “brick and mortar” stores. Here are some of the best aftershave balms you can buy.

Barrister And Mann aftershave balm

barrister and mann aftershave balm

Barrister And Mann aftershave balm. Available in many of Barrister And Mann’s popular scents, and unscented. Better known for their alcohol-based aftershave splashes, Barrister And Mann introduced balms after COVID-related supply issues made cosmetic-grade alcohol more difficult to obtain. Like Barrister And Mann’s other products, their balms perform very well.

Ingredients: Aqua, Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Squalane (Olive), Polyacrylamidomethylpropane Sulfonic Acid, Aveena sativa (Oat) Kernel Protein, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Fragrance, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (and) Maltodextrin, Polysorbate 80, Saccharide Isomerate, Raphanus Sativus (Radish) Seed Extract, Garcinia indica (Kokum) Butter, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Theobroma grandiflorum (Cupuacu) Butter, Allantoin, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid, Propanediol, Water, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract, Ocinum Sanctum Leaf Extract

Bart’s Balm

Bart's Balm Aftershave

Bart’s Balm. Available in seven scents. A relative newcomer and somewhat difficult to obtain out of the UK, Bart’s Balm quickly gained an excellent reputation for their ingredient mix and performance.

Ingredients: Aqua, Caprylic/capric triglyceride (Light coconut) oil, Grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera), Argan oil (Argania spinosa), Glyceryl stearate, Glycerin (Veg), Stearic acid, Cetyl alcohol, Phenoxyethanol & Ethylhexylglcerin, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl acetate), Frankincense oil (Boswellia carterii), Sodium bicarbonate, Parfum, 3 and 4-(4-hydroxy-4-methylpentyl)-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

Burke Avenue 3 in 1 Face Balm

burke avenue 3 in 1 daily moisturizer

Burke Avenue 3-In-1 Daily Moisturizer. Produced by “Craig The Barber” Whitely (who wrote an article for Sharpologist about his experiences developing the brand), this aftershave balm hydrates particularly well and is absolutely amazing for it’s performance without a lot of additives and for dry skin or for those in dry climates!

Ingredients (partial): Aloe Vera & Peppermint Oil, Avocado Oil, Carrageenan Extract & Squalene, CoQ10, Vitamin E, Sodium Hyaluronate & Green Tea Leaf Extract, Lemon Peel Oil & Geranium Oil.

Castle Forbes Aftershave Balm

Castle Forbes Aftershave Balm

Castle Forbes Aftershave Balm. Available in Lavender, Lime, Cedarwood/Sandalwood, and 1445 scents, Castle Forbes balms strike an almost perfect balance for me and others between scent, skin feel (not sticky at all!), and performance. If you normally don’t use a “regular” fragrance (cologne or EdT) I think these balms (particularly 1445) can provide a somewhat persistent but subtle background scent for you.

Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm

Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm

Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm is a well-regarded skincare brand in the industry and is a personal favorite of mine in the hot/humid Summer months where I live. Just enough Menthol peppermint oil to provide a mild cooling sensation without over-doing it, plus Tea Tree and Shea butter for moisturization. Cremo shave creams are also excellent.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Glyceryl Dilaurate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone, Methyl Gluceth-20, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tahitian Tamanu) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Menthol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Isopentyldiol, Disodium EDTA-Copper, Fragrance (Parfum).

OneBlade Aftershave Balm

oneblade black tie aftershave balm

OneBlade Black Tie AftershavePart of OneBlade’s excellent Black Tie line, their aftershave is essentially unscented. An excellent performer, this aftershave both moisturizes the skin and calms irritation quite well.

Ingredients: Water, Carthamus Tincorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Polyacrylate-13, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Kaolin, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, SyriCalm CLR (Phragmites Communis Extract, Poria Cocos Extract), Ubiquinone (CoEnzyme Q10) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender Oil), Aspalathius Linearis (Red Tea) Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Chondrus Crispus (Seaweed) Extract, Polyisobutenes, Polysorbate 20, Penoxyethanol

Pacific Shaving Company Caffeinated Aftershave Balm

Pacific Shaving Caffeinated After Shave Balm

Pacific Shaving Company Caffeinated Aftershave Balm. Another product found in some “brick and mortar” stores that conditions the skin very well.  I reviewed this product a while back. Pacific Shaving Caffeinated Shave Cream is also excellent.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant derived), Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant derived), Glycerin (Plant derived), Cetearyl Glucoside (Sugar/Corn derived), Caffeine, Argania Spinosa Kernal (Organic Argan) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Crambe Abyssinica (Abyssinian) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Camellia Oleifera Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Coconut derived), Xanthan Gum (Natural thickener), Menthol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

Proraso Aftershave Balm For Sensitive Skin

proraso aftershave balm for sensitive skin

Proraso Aftershave Balm for Sensitive Skin. Not to be confused with Proraso After shave Lotion (which is actually more like a splash). Proraso’s sensitive skin balm has a bit of an odd ingredient mix but is surprisingly good and comparatively inexpensive.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water/Eau), Eythylhexyl Palmitate, Octyldodecanol, Glycerin, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Tochopheryl Acetate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Menthyl Lactate, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, BHT, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylpenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Coumarin, Isoeugenol.

Stray Whisker After Balm

Stray Whisker Shave Balm

The Stray Whisker After Balm And Post Shave Moisturizer created quite a stir in the niche wet shaving community when it debuted in 2016. Though other excellent competing products have appeared since, and some have an issue with the amount of alcohol in the mix, it continues to maintain an excellent reputation with a devoted fan base. Very mildly cooling with just a bit of Menthol.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Alcohol, Almond Sweet Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Vegetable Glycerine, Caprylic Triglyceride, Shea Butter, Macadamia Oil, Jojoba Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Stearic Acid, Aloe Vera Juice, Caprylyl Glycol, Witch Hazel Extract, Carbomer, Ceteareth 20, Fragrance, Mono-Diglyceride, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Vitamin B5, Vitamin E Acetate, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrolysed Marine Collagen, Menthol

The Art Of Shaving After Shave Balm

The Art Of Shaving After Shave Balm

The Art of Shaving After-Shave Balm. Available in their recently expanded line of scents, plus Unscented. The Art of Shaving sometimes takes some heat from the shave nerd community but their aftershave balms are actually pretty well thought-of. They have a lot of good ingredients and work well for calming irritated skin.

Ingredients (Unscented): Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Isohexadecane, PEG-4 Olivate, Isopropyl Isostearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Silica, Tapioca Starch, Chondrus Crispus Powder, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Lactate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Cera/Wax, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, PEG-4 Dilaurate, PEG-4 Laurate, Centella Asiatica Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, PEG-4, Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caramel

Village Barber Shaving Balm

village barber aftershave balm

Village Barber Aftershave Balm. (If you’re outside of the US click/tap this link). Another long-established, excellent artisan product. I first tried it when it debuted in 2012 and it still has a place in my shave den.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Sunflower, Vegetable, Oil, Vegetable, Glycerin, Cetearyl, Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric, Triglyceride, Almond, Sweet, Vegetable, Oil, Shea, Vegetable, Butter, Natural, Vitamin, E, Macadamia, Vegetable, Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Stearic, Acid, Caprylyl, Glycol, Carbomer, Ceteareth-20, Dimethicone, Sodium, Hydroxide, Lavender, Lavandula, angustifolia, Juniper, Juniperus, communis, Patchouli, Pogostemon, cablin, Geranium, Pelargonium, graveolens, Chamomile, Anthemis, nobilis, Benzoin, Styrax, benzoin, Sandalwood, Santalum, album, Myrrh, Commiphora, myrrha, Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus, globulus, Frankincense, Boswellia, carterii, Clove, Eugenia, caryophyllus, Cypress, Cupressus, sempervirens, Peppermint, Mentha, piperita, Thyme, Thymus, serpillum.

Best After Shave Balm Alternative – Splash, Gel, Milk

While this article concentrates on the best aftershave balms, there are other formats and sub-categories worth mentioning.

An aftershave splash has a runnier consistency compared to balms, and many have levels of alcohol that may be considered too high for good skin health. However there are some excellent low/no alcohol splashes.

An aftershave milk generally has a consistency between that of a balm and a splash, and usually has some specialized ingredients.

An aftershave gel is (perhaps counter-intuitively) lighter-feeling than a balm as well and generally has a “weaker” ingredient strength (though this may be by no means a bad thing).

Antica Barberia Aftershave Gel

antica barberia aftershave gel

Antica Barberia Aftershave Gel is a lightweight aftershave gel with skin moisturizing and soothing properties. It’s derived from wheat germ oil containing a high concentration of Vitamin E for a strong antioxidant effect, and cold-processed witch hazel leaves used for the treatment of skin inflammation and irritation.

The formula also contains no dyes or preservatives.

Ingredients: Aqua, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Paraffinum Liquidum, Isopropyl Myristate, Ceteareth-20, Laureth-3, Allantoin, Menthol, Carbomer, Glycine Soja Oil, Profumo/Parfum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bha, Bht, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Tetrasodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Acetate, Citral, Eugenol, Linalool, Limonene.

Ariana And Evans (A&E) Aftershave Splash & Skin Food

Ariana And Evans Skin Food

Ariana & Evans (A&E) Aftershave Splash & Skin Food.  A&E continues their shaving line that is notable for their scents into their aftershave line as well. They’re choc-full of skin-friendly elements.

Ingredients: Aloe, Glycerin, Rose water, Emulsifying Wax, Rosehip Seed Oil, DMAE, MSM, Vitamin E, Sunflower Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Hibiscus Sabdariffa, Organic White Willow Bark Extract (Salix Alba), Tea Tree Leaf Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia), Provitamin A, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C Ester, Provitamin B5, Organic Neem Seed Oil, Organic Rosemary Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus, Lecithin, Organic Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate

DR Harris Aftershave Milk

dr harris aftershave milk

DR Harris Aftershave Milk. Generally “below the radar” and perhaps not quite as good as it was before a reformulation a few years ago, DR Harris Aftershave Milk still has a devoted following.

Ingredients: Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Isopropyl Myristate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Lanolin, Polyacrylamide, Parfum, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Laureth-7, Citronellol, Geraniol.

Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel

jack black post shaving cooling gel

New to this list is Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel. Fragrance-free and alcohol-free. The cooling effect is rather mind in my opinion but the over-all performance is excellent.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, PEG-8, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, PEG/PPG-14/4 Dimethicone, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract(1%), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis (Balm Mint) Leaf Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysorbate 20, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol
*Certified Organic

Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Star Jelly

paa star jelly aftershave

Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Star Jelly. Available in a number of PAA’s long list of scents, plus scent-free. Star Jelly feels like a balm going on but then dries on the skin like a splash. A scent-free sample size is also available.

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Perfumers Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Methicone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Cetearyl Alcohol, Allantoin, Menthol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin

St. James Of London Aftershave Gel

st. james of london post shave gel

St. James Of London Aftershave Gel. Available in Black Pepper & Lime, Lavender & Geranium, Cedarwood & Clarysage, Mandarin & Patchouli, Tonka & Tobacco Flower, and Sandalwood & Bergamont scents. I often take a small bottle of St. James Of London aftershave gel when I travel: it seems to be the most “tolerant” of a wide variety of environmental conditions and situations. A completely unique skin-feel for me.

Taconic Shave Aftershave Splash

Taconic shave aftershave splash

Taconic Shave. Taconic Shave’s line of aftershave splashes are comparatively mild but still quite pleasant and effective. I particularly enjoy them in the Summer months when I’m looking for something lighter to start the day with. It’s available in several scents including Lavender Lime, Urban Woods, Excalibur, Bay Rum and Eucalyptus Mint.

Ingredients: Organic Herbal Extract (Aloe Vera infused with Witch Hazel, Japanese Honeysuckle, Chamomile Flower, Willow Bark, Calendula Flowers, Goldenseal, and Lavender Buds), Glycerin, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Allantoin, Proprietary Fragrance/Essential Oil Blend, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol and Menthol.

What Is Aftershave?

An aftershave is a skincare product that are applied immediately after shaving to provide some combination of shave irritation relief (think razor burn), skin moisturizing, and protection from the elements.

Although references to after shave preparations (for hygienic rather than cosmetic purposes) go back to the ancient Roman Empire (some say even earlier), the modern “aftershave” as part of a grooming routine can probably be traced back to about 1830. The Hungarian Cavalry was busy spending months in the field far from the attention of barbers, yet regulations required them to have a clean shave. Skin infections were a very real problem for them.

A well-known perfume and cologne maker from Paris, Edouard Pinaud, was contacted to see if he could come up with something to make life a little more pleasant for the troops. This resulted in the creation of one of the first, longest-lived, and best loved men’s fragrances commercially available, Lilac Vegetal. [Note: Amazon links are affiliate.] It could be used both as an aftershave and a body splash between baths, and was wildly successful, so much that it is still in production today, almost 200 years later.

Pinaud Lilac Vegital

There are some that dispute the story but Napoleon III granted the title of “Royal Parfumer” to Pinuad soon after, so he must have done something right.

What An Aftershave Product Is Not (e.g. Aftershave Cologne)

This article is not about those products that are primarily scent-related: colognes, eau de toilette, eau de parfum, etc. But under certain conditions you can modify a cologne or EdT to behave in a “healthier” manner.

Aftershave Lotion Types: Balm Vs. ?

Aftershaves can be divided into two broad categories, balms and splashes, but there are also some “hybrid” products to consider.

Balm And “Balm Form”

Balms have a thicker texture and the best post shave balm typically provides more relief from shave irritation and razor burn (redness), and act as a moisturizer to the skin (particularly in cold or dry climates). Generally, a little goes a long way to relieve discomfort on the skin.

Splash

More of a liquid texture, splashes are more watery and generally contain a combination of toners, astringents, and hydrosols to cleanse and provide some degree of antiseptic or antibacterial protection to the skin. This skincare product is more popular with those with oily skin or in hot, humid climates and in some cases can be effective at combating razor bumps or ingrown hairs.

Gel

Aftershave gel was originally created to disinfect the little nicks and cuts one can get from shaving, and to soothe the skin but is now formulated to soothe and cool the skin after shaving, and generally doesn’t contain alcohol, making it gentler than balm . Aftershave gel is often made with ingredients such as Shea Butter, Grape Seed Extract, Irish Moss, and Jojoba Oil to revitalize skin and restore elasticity. It is ideal for those with dry or sensitive skin, and is designed to provide a crisp and clean sensation. It is typically a semi-solid, creamier, and thicker than aftershave lotion.

Milk

Aftershave milk is a white, milky lotion designed to soothe post-shave skin. It contains a natural, mild antiseptic that helps to calm the skin, limit the effects of razor burn, and moisturize dry or chapped skin. The lotion comes in an easy-to-use squeeze bottle or pump bottle, and is lightly scented.

Common Aftershave Formulas And Properties

Both balms, gels, milks, and splashes often use some kind of humectant to increase the effectiveness of other ingredients. A humectant is an ingredient used to increase the skin penetration and activity time of another ingredient, preventing dryness. They’re also used to minimize the dehydrating effect of some other active ingredient. Examples of humectants include glycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitol, lactic acid and urea.

There are also cross-over ingredients that might be used in a balm or a splash. A moisturizer is not the same as an aftershave balm: an aftershave balm contains additional ingredients.

“Can I use an after shave balm as a moisturizer?”

Yes, absolutely. 

“Can I use a face moisturizer as an after shave balm?”

Maybe.

By the way, a moisturizer is not a single ingredient but a combination of ingredients like oils and humectants working together. Moisturizers are specially designed to make the external layers of the skin softer and more pliable by increasing the skin’s water content. It does that not by putting water into the skin, but by reducing evaporation. 

Applying An aftershave Balm Or Lotion

Toners and astringents are designed to cleanse the skin and shrink the appearance of pores. Astringents are the strongest form of toner, often containing a high proportion of alcohol (up to 60%). Mild astringent solutions are used in the relief of minor skin irritations like superficial cuts, rash from allergies, insect bites, acne, or fungal infections like athlete’s foot. They can also help heal scars.

They are commonly recommended for oily skin as they are drying, but keep in mind that the removal of oil from the skin can lead to excess oil production as the skin tries to compensate and prevent moisture loss. Topically applied astringents cause a mild coagulation of skin proteins and will dry, harden, and protect the skin.

Astringents are best applied only to problem areas of skin to prevent excessive dryness.

Some common toners include alum, oatmeal, acacia, yarrow, witch hazel, distilled vinegar. Astringent preparations include silver nitrate, potassium permanganate, zinc oxide, zinc sulfate, and especially alcohol.

Hydrosols are the product of essential oils usually obtained by steam distillation from aromatic plants. Hydrosols go by other names including floral water, herbal distillates, hydrolate, herbal water and essential water. Because hydrosols are produced at high temperatures and are somewhat acidic, they tend to inhibit bacterial growth but they’re not sterile.

Hydrosols can also help the skin get back a normal pH by being more acidic, where shaving soaps and creams may be more alkaline. The traditional hydrosols most associated with shaving are rose and lavender. Rose distillates are known to be mildly antibacterial, while lavender distillates are mildly antiseptic.

By the way, its a good idea to keep hydrosols refrigerated, like milk. They’ll last longer, and they can feel nice in the heat of the summer.

Quality Aftershave: The “Good” Vs. “Bad” Aftershave Ingredient Debate

Over the past few years there have been many additions to the list of ingredients that may be found in the best aftershave for men (particularly balms) to relieve discomfort. Ingredients to look for: aloe vera, chamomile, tea tree oil, calendula, witch hazel, lavender, jojoba oil, rose oil distillate, and various vitamins, Shea butter, fractionated coconut oil, glycerin, squaline, allatoin, panthenol, pea extract, green tea, sodium lactate, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, oat protein.

Ingredients and additives to avoid: high concentrations of alcohol and/or lemon oil (especially if you’re looking for the best aftershave for sensitive skin), camphor, or eucalyptus; grapefruit (if you’re going to be outdoors a lot) and grapefruit seed extract, and lanolin.

Sharpologist Aftershave Guide

(Click For Full Size Image)

Some readers may disagree with grapefruit seed extract being on the “avoid” list, but hear me out. While grapefruit seed extract does have some general health benefit, they are minimal in an aftershave’s topical skin application. Grapefruit seed extract is also often produced using chemical preservatives like Methylparaben and Triclosan.

Aftershave Products Should Not Have Alcohol In Them

Alcohol in particular should be treated with caution. There are a lot of aftershave preparations out there, particularly in the splash category, that contain way too much alcohol. Yes, some men have been taught to “love the burn” and yes, alcohol can help clean and kill surface bacteria from a shaving cut. But far too many alcohol-based aftershave products do little or nothing to nourish the skin. Go alcohol free. Don’t agree? Change my mind in the comments section.

How To Use Aftershave

An aftershave skincare routine is a fairly simple and easy one, and should be a mandatory part of your shaving routine:

  1. Rinse the shaved area with warm water and keep wet (it doesn’t have to be “dripping” wet but moist)
  2. Optional: clean the shaved area with a low/no alcohol toner or witch hazel soaked on cotton round, then rinse with cool water, again keeping the area moist.
  3. Apply dime-size amount of aftershave to a palm and rub hands together.
  4. Massage the aftershave into moist skin with upward motions.
  5. If you’re applying multiple products use the thinnest consistency first then apply thicker products.

Conclusion

Proper aftershave selection and care is part of an essential aftershave skincare routine. Don’t just grab for the cheapest “faceburner” in the grocery store for your shaving experience; consider your skin type and environmental conditions, then select the best aftershave that will work with you and for you. The products on this list will give you great results.

Do you know of a great performing aftershave? Leave a comment below!

Author

Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

47 thoughts on “The Best Aftershave Balm For Men (+ Splash, Milk, Gel) For 2024”

  1. My favorite balm is, by far, Zingari Man. I’ve used a lot of the mentioned products, and will sometimes use a splash for scent and that invigorating feel of the aftershave tingle, but then follow up with Zingari Man’s unscented balm. It’s excellent and has a great moisturizing effect.

  2. I think there are two skin care sessions a day, one in the morning when shaving and one at night when washing the face.
    This article mentions only after-shave skincare, but I think it would be better to have an article on nighttime skincare as well.
    In my case, I choose products for aftershave witch hazel, focusing on the anti-inflammatory function and alcohol free.
    At night, I focus on moisturizing properties.
    I use different products for each.

    1. Basically, yes, all alcohol based products are, it cannot help the skin with all the other ingredients it might have, alcohol is just a disinfectant, but it dries your skin, no matter who you are, it will make you look old before time i’m afraid :*(

  3. I just started using Grooming Dept
    nourishing balm ‘Aion’, excellent product
    with lots of quality ingredients.
    Absorbs really well.

  4. I have been using Soap Commander Integrity non mentholated aftershave balm for many years, my face and neck love this and as a little goes a long way, it is really not expensive.
    On the expensive side, and as I live in Denver where winters are very dry, I purchased an aftershave Serum from Sē’bŭm Gold, this has no water or alcohol, is basically oil. This is expensive but wonderful product. Probably won’t use in the summer but I have only had this for about a month. Again a very little goes far! I have no irritation after applying this and my face and neck feel great for almost the whole day.

  5. Em’s place aftershave balm is my go to. It comes in various scents and always keeps my face moisturized. Always get compliments on the scent.

  6. Can I just say thank you all, or some might say y’all. So much useful info I can afford, inregards to after shave. Now what potions, or lotions do you suggest for when ya get that burn lots lower on your anatomy, when your offered a veterans discount & then after 3-different order(no discount)? When ya ask how to crack the puzzle, they tell ya go figure. I need some good old Elmer Fudd ointment for when them waskles, Wubb me the Wong way. The best Fred H.

  7. Let’s not forget the humble witch hazel is a pretty good aftershave splash. It’s inexpensive, effective, and readily available.

    I watch a lot of shaving videos, and I continue to believe most gents apply too much product in each application.

    Less can be more.

  8. I’m surprised that Trumper Skin Food was not included. Yes it’s not avant garde or artisan or anything jazzy. Just a classic that works for so many guys. Ah well, to each his own.

    1. While Trumper’s Skin Food is a decent product (and I used it for years) its performance just can’t hold up to the best aftershaves out there. It’s basically just glycerin and scent.

  9. I notice that many of the comments go back a year or two. Two balms I like are PAA Mysterium Serum and Neutrogena Triple Protect. The PAA has a number of ingredients that are beneficial for your skin. The Neutrogena has some sun-blocking capabilities to it.

    1. Hi James– Yes, I updated the original article then changed the time stamp to today. That way the original URL is kept but search engines know there has been a significant update to the content.

  10. What is of major importance to me, is if I shave everyday or every 2-3 days.

    When I shave daily, then my skin seems to be more irritated, thus I use balms.

    When I shave every two or three days (weekends, holidays etc), then I use my lotions.

  11. I’m overwhelmed w/ everyone’s out reach for aftershave favorite 🤩, humbled to say the least. Anxious to try some of the things from the shave community suggestions. Thnx a bunch everyone. Fred H.

  12. Myrsol emulsión. Sirve de pre afeitado, como crema de afeitar y after shave. Como after shave decir que calma y deja como una capa protectora, me encanta.

  13. Best aftershave? Rose water! I have been using it for about two years, not looking back. Natural and no added ingredients. I splash my whole face with it and don’t have to worry about my eyes. It is actually quite soothing for them.

    My current setup I’m using – Muhle R41, Nivea cream in a tube (yeah, I know, was 50% off and I wanted to try something new) and Rose water. When I find a good cream, my journey is done.

  14. There really is no such thing as “The Best”, it will always depend on skin type, climate, how good or bad your shave has been, and a ton of other factors.

    Others than that, great article as always! 🙂

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

    1. Hey thnx; Don’t be a lawyer. Let’s say rose water has the best makings for pampered skin treatment. (Sounds good) ok 👌 whip
      it on me what’s the secret shave balm that ya like that has it( your favorite) keeping in mind Mmmv. Thank you 😊

      1. What is “Best” for you, is avoiding chemicals, so all aftershaves can be potentially bad for you… The good news though, is that making your own is not only cheap, but free from horrible stuff, so just use an oil that fits your skin, Jojoba Oil is the one that resembles our own skins oil (Sebum) the most, but you could use Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Argan Oil, etc, and just add some Essential Oils to it 🙂

  15. Thnx again for the good info. One comment. Started Cremo shave cream aprox. 3yrs. Prior to coming home to DE shaving again cause, tired of goop in the can. Cremo was available @ local retailer, tried the balm from on line cause liked the price suited me.

  16. Several times a week I apply Dr Hauschka Face Toner or Dr Hauschka Face Clarifying Toner, dependent upon how oily or dry my face is feeling. They seem to provide the hygiene, soothing and mild astringency I need after a shave and have no added perfume to conflict with those of my soap or cologne. It must be admitted that the Clarifying has a rather unpleasant niff but it soon fades. If feeling brave I splash of Antiga Barbereia de Bairro and when in need of comfort it’s always Geo.Trumpers Skin Food.

  17. Aftershave balms can be a household standby. I personally use it for non-shaving thing like dryness, chaffing. Shave balm is a go to for me. As usual thnx for the useful info.😊

  18. Another after shave balm that I particularly like, is very reasonably priced and has become available in some mass market venues is Duke Cannon’s After Shave Balm which is nicely mentholated and almost like a 1/2 gel. I use Pacific and Nivea Sensative but I think I like this more.
    Has anyone else tried it? I would like to hear others’ opinions.

  19. I don’t have sensitive skin per se, but I do have skin conditions that cause me to have sensitive skin. Mostly this means my skin tends to dry out quickly and I need to avoid certain ingredients such as avocado oil or alcohol, as well heavily fragranced products (like Soap Commander’s Endurance scent). So of the products you’ve mentioned that work well for me are Lucky Tiger, Nivea, Proraso, Pacific Shaving, and Cremo. I also like Everyman Jack face lotion and Taconic’s aftershave balm. My usual post-shave routine is to splash on Thayer’s Witch Hazel (cucumber scent) all over my face and neck, then rub in some jojoba oil all over my face and neck, and then apply a small amount of after shave balm when the jojoba oil has been absorbed. Occasionally I replace splash of Thayer’s with a splash of Lucky Tiger.

  20. Healthcare worker here. Nothing disinfects like alcohol. Remember, you just scraped the top layer of your skin off. Moisturizers and balms can be applied after to soothe.

    1. Whilst it’s true that alcohol will “disinfect”, there are much kinder ways to sanitise your newly-shaved skin! Our modern knowledge of the disinfectant properties of some therapeutic-grade natural oils, which will cleanse the pores without damaging the skin, have made modern shaving much less painful and, as a result, much kinder to your skin. Always remember: Where there’s pain – there’s damage!

  21. “YMMV … Your Milage May Vary …” — I am surprised that this good dictum — usually flagged in this kind of context — is nowhere to be found here. The top criterion listed here — ” … review sites, input from readers, own experience …” certainly implies the kind of subjectivity that warrants the YMMV disclaimer.
    Disregarding ONE criterion one your list — availability in various scents — I would say that a good few of the absolute classics are surely missing from your list. I wonder why..?
    “time on market”, “availability”, and “prize” — your last three criteria — are all important to me, and I think in particular “time on market” tells you something about how the masses have judged performance …
    So, let me list four of my favourites, which all score high in terms of the criteria as I have considered them here..:

    – Proraso Green splash
    – Floïd Genuine (or Vigoroso) splash
    – Pitralon Classic splash
    – Aqua Veva

    All contain alcohol — in my book, a real aftershave contains both alcohol and menthol, I have used aftershave with alcohol every day for years, has never bothered my skin.
    All have stood the test of time, more than half a century
    All are readily available.
    All come at a very competitive prize.
    In short, all meet your list of criteria except in terms of range of scents, given YMMV … which obviously applies to your choices too. These classics deserve at least honorable mention ….

    1. Most alcohol splashes contain 40% USD. This only means that, 40% of the product in the bottle is alcohol. That being said, only a dime to nickel sized amount is being poured into the center of a cupped palm on your hand per shave.

      When splashing this small, nickel sized amount on the face and skin, the very small amount of Ethyl or Isopropyl alcohol is highly evaporating. So the largest percentage of the small amount that is splashed, ends up quickly evaporating on the surface by air and contact.

      While I’m sure alcohol is being absorbed, it is very little. If one tends to have dry skin, one can follow up the splash with a lotion or balm if desired, but staying away from classic splashes that have been used for years?

      Isn’t a health hazard or isn’t necessary.

  22. It might be good to mention that some moisturisers, such as Nivea for Men, (not necessarily shaving related) can contain a mild sunscreen factor. The one I use is about 15+, I think. In countries like Australia and NZ with high levels of skin cancer due to the sun, it might be worth considering putting this on as well. Not sure how a high level sunscreen such as 50+ with all its scents etc would go with your usual aftershave!

  23. Two rules of thumb I always use: avoid products with a lot of chemicals you can’t even pronounce.

    And always avoid the parabens. They’re bad for you.

    Great list.

    1. Three best aftershave:
      Clubman-
      the grandfather! But Nivea goes on before! Helps with the burn!
      Aqua Velva
      “nothing like an aqua Velva man”
      Skin bracer
      “thanks! I needed that!”

  24. I started using Rocky Mountain Barber Company sandelwood aftershave. It feels great with a very pleasant scent. Great skin conditioning after a shave.

  25. After shaves are wonderful. I can’t imagine a quality shave without them. However, I do believe many gents use too much during application, especially when applying the splashes. A small amount often goes a long way.

    For fun I recently started experimenting with some home made concoctions. I’ve had good success with grapeseed oil with a tiny bit of a favorite essential oil added for scent.

  26. That’s Smoooth 3n1 aftershave Balm:

    Full Ingredients: Water(Aqua), Propenediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Beta Glucan, Glycerin, Dimethicone, PPG-5 Ceteth-20, Panthenol, Chamomile Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate(Hyaluronic Acid), Caprilic/Capric Triglyceride, *Lavender Essential Oil, *Rosemary Leaf Essential Oil, Safflower Oeosomes, Colloidal Oatmeal, Menthol, Tocopheryl Acetate [Vit E], Retinyl Palmitate, Niacinamide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexlglycerin

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