Finding the Right Aftershave for My Shoddy Shaving Habits

The rivalry between alcoholic and moisturizing aftershaves has been known to raise passions. While our correspondent—a frequent against-the-grain shaver—has long abided by spirit-based splashes, a chance encounter with a modern aftershave gel inspired a change of heart.

As a keen traditionalist, I’ve always been partial to boozy aftershave splashes. Their antiseptic and astringent properties do help with nicks and cuts, but in particular, you just can’t beat the bracing sting of a good old-fashioned pat down. My skin also happens to be on the oily side of normal, so the drying effect of alcohol has never been an issue. That, for the better part of a decade, was my postshave stance.

However, contrary to my habits, most grooming experts support modern, moisturizing aftershaves as a roundly superior option. So when a bottle of Alchimie Forever Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel crossed my desk, I decided to take it for a weeklong test drive. Alchimie’s high-tech formula touts the full weight of modern science: it hydrates skin, reduces inflammation, snubs ingrown hairs, and even mitigates daily sun damage. These are all things I like, so I was eager to get started.

Now, to set the stage. While my beard doesn’t put up much of a fight, it’s still thick enough to merit a lathering shave cream, applied with a badger-hair brush after a warm shower. The grunt work is done with a triple-bladed disposable razor, and contrary to grooming law, I often go against the grain in pursuit of a closer shave (remember this for later).

Enter the Alchimie gel. For a week straight, I followed each morning shave with a dime-sized dollop to my towel-dried face and neck. The difference was substantial. On my best shaving days, a light coat left my skin feeling cool, calm and hydrated, much like a quality moisturizer. However, on days when my anti-grain methods raked a brutal path across my face, the gel quickly soothed my razor burn. Ingrown hairs were also AWOL. The absence of my familiar sting and scent was a sacrifice, but after years spent conceding to razor burn, I didn’t much care. I felt like a pro linebacker who had just discovered muscle rub.

So what did I take away from my weeklong foray? I realized that shaving, much like drinking, is always better with options. I’ll always keep a splash on hand for the occasional throwback shave, but on the average morning, and especially those when razor burn rears its head, I’ll be reaching for something a lot more functional.

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