The Anatomy of an Aftershave

Don’t know your aloes from your allantoins? With so many postshave products to choose from, it pays to do your homework. Here’s a basic breakdown of the most commonly found ingredients—and what they have to offer.

For Dryness

Glycerin: A colorless, odorless compound that naturally draws in moisture, which makes it ideal for daylong hydration. It can be manufactured synthetically, or refined from plant or animal byproducts (vegans should look for “vegetable glycerin”).

Shea Butter: A triglyceride fat derived from the African shea tree, which doubles as a natural moisturizer and soothing anti-inflammatory.

Essential Oils: Concentrated oils that serve as lightweight replacements for your skin’s natural sebum. This makes them ideal for balancing chronically dry/oily skin. Common examples include jojoba, almond, tea tree, olive, bergamot, and lavender. Some postshave products, like Kyoku for Men Razor Repair Balm, will tap oils with healing or soothing properties for maximum effectiveness.

For Redness and Inflammation

Aloe Vera: The juice of a succulent plant species, which serves as a soothing remedy for pain, swelling, and redness. It also functions as a natural moisturizer.

Green Tea Extract: An ancient remedy—derived from the leaves of camellia sinensis—which reduces inflammation. It also features protective, skin-firming properties that are great for antiaging. Look for formulas that pair it with aloe, like PRORASO Liquid Aftershave Cream, for maximum redness reduction.

Witch Hazel: A North American shrub and natural astringent (skin-tightening agent), which offers a fast-acting solution to post-shave swelling.

Menthol: A natural product of mint oil, which reduces redness and cools skin with a brisk, bracing tingle. It also serves as an analgesic (painkiller), though shavers with sensitive skin should use it sparingly.

For Irritation

Allantoin: An extract of the comfrey plant which soothes irritation, but is also known to encourage healing, smooth away roughness, and moisturize skin. A post-shave powerhouse if ever there was one.

Oat Kernel Extract: A nutrient-rich extract that pairs a soothing, skin-calming effect with a dose of natural moisture.

Chamomile: A consummate match for sensitive skin, which uses natural flower power to tackle irritation and inflammation. If you're prone to postshave itching, pick up an aftershave that doubles up on anti-irritants, like Jack Black Post-Shave Cooling Gel.

For Damaged Skin

Rosemary: A Mediterranean native and A-list cooking herb. Its antiseptic properties make it a natural counter to nicks, cuts, and razor burn. If you have sensitive skin, look for products that pair it with allantoin and at least one anti-inflammatory, like MenScience Post-Shave Repair.

Willow Bark Extract: A traditional remedy that mimics the effects of aspirin, reducing the pain of nicks and post-shave redness.

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