According to Dr. Terrence Keaney of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, shaving leaves the skin more prone to irritation because the procedure scrapes the natural hydration. Users swear by the efficacy of aftershaves in easing these irritations. Aftershaves were supposed to provide relief and nourishment to the scraped layer. It sounds easy, but not quite. How does one go about shopping for aftershave lotions, tonics, balms, and gels?  This cheat sheet will help you shave off any confusion.

  1. Lotions are water-based and are often preferred because they are light and readily absorbed by the skin. If your skin type is normal to oily, lotion is the best aftershave for you. People with this skin type usually don’t have issues with shaving except for mild redness. Lotions would be the best bet for you. 4.2-oz fragrance-free Every Man Jack Face Lotion Post-Shave is priced at $5.99.
  2. Tonics can come in bases of alcohol or witch hazel. It’s the best salve for guys who can’t get clean-shaven without the nicks. The active ingredients have antiseptic properties and are good for preventing infections from cuts. For dry and taut skin, use witch-hazel tonics. Tonics tend to naturally dry your skin, so it’s best to apply lotions or balms on top of the aftershave. Lotions are best for those with normal to oily skin. Balms are the recommended item for dry skin. Fellow Barber Aftershave Tonic is on the market at $20 for an 8-oz bottle.
  3. Balms have thick lipids and water as active ingredients. These components make balm aftershaves heavy and hard to absorb. With that said, balms are exclusively for guys who have dry skin and who tend to have nicks and cuts when shaving. The balms soothe and protect the skin after the unavoidable scrapes. On the downside, they block perspiration, so use them sparingly. Nivea has a balm on its line of products called Nivea Men Sensitive Post-Shave Balm, priced at $6.99.
  4. Gels are water-based and easily absorbed by the skin. Gel calms and cools the skin. It’s ideal for normal to oily skin types. For $20, you may try Jack Black Post-Shave Cooling Gel, with soothing aloe, sage and lavender ingredients, and is available in 3.3-oz bottle.

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As you can see, different skin types require different aftershaves.