To be successful at the art of shaving, men need to consider the before, during, and after in equal measure. Prep the skin with warm water, apply your chosen shaving product like cream, and use a sharp razor. Post-shave steps are often neglected, but one of the most important products a man can use is a quality aftershave. 

Aftershaves come in many different types, including splashes, lotions, and balms. Below we share their key differences, along with a list of some of the best aftershaves currently available.

Our Top Picks

General Use: Baxter of California Aftershave Balm

Well-formulated to soothe skin. Light and fresh scent finish it off.

Most Invigorating: Duke Cannon Cooling After-Shave Balm

Great value and invigorating scent make this one a winner.

Best Gel: Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel

The lightweight gel nourishes and hydrates the skin. A bit pricey.

Best for Gift Giving: DIOR Sauvage After-Shave Lotion

Signature scent and high-end packaging make for a perfect gift.

Best Bay Rum: Clubman Pinaud Virgin Island Bay Rum Aftershave

A classic aftershave that captures the essence of bay rum.

For Sensitive Skin: NIVEA Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm

Affordable and performs well. Can soothe the skin on any area that is shaved.

For Dry Skin: Pre de Provence After Shave Balm

Shea butter and aloe vera moisturize and soothe intense irritation. Great for dry skin.

Best Splash: Proraso After Shave Lotion

A classic aftershave splash from a trusted brand. Invigorating scent awakens the senses.

Trending: Reuzel Aftershave

An up-and-coming brand with a passionate following. Barbershop-made.

Luxury Upgrade: Czech & Speake No. 88 Aftershave Splash

English-made top-of-the-line grooming product. Signature scent and classy packaging.

For Ingrown Hairs: Pre de Provence No. 63 Men’s After Shave Balm

The moisturizing formula reduces the chance of ingrown hairs and razor burn.

First Time Buying Aftershave? Consider the Following

1. Alcohol vs. Alcohol-Free

While alcohol is an excellent astringent, applying it to an open wound or severe razor burn causes your skin to sting.  This can be quite painful, depending on the severity of the wound.  Additionally, alcohol will dry out your skin, which can lead to further irritation.

This is why many modern aftershaves are alcohol-free.  These alcohol-free aftershaves often rely on witch hazel as the primary astringent.

2. Skin Type

There are a few things to be mindful of for specific skin types when buying aftershave:

  • Dry Skin: Don’t use an alcohol-based formula.  This will cause further dryness and discomfort. Instead, consider using an aftershave balm.
  • Oily Skin: Some aftershaves contain rich conditioning agents, such as cocoa butter, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and more.  These ingredients may clog pores, leading to pimples or blackheads. Instead, consider using a lighter aftershave splash or a non-comedogenic aftershave balm.
  • Sensitive Skin: Many natural ingredients found in grooming products may irritate men with sensitive skin—patch test before applying.  Consider using a fragrant-free aftershave or one that has been specially formulated for sensitive skin.

3. Scent

The range of scents available in aftershaves varies. Typical scent profiles include fresh, invigorating, barbershop, and bay rum.  Scent is a highly personal choice and one that should be considered carefully.

Should you wear cologne, body spray, or another personal fragrance, consider an aftershave that compliments the scent; or simply go with a fragrant-free formula.  This will prevent the scent from clashing with other products you may be applying.

4. Aftershave Type

Aftershaves are available in three primary types: splashes, lotions, and balms. Splashes typically focus on disinfectant, astringent, and toning benefits, whereas lotions and balms focus on nourishment and moisturizing benefits.

If you intend on moisturizing your skin with a face cream once you have finished shaving, consider a splash.  If you don’t moisturize with a separate product, then go with an aftershave lotion or balm.

Further Reading: We wrote a primer about aftershave should you want to learn more about the nuances of this grooming product.

1. General Use: Baxter of California Aftershave Balm

Baxter of California is a premium men’s grooming company that has been in business since 1965.  While acquired by L’Oreal in 2012, they continue on the mission of making uncompromising grooming products. 

Their aftershave balm, although pricey, is well-made.  It has been designed to focus solely on nourishing and soothing the most irritated skin.  Relying on a blend of aloe vera, allantoin, tea tree oil, menthol, and glycerin, you can expect a luxurious slick texture that will tone and cool your skin upon application.

However, men with highly sensitive skin may want to consider another aftershave as some ingredients may irritate – particularly the tea tree oil.

The balm is alcohol-free, so it will never sting, even when applied to severe razor burn.  Lastly, you can expect a light and fresh scent.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 4oz.
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Light and Fresh
  • Type: Aftershave Balm

Pros: Soothes and nourishes even the most irritated skin—well-made formula.

Cons: It may not work well for sensitive skin.  For an aftershave balm, it’s pricey.

The Bottom Line:

If you want to try out a premium brand and have the discretionary funds available, Baxter of California is a well-made aftershave balm that delivers a soothing experience to your skin post-shave.

2. Most Invigorating: Duke Cannon Cooling After-Shave Balm

Duke Cannon isn’t only a great company that gives back to the men and women that served in the United States military, but they also make tried-and-true grooming products such as their “Big Ass Brick of Soap” (reviewed here).

The cooling aftershave balm reviewed, we think, is best suited for men who love an invigorating start to their day.  

The menthol-heavy formula is bright and will give your pores that pleasant but non-stinging sensation.

Also added to the aftershave balm is shea butter, which is naturally non-comedogenic and a highly effective moisturizer for your skin. Lastly, the addition of sandalwood fragrance provides a classic barbershop smell to finish things off.

Altogether the formula will soothe razor burn while also reducing redness or tightness.

At $15 and 6oz., the aftershave balm is fairly priced but does have some travel limitations.

Made in the USA, and a portion of the proceeds benefit U.S. Veterans, what’s not to love about this aftershave balm?

Key Facts:

  • Size: 6oz.
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Sandalwood
  • Type: Aftershave Balm

Pros: Invigorating and cooling formula moisturizes well. It is fairly priced.

Cons: Large container isn’t suitable for road warriors.  The scent is a bit polarizing.

The Bottom Line:

If you want an aftershave that invigorates and moisturizes, then consider this one by Duke Cannon.  Plus, every purchase supports a great cause.

3. Best Gel: Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel

Jack Black, owned by Edgewell (Schick, Cremo, Bulldog, Wilkinson Sword, and more), is a prestige beauty line for men who prefer luxury and mostly naturally-derived grooming products.  

While expensive ($20 per bottle), the Jack Black Post Shave Cooling Gel is a light aftershave that will soothe and cool your skin post-shave. 

The formula relies on aloe leaf, sage, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, balm mint, and more.  All of which should reduce post-shave redness and provide necessary moisture to your skin.  There are no added fragrances to the aftershave, making it a consideration should you have sensitive skin or want to apply a cologne or body spray. 

For consistency, this aftershave is a gel formula.  While not as silky-smooth as some other balms reviewed, it should feel much lighter in weight when applied.  For value, you can expect the travel-friendly 3.3oz container to last you two months before replacement.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.3oz
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Fragrance-Free (has a very light fresh scent)
  • Type: Aftershave Gel

Pros: Lightweight gel that nourishes the skin.  The fragrance-free formula is suitable for sensitive skin.

Cons: Expensive.  Some may prefer a richer texture instead of a gel.

The Bottom Line:

If you want a lightweight aftershave gel that nourishes and cools the skin post-shave, then it works well.  While expensive, it’s great to see that Jack Black uses a rich blend of quality and natural ingredients.

4. Best for Gift Giving: DIOR Sauvage After-Shave Lotion

Sauvage is a popular men’s brand by the French luxury fashion house Dior.  What makes the Sauvage line so unique is the scent.  Striking a light and fresh scent with a woody undertone, Sauvage is a versatile fragrance without overpowering the nose.  

Packaged in a weighted glass bottle, we think this aftershave is a top consideration for gift giving.  Plus, the 3.4oz size makes it a travel-friendly aftershave as well.

Know that the Sauvage Aftershave Lotion does rely on an alcohol base.  Therefore, if you are too aggressive with the razor or accidentally cut yourself, it will sting upon application.  However, you can expect this aftershave to be highly effective at disinfecting the skin’s surface.

Should you be looking for some added moisture or nourishment, consider the Sauvage Aftershave Balm instead.

Lastly, Sauvage is $60, making it one of the most pricy aftershave products on the market.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.4oz
  • Does it sting? Yes
  • Scent: Fresh and woody undertone
  • Type: Aftershave Lotion

Pros: Fresh and inviting scent is a hit with men.  Luxury packaging makes it ideal for gift giving.

Cons: The alcohol base may not be ideal for everyone.  

The Bottom Line:

It’s a luxury aftershave that is perfect for men who want a nicely scented product.  The Dior name is instantly recognizable and will be proudly displayed on the bathroom countertop.

5. Best Bay Rum: Clubman Pinaud Virgin Island Bay Rum Aftershave

Some of the earliest aftershaves documented were developed in Saint Thomas in what is now part of the U.S. Virgin Islands (source).  Made from the leaves of the West Indian bay trees and mixed with rum, bay rum is a potent aftershave that disinfects a freshly shaved face.

While not as popular as it once was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, bay rum remains a fixture in the wet shaving enthusiasts’ repertoire.  However, modern bay rum is fundamentally different from its original recipe and no longer contains real rum (likely due to legal reasons).  

Relying on a specially denatured (SD) alcohol base along with a synthetic fragrance, this aftershave provides sweet and spicy notes when applied post-shave.  Additionally, this aftershave has some skin toning benefits with regular application.

Of course, given the alcoholic base, the aftershave is an effective disinfectant that will sting when it comes in contact with open wounds or raw skin.  If you are confident in your shaving abilities and use aftershave for both cleaning and fragrance purposes, then it’s a winner. 

At 12oz and retailing at $16 ($1.33/oz), it’s a great value option compared to other aftershave splashes.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 12oz
  • Does it sting? Yes
  • Scent: Sweet, Spicy, and tropical
  • Type: Aftershave Splash

Pros: A pleasant fragrance that disinfects and tones the skin.  Great value buy as well.

Cons: SD alcohol base won’t be for everyone.  Some think the scent is better suited for older gentlemen.

The Bottom Line:

Clubman Pinaud expertly recaptures the island essence of traditional bay rum with a modern twist – it’s well priced and worth considering.

6. For Sensitive Skin: NIVEA Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm

NIVEA’s Post Shave Balm is a tried and true aftershave that quickly soothes the skin and provides relief of skin irritation or razor burn.

The silk-like formula quickly absorbs into the skin and provides necessary nourishment and hydration that restores your skin’s moisture barrier. So whether shaving your face, head, body, groin, etc., you can apply the sensitive skin-focused formula anywhere without having to worry about irritation or flareups.

Widely available online and in drugstores, it’s one of the few aftershave balms on our list that you can buy locally today.

Lastly, the NIVEA Post Shave Balm is packaged in a 3.3oz (travel-friendly) solid glass container; it doesn’t feel nor look poorly made despite only retailing for about $5 per bottle.

 Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.3oz
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Light & Fresh
  • Type: Aftershave Balm

Pros: Non-stinging and sensitive skin formula make it a versatile and nourishing aftershave balm.

Cons: A larger option would be great for full-body use.

The Bottom Line:

There’s a reason that the NIVEA Post Shave Balm is so highly recommended.  The formula is lightweight, doesn’t sting, and moisturizes the skin quickly.  If you regularly deal with dry skin, irritation, or tightness after shaving, consider working this balm into your routine.

7. For Dry Skin: Pre de Provence After Shave Balm

If you are looking for a rich conditioning product and one that provides post-shave relief of razor burn, you should move the Pre de Provence After Shave Balm to the top of your consideration list.

What makes this balm so much better than many others available is the reliance on a blend of shea butter and aloe vera.  Shea butter, which is naturally non-comedogenic, is a rich moisturizing agent that will not clog your pores – making it suitable for all skin types. In addition, the aloe vera will provide instant relief to any post-shave irritation you may be experiencing.

The Pre de Provence After Shave Balm has a bright and fresh scent with some citrus top notes. 

If you want to enhance the grooming routine, Pre de Provence makes many other complementary grooming products, including shaving cream, body wash, body lotion, and bar soap.

Lastly, the aftershave balm is made in France.

 Key Facts:

  • Size: 2.5oz.
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Fresh, Citrus
  • Type: Aftershave Balm

Pros: Freshly scented aftershave balm that is also an effective moisturizer.  The addition of aloe vera is a nice touch.

Cons: Chemical-based fragrance.  Small size.

The Bottom Line:

Should you often experience dry or itchy skin after shaving, consider using this aftershave balm by Pre de Provenance.  The moisturizing-focused composition will hydrate and nourish the skin. 

8. Best Splash: Proraso After Shave Lotion

Proraso is an Italian grooming company that has been in business since 1908.  A highly respected brand among wet shaving enthusiasts, Proraso makes traditional and reliable shaving products.

Relying on an alcohol and witch hazel base, the Proraso After Shave Lotion will quickly disinfect and tone your skin.

Proraso smartly included castor oil and glycerin to prevent dryness, which are natural humectants (meaning that they help your skin retain moisture).  

Like the Proraso Green Label Shaving Cream we recently reviewed, you can expect the Proraso After Shave Lotion to deliver a lovely invigorating scent thanks to the inclusion of eucalyptus and menthol.

Lastly, the aftershave is 3.4oz in size and priced at $14 a bottle (a bit expensive in our mind). 

Note: Consider the Proraso After Shave Balm if you want a non-stinging and moisturizing-focused formulation.

 Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.4oz.
  • Does it sting? Yes 
  • Scent: Bright, Methol & Eucalyptus
  • Type: Aftershave Lotion

Pros: A well-formulated traditional aftershave that provides a nice invigorating scent. 

Cons: It is a bit expensive given the size.  

The Bottom Line:

If you are looking for an upgrade to an aftershave splash, and like to shop with trusted and proven brands, then consider this product by Proraso.  It’s a traditional aftershave that performs well.

9. Trending: Reuzel Aftershave

Developed by the social media barbering sensation, schorembarbier, the Reuzel Aftershave is classic barbershop aftershave that quickly disinfects and tones the skin.

With an alcohol and witch hazel base, this aftershave splash is lightweight and perfect for the expert shaver.  The bright citrus and masculine sandalwood notes provide a fresh and warm fragrance, making for a perfect start to the day. However, the scent is unimposing and will dissipate after a few hours.

At 3.38oz and $10.50 ($3.10/oz), it is reasonably priced and travels well.    

Despite the Holland roots, the Reuzel Aftershave is made in the USA.

 Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.38oz
  • Does it sting? Yes
  • Scent: Citrus & Sandalwood
  • Type: Aftershave Splash

Pros: A classic aftershave splash that will work well for expert wet shavers.

Cons: Some may prefer a stronger scent.

The Bottom Line:

If you are confident in your shaving abilities and are looking for a new aftershave splash to try, consider this well-rated aftershave by Reuzel.

10. Luxury Upgrade: Czech & Speake No. 88 Aftershave Splash

If you want the gold standard in grooming products, and the price is the least of your concerns, then consider the Czech & Speake No. 88 Aftershave Splash.  Founded in 1978, London-based Czech & Speake is known worldwide for its signature scents and uncompromising products.

As part of the No. 88 line, this aftershave splash delivers a bergamot top note along with a vetiver and sandalwood base notes.  You can expect the fragrance to develop into a lovely woody and mossy blend.

The Czech & Speake No. 88 Aftershave Splash is alcohol-based and will sting on the tiniest cuts.  Consider this only if you can predictably perform a perfect shave.   

The glass bottle design is a bathroom countertop upgrade, and the shaker top makes for an easy and measured application.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 3.3oz
  • Does it sting? Yes
  • Scent: Wood & Moss
  • Type: Aftershave Splash

Pros: A luxury aftershave splash with a high-end fragrance and packaging.  It can make for a very nice gift.

Cons: Unfortunately, it is priced too high for most men.

The Bottom Line:

The Czech & Speake No. 88 Aftershave Splash is a luxury aftershave splash.  It’s priced at a premium and requires expert shaving techniques.  However, if you are the rare breed to loves quality and extraordinary fragrances, then this aftershave may be for you.

11. For Ingrown Hairs: Pre de Provence No. 63 Men’s After Shave Balm

Relying on a rich blend of shea butter, grapeseed oil, aloe vera, and allantoin, the Pre de Provence No. 63. After Shave Balm will keep your skin moisturized and less susceptible to post-shave razor burn and ingrown hairs.

The formula should be non-comedogenic, making it suitable for men of all skin types, including dry, oily, combination, and normal.  

The warm scent has spicy tones that will provide a subtle aroma that isn’t overpowering or off-putting.  Consider getting other shaving products in the No. 63 lineup for complementary scents and performance.

Key Facts:

  • Size: 2.5oz
  • Does it sting? No
  • Scent: Warm & Spicy
  • Type: Aftershave Balm

Pros: The hydration-focused aftershave balm will moisturize the skin, helping to reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

Cons: Small size requires frequent restocking.

The Bottom Line:

If you regularly experience ingrown hairs, this aftershave balm will help to strengthen the skin to reduce their occurrence.  The versatile formula is compatible with all skin types.

Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

Published: July 25, 2020

Last Updated: August 21, 2021