Aftershave Balm vs Lotion – What’s Best For You?

There is no avoiding it! Regardless of whether your razor of choice is electric, cartridge, safety, straight or even a hunting knife like Crocodile Dundee, your skin is going to experience some sort of trauma.

The inconvenient truth about shaving, is that no matter how you try to avoid it, it will have an impact on your skin. It might be so minimal, even microscopic, that it passes relatively unnoticed. The side-effects however, may be much more evident. With skin glowing redder than Rudolph’s nose, or more bleeders than Dracula can handle, your post shave symptoms are there for the world to see.

The question is, how do we minimise and manage the impact regular shaving has on our face? Along with a sound post shave routine, the use of a good quality aftershave balm or lotion is the answer!

==> Click here for my post shave routine <==

Aftershave – A Short History

Although the use of copper razors in 3000BC might have been an upgrade from using a sharp stone or a couple of shells, the early history of shaving doesn’t detail the wide-spread use of aftershaves.

As far as we can determine, the use of aftershave has been around ever since the removal of facial hair became a serious business. Used predominantly by barbers, products such as alum and alcohol were applied to a freshly shaven visage. These were used to help stop the conmen afflictions associated with shaving such as cuts and skin irritation.

==> Click here for my tip: How to use an Alum Block <==

With an increase in knowledge and experience, the high use of alcohol based aftershaves made way for other ingredients, that due to shaving, not only treated skin conditions, but helped maintain and protect our sensitive, but resilient epidermis as well. The final step in aftershave’s evolution was to add fragrance. This gave them an even greater appeal, no doubt encouraging men to use them on a more frequent basis.

So What’s In It?

Experimentation has seen the development of aftershaves gain plenty of ground. Early aftershaves consisted of relatively few ingredients. Nowadays, many aftershaves are concoctions of hydrosols, vitamins, humectants, essential oils, toners and astringents. All of which combine to give you a wonderful post shave experience.

Examples of Common Ingredients:

  • Hydrosols – Lavender and Rose
  • Vitamins – A,C and E
  • Humectants – Glycerol, Sorbitol and Urea
  • Essential oils – Tea Tree, Jojoba, Almond, Olive and Macadamia
  • Toners and Astringents – Alum, Oatmeal, Acacia, Witch Hazel, Distilled Vinegar, and Alcohol

What’s The Objective?

A good aftershave is able to achieve a number of successful outcomes. After a (hopefully) pleasant and relaxing shave, the goal is to leave your face looking and feeling its best.

  • Draw moisture from the surrounding air and penetrate the skin.
  • Reduce skin dehydration
  • Soften the skin
  • Heal the skin
  • Apply a protective barrier to the skin

Balms vs Lotions

Aftershave Balms


Recommend Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Sensitive and Oily

==> Click here for my tip: Shaving with sensitive skin <==

The huge benefit of a balm, is it’s soothing nature. This is particularly helpful in the cooler weather. We all know how drying a winter wind can be to the skin. Therefore a balm is not just some nice smelling stuff to throw on your face. Rather it takes on the character of a skin care product.

The healing properties of natural oils found in many balms are a great substitute for the alcohol laden products of the past.

Regardless of whether you’ve had a great shave, or whether you’ve done a pretty crappy job, a good balm will heal, moisturise and protect your face. Allowing you to take on anything the day can throw at you.


  • Great for all skin types
  • Soothing effect on skin
  • Antibacterial properties heal small cuts and skin irritation
  • Protects skin against the elements
  • Locks in moisture
  • Contains little or no alcohol


  • Slower to absorb into the skin
  • Some balms may feel tacky in warmer weather

Discover your favourite balm at:

Aftershave Lotions


Recommend Skin Type: Oily

Usually in the form of a “splash”, aftershave lotions traditionally, were very popular amongst the shaving fraternity.

In the past, aftershave lotions contained a high amount of alcohol. Now to be fair, this did help control the spread of bacteria due to its antibacterial properties. Many lotions still contain alcohol (due to its perceived cooling effect), however these days there are alternatives such as alum and which hazel that do a brilliant job in fighting microscopic nasties.

In general, aftershave lotions tend to have a thinner consistency than a shaving balm. A good quality lotion not only treats minor shaving afflictions, but is incredibly refreshing. This is particularly welcome with the hot summer days we get here in Australia.


  • Absorbs Quickly
  • Revitalising
  • Antibacterial properties heal small cuts and skin irritation


  • Can contain a higher alcohol content
  • Some ingredients can dry out the skin

Discover your favourite lotion at:


I’ve used both aftershave lotions and balms. And in the heat of battle, weighing up the good and bad in both, I’d have to say that overall, balms are the clear winners.

After attacking your face with your favourite razor, the additional benefits aftershave balms offer over lotions tend to make them a better proposition to repair, moisturise and protect your skin.

I’d love to hear about your aftershave experiences! Let me know in the comments below.

Time to get your shave on! 😉

20 thoughts on “Aftershave Balm vs Lotion – What’s Best For You?

  1. Tim

    Hi Andrew,
    That’s great information and nicely explained. I never knew the difference between a balm and a lotion – I thought they were more or less the same thing. Plus I never use anything on my skin after shaving, but after reading this I’m thinking I should! I enjoyed reading the history of shaving too. Thanks.

  2. GamerRomCom

    Love it!

    I’d been using a generic Nivea for men and it sucked. I’ll totally try shopping at West Coast Shaving. Also let’s be real, who doesn’t have sensitive skin?

    Bookmarked. Thanks for the advice and keep it coming.

    Short razor, experimenting with blades, so far liking the Feather.

    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks mate

      Personally, I find the Nivea Post Shave Balm for sensitive skin to be a pretty good product. In saying that though, there are plenty of soothing and exotic smelling balms to discover.

      As for Feather blades, I’d have to agree. They are definitely a good blade…and the sharpest!


  3. Tony

    I, like Tim above, never use anything on my skin after shaving. I mostly use an electric shaver now but when using my old twin blade razor I often only just wet my face and shaved.
    My early memories as a kid of people who used after shave was the overpowering smell and I think it was because of that I had never considered using an aftershave.
    After reading this I may consider trying one of the balms.

    1. Andrew Post author

      Based on your early experiences, I certainly understand your reluctance in using aftershave Tony

      There have been a myriad of advancements over the years, particularly in aftershave balms. So if you want end to your shave leaving your face refreshed and hydrated, it’s definitely worth using a good quality balm.


  4. Alessandro

    Thank you Andrew.

    You have just changed my way of shaving. I never used to use aftershave at all, but since reading this, as of tomorrow morning, I think I’ll just begin to do so. Probably with a balm.


    1. Andrew Post author

      Hi Alessandro

      I’m glad to hear my post has helped you! Just give me a shout out if you need any more guidance.


  5. Eric Estrella

    Thank you for a great article. You give a nice comparison between balm and lotion. I’m using a manual razor to shave my moustache and beard. I just wet my hair and I shave. I never used a shave cream when shaving my moustache and beard. Do you think that this can cause a problem? Thanks and take care always!

    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Eric

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s not my place to tell you how to shave, however I would strongly recommend that you use a good shaving soap or cream. This will give you a far better result, plus it will make your shave much more comfortable. I recommend you check out a couple of my posts.

      Firstly, my article on face preparation before shaving. In the other, I highlight the differences and benefits of good quality shave soaps and creams.

      I hope this helps


  6. Marcus

    Thanks Andrew. I’ve had issues every winter with the dry skin and I’ve tried so many things without success. I will definitely try out Balms.

    If it can be used both for after shaving and as a skin care that is just perfect. Do you have anyone in particular that you prefer? Will have a look at the links to see if I can find one to try out (even though we are going to summer now 🙂 )


    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Marcus

      Like you my skin dries out during Winter, so for me, a good balm is essential. For a good quality economical aftershave balm, I really like Nivea Post Shave Balm. In saying that, there are plenty of great options out there. West Coast Shaving have some fantastic balms available.


  7. John Savage

    I’ve got to admit I hate shaving!

    For four years I spent everyday in front on the mirror shaving whilst in the military! Today I’m in he corporate world and thank god the fashion is a beard! Did I mention I hate beards too!!

    Great article and thank you for sharing as I have funny skin too.

    Excellent information

    I’m in!

  8. Bruce

    Thanks for a great post! I didn’t realise that there are so many different aftershaves products. I honestly never use an aftershave but after reading this I think its important to start looking after my skin. I loved the information in your article, it was very helpful. Thanks again!

  9. Dan

    Great post and a real eye opener. My wife is a beauty therapist and banned me from using aftershave about 15 years ago as she said it was drying out my skin and making me look old (she’s quite tender that way). So I’ve used an unscented moisturiser since then which has been ok but I’d rather something scented. Balms sound just the job so I’ll give them a go.
    Many thanks.

    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Dan

      These day’s aftershave balms have a great moisturising effect with little to no alcohol content. And your choices are many!



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