Getting a clean shave is one of the most important steps you can take to not look like a degenerate. And while the internet is flooded with advice on how to mow down your mug with a razor, it’s lacking tips to care for your skin after the deed is done.
A proper post-shave routine will save you from razor bumps, skin irritation, and ingrown hairs.
But traditional aftershave balms are basically glorified colognes that create more problems than they solve.
That’s where these eight aftershave alternatives come in. From science-backed solutions to DIY “hacks” that are downright dangerous, we ranked ‘em from best to worst so you don’t waste any time (or jack up your face).
Heads up: Always do a patch test before slapping any new ingredients or products on your face—especially if you have sensitive skin.
1. Gel Moisturizer with Niacinamide
Moisturizing your face after shaving is the best thing you can do to fight razor burn and itchy, dry skin. Specifically, you need a gel-based moisturizer with niacinamide: an antioxidant that hydrates your skin and reduces inflammation at the same time.
Dryness and razor burn are two of the most common issues for frequent shavers, but a lot of aftershave products do nothing to replenish that moisture. In fact, alcohol-based aftershaves can dehydrate your skin.
Do your face a favor and get a moisturizer like Revival that doubles as an aftershave. Our derm-approved formula heals, hydrates, and reduces redness in as little as one hour. And unlike lotion, Revival absorbs instantly so your face never looks oily.
Pro tip: Check out this ultimate guide to moisturizing after shaving.
Bottom line: A lightweight, gel-based moisturizer with niacinamide is the best aftershave alternative in the game.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel can temporarily relieve razor burn, dryness, and skin irritation after shaving. That’s because it contains humectants that bind moisture to your skin. Aloe vera also contains bradykinase, an enzyme that creates a cooling effect on your skin.
The main drawback with aloe vera is that it doesn’t provide the same all-day hydration as a clinically-proven moisturizer—not to mention it doesn’t have any added vitamins, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid to heal your skin from the inside out.
3. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a plant extract with potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular natural remedy for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and—you guessed it—razor burn. Witch hazel is an astringent, meaning it tightens your pores. It also naturally disinfects your skin, which may help prevent post-shave acne.
The downside of witch hazel is that it can zap the moisture from your face, leaving you dry and crusty.
Potassium alum is a mineral salt with antimicrobial properties. Translation: It can prevent any nicks and cuts on your freshly-shaved face. Alum has been used for centuries as a natural disinfectant, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a spot in your post-shaving routine.
Like witch hazel, alum is another astringent that’s notorious for drying your skin out. So while your face might be “clean,” it’ll also look as parched as summer in the Sahara.
5. Cold Water
There’s a reason cold water is buried in the middle of the rankings. It’s not bad for your skin, but it’s not going to win you any GQ awards either.
Splashing your face with cold water after shaving will rinse away your leftover stubble and shaving cream. However, it won’t do anything to soothe, heal, or hydrate sensitive skin over the long term.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s true—some guys are putting salad dressing ingredients on their faces instead of aftershave. To be fair, apple cider vinegar isn’t a totally bogus idea. It contains acetic acid which can disinfect cuts and citric acid which can prevent ingrown hairs.
But all that acid is going to make your face dry as hell. Not to mention, slathering your skin with ACV is gonna make you smell like a salad. If you dare to try this, do yourself a favor and dilute the ACV 50/50 with water to avoid irritation.
Spritzing cologne on a freshly-shaved face might make you smell like a million bucks, but it’ll make you feel like an expired lotto ticket. Most colognes are 70-90% alcohol, with the rest being fragrances. That’s like dumping gasoline on a raging inferno.
Unless you want to be screaming like Kevin from Home Alone, wait at least 30 minutes after shaving before putting on cologne.
8. Rubbing Alcohol
Aside from dousing your face with acid, rubbing alcohol might be the worst aftershave alternative out there. Sure, if you’re broke AF and need to clean out a cut, it might prevent an infection. But you’ll pay the price by nuking your natural oils, disrupting your skin barrier, and drying out your skin—not to mention you’re gonna burn like Usher in 2004
Simplify Your Post-Shave Routine with PrettyBoy
Big brands have duped a lot of dudes into thinking they need a whole cabinet full of skincare products (including aftershave) to look their best. That’s why we’re on a mission to simplify men’s skincare routines with Revival: our 6-in-1 moisturizer that fights dry skin, signs of aging, dark circles, razor burn, and more.
Stop nuking your face with glorified cologne and pamper yourself like a PrettyBoy.