With shaving removing the top layers of skin and causing microscopic abrasions (irritation), the use of a post-shave product to soothe, calm and repair your face is essential. Therefore, an aftershave balm should always be the final step in your shaving routine. Much gentler than aftershave splash (if something stings it isn’t doing you much good, right?), balms are formulated with ingredients to repair skin damage, calm redness, soothe irritation and re-hydrate your epidermis.
The list below takes into consideration reader feedback, popularity, innovation, ingredients, results, price and Ape to Gentleman’s findings. Therefore, you should feel safe in the knowledge that these are the best aftershave balms that the male grooming world currently has to offer, for a variety of skin types.
All-Rounder – Geo F Trumper Skin Food
Achieving all-rounder status in any of Ape to Gentleman’s “best of” lists is no mean feat, especially when you consider that we test nearly everything that comes to market. Geo F Trumper Skin Food stormed in however, and it wasn’t a tough decision.
Slightly thicker than a lotion, it’s the perfect consistency for an aftershave balm. It can be used pre-shave (before applying a high-quality shaving cream) for an amazingly protective shave, as well as post-shave for the ultimate soothing and hydrating effects. Our favourite is the Coral version, with its light rose aroma and hydrating glycerin-rich formula, but it’s also available in Extract of West Indian Limes and Sandalwood.
All come in a variety of sizes – 100ml travel, 200ml standard, and a 500ml value offering – and are suitable for every skin type, even sensitive.
£23 for 200ml at MANKIND >
Sensitive Skin – The Art of Shaving After Shave Balm
An extremely gentle, rich yet easily absorbed aftershave balm packed with quality ingredients. A real stand-out product for soothing freshly shaven, sensitive skin. With the inclusion of essential oils, Shea Butter and Grape Seed Extract, this aftershave balm is formulated to deliver the highest level of moisture.
It’s at the slightly pricier end of the market, but you get what you pay for. The Art of Shaving produce this aftershave balm in a variety of scents but for those with sensitive skin, the unscented version is our pick.
$40 for 100ml at THE ART OF SHAVING >
Hydrating/Dry Skin – Anthony Logistics After Shave Balm
Everyone at Ape is a big fan of Anthony products, and for good reason: they are ingredient rich and get the job done. The brand’s After Shave Balm is no different, featuring a plethora of quality ingredients and a more than reasonable price-to-value ratio.
A blend of cornmint, eucalyptus and rosemary oils provide a cool, hydrating drenching of moisture to post-shaved skin. There is also added allantoin to smooth and hydrate, while natural botanical oils cool and refresh. A great option for those with dry skin looking for extra hydration.
£22 for 90ml at AMAZON >
Antiseptic – D.R. Harris After Shave Milk
D.R. Harris’ Arlington Aftershave Milk combines a subtle, fresh aroma with a mild antiseptic in this dense, milky lotion (technically not a balm, we must admit). Perfect for normal to dry skin, this aftershave “milk” is packed full of moisturising properties, while the inclusion of the natural antiseptic means it’s great at soothing irritation caused by your razor.
Made in England, it has been a favourite for over a century – and a “cure” for those who suffer with shaving irritation and razor bumps.
£27 for 100ml at MR PORTER >
Lightweight – Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion
Calming and moisturising, this aftershave lotion is ideal for normal to combination skin. It has been specially formulated to ensure it works rapidly to counteract any irritation. Moreover, its lightweight nature means it absorbs into the skin fast, making it a quick and hassle-free way to replenish and calm your skin after shaving.
Again, more of a lotion than a “balm”, it’s ideal for those who suffer from irritation but not dry skin, and as such need something than absorbs quickly. It contains hydrating and anti-inflammatory ingredients designed to leave skin softened and soothed. Key ingredients include sandalwood, neroli blossom and panthenol.
£33 for 60ml at END CLOTHING >
King of Cool – Baxter of California After Shave Balm
Baxter perhaps originally didn’t have the marketing or R&D budgets of some of the big-name brands, but they certainly know their skincare. Their award-winning After Shave Balm with Tea Tree Oil and Menthol helps to heal and cool, while glycerin and aloe focus on maintaining hydration and calming freshly shaven skin.
Suited to normal, dry and sensitive skin types, Baxter of California’s offering is an all-rounder but with a serious cool factor over the traditional brands.
£18 for 120ml at MR PORTER >
Budget – Harry’s Post-Shave Balm
Those on a budget and considering lesser-quality supermarket options might want to take a look at US shaving brand Harry’s. One of the best direct-to-consumer brands on the market, their shaving range is designed to perform and represents extremely good value for money.
Harry’s aftershave balm is no different, designed to calm, balance, and soothe your skin after you shave with natural aloe vera, as well as cucumber extract to cool and moisturise. The quick-drying formula won’t leave your skin looking or feeling shiny, either.
£7 for 100ml at HARRY’S >
A good aftershave balm is an oft-missed step in a shaving routine. But its application can ease the pain for those of you suffering with dryness and irritation, while also mitigating unsightly razor burn and bumps. However, preparation is always better than cure.
Firstly, always use a quality face scrub (or shaving brush) prior to shaving to raise hair and remove debris; it will help produce a closer shave with less tug and pull.
Secondly, a high-quality shaving cream or gel is imperative to provide a protective layer between the skin and blade. After all, the aim is for the blade not to connect with the skin, merely glide over it while your razor scythes through your facial hair.
Finally, an aftershave balm should really only be applied to where hair grows (i.e. where you shave); use a dedicated facial moisturiser to hydrate the rest of your face (nose, cheeks and forehead).
It’s time to take back your shave by adding an aftershave balm to your routine – your skin will thank you for it. And you might just enjoy shaving again.