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Aftershaves | How to choose the best one for your skin


By Erum ILYAS, MD



When it comes to choosing the best aftershave, the best approach is to understand the goal. After a razor glides over the coarse hairs on the beard area, the skin gets inflamed and irritated leading to an higher risk of ingrown hairs. It helps to use a product that soothes the skin, brings down the inflammation and nourishes the skin with hydration.


For routine aftershaves I tend to recommend Aveeno Mens fragrance free after shave lotion. This product is soothing with oat and Shea butter. It nourishes and repairs the skin with petrolatum. And it is fragrance free making it less likely to irritate or inflamed freshly shaved skin.



Sensitive skin:

Aveeno after shave as mentioned above! Dry skin:

When men experience excess dryness in the beard area after shaving much of this is from irritation from the shave. Nivea sensitive post shave balm is great for excess dry skin. The vitamin E is hydrating and soothing in this product.


Acne prone skin:

If you have acne prone skin, I would suggest discussing your options with your dermatologist. This tends to be the result of folliculitis or infected hair follicles and is often best covered with a topical antibiotic as an aftershave for the short term.

Aging skin:

The most important consideration as we get older is to remember to use sunblock as well after shaving. I routinely see patients that have a spot in the beard area they assume is an ingrown hair that won’t heal and it turns out to be a basal cell skin cancer or squamous cell carcinoma. As soon as shaving is complete, it’s important to apply after shave to immediately soothe the skin.


The key to a great shave is to get as close a shave as possible while taking care to avoid irritating or nicking the skin and minimizing the chances for ingrown hairs to develop.  The challenge with shaving is understanding the topography of the hair bearing areas.  Shaving hair is not like mowing the lawn on a baseball field!  Skin with thick coarse hairs is not a smooth surface studded with hairs that can be closely shaved easily.  Have you every seen a jelly spike ball?  Imagine a hair growing out of each spike.  Now, imagine taking a razor and trying to shave those hairs without nicking a spike and still getting a close shave.  Every time we shave, that is exactly what the topography of the skin  is like up close! Puts this daily routine into a little perspective! It’s best to shave when your skin is adequately hydrated- towards the end of a shower, not necessarily the beginning. Try to make sure the water temperature is not too hot to avoid the skin swelling around the hair follicle as your shave will not be as close as you like. If you tend to get recurrent ingrown hairs or inflamed it follicles, try out these steps: - wash with an antibacterial soap to reduce bacteria  around and in our hair follicles - change your razors routinely to avoid bacteria from building up on the blade that can spread bacteria into small nicks or cuts in your skin - consider using an antibacterial topical after shaving to reduce residual bacteria left on the skin after hair removal If persistent consider a trip to your dermatologist as a course of oral antibiotics and a prescription topical antibiotic may be your key to clearing your skin!


Read more as Dr ILYAS discusses this topic with NY Magazine!