Handsome man applies NIVEA aftershave

What is Aftershave?

Learn about the different varieties of aftershave and what they can do for your skin

What is aftershave?

For a fair chunk of men out there, applying aftershave is an essential part of their morning routine, and one which may even help provide the confidence to face up to the challenges of the day ahead.

For countless others, however, a very simple question looms large: just what is aftershave? What does it do?

Let’s start with the first of those questions, what is aftershave? The term ‘aftershave’ covers a wide range of products that are applied to the skin, as one might expect, after shaving. These products come in either the traditional, alcohol-based liquid form, often referred to as a ‘splash’, or in the form of lotions and balms.

Aftershaves are distinct from cologne. Whilst aftershaves are designed primarily to disinfect freshly-shaved skin and contain a low dosage, typically 1-3%, of essential oils, Eau de Cologne, on the other hand, is designed with the sole aim of making you smell nice; it also contains a higher concentration - sometimes as much as 7% - of aromatic compounds, which is why colognes have a stronger scent than your standard aftershave.

What does aftershave do?

So what does aftershave do? Aftershaves are designed to reduce the irritation, razor burn and bumps caused by shaving. They do this by clearing your pores of any bacteria that may have been present, post-shave, on your skin, and by then sealing up those pores to prevent the entry of any additional dirt or bacteria.

Aftershaves can also help hydrate the skin post-shave, and the scented varieties of aftershave can provide you with a wonderfully masculine musk following your morning shave, or just before you head out for the evening.

Aftershaves, then, perform a variety of functions, and there is some variation in terms of what the different types of aftershave do for your skin. The traditional alcohol-based liquid aftershaves of the abrasive, slap-it-over variety which will forever be associated with Home Alone are rather different from the gentler, more recent incarnations of aftershave, i.e. the after-shave balms and lotions.
mens aftershave


A lot of men use aftershave, not only post-shave, but to help them smell nice as well. A well scented aftershave can give someone the confidence they need to take on the day or even approach the person they like - but how long does aftershave last? Typically aftershave will last up to three hours on the skin before the smell starts to fade. What if you need to smell nice for longer than three hours?


Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you want to smell nice for longer, try using an Eau De Toilette, which can last for up to seven hours. Our NIVEA MEN Eau De Toilette offers an elegant scent of pink pepper, cardamom and tangy grapefruit to keep you smelling fresh for the whole day.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the kinds of aftershaves, or post-shave products, that you can use to replenish and rejuvenate your skin.

What is post shave balm? What does it do?

You may be wondering, what is post shave balm? Post shave balms, or aftershave balms, tend to be creamier and milder in scent than aftershave lotions. Whilst they do often contain alcohol, balms tend to come with a lower alcohol content than lotions and are designed, first and foremost, to hydrate and replenish your skin. Balms are the perfect choice for those suffering from razor burn and bumps.

We offer an extensive range of aftershave balms. Give your skin the aftercare it needs and deserves with our Sensitive Post Shave Balm.

What is aftershave lotion? What does it do?

Aftershave lotions are effective at tightening your pores and sealing shaving cuts. They tend to have a stronger smell than balms, due to their higher alcohol content. They contain less alcohol than aftershave splashes, however, which means that, whilst they have good antiseptic qualities, they tend not to dry out your skin, as is often the case with aftershave splashes.

Our Protect & Care 2 Phase Post-Shave Lotion unites the care of a balm with the refreshing effect of a lotion.


Just remember, friends. Prevention is always better than a cure.

It is certainly the case that a good aftershave can mitigate razor bumps and burn - but it is best if you can avoid these bumps forming in the first place.

For our top tips on how to go about avoiding bumps, read our top tips on how to avoid shaving spots.

To reduce the risk of getting razor bumps, it is important to know how to apply aftershave. After you have treated your skin to a slow, careful shave, be sure to follow up with an aftershave from our extensive post-shave range. Rinse off any remaining shaving cream and gently dry your skin with a fresh towel. Place a small amount of lotion, balm or aftershave into the palm of your hand and massage it slowly into your face and neck.

It’s also a good idea to finish up with one of our rejuvenating moisturisers. These will help provide your skin with the best defence against dryness.

Top Tips for how to apply aftershave:


  • Apply aftershave after a shower, when you are clean and dry. This will help the aftershave to stick to your body and last longer.
  • Target pulse points. These are areas on your body that emit heat and help to strengthen the scent of your aftershave. The best places to apply aftershave are your inner wrist and neck.
  • Don’t rub your aftershave after application. Rubbing your aftershave into your skin can cause the scent to ‘bruise’ and affect how long it will last.
man applying aftershave