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What is post-shave balm and how to use it

In recent years, as more and more men have discovered the importance of good skincare, we’ve been shining more of a spotlight on the post-shave routine. The days of irritated, burning skin after a shave are gone, and post-shave balms, lotions and creams have become very popular. 

What are the different types of post-shave balm? 

Post-shave balms shouldn’t be confused with aftershaves, which are primarily designed for their fragrance and generally have an alcohol base which can sting sensitive skin after a shave. By contrast, post-shave balms are formulated more like moisturisers. 

Post-shave lotions usually have a fairly thin consistency and are quickly absorbed into the skin. Similarly, a post-shave gel is also very light and easily absorbed, but differently from a lotion, a gel does not contain any oil. A balm tends to have a richer, creamier consistency, making it especially suitable for those of us who like a luxurious feel after our shave. A post-shave balm provides deep hydration and prevents stinging. 

What is post-shave balm used for?

Post-shave balms hydrate and soothe skin, counteracting the irritation which can occur as a result of the shaving process. A rough early morning shave when you’re half awake, especially when you have sensitive skin, could leave your face feeling dry and sore. And even if your skin feels fine after you shave, running a razor over it will still cause lots of tiny abrasions on the top level of the skin. 

That’s why it’s always a good idea to maintain a good post-shave routine to keep your skin in tip-top condition, even if it’s not visibly irritated or particularly painful. Regularly using a post-shave balm can help you to avoid redness, dryness, lumps and bumps, and ingrown hairs.

How is post-shave balm different from a typical moisturiser?

Regular moisturisers are great for your skin, and post-shave balms certainly have moisturising properties, but there are good reasons why these are two separate products. A normal face moisturiser only intends to soften the skin and add moisture. On the other hand, a post-shave balm is formulated specially to contribute to the skin’s healing process.

Most will contain soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, and some have antiseptic properties too. A typical, everyday moisturiser might contain perfumes and other ingredients which are less gentle on freshly shaved skin. That’s why it’s worth reaching for a more specialised product which has been developed specifically to soothe and heal skin after shaving.

How to use post-shave balm in your shaving routine:

The perfect post-shave routine has a few key steps, which shouldn’t be missed if you want to keep your skin smooth and healthy:

After you’ve finished shaving, rinse your face first with warm water. This washes away any remaining shaving cream or soap, or any hairs or dead skin particles. Using warm water rather than hot water means you can clean your skin thoroughly while not stripping it of its natural oils and drying it out.

Second, splash your face with cold water. This will constrict your pores slightly, as well as acting as a refreshing wake up call.

Lightly pat your face dry with a towel. Avoid rubbing, as this can worsen any irritation that your shave might have caused. Don’t completely dry your face, just get rid of excess water but leave it damp, as this helps ease the application of your post-shave balm and moisturiser.

Select your post-shave balm according to your personal needs. Perhaps an extra rich one for dry skin or an unscented one if you have sensitive skin or tend to suffer from skin allergies. You could try one with antibacterial ingredients, such as tea tree, if you often notice that tiny cuts and abrasions you get from shaving are getting infected. Some post-shave products such as the Wilkinson Sword Styptic Pencil are designed to help seal and heal cuts from shaving

Use a fairly healthy amount of post-shave balm, but don’t overdo it. Without pressing down too hard, use your fingertips to gently massage the balm into the areas you’ve just shaved. It should lightly cover all over the parts of your face you shave, but the layer of balm shouldn’t be too thick to sink in, as this can just end up blocking pores and causing greasiness.