Why Does Aftershave Burn

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By Oluwaseun Bamisile


Wondering why your aftershave product burns your skin post-shave? This article contains all the answers you need.

Starting this article is a section that explains what aftershave is. Then, we will discuss several reasons people experience aftershave stinging sensations.

Following that, I will provide various ways to prevent this discomfort.

Finally, this article includes an FAQ section, answering some common questions people ask about the topic in discussion.

What Is Aftershave

What Is Aftershave

Aftershave is a product meant to be applied to your body after you shave. It often comes in the traditional alcohol-based liquid form, also called a “splash.”

However, it can also come in the form of lotions, gels, and oil. Moreover, the product is designed to reduce razor burns, itching, and bumps caused by shaving.

It does that by clearing your pores of any bacteria that may be present on your skin after shaving. Then, it seals those pores to prevent other dirt or bacteria entry.

That being said, aftershave can help hydrate the skin post-shave. Besides, the scented product types can provide a masculine musk following your shave.

Why Do Aftershave Stings

Using aftershave has become a ritual for many people, similar to perfume. For the most part, there’s no harm in applying this product to disinfect or soothe your skin.

However, the product sometimes burns, especially the traditional alcohol-based version. Below are some of the major reasons.

1. Too Much Alcohol Content

Most types of aftershave products contain alcohol. The higher the alcohol content, the more likely it is to cause a burning sensation.

Even though there is a burning sensation, alcohol doesn’t burn your skin. According to research, alcohol triggers the receptors responsible for the sensation, alarming the brain.

An analytical chemist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Joseph Glajch, also states, “Alcohol is not destroying anything, but causing the receptor to get turned on.

Moreover, alcohol fades quickly upon application. Therefore, it causes a cooling effect often perceived as a burning sensation.

2. Skin Cut

The purpose of post-shave products is to treat and soothe irritated skin. Hence, the products feature antiseptic properties.

The problem is that antiseptics and open cuts are not good partners. Thus, applying aftershave will trigger a burning sensation if your skin has tiny abrasions and microscopic cuts.

3. Not Compatible With Your Skin Type

As a newbie shaver, you might opt for any aftershave without knowing you have sensitive skin. Therefore, you may end up adding more salt to your wound, literally.

Hence, it is essential to note that not all post-shave products fare well with all skin types. For example, people with sensitive skin should avoid alcohol-based aftershaves.

Meanwhile, those with acne-prone skin should avoid aftershave balm. This is because they have pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil or butter.

According to stratumclinics.com, those aftershave ingredients can trigger an acne breakout.

4. Allergic Reaction

Some people may have allergies to certain ingredients in aftershave products. These include fragrance compounds and preservatives.

These ingredients/allergens can force an immune response or allergic reaction. Therefore, it can cause redness, itching, and a burning sensation.

5. Dry Skin

If your skin is dry, applying aftershave with harsh ingredients can further dehydrate it.

This is because dry skin lacks the necessary moisture barrier to protect against the harsh ingredients in post-shave products. Therefore, it can lead to a burning sensation upon application.

How To Prevent Aftershave Burn

How To Prevent Aftershave Burn

Aftershave burn can be bothersome for those who shave regularly. So, this section provides several effective preventive measures.

1. Choose The Right Product

If a product incompatible with your skin type is causing aftershave burns, replacing it may solve the problem. For example, you should opt for an alcohol-free product if you have sensitive skin.

As hinted by healthline.com, you should also avoid aftershaves with artificial fragrances. This is because several fragrances contain unreported ingredients that can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

2. Prep Your Skin Before Shaving

Taking a warm shower or placing a warm towel will soften the hair and open up the pores on your skin.

Doing that reduces the chances of aftershave burns.

3. Use A Sharp Razor

A sharp, clean razor blade is vital to avoid unnecessary friction and cuts during shaving.

Blunt razor blades can tug at the hair and hurt the skin, eventually leading to cuts and aftershave burns. Hence, replace your razor blades regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

Besides, avoid applying pressure when using a sharp razor as it can cause cuts. Thus, allow the razor to gently glide over your skin without pressing too hard.

That should help reduce the chances of developing cuts.

4. Moisturize Your Skin

Using a moisturizer after shaving can help soothe and hydrate the skin. Doing that helps reduce the likelihood of the burning sensation when you apply aftershave.

However, buying a moisturizer for post-shave use or gentle and fragrance-free ones is ideal.

5. Test New Products

Performing a test is essential if you’re trying a new aftershave product. Specifically, apply a small amount of the product on a small area of your skin.

Then, wait a few hours to observe any potential adverse reactions. Doing that can help you identify if the product causes burn or any other skin problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Does Aftershave Last For?

How long aftershave lasts varies depending on several factors. These include the specific product, ingredients, and how it is applied.

Nonetheless, aftershave generally lasts for an hour or two after application. However, the effectiveness and scent of the aftershave may decrease gradually over time.

2. Why Is Aftershave So Itchy?

Using an aftershave product with harsh chemicals and artificial scents can irritate the skin, causing itchiness.

3. Does All Aftershave Have Alcohol?

Not every type of post-shave product contains alcohol. Although alcohol is a common ingredient in traditional aftershaves, some alcohol-free alternatives are on the market.

Those types of aftershave are usually marketed as “alcohol-free,” “gentle,” or “soothing” aftershave.

4. Can I Use Honey As Aftershave?

According to indiatimes.com, honey can also be used as an aftershave.

5. Which Is The Best Aftershave?

Choosing the best aftershave depends on personal preferences and needs. Different people have different skin types and desired outcomes.

So, what works for one person may not work for another. Some popular aftershaves include Proraso Aftershave Balm and Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm.


Aftershave burns can occur due to several factors. However, a primary culprit is often the amount of alcohol content in traditional aftershaves.

Skin cuts, skin type, and allergic reactions can also contribute to the burning sensation. Fortunately, this article provided various ways to prevent this discomfort.

However, if you continue to experience the issue despite taking preventive measures, consider visiting a professional.

We trust that you found this article helpful. If you have, we kindly ask that you share the article with your friends on social media.

Finally, visit our Life Hacks to explore similar articles.

References And Further Reading

  1. scienceabc.com – Why Does Aftershave Sting?
  2. nakedarmor.com – Why Does Aftershave Burn? Here are 8 Reasons
  3. thoughtco.com – Why Does Alcohol Burn on a Cut or Wound?
  4. theenglishshavingcompany.com – Why Does Aftershave Burn?
  5. nivea.co.uk – WHAT IS AFTERSHAVE?
  6. menshealth.com – What Does Aftershave Do? Experts Explain
  7. fragrancex.com – What Is Aftershave and Why Do You Need It?
  8. healthline.com – What You Need to Know About Aftershave

About the Author

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Oluwaseun Bamisile

Oluwaseun is the Lead Content Editor at Ilifeguides.com. He holds a National Diploma in Computer Science (currently studying part-time for his Higher National Diploma). An internet geek with a love for automobiles, he writes relationship articles, travel guides, and general life hacks on the site.

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