Shaving causes trauma due to hair pulling and friction. The best smelling aftershave for men reduces irritation, razor burn, and bumps caused by shaving.
Even using an old razor can cause an issue. As derm expert Dr Tim Clayton explains, “if you can feel your razor tugging at your hair, rather than gliding over it smoothly, it’s likely blunt and will cause skin irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs.”
Every time you shave, even with the best razor, you open your pores to the elements. The pores generally close back up within 1-2 days depending on your skin’s level of laxness. Here’s where aftershave comes in to save the day. Aftershave clears and seals the pores straight after shaving. This prevents dirt or bacteria from entering.
There are three common types of aftershave: lotions, gels, and liquids. Plus, there are options to suit all skin types and some are even alcohol-free. Aftershaves often have a lighter scent and aren’t as long-lasting as regular colognes.
Aftershaves have come a long way since I hit puberty. According to Future Market Insights, the men’s post-shave market is projected to have a worth of 5.5 billion USD this year. Today, you can pick from products that cool, refresh, disinfect, soothe, hydrate, and more.
While a daily shave is a must-have, I’m embarrassed to admit I only started using aftershave regularly a few years ago. Before that, it was something I saved for special occasions.
While this is hardly the crime of the century, I was missing out. I have sensitive skin that’s prone to irritation and found that using an aftershave gives post-shave relief. It also helps to soothe redness and leaves my skin feeling and smelling great.
No need to ‘pore’ over dozens of aftershave products on the internet. Instead, read on to discover my curated list of the best smelling aftershaves for men.
As the cost of living rises, we’re all on the hunt for better value. This is especially so when it comes to the grooming products we use daily. In my search for the best smelling aftershaves for men, after scent, cost was one of my top considerations. Every guy I spoke to admitted that at some point, they had suffered from redness, razor burn, and other irritating shaving-related issues.
So, when I tried and tested Bee Bald Post-Shaving Balm, I wasn’t surprised that 69% of its 18K+ Amazon reviewers awarded the product 5 stars. This product is a well-deserved best-overall pick. From its barbershop scent and healing ingredients to its price point, it checks all the boxes.
My Best on Amazon choice is Smooth Viking Aftershave Balm. It’s alcohol-free, smells refreshing, and is crafted with natural extracts and pure essential oils to soothe, moisturize, and heal. What’s more, at around $13 a tube, there’s no need to plunder your pockets!
Our Top Picks
Why It’s Great: Whether you’re caring for a close head shave or a clean-cut chin, check out Bee Bald. The clue to the product’s name comes courtesy of bee pollen, honey, and plant extracts. These ingredients combine to tone, hydrate, and protect, actively soothing shaving irritation, bumps, redness, and razor burn. Better yet, it has that just ‘stepped out of the barbershop’ smell. What I like most is that it’s made by a small company and is a steal at around $8.
How It Feels/How to Use It: The product goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly with no tacky residue. Apply a small, thin layer to the skin as needed.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: Yes, it was developed specifically for bald men (and women). But it’s also effective for the face and neck.
Size: 2oz | Scent: Citrus | Skin Type: All (including sensitive) | Ingredients: Honey, Bee Pollen Extract, Oat, Arnica, Goji Berry, Vitamin E, Licorice Root | Type: Balm
Why it’s Great: I rate this product because it combines the benefits of an aftershave with the pleasing scent of men’s cologne. It firms and tones while leaving a warm, long-lasting musk scent which is masculine yet subtle. Going all the way back to 1917, Aqua Velva is known as the USA’s first aftershave. I can thank my grandfather for introducing me to it when I sprouted my very first chin hairs. He handed me my first razor and a bottle of Aqua Velva. Ever since, I’ve made it a nostalgic part of my grooming kit. While some say Aqua Velva only offers retro appeal, every guy should give it a go at least once!
How it feels/How to use it: The balm has a fresh feel on the skin. As part of your daily grooming regimen, apply to the face using a gentle rubbing motion.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Right after shaving, it burns a little on the skin due to the alcohol. The stinging sensation is mild and for me, lasts 30-40 seconds.
Size: 3.5oz | Scent: Musk | Skin Type: All |Ingredients: Alcohol, Water, Fragrance, Glycerin, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate | Type: Liquid
Why it’s Great: From beard washes and butters to beard oils and waxes, caring for and maintaining your facial fuzz begins with finding the best products. The same goes for clean-cut guys. What I enjoy most about this elite product is it uses natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter. These help to restore the skin’s moisture after shaving. The balm also soothes post-shave irritation while nourishing and cooling the skin.
How it feels/How to use it: This balm has a lightweight formula, which makes it fast absorbing. To apply, rub a small amount of the shave balm into the skin to soothe irritation and invigorate your face.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some reviewers complain that although the scent is great, it is on the subtle side.
Size: 4oz | Scent: Spicy notes | Skin Type: Dry, oily, and sensitive | Ingredients: Natural Aloe Vera, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Fragrance, Cocos Nucifera, Cetearyl Olivate, Rosmarinus Officinalis, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Sorbitan Olivate | Type: Balm
Why it’s Great: Whether you reach for a convenient cartridge or a classic straight razor, this product is a good tool to have on hand. What stands out for me is its aromatic spicy scent, which is long-lasting without being cloying. Mostly though it gets my vote because it’s part of a full product range. This includes shower gel, soap, body lotion, and deodorant. When you layer different product types with the same fragrance, the scent lingers for longer.
How it feels/How to use it: This richly formulated lotion feels great on the skin. Apply after shaving or use daily as a moisturizer.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This aftershave has a rep as being reminiscent of Pierre Cardin or Old Spice which some guys don’t favor. Personally, I think that’s harsh.
Size: 4oz | Scent: Lavender, sage, jasmine, rose, musk, amber| Skin Type: All | Ingredients: N/A| Type: Lotion
Why it’s Great: It’s no secret that big, burly beards need a little extra care and attention when it comes to achieving the perfect shave. A good safety razor can help reduce razor burn for guys with coarse beard hair. But if your skin is prone to ingrown hairs and bumps, this shave balm goes the extra mile to moisturize and nourish while helping protect from razor burn. Its warm and woodsy sandalwood scent makes it a big hit with my bearded brethren.
How it feels/How to use it: Although I’ve experimented with many different beard styles, I don’t have a coarse beard. So, I asked a colleague for the follicle facts. He told me this balm is lightweight, creamy, soothes post-shave inflammation, and leaves his skin texture feeling great. To refresh the skin after shaving, gently massage the balm into the area in small circular and upward motions.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This product is suitable for guys with normal to dry skin types. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to those with sensitive skin. It is up there, though, among the best beard balms for men.
Size: 3.4oz | Scent: Almond, sandalwood | Skin Type: Normal to dry| Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Sweet Almond Oil, Rice Starch, Betaine, Dodecane, Shea Oil, Parfum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sandalwood Oil, C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Caprylyl Glycol, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sodium Hydroxide, Coumarin, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene| | Type: Balm
Why it’s Great: This premium product uses only the richest bay leaf oil and premium Caribbean spices. It’s the 007 of aftershaves, it’s a distinguished and masculine fragrance with reasonably good longevity. Bay rum helps to hydrate skin and prevent dandruff, something I, and may others, suffer from. Plus, it’s often included in aftershave products because it de-stresses, which helps to prevent wrinkles.
How it feels/How to use it: Splash on after shaving for a cooling and refreshing feel to the face. It burns a little straight after application, but this fades away after 10 minutes. The same goes for its initial strong scent. It has a higher price point at around $80 but doubles as a cologne.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This product has a more old-school, alcohol-based formula meaning you’ll get that classic initial sting after applying. But alcohol is a natural antiseptic and can help to kill bacteria and prevent infection from nicks and cuts caused during shaving which is why it’s a key ingredient in the blend.
Size: 8oz| Scent: Bay rum | Skin Type: All | Ingredients: SD Alcohol 40, Water, Fragrance, FDC Yellow No. 9, FDC Red No. 4, FDC Blue No. 1 | Type: Liquid
Buying Considerations for the Best Smelling Aftershave for Men
When searching for any product you’re about to slap on your face, checking out the ingredients is essential. Avoid products containing sulfates or parabens, as they can irritate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, look out for aftershave blends that contain natural oils, vitamins, plant extracts or aloe vera, like Smooth Viking.
Two of my best smelling aftershaves, Aqua Velva and St John Bay Rum, contain alcohol. Alcohol has antiseptic properties and is an astringent. Astringents tighten pores and can help prevent post-shave infections. Alcohol can tend to dry skin out though. If you have super dry skin, you may want to keep it for special occasions only.
Aftershaves come in various fragrances, from refreshing citrus to warm musk. The key to finding the best smelling aftershave is to choose a scent you enjoy. Better still if it complements your favorite cologne.
If you prefer a more subtle smell, wear your aftershave alone and ditch the eau de parfums. Proraso is a great standalone option with its appealing almond and sandalwood scent. If you opt for an aftershave product like Paul Sebastian Men’s Aftershave, you have the option to layer it with other fragranced products in the collection. Layering products with the same scent profile is a great way to guarantee all-day-long freshness.
If an aftershave doesn’t specify that it’s cruelty-free, it’s better to assume it isn’t. So, if you are eco-conscious, look for containers that brandish the cruelty-free logo. For example, like Proraso After Shave Balm.
This balm hasn’t been tested on animals and is free from ingredients of animal origin. It contains zero parabens, silicones, phthalates, mineral oils, or artificial colors. According to the Derma Group, “the ingredients used in cruelty-free products are also obtained without causing more harm to the environment since they tend to be natural, chemical-free ingredients that don’t emit toxins into the air.”
Why Trust Us
Guys can’t get enough of the latest grooming and fashion advice. Writing for FashionBeans, I get to check out all the latest men’s shaving and skincare products. Although I’m all about getting up and out as quickly as possible each morning, I know that if you shave using a razor, an aftershave is essential.
The main purpose of aftershave isn’t to keep you smelling sweet. But rather to disinfect, hydrate, soothe, and protect freshly shaved skin. After researching and reviewing dozens of products, I discovered this doesn’t mean you can’t still have the best of both worlds. So, here are my 6 best smelling aftershaves for men.
Investing in a best smelling aftershave is a surefire way to step up your shaving and skincare game. I’m not the only one buzzing about the product that takes the top spot in my best smelling aftershave for men round-up.
For me, Bee Bald post-shave healing balm is a clear winner due to its versatility. It’s suitable for bald men and women, plus regular facial shaving. This balm features all-natural ingredients, including bee pollen, honey and plant extracts. It’s kind to both the skin and the environment. At a little under $8, there’s no sting in the tail when it comes to cost!
Nothing beats the smell of a barbershop. To recreate a full barber experience at home, invest in the best razor you can afford and a men’s skincare kit. The next step is to choose a great-smelling aftershave. Look for one with a pleasing, classic citrus scent, like Bee Bald Post-Shave Healing Balm. Or, for a more masculine punch in the nose, go with old-school option St. John Bay Rum Aftershave and Cologne.
When looking for an attention-grabbing aftershave, it’s easy to be put off by the many options out there. While I don’t choose a scent for other people, I get the most compliments when I opt for a musk fragrance like Aqua Velva. Musk is a clean, natural skin scent, which makes it extra appealing to others around you.