What Is The Difference Between Aftershave And Cologne?

June 11, 2018

What Is The Difference Between Aftershave And Cologne?

When it comes to men’s fragrances, it is easy to confuse cologne and aftershave mostly because aftershaves come in various scents with quite good smells.

In fact, you are not the first nor the last person to deal with this issue, many people also get lost in the subtle variations between these kinds.

Basically, cologne and aftershave are designed to use for different tasks. Some men believe that if they use aftershave, it isn’t necessary to use cologne after that.

However, this is not actually true. So what is the difference between aftershave and cologne?

Let’s debunk the question and make sure that you can make the right choice for the right task.

What Is Aftershave?


As the name implies, aftershave is a product that is made to be applied to men’s skin after shaving. It serves by closing and cleaning out the pores.

To understand the benefit of aftershaves, first, you need to think about the process of shaving as the act of dragging a sharpened metal across one of the thinnest and most sensitive skin areas on your body.

As a result, it will rip out or cut all tiny hairs while opening up the pores, where bacteria from the razor blade might penetrate.

Also, small nicks, bumps, and cuts might appear as the razor blade dulls down or your skin loses much of its moisture content.

Aftershaves serve by cleaning out and closing the pores, which have recently opened due to the act of shaving, preventing infection from nicks and cuts, as well as curing razor bumps and razor burns.

While many people think that aftershaves serve no purpose than creating a good smell. This isn’t actually correct.

Compared to colognes, they have much fewer scented oils within since the odor is not designed to remain during the whole day.

What Are The Main Ingredients In Aftershaves?

The main ingredients in aftershaves can be divided into 2 main types: witch hazel and alcohol, which is also the difference between aftershave lotions, and splashes.


As a powerful astringent, alcohol helps cleans and seal all pores for a quick alleviation of the pain that your skin might feel from shaving.

Basically, it might create a sting feeling when applied to the skin frequently related to aftershaves.

Witch Hazel

witch hazel

Witch hazel is the core component in most natural aftershaves thanks to its ability to restrict the pores on your face effectively.

This is not actually a replacement for alcohol because it is a natural substance that doesn’t serve by drying out your skin as alcohol.

What’s more, witch hazel is also a powerful anti-inflammatory treatment that can soothe inflamed skin quickly.

When And How To Apply Aftershaves


It is recommended to use aftershaves after every shave, especially when you make a cut during this process.

Those men with sensitive, dry, oily, and clogged pore filled skin should frequently use this product as well.

Keep in mind that aftershaves should be selected based on your skin type:

- If you have a normal skin, a gel or liquid aftershave can be a good option.
- If your skin is oily, it is better to choose a lotion, gel, or liquid with moisturizer.
- If the air is dry and cold or your skin is really dry, look for a balm which has a moisturizer.

What Is Cologne?


The main purpose of cologne is to provide a man with a preferred and lingering fragrance.

In fact, this is one of the oldest terms for perfume, which specifically referred to masculine scents.

However, cologne is different from perfume because it typically contains more water and is less strong.

No matter if it is a solid fragrance or spray, colognes are activated when your body is heating up.

That is the reason why it is often recommended to use it directly to the skin and different pulse areas instead of the clothes.

As colognes are only produced to enhance your smell, they don’t serve as a replacement for aftershave. What’s more, colognes don’t contain the same anti-bacterial and astringent properties.

What Are The Main Ingredients In Cologne?

Essential Oils Or Fragrance

essential oils

The smell of colognes come from either synthetic materials or essential oils in some plants. The more exclusive and expensive the colognes are, the more rare essential oils they contain.


Just like aftershaves, many types of cologne also contain alcohol. In general, alcohol is often used to distil the aroma that produces compounds. However, colognes contain much less alcohol than aftershaves and do not disinfect in the same way.


Water plays an essential role in carrying solvent when distilling. In other words, it will capture and transport the fragrance released prior to the process of heating.

Steam from heating aromatic materials and alcohol mingle with water in which volatile oils are often released. After that, it might cool and drip into a bottle.

When And How To Use Cologne


The best time to apply cologne is just right after a shower when you are drying off. As said earlier, it should be applied or sprayed to your dry skin.

In these cases, keep in mind to hold the bottle about 3 to 5 inches from the skin for an even distribution.

A helpful rule of thumb when applying colognes is to start with a single drop or spray on your bare chest. As the comfort level evolves, move on to spray to other parts of the body.

Remember to apply to warm areas, including behind the ear, shoulder, inner elbow, forearm, wrist, neck, and check, as heat can activate the scent during the day.

Final Thoughts

When you are shopping at the store and making a purchase decision between one of these two described products, knowledge is 95% of the battle.

Once you’ve known their desired effects and the differences in the qualities, it is much easier to go for the most suitable option for your needs.

Let this useful article serve as your guide and give you some helpful tips in the pursuit of a good smell and look.

Also in News & Blog

How to Choose The Best Point For Your Straight Razor
How to Choose The Best Point For Your Straight Razor

September 18, 2018

For most male shavers, switching to a straight razor is similar to joining the big leagues. It’s the next level in their journey through male vanity.
Read More
Should I Try Out A Kamisori Over A Straight Razor?
Should I Try Out A Kamisori Over A Straight Razor?

September 18, 2018

A kami—what? You, oh American reader, secure and smug in the straight and narrow ways of Western traditional wet shaving, would probably be surprised to know that there is a whole other world out there beyond safety and straight razors.
Read More
Which Razor Is Best For Sensitive Skin?
Which Razor Is Best For Sensitive Skin?

September 16, 2018

Almost half of all Americans have sensitive skin. Breaking that down, what that means for the male half of the population, is that there is one in three guys who undergo skin irritation once they’ve shaved.
Read More