The aftershave lotion is a cosmetic product for men, which is applied on the face after shaving, to soften the skin and soothe the irritations. It has a liquid formula that contains hydrating and disinfecting ingredients, and very often - perfume, as well.
The first cosmetic products of that type date as far back as the time of the ancient Romans. They were used to prevent infections, as the blades of the shaving tools were never changed and injuries were quite common. The barbers used to soak spider net into a solution of vinegar and vegetable oil and applied it on the skin – the vinegar killed bacteria and the oil moisturized the skin.
During the Victorian era, homemade shaving soaps and water of the Cherry Laurel tree were mostly used, but the need of an universal product emerged. Men began to accept the idea of adding perfume in the products.
The aftershave lotion, in its formula for general use appeared in 19th century, but it is known that it was present in the barber’s practice at least a century earlier. The Hungarians were the first who dared to experiment with the aftershave lotion’s aroma and texture, and their example was shortly followed by other European countries.
Some of its specific features were the tickling and the tingling of the skin, caused by ingredients such as menthol, perfume and alcohol, which are still considered an indication of high quality.
There are products mainly focused on calming and moisturizing the skin after shaving, others on tightening the pores (that’s what alcohol is for) or preventing infections, while others are used simply as a substitute for cologne. Similarly to the white cosmetics, the content of active ingredients in the aftershave’s formula varies depending on the relevant skin type it is intended for: dry, oily, sensitive or normal.
In the 20th century new products appeared (aftershave balm and aftershave gel), which rapidly became leaders on the market, because of their milder and more soothing effect. The aftershave lotion remains a classic of the genre, combining the three main components in men’s beautification - disinfection, hydration and fragrance.