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An aftershave is a lotion, gel, balm, powder, or liquid used mainly by men after they have finished shaving. It may contain an antiseptic agent such as denatured alcohol, stearate citrate or witch hazel to prevent infection of cuts, as well as to act as an astringent to reduce skin irritation. Menthol is used in some varieties as well to numb damaged skin, and it is an ingredient that shaving cream manufacturers have started including in their formulations, too.
Aftershave with alcohol usually causes an immediate burning sensation in men who apply it post-shave, with effects sometimes lasting several minutes. For this reason, a market consisting of highly differentiated products has been created—some using alcohols, some not.
The use of aftershave in society dates back to Roman times.
Some aftershaves use fragrance or essential oil to enhance scent. Moisturizers—natural and artificial, are often touted as able to soften the skin.
Aftershave is sometimes mistakenly referred to as eau de cologne due to the very similar nature of the two products. Some aftershave manufacturers encourage using their fragranced aftershave as if it were cologne, in order to increase sales by encouraging men to use it in a more versatile manner, rather than just after a shaving session. Some aftershaves were inspired by a cologne.
Early aftershaves included witch-hazel and bay rum, and have been documented in shaving guides. Both still are sold as aftershaves.
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