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Many aftershave products claim that shaving creates micro cuts in your skin which can be dealt with by applying their products.

In fact, the internet is full of sources claiming that shaving creates micro cuts and that aftershave products are good for you by disinfecting or other means.(1)(2)(3)(4)

Most notably, Wikipedia states:

It contains an antiseptic agent [...] to prevent infection of cuts, as well as to act as an astringent to reduce skin irritation.

The Wikipedia article names no sources for this claim.

Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy states(1) that:

After-shave products have been used historically to prevent infections that arise from any possible minor nicks/cuts on the face after shaving.

but her "Miami Skin Institute" looks dubious to me, as it tries to sell various skin products.

I wasn't able to find any studies which indicate whether aftershave products provide a measurable health benefit.

Is applying aftershave after shaving helpful in reducing infections?

  • 1
    The wikipedia article was created in 2005 by user Fish and karate and already included the above quoted statement. – BlueWizard Jul 16 '17 at 8:16
  • I don't know about being good for skin, but it sure feels nice. – JAB Jul 18 '17 at 16:05
  • My personal experience is that antiseptic aftershave absolutely reduces skin infections. – phoog Aug 14 '17 at 8:57
  • 1
    My personal experience after shaving with a razor for 25 years, never using aftershave, and never had a skin infection, is that antiseptic aftershave absolutely doesn't matter. Anecdotes aren't very helpful. – pipe Mar 11 at 16:14
6
+50

Evidence:

  1. The natural features of male facial skin tend to affect the technique of clean shaving.

    The male facial skin is heterogeneous in morphology and roughness, and male skin has a tendency to heal slower and to develop hyperinflammatory pigmentation. In addition, many males exhibit sensitive skin, with the face most often affected. Source: The male beard hair and facial skin - challenges for shaving

  2. Shaving is noted to induce facial nicks and cuts.

    The results enable exploration of the correlations between objectively measured nicks and the different attributes of self assessed irritation. Measured nicks were shown to correlate significantly with self-assessed rash ⁄redness on the neck. In the pursuit of detailed understanding of the fundamental interactions occurring during shaving, these data indicate the need to deploy measures with the greatest levels of sensitivity. Above all, the data highlight the need for the razor to manage the skin effectively, to minimize shave-induced nicks which can contribute to perceived irritation. Source: Insights into shaving and its impact on skin

  3. Post-shave skin treatment is one of the techniques used to avoid shaving-induced skin irritation.

    Finally, the hair follicle is a sensory organ, and the perifollicular skin is highly responsive to external signals including mechanical and thermal stimulation. Perifollicular skin is rich in vasculature, innervation and cells of the innate and adaptive immune system. This makes perifollicular skin a highly responsive and inflammatory system, especially in individuals with sensitive skin. Activation of this system, by shaving, can result in shaving-induced skin irritation. Techniques commonly employed to avoid shaving-induced skin irritation include shaving with less pressure, pre- and post-shave skin treatment and to stop shaving altogether. Source: The male beard hair and facial skin - challenges for shaving.

  4. Moisturizing is good for skin health and reduction of microorganisms from skin.

    Moisturizing is beneficial for skin health and reducing microbial dispersion from skin, regardless of whether the product used contains an antibacterial ingredient. Because of differences in the content and formulations of lotions and creams, products vary greatly in their effectiveness. Lotions used with products containing chlorhexidine gluconate must be carefully selected to avoid neutralization by anionic surfactants. The role of emollients and moisturizers in improving skin health and reducing microbial spread is an area for additional research. Source: Hygiene of the Skin: When Is Clean Too Clean?.

TL;DR: Shave results tend to be affected by preshave, during-shave and post-shave techniques. Post-shaving moisturizers containing specific ingredients help in smoothing skin, reduction of underlying tissue damage and damaged skin barrier repair which is also beneficial in the reduction of microbial dispersion.

Preshave exfoliant cleansers can remove excess perifollicular scale and decrease razor burn. Post-shaving moisturizers containing sunscreen and emollients can prevent ultraviolet radiation damage while smoothing skin scale and reducing post-shave noxious sensory input. Further, moisturizers containing glycerine and emollients can create an environment for barrier repair that may be enhanced by incorporating specific cosmetic ingredients, such as 5% niacinamide. Source: Male skin and ingredients relevant to male skin care

After-shave skin care products containing glycerine might minimize razor-related skin problems.

After-shave skin care products containing glycerine, to act as a humectant attracting water to razor-traumatized skin, and emollients, to leave the skin smooth and soft, can minimize razor-related skin problems. Barrier restoration must occur after the process of shaving is completed. Source: Male skin and ingredients relevant to male skin care

  • Very well researched :) – BlueWizard Aug 13 '17 at 19:54
  • 5
    Irritation is not the same thing as infection. I'm not sure if this is actually a good answer to the question, despite it having been accepted. – JAB Mar 11 at 20:24
  • @JAB-Moisturizer role in microbial reduction is added. – pericles316 Jun 27 at 8:31

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