Aftershave Vs. Cologne: Can You Use One For The Other?

Aftershave vs. Cologne What is the Difference

Eau de toilette, Eau de parfum, aftershave, and cologne—the world of men's fragrances can be overwhelming. Even more confusing is the debate between aftershave and cologne, which has long intrigued men looking for the perfect smell. But if you don't know how to layer fragrances or don't have the space or money for another fragrance product, you can stop asking, "Can you use aftershave as cologne?" because the answer is yes.

Join us as we demystify the world of aftershave vs. cologne, break down their differences and shaving-related benefits, and teach you how to avoid using aftershave instead of cologne.


Aftershave is a skincare product used after shaving, similar to cologne, Eau de toilettes, and Eau de parfum in fragrance concentration. It comes in different forms like splash for oily skin, lotions for sensitive skin, or balms for a sting-free experience.

Some aftershaves, such as blue astringent herbal lotion or aftershave spray, refresh and soothe the skin. They offer a variety of fragrances and base notes to suit individual preferences, making you smell good and completing your grooming routine. Aftershaves with essential oils and natural scents enhance the shaving process and help prevent razor burns, razor bumps, and other irritations caused by facial hair removal.

What Does It Do?

Men's aftershave is like a shield of protection for your skin after shaving that also smells nice. It has special ingredients that fight off germs and keep tiny cuts from getting infected. Applying aftershave leaves behind a pleasant scent, signature of a barber-like shave, that lingers throughout the day more than what scented shampoos can offer.

Aftershave Ingredients

Understanding the ingredients can help you choose the perfect one for your skin. Aftershave formulations typically have three main components: astringents, fragrances from essential oils, and moisturizers.

  • Witch Hazel: This natural astringent has anti-inflammatory properties, helping tighten pores and reducing redness or irritation after shaving.
  • Alcohol: Acting as a powerful astringent, alcohol helps disinfect the skin, preventing infections and providing a refreshing sensation. However, it can be drying for some skin types, so proceed cautiously.
  • Essential Oils: These aromatic oils add a pleasant natural scent to aftershave products. Lavender, sandalwood, and citrus oils are popular choices, providing a soothing and refreshing scent.
  • Glycerin: Known for its moisturizing properties, glycerin helps hydrate the skin, keeping it soft and supple. It forms a protective barrier, preventing moisture loss.
  • Aloe Vera: With its soothing and cooling properties, aloe vera helps calm any post-shave irritation or redness. It also moisturizes the skin, promoting healing and a smoother complexion.

Considering these ingredients, you can select an aftershave that suits your skin type and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and refreshing experience after each shave. You can also use an aftershave for treating mild beard rash.

When and How to Apply Aftershave

When and How to Apply AftershaveApply the aftershave product by gently patting or massaging it on damp skin.

After rinsing your face with cold water after shaving, you should always use an aftershave to soothe razor burn, cuts, or small cuts you made while shaving.

In particular, men with dry and oily skin with clogged pores should use this product to relieve the dryness and kill the skin bacteria in open pores.

The type of aftershave you use will depend on your skin type.

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

After you determine the kind of aftershave to use according to your skin type, here is how to apply aftershave properly:

How To Use Aftershave Properly

  1. Follow your usual shaving routine. Once you complete your shave, use cold water to clean your face.
  2. Make sure to dry your face thoroughly with a clean hand towel and avoid rubbing the towel on your skin to prevent damage.
  3. Pour out a dime-sized amount of aftershave product into your palm.
  4. Rub it into both hands in a circular motion to spread it evenly.
  5. Apply gently on the face, especially on sensitive areas, from the cheekbones to your jawline. Apply on your chin and upper lips, and finish up on the neck area.
  6. Consider applying a second coat since some aftershaves tend to dry out fast.


CologneCologne is a lightly scented variation of men's fragrance.

Cologne is a light-scented fragrance, usually marketed to men, that only lasts a few hours.

In 1709, an Italian perfume maker and one of the best fragrance experts in Cologne, Germany, was the one who formulated the original cologne, hence the name. They marketed it as Eau de Cologne, or Water of Cologne, believing that it had the power to ward off the bubonic plague, which was prevalent during those times.

Difference From Eau De toilette and Eau de Parfum

Today, people use cologne to designate any scent formulation with 2-5% perfume oil. In contrast, the parfum or perfume contains anywhere between 20-40% scent oil. Since perfume fragrances have more fats than water, it tends to last eight hours longer than cologne and have a stronger scent.

What Does It Do?

You apply the cologne on the skin to let your skin’s natural oil absorb and meld with the essential oils in the product, resulting in a unique scent. The best place to apply them is on your skin area with pulse points, where the constant body temperature can heat the oils and release their fragrance into the air.

Since colognes are used primarily for fragrance, they can’t serve as a replacement for an aftershave. They don’t have anti-bacterial and astringent properties that can soothe or treat irritation caused by shaving.

What are the Main Ingredients in Cologne?

Colognes, unlike aftershaves, have three main ingredients, which are the following:

  • Essential Oils or Fragrance

    Flowering plants are a natural source of essential oils. But, nowadays, some are producing essential oils synthetically. The most expensive and exclusive colognes are from rare essential oils that perfume houses secretly guard against the competition.

  • Alcohol

    It may surprise you, but colognes have alcohol in their formulations, but only less than those within an astringent. It is because manufacturers only use it to distill the aromatic compounds that produce the fragrance. Therefore, a cologne cannot disinfect the way aftershaves can.

  • Water

    Water is vital as the solvent for carrying the essential oil in the distilling process during the cologne formulation. In other words, it will capture and transport the fragrance when the heat and alcohol break down the essential oils to release the scent.

When and How to Use Cologne

The best time to apply cologne is right after a shower when drying off. Do so by holding the bottle about 3-5 inches from the skin for even distribution.

A helpful rule of thumb when applying colognes is to start with a single drop or spray on your bare chest. As you find your comfort level with the scent, you can 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 cheek, as heat can activate the scent during the day.

Aftershave Vs. Cologne

Can You Use Aftershave As Cologne?

Remember that while you can do away with a cologne during your shaving experience, you cannot do the same thing with an aftershave.

Using aftershave is essential because it is a hygienic way to end your shaving experience.

As for the cologne, it is all a matter of preference. If you want a fragrance that lasts longer than it takes you out of the bathroom, dress into your work clothes, and go out into the world, then use a cologne.

Otherwise, stick with an aftershave. Your mug will thank you for it.

And when you do, choose an organic aftershave with natural ingredients like ours here in Naked Armor. It does not contain synthetic ingredients, ensuring that it is excellent for all skin types. Check them out below and Add to Cart.

Watch our YouTube video on the difference between aftershave and cologne.

More Naked Armor Reads:

How To Prevent Razor Burn
Why Does Aftershave Burn? Here Are 8 Reasons
Pimples After Shaving: How To Prevent Razor Bumps

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