Well, obviously it’s because it was originally designed to be used after shaving. But why has it become so popular for men, even if they don’t shave?
Originally, aftershave would have come in the form of a big bottle of antiseptic to disinfect the faces of men who had been shaved in a barbers shop. The antiseptic would clean any cuts caused by the act of shaving. Even with today’s super safe razors with bars and guards etc men still get cut every day. The aftershave would also act to close open pores, thus protecting them from infection also.
One side effect of the alcohol in old school aftershave was that for one it smelt like antiseptic and also it was made of an unsophisticated chemical which would leave a burning sensation on the skin. This effect is graphically portrayed by Macaulay Culkin in the original Home Alone film when he slaps on some of his father’s aftershave.
One criticism this style of aftershave received was that it would cause men’s skin to dry out and appear flaky. To combat this, aftershave makers have created aftershaves with non-alcoholic bases such as silicon which actively repairs the skin. Another tactic of aftershave makers is to offer a moisturiser separately from the aftershave which would is to be used as part of a shaving ritual which includes preparing the skin, shaving and finishing with moisturiser or “aftershave gel” as it is sometimes known.
Now the thing is that there are so many aftershaves out there now that the fact that they were originally designed to be used after shaving has been almost lost. Modern aftershaves are sold and marketed much in the same way perfumes are. This may be due to a new ‘modern man’ who roams the earth without the trappings of 1960’s style stereotypes hanging over their heads. Gone are the days when men would all smell like ‘Old Spice’ because that was the only aftershave on offer. Now there are countless fragrances for men on a par with any Hugo Boss perfume or any fragrances for women for that matter.
Basically men now like to smell nice too. It’s not only women who like to be sweet smelling and looking good. The modern man can easily have as many cosmetics, soaps and scents as women without being run out of town. Next on the man agenda…bring back hats!