Aftershave Vs Cologne: What’s The Real Difference?

Aftershave vs cologne - Aftershave is a product which is usually applied to the skin after shaving. They come in different forms; some may be in a pure liquid, others in the form of a gel, a paste, or lotion. It is used to relieve irritation and heal the cuts after shaving. They serve by cleaning out, closing the recently opened pores from shaving and fighting infections from razor bumps.

On the other hand, cologne is the type of perfume though different from the spray as it typically contains more water and less strong than a perfume.

Most of the cologne are activated when the body regulates some heat, that is why it is advised to apply cologne directly to the skin and other body pulse points rather than clothes.

If you're one of the men that use aftershave and cologne interchangeably, you're not the only one... this is actually a pretty common thing all over the world!

But as products, both of these are actually different things!

Just like clothing, fragrances are named different things because they're actually different products! Even if it doesn't seem like it from the outset!

If you're someone that's confused between the several different types of fragrances, such as aftershave and cologne, that exist for men, you're not alone!

In this post, we will be tackling the problem of the ultimate fragrance confusion once and for all! We've put together a comprehensive guide that will help you understand the difference between aftershave and cologne, why it exists, and what they're for!

So when you're looking for your next signature scent, you'll know the difference... so you can get exactly what will fit your needs!

Is Cologne the same as Aftershave?

Even though we're going to be going over all different types of men's fragrances, we're going to be starting with the crux of all the confusion: aftershave and cologne.

Most men just have cologne lying around the house and end up using it as aftershave after they're done shaving because they seem very similar to each other. Aftershave and cologne are both liquid and smell nice, so it just feels like you could easily swap one out for the other, and it would be fine, but they're actually not the same at all...

Aftershave is just a post-shave product that tends to smell like cologne!

Differences between Aftershave and Cologne

At times one might mistake between aftershave and cologne due to their similarity in nature. Although both cologne and aftershave have a pleasing fragrance, they are different. These two products have their difference both in purpose, strength, and cost, as well as the location where they are used and applied.

One of the main differences between them is that the aftershaves have fewer scented oils when compared to cologne because the scent is usually not designed to sustain throughout the day. Often the aftershave has less perfume, and therefore, the smell cannot last long.

Another difference between aftershave and cologne is that cologne is made to enhance one's smell. It does not aid as a replacement for aftershave. The core purpose of using cologne is to make your body smell to be pleasing and attractive.

Also, cologne does not contain ingredients which are essential for soothing your skin, healing cuts, and healing damaged skin. Unlike for aftershave, which contains astringent and antibacterial Properties, cologne does not have the same constituents. It cannot serve as men’s deodorant, and thus, it should not be used as an antiseptic.

Unlike cologne, which is applied at strategic points of the body such as the neck and pulse points, aftershaves are used on areas that are usually smooth-shaven like the face.

In terms of the cost, the colognes are the most expensive because of the oil products which are usually added to them.


When you shave your face, you've just gone over your skin with a blade! Although it's a great method to get rid of the hair on the face, it also tends to irritate the skin, and rightfully so!

Aftershave was created to tackle that irritation!

It is mainly a product that works to disinfect freshly shaved skin! It's mainly an astringent, so all the surface bacteria die the second it comes in contact with it.

If there are any nicks or small cuts on the skin, it'll take care of that so it can begin to heal immediately!

Along with the astringent, it contains ingredients that help soothe and close the pores while hydrating the skin. This is just another way of dealing with the potential skin irritation and aiding the healing process so that you're not left with any razor bumps, and the shaving site is as clean as possible!

The mix of all of these ingredients can end up smelling really intense. This is why it's masked with a very concentrated scent!

The aromatic compounds make it so it's a product that can easily be used for the purpose it was made for and for the fragrance!

Although, there's only about 1-3% of it in there. So it's not usually super strong and fades away fairly quickly.


Cologne, or "Eau de Cologne," is a simpler type of product. This is a product you think of when you think of an intense, long-lasting scent! That's because of a few reasons.

The first reason is that cologne Eau de is literally made to be a scent. So it's only really serving its purpose.

The name "Eau de cologne" even means "Water from cologne," which is why eau de cologne is so watery!

The second reason is that the concentration of the fragrance is much higher with this, at around 7%, which is over twice that of aftershaves! This means that not only is the scent stronger from the second it's been used, but it also tends to last much longer too! 

Why use Aftershaves?

1. They Contain Antiseptics for Healing the Skin

It is essential to use aftershaves as they contain antiseptic agents such as alcohol which is a perfect remedy that quickly soothes skin that is inflamed. It also contains citrate, which helps to prevent infections from cuts during the shaving process. They act as an astringent to minimize irritation of the skin, and the menthol agent is useful to numb damaged skin. The antiseptics contained in the aftershaves are essential; they are natural and organic, thus ensuring no side effects.

2. Moisturizes Your Skin

Aftershave should be used during the winter season to moisturize your skin. They restore the softness of the skin after shaving. Thanks for the glycerin by-product that is found in the aftershaves as it helps the shaved skin to become supple again. Another ingredient that is found in aftershave for moisturizing is the Aloe Vera. It is an anti-inflammatory chemical which also serves to moisturize and soften your skin.

3. They have a Nice Smell

Another main reason for the use of aftershave is because of the fragrance. Different people have different tastes and preferences regarding the smell of aftershave. Some aftershaves use essential oil to enhance the scent to soften the skin and give you a beautiful fragrance.

Who is Supposed to Use Aftershave?

Aftershaves are used more in men’s skin care, and most women do not use them daily. However, they can be used for both men and women.

There are various aftershaves which are for unisex to serve both male and female. Unlike earlier, when most of the aftershaves were well-known for men only nowadays, women love men products and use them after shaving. The unisex aftershaves are classic, sensual, and fresh, making the fragrance versatile for both men and women.

Is it recommended to Use Both Aftershave and Cologne?

Everyone likes a smell that is long lasting to sustain throughout the day. It is recommendable to use both an aftershave and cologne.

However, you have to ensure that both the aftershave and cologne are from the same fragrance line. Also, you should certify the balance of the smell.

Mostly when the cologne has a light scent which is not overpowering, you can use it together with an aftershave, this ensures that the scent is balancing and makes an individual feel comfortable. Aftershave and cologne can be applied together but at different points. You put on the aftershave at your face or the shaved part and also use cologne in various parts of your body such as necks and pulse joints.

Aftershaves that are Most Recommended

There are different types of aftershaves, depending on individual choice and preferences. Also, some factors such as the strength of the aftershaves, the smell, and the cost make people use different selections. Some of the most recommended aftershaves that offer exceptional care for your routine grooming are,

Nivea Shave Balm

It is one of the most efficient and popular aftershave products. It helps nourish your skin, and it is free from alcohol and other chemicals. It has a light and refreshing scent, and thus you can use it together with the cologne of your choice. The product is well researched and proved to contain all the necessary ingredients to soothe your itchy skin, reduce the irritation, and fight infection-causing bacteria. Nivea sensitive aftershave balm is the best-recommended solution to cater to your skin after shaving.

Jack Black Aftershave cooling Gel

It is another excellent product to apply after shaving. It contains ingredients such as aloe and chamomile, which acts as skin smoothers. It also comprises a blend of botanicals like bacteria fighting lavender which are essential for calming the irritation and heal the damaged skin. Jack Black aftershave gel is the best for soothing irritated skin.

Scents and Fragrances for men - Are all of them the same?

Now that we know the main difference between aftershave and cologne, we can get into other scents that many men tend to get confused by.

In general, there are 5 types of scents in the market, Aftershave, Eau de parfum, Parfum, Cologne, and Eau de toilette! Just like we mentioned before since they have different names, they actually have a different purpose too!

We'll be going over all of these and how you're supposed to use aftershave and cologne now!


Since we've already been over the aftershave vs cologne debate above, and it should be enough that you'd know the difference between the two now, we won't be wasting a lot of time here.

Aftershave is simply a product that's specifically made for aftershave needs.

These will always have an astringent in them, which is the base of the product, and it is supposed to work by disinfecting and cleaning up the shaved area of the skin.

This comes in either a liquid form, spray form, or a balm! No matter which version you may have, the purpose and use remain the same.

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  • The Art of Shaving After-Shave Balm refreshes and hydrates to soothe the skin after shavin

Cologne Eau De:

Since we've gone over Aftershave briefly, we should also cover cologne. On the strength scale, if you look at aftershave vs. cologne on their own, cologne is going to last a lot longer than aftershave would have. That's because it's got a higher concentration of scent in it.

  • Colognes are used to add as much scent as possible. This should typically be used fresh after a shower when the body doesn't have any odors present.

Even though people think they should spray cologne in the air and just walk through it to distribute the scent, that's not the way to go.

To make cologne last as long as possible, spray it to your pulse points instead! These are your neck, wrists, inner elbow, etc.

Although some people also spray it on their chest and clothes to achieve a light musk overall fragrance that can linger for a couple of hours!

If you're trying to figure out which one would last longer between aftershave vs. cologne, you should know that cologne is the clear winner.

However, when it comes to cologne vs. better alternatives, there are stronger contenders out there in terms of fragrance!

Eau de Toilette:

Now that we've established that cologne is an actual scent, we can get into how other types of fragrances compare to it! Eau de Toilette is one of the most popular options here.

That's because Eau de toilette can provide a great, moderately lasting scent without being overly expensive!

Eau de toilette is definitely a step up from colognes! They contain a higher alcohol and scent concentration, around 10%, which makes it last a lot longer than a cologne!

However, it's not the longest-lasting one! We're working up to that!

Eau de Parfum:

Next we have Eau de Parfum. Eau de Parfum is what we typically know as "perfume," well, at least one kind of it! This is a much stronger fragrance than eau de toilette, with a concentration of up to 15%!

In scents, every 5% is a major difference, so if you work your way up from an aftershave, you'll notice that you can barely even notice the aftershave in the presents of one of these!

Which is pretty crazy to think about considering most people think aftershave itself is a pretty strong product!

These are typically perfumes you can wear daily, and even though they'll run their course throughout the day and get weak as the day goes on, they last pretty long, and you'll still be able to smell a weak aroma long after; you first sprayed it!

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Finally, we have the rarest type of them all, the Parfums. Notice that there's no "Eu de" here.

That's because there's no water here; it's a straight-up fragrance! This is the most potent formulation one can go for, averaging around 30%! Since this is a super-strong formula, it ends up being fairly expensive.

The price isn't the only reason this version isn't super commonly used; it's also the fact that it's simply too much to deal with!

These contain such a strong aroma that a lot of people simply can't handle it! Semi-strong oils and over types of fragrances tend to get the upper hand on this one, making it lag behind the others! 

Which one of these would be the right for you?

When you're deciding on whether you should go for aftershave or cologne, or any other type of perfume, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do I need it for?
  • How strong do I need it to be?
  • What's my budget?
  • What's the size that I need?
  • Does it have to be a spray? Or can it also be a balm?

Now that you know the differences between aftershave and cologne, these questions can easily be answered using the information above! Using these questions as a guiding light, you can land on the right decision according to your own specific needs!

Whether you're looking for something simple like an aftershave or cologne, or something super rare like a bottle of parfum, with this guide, you are now fully equipped with all the necessary information to make the right decision every single time! 

Last update on 2022-04-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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