Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a big difference between aftershave products and colognes. They both have their uses, but these are completely different. Before using either, a man should understand the differences between the two products so that he can make an informed decision about which one to choose.
An aftershave product is used after shaving, as the name suggests. When you have been dragging a sharp piece of metal across your skin, it begins to show wear. Doing this on a sensitive area of the skin, such as the face, means that even more damge is caused.
Pulling at the little hairs on the face mean that pores are opened, using a less-than-sharp razer can cause grazes on the skin, constant use of shaving foam can cause dry skin and poor shaving technique (often caused by being half asleep!) can cause nicks and cuts.
All this damage can be minimized and/or cured by the use of an aftershave product.
Aftershaves come in three types, liquid, gel and lotion (or balm). They have antiseptic properties, which help to heal the skin, and many contain a mild anaesthetic which helps to numb the skin while healing takes place.
Many aftershave products also contain a moisturizer and a perfume. If your skin is sensitive, then you might want to choose one without fragrance.
Aftershave products contain an astringent, which closes the pores of the skin. This improves the appearance of the skin, and helps prevent infection. If the astringent used is alcohol-based, the user might feel a sharp sting as it is applied.
The liquid, more traditional type of aftershave, is the most astringent, and will sting the most, while lotions usually contain the most moisturizing ingredients. Gel product fall in between the two, and provide a good all-round service.
The word cologne is short for Eau de Cologne, which is a perfume which was first produced in the German city of Cologne. It is now used to mean any perfume or fragrance. In fact, a true cologne has a concentration of only 2%-5% essential oils, and is based on citrus scents. These tangy scents generally favored more by men than women, although both sexes can wear colognes.
If you choose to wear a cologne, be aware that it is only a fragrance, and does not have any other properties, such as being astringent, or being a deodorant. If you use a cologne it is only for making you smell nice.
When choosing a cologne, you should make sure that the frangrance matches with other scents you are wearing. It makes sense to use anti-perspirant, aftershave, cologne etc all from the same range. In this way, the frangrances won't be fighting against each other.
Don't wear too much cologne at once, as it will be overpowering and seem cheap. Spray a small amount on your neck and pulse points, as a woman does, and the warmth of your body will keep it fresh. Remember that your own nose will become accustomed to the smell, and you will think it has worn off. Modern fragrances are designed to last all day, so you shouldn't need to reapply.
If you are going out for the evening, don't put another cologne over one you are already wearing you will need to wash the first one off before applying a second fragrance.
So, the difference between aftershave and cologne is that an aftershave product helps soothe, soften and repair skin, while a cologne merely provides fragrance.