Viewer Mail: A Close Shave with Fine Fragrance

Hi Katie,

I'm trying to find an aftershave/cologne combination that doesn't clash. Would I need to buy an aftershave and a cologne with the same brand name and the same scent? Or is there a mix and match way of going about it?

My doctor suggested that I use an aftershave with alcohol for the astringent properties, but the smell seems to wear off quite fast.

I have Pinuad Clubman Original and Bay Rum, Aqua Velva Sport and Gillette Cool Wave for aftershaves. I don't own any cologne and am just a little overwhelmed to step up to a department store counter without any information.

I could use any advice you have to offer,


You could use advice? I need the advice, Kevin! I'm no man, goodness knows, but I've never understood why one would rub alcohol into one's face after shaving it. When ladies shave their legs, "moisturize" is the watchword, not "cauterize". Why does a guy scrape a razor across his face, then immediately follow it up with a slap of searing alcohol on his newly-tender skin? Haven't you seen The Phantom of the Opera?

Or The Abominable Dr. Phibes?

Even with an acid-washed face, Phibes still macs the ladies.

Seizing on your query as a learning experience for all, I ran it past my Perfume Pen Pal, Dan Rolleri, who responded:

His doctor recommended aftershave? Who's his doctor? Doc Adams from Gunsmoke?

I guess the bottom line is the scent from those alcohol-heavy aftershaves disappears so quickly, does it matter if it matches? If so, he could always stay in the same family: traditional lavender, citrus or sandalwood aftershave paired with a lavender, citrus or sandalwood cologne. Or Aqua Velva/Gillette with an aquatic like Davidoff Cool Water.

But most of all, I want to know who his doctor is.

Okay, so both Dan and I are easily distracted. For real answers, I turned to an expert in the field. bythbook is a regular correspondent on Badger & Blade, the virtual barbershop that unites fine gentlemen and their pursuit of fine grooming. Here's what bythbook had to say:
"The alcohol is essentially an antiseptic -- to disinfect any nicks or cuts resulting from the shave. Personally, I like the alcohol splash after a shave.

The trouble with trying to find a complement to Clubman products is they are so darned strong! (Many in the line are labeled 'cologne', actually.) On the other hand, they do stand by themselves quite well, with good staying power, so if used an aftershave there's really no need for a cologne.

There are unscented or low-scent aftershave balms that are followed very nicely by cologne or EDT/EDP -- a lot of guys who have sensitive skin stick with balms. Also, many use witch hazel rather than stronger aftershave -- Thayers has a number of differently-scented witch hazels.

For more answers to Kevin's questions, may I recommend the Badger & Blade "Aftershave" forum, here."

Fumies, are there any closely-shaven, marvelously-scented men out there who'd like to share their aftershave/fragrance combo tips?


  1. Two words (or is it one word?)...Alt-Innsbruck! It's technically an EDC, but it makes a wonderful aftershave. Very cooling and soothing on a freshly-shaved face and a wonderful scent that lasts for hours. It's a very simple scent with only four primary ingredients: Alcohol, Water, Menthol, and Virginia Tobacco (Nicotiana Tabacum), but it smells much more complex. Highly recommended, but not inexpensive and not the easiest shave juice to find.

  2. I like Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion Toner, which is specifically recommended for after shaving and has all the face-tingly, alcohol-based benefits of a conventional after shave with none (or very, very little) of the scent so you can combine it with whatever fragrance you like. It's (relatively) cheap and easy to find too.,default,pd.html

  3. One could try out aftershave / cologne combinations from handcrafters like The Save Den, Mama Bear, or Saint Charles Shave. They'll use the same essential/fragrance oil for both products so you have a guaranteed match.

  4. My homme doesn't wear aftershave, so I can't help there, but he does wear two scents which I think have a nice barber-shop aroma and could blend nicely with fougere-ish aftershave: Caron Le Troisiemme Homme (Third Man) and Clarins Eau Dynamisante. (The latter is lighter/fresher, the former richer and better in cooler weather, IMO.)

  5. YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme is the most beautiful classic barbershop scent in my opinion that would mingle nicely with most men's shave or aftershave products.

    Neutrogena's "Razor Defense post shave lotion" and "Skin Clearing" shaving cream both come in a very sophisticated galbanum/frankincense/lavender scent which, if bottled as an EDT, would sell well, IMHO. It would also pair nicely with the YSL

  6. I agree with you, Katie. What the hell is aftershave for anymore? I never use it, and I never have. Chandler Burr poked fun of aftershave in the September GQ.

    But my vote would be not to try to combine stuff, but to find a scent you like that comes in both aftershave and cologne concentrations. Penhaligon's makes some, and so do many apothecary type brands like DR Harris and Taylor of Old Bond Street.

  7. I wore Grey Flannel for years as a Eau de Toilette, and they have an after shave balm too, that matches very nicely. But I wish the pumps on the balm worked better though... (the cologne is a terrible version of the frag, BTW) And Luca Turin calls Grey Flannel a masterpiece, BTW.

  8. Oh, my! The first thing I was going to recommend was Alt Innsbruck, but Larry beat me to it! Both an aftershave and cologne, it's wonderful stuff.

    My next recommendation would be Ogallala Bay Rum/Cedar/Sandalwood, if you like the scent. It, too, doubles as an aftershave and cologne.

    I used to use nothing but Old Spice until I came across about 6 months ago. I ran into the same situation. My usual solution these days is to use Thayer's Witch Hazel Aftershave - an alcohol-based aftershave with witch hazel and aloe, and no appreciable scent. I then use the cologne/EdT of my choice. I'm currently enjoy sample many different colognes/EdTs!

  9. Excellent. This is the information the world needs to know, everyone! Thank you so much for this tutorial.

    Elisa, Clarins Eau Dynamisante is a wonderful suggestion for men - I'm going to stash that thought into my, er...thought pile. I went for a few years where ED was my one and pretty much only - in the spray, oil, lotion and shower gel. I don't think I've ever been so matchy-matchy in my life!

  10. One of the bonuses of writing up this post was familiarizing myself with the Badger & Blade website. A whole site dedicated to mens' shaving seemed...a hair excessive...until I started reading up on all the stuff involved: equipment, goo, salves, unguents, dexterity. Not to mention the nice, old-timey ritual of a little man-style pampering. Je dig! If you haven't already paid a call to B&B, please do! It's a whole new follicular world.

  11. I thought I remembered you mentioning ED (er...) as an old favorite at one point. I originally bought it for myself, but most of the time it lives on the man dresser.

  12. Another brand of aftershave splash that I feel is the best in class is Musgo Real Classic. Don't let the odd name fool you. This is a wonderful, old school product with a scent that is out of this world. It is also strong enough in scent to work as a cologne or edt for the day. It is chock full of skin friendly things like aloe juice and allantoin. Just do a web search for it. A number of vendors carry it. Usually about $20 per 100ml bottle. The best.

  13. Thanks Katie for this interesting topic and also for pointing the men to the Badger and Blade.

    One fine point that has not really been touched on yet is that "aftershave" is primarily for skincare after a shave.
    Fragrance is a bonus in the mix. An effective aftershave sooths and cools as well as disinfects the freshly shaven skin.

    The choices are really boundless and as most aftershave splashes are only a few bucks it's easy to try many of them to find what works for you. Experienced wet shavers consider a short lived aftershave fragrance an advantage and desirable, so as to not interfere with their EDT.
    Musgo Real, Speick,Pitralon,Alt Insbrook and Floid are all names to look into. If you are a Sandalwood fan, D.R. Harris Sandalwood aftershave splash is tops, rich, woody and earthy. Very long lasting as well.

    The men at the Badger and Blade have been exploring this topic for years now and have copious cumulative experience that they freely share.
    Stop on by and say hello.

  14. Thanks, Jim. As all these variations on an aftershave theme are tumbling in, I'm starting to feel like I'm missing out on a fun hobby by not having a beard. Hats off to the B&B crowd for turning a chore into a treat.

  15. Katie, I love your site. I was given a sample of Keiko Mecheri Oliban which my wife and the ladies I work with love. Later one of the lady's said that I was wearing a women's EDP. I went on line found your Youtube video and was glad to hear you say it's for men or women. Next I saw your E! video and love your saying "Don't tell me what I can wear".


  16. Katie,
    Now you have a whole new area of scents to explore in the world of aftershaves! Reading a bit about you and your background as a British television presenter, I was surprised to find no mention of either Floris or Penhaligons on your excellent site. The Floris JF has been a favorite aftershave of mine for years. Thanks for visiting us at Badger & Blade!

  17. mboyne, Oliban is a glorious incense/cedar wood/rose fragrance, and if it's any consolation, the place where I bought my bottle, Scent Bar/Luckyscent, had it displayed in the "masculine" section. But yes indeed, wear what you want - whatever uplifts your spirit. Let a smell you love work its mojo!

    Mike, I've not touched on Floris, but one of my favorite releases in the last year was Penhaligons Amaranthine. I've got a review of that up on the site. And I'm got a hankering lately for Elixir, from the same line...

  18. That was all way too technical for me... And I am beginning to understand why my other half just uses Gillette shaving mousse.

    Having just quizzed him on the risks of nicking his skin while shaving, I can report that he considers himself "not much of a bleeder". By way of clarification he added: "in fact I am a walking blood clot". I am not sure that that is an entirely good thing.

  19. Vanessa - WAY too technical, right? But a fascinating insight into the masculine mind - something as simple as a shave turns into an Arthurian quest involving archaic tools, elaborate manual skills, and above all, danger!

    But the B&B approach is an admirable way to tackle the Sisyphean task of shaving: turn something dreary and inevitable into a hobby. Imagine what guys could do with periods!

    (Do you like how I worked in references to two different myths?)

  20. Am I missing something? Unscented after shave. Blend alcohol, distilled water, and some Thayer's unscented witch hazel with aloe and apply. Then wear any fragrance you choose. There is a big world of smell out there. Life is too short to limit yourself to fragrances that only go with your after shave.

    Also if you hate the medicinal smell of alcohol, try substituting perfumer's alcohol (available online) or high proof vodka for drugstore alcohol.

  21. Couldn't agree more, rkf - who needs to be dictated to by some low-life aftershave? But now you're getting all fancy with mixing a cocktail (literally, with that vodka) for your face. Your mouth is going to wonder why it's not in on the party.

  22. After reading all of the suggestions (all excellent choices) here is another option. If you are just using the aftershave for the astringent properties, witch hazel is a great option. An alternative to witch hazel would be to use an alum block, followed up by a soothing skin balm. After that, you can add a cologne if you wish, since the alum block has no scent and the scent from the skin balm, if there is any, will dissipate rather quickly. Since I have sensitive skin, I have been using this combination for several years, and it has worked beautifully.

  23. "(Do you like how I worked in references to two different myths?)"

    I do indeed, Katie. Had this been a post about deodorants, I would fully expect you to have worked in the Augean stables, though even the current topic of shaving rather conjures up Hydra heads of stubble... : - )

    Meanwhile, tomorrow I am having my brows professionally reshaped for the first time ever. Any improvement on bushy circumflexes has to be worth £6.

  24. Vanessa, bushy brows are where it's at these days, so don't let the shaper lady give you evil skinny Cruella de Ville circumflexes. Or Tin Tin dashes. The word is "shape", not "denude".

  25. Update - I think I may have ended up with bushy Tin Tin dashes. But the tent apex has definitely gone. I don't look cruel, though possibly faintly surprised. The good news is that You Know Who hasn't noticed yet. And of course it will grow back. The spa recommended a three week maintenance cycle - AND tinting - which sounds quite a commitment. I have never been much of a one for maintaining my person, as a conscious undertaking, I mean.

  26. Vanessa, now that the eyebrow bully has given you a shape, can't you just do your own maintenance? Just pluck out any interlopers that crop up. Can you tell that I'm not convinced that eyebrow groomers serve a real purpose? Unless you're Susan Boyle, of course.

  27. Your doc needs to throw in the towel.

    So, boys, let's not forget:

    Personally, I shave using a noncomedogenic sensitive-skin-formula cream and set my alarm extra early. Nicks and cuts bedamned!

    Thus, no disinfection is needed. Afterward, I slap on about a teaspoon of CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion or, if I'm heading outdoors, a Helioplex or Mexoryl sunscreen.

    Follow this routine and any (well, almost any) fragrance is fair game.

  28. Katie--

    Yes! Thank you for familiarizing other people with Badger and Blade.

    I'm a woman who a couple years back was puzzled over my options for shaving my legs. I didn't want to buy plastic razors because they're not eco-friendly, but my electric razor didn't work as well as a blade.

    So, I turned to old-fashioned safety razors. They are SO pretty! And they work great. They're just as comfortable and safe as any disposable razor. They save a bit of cash, too, since the only thing you have to buy over and over again would be the blades themselves.

    Also, some people at B & B get excited over straight razors, so I used one once on my legs. It was totally scary (I cut myself three times) but WOW. It was like night and day. My legs were so incredibly smooth, they were shiny.


  29. Nora,

    Sounds like you were going full Sweeney Todd on the leg shaving!

    I figure the B&B site *must* be good, because it sucks me into a topic that doesn't touch my life in any way, and yet there I am hopping from thread to thread to follow the passionate pros and cons offered for various blades, creams, techniques, etc etc!