Let's take a look at the anatomy of an aftershave. The goal of the product is to soothe, moisturize and scent your freshly shaved skin, so the basic ingredients that make up a typical formula are an antiseptic agent, a moisturizer and a fragrance. A quality aftershave that does the trick will have an ingredients list that you can actually pronounce.
The leading ingredient in almost all aftershaves is an astringent that serves as an antiseptic, to make sure all of the little cuts your on your tender face skin are properly cleaned and sealed, which prevents infection. In many brands, this ingredient is alcohol-based. Though alcohol is made from natural ingredients (sugar and yeast), and it's effective at accomplishing the task, it can also be extremely drying to many skin types. There are other natural astringents that are less irritating, such as witch hazel, which is derived from the oil of a tree native to North America. You can also look for aftershaves that boast essential oils as key ingredients. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that's naturally antiseptic and antibacterial. It's also an incredibly effective astringent. Tea tree oil lends its distinct scent to the formula -- fairly strong and medicinal on its own, but a great base when mixed with other scented oils.
Next comes the moisturizing ingredients. The most effective ones are naturally derived from tree nuts, such as olive oil and sweet almond oil, because these oils are easily absorbed by your skin. Glycerin, which is a byproduct of soapmaking, is another helpful ingredient in aftershave. It's a humectant, which means it draws moisture into your skin and seals it there. Many balms and lotions contain healing herbal extracts, like chickweed and hibiscus. These herbs contain naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties that help heal rashes caused by shaving. Aloe is another beneficial ingredient because it's extremely soothing to irritated skin, as you well know if you've ever used it on a sunburn.
As far as scent goes, most fragrances are made up of synthetic chemicals, which we'll cover in our next section. If you like a scent and want it to be natural, look for essential oils in the ingredients list. These oils are all-natural, scented oils that are extracted from plants. Types of essential oils commonly found in body products include lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oils.