Aftershave vs. Cologne

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Difference between Aftershave and Cologne

Aftershave and cologne both smell good (or are supposed to), that much is certain. Despite their olfactory similarities however, they do serve their own unique purposes, as you will see in this comparison article.



Aftershave is a term commonly used to refer to scented products that are used after shaving. These products are commonly sold in liquid, gel and lotion form, and many have antiseptic properties that aim to address the damage caused by shaving to the skin. Some aftershave products may also contain mild anesthetics that numb the skin during the healing process.

As for cologne, the word itself is simply short for “Eau de Cologne”, which is a type of perfume first produced in Cologne, Germany. Over the years, the term has been used to refer to virtually any type of perfume or fragrance, although true colognes should have an essential oil concentration of only 2% to 5%, and it has to be based on citrus scents besides. Although both men and women can use cologne, they are more likely to be used by men than women.


The name "aftershave" suggests that it can be applied to areas of the body that are shaved. In reality however, aftershave is commonly applied only on the face. As for colognes, they are typically applied on strategic points throughout the body, such as the neck, the pulse centers and various other areas where fragrances are commonly applied.


Many products sold on the market as aftershave are composed of a moisturizing product or products and a perfume. People with more sensitive than normal would probably be better off with an aftershave that has no fragrance component. Many aftershave products also contain astringents that serve to close off the pores of the skin. This helps give it a smoother appearance, and reduces the risk of infection. Keep in mind that some aftershaves contain alcohol, or may in fact be alcohol-based. Such products can cause a painful sting upon application.

Proper use of cologne requires making sure that it matches other fragrances that you may be wearing at the same time. While you wouldn't normally think to use other fragrances along with cologne, keep in mind that the deodorants, antiperspirants, and aftershaves that you use may have scents of their own, some or all of which may clash with the scent of your cologne. You should also avoid using too much cologne, as the effect can be quite overpowering. Instead, it would be best to apply only a small amount on the pulse points and rely on your body’s natural warmth to keep the scent active.

Similarities and Differences


  • Scented products used after shaving
  • Commonly sold in liquid, gel and lotion form
  • May contain mild anesthetics that numb the skin during the healing process


  • Short for Eau de Cologne
  • More likely to be used by men than women
  • Effect can be quite overpowering when used in excess

Aftershave and Cologne Video


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