You’re doing it wrong: Using Listerine as an aftershave

Posted: July 24, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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When one is an “odd duck”, looking at the ingredients to random products around the house is part of your behavior pattern. Sometimes, the perusing of the back of bottles in your house will bring about the sound “Hmmmm”. That is the sound of an “Idear” being born. Not an idea. Those have a chance to be of some use. Idears, however, typically get one into trouble. Idears burn down people’s wood sheds and cause you have to reset the breakers for a quadrant of your house.

It was thus that I embarked upon trying Original Listerine (or its no name equivalent) as an aftershave. That, and I’m a bit of a madman.

First, a question: What does an aftershave do?

Well, it is typically an astringent. That is, it closes the skin pores and has an element of antiseptic quality to it. In most cases, this is accomplished with a modest amount of alcohol. The “sting” or “burn” of an aftershave. Also, the alcohol aids in creating a “cooling” feel, as it evaporates quickly.

Aftershaves also frequently have a soothing or toning component included. These elements can be accomplished with a few ingredients. Witch Hazel is one. Menthol, eucalyptus, and the like will often be included for a medicinal level of numbing or cooling.

Along with being an astringent and a toner, aftershaves often lay down a layer of protection. This is often carried out with glycerine. Sometimes, you’ll see hydrogenated castor oil or propylene glycol instead, or in combination with glycerine. Typically, the higher-end aftershaves will eschew a long list of chemical ingredients, and will be alcohol, water, fragrance, and glycerine, perhaps with one or two other ingredients at most.

As mentioned just above, fragrance is typically involved, as well. There are, of course, unscented aftershaves. I’m not venturing into cream-type aftershave balms here, which typically have a base of skin cream. Those are altogether a different thing. I’m confused enough already. No need to make things worse.

So, down to business. Listerine. It has alcohol, water, camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus. A few other things, too, ostensibly for the purposes of killing germs and freshening breath, as it’s supposed to do.

My theory? If you’re allowed to put it in your mouth, it should be fine on your face. Perhaps not directly into your eyes. I didn’t test that. There’s only so far I’ll go for science.

To be honest, I’ve used Listerine as an antiseptic, and even as an in-a-pinch cleanser before. In the absence of Sea Breeze or something similar, I’ve used it here and there for years. It worked fine. Thus, I’m not beginning with altogether no evidence here. That could possibly be construed as cheating. Luckily, there’s no sportsmanship committee in shaving, so I won’t be disqualified.

How did it work? Well, let’s treat it like I would with any other aftershave, asking the pertinent questions:

Scent Strength:
Listerine does have a scent, I suppose. Not a strong one, and in no way is it a scent that will bring your prospective mates running. It is likely that you’ve smelled this stuff before. It’s medicinal. There’s a vague earthiness to it, I suppose. Whatever it smells like, I imagine it was incidental to the necessary ingredients.

Scent Duration:
Very short lived. Whatever medicinal scent Listerine has, it cooks off pretty fast. It won’t interfere with any other scent you want to wear.

Initial Feel:
Surprisingly good. It has about the “right” amount alcohol for me, which means that it’s got the ability to be bracing and let you know if you’re irritated, but not so much that you’ll completely dry your face out. The menthol/eucalyptus/camphor feel takes effect quite soon after application.

Long Term Feel:
After the dry-down, an element of the menthol effect carries on, giving you just a hint of numbing effect for quite a while. None of the dental-specific ingredients seem to have caused unaccountable effects. In the absence of any skin-fortifying ingredients, it dries “clean”, with no tackiness or greasy feeling. For most, I’d recommend that you try it once on a day where you’re not rushing out the door. It’s possible, with ingredients like Thymol, that you’ll have a reaction. This is true of any new product, though. Unless you know every ingredient to be safe for your skin, there’s a small chance you’ll have a reaction.

Value:
A store brand Listerine equivalent costs very little per ounce in comparison to even the cheapest aftershave. If you don’t mind it in terms of smell or feel, it can certainly do the job for you. If you’re a person who likes to be “splashy” with your aftershave, and flinch when you see the price of some of the products out there, this stuff can be had at a bargain price. Splash away. Upside, if you get some in your mouth, it won’t harm you or taste any weirder than Listerine ever does.

Notes:
Please remember that we’re talking about the original, amber-colored Listerine product (or equivalent). You wouldn’t want to use something that had a sweetener, a flavoring, or dental-specific ingredients like fluoride. Also, keep in mind that, if you typically rely upon your aftershave to provide some form of moisturizer, this stuff will not oblige you on its own. Just use your favored moisturizer after dry-down, and you’ll be fine.

Sometimes I have good ideas. Sometimes, they’re just “idears”. To me, this one feels like a fairly successful venture. In a travel scenario, you could cut down on the number of things you have to carry with you in your shaving kit. Don’t forget that the Listerine can also be used as a skin cleanser if you get sweaty, dusty, or oily in the middle of the day. Give Listerine a try. It might become part of your shaving repertoire.

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Comments
  1. Ryan Foster says:

    Listerine was originally sold as an aftershave.

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