I haven't shaved my face with a razor for over a year. I hated shaving because my facial hair grows really fast and my skin is very sensitive, so I was caught in this never-ending cycle of scruff-shave-irritation. I kept on shaving though, because that's what I had always done. And then I realized, yo, I don't have to shave, I don't have to do anything I don't want to do! So I stopped.
Actually, that's a lie. I just got lazy on the shaving and people kept telling me I was way hotter with stubble — so I kept it. You guys know that my one and only aspiration in life is to be hot.
There's a point to this. When I was shaving, I would use Nivea Men's After Shave Balm on my face and neck afterward, every time, because it was the only thing that would save me from razor burn, especially on my neck.
I started using it in high school, when I would steal it from my dad. He never taught me to shave, he just left this nifty Ferrari razor in my bathroom one day like "good luck, sis" and that was that. I'm not saying he didn't teach me anything, he did teach me to, like, check the tire pressure on my car. But I pay people to do that now.
Anyway. When I started writing beauty, I'd get all these flossy after shaves from luxe companies, and I'd still go back to Nivea because it was the only thing that worked for me. There's a few different types, but I used the one labeled "sensitive." Because I'm sensitive.
But not anymore because I have a beard or whatever.
Lately, though, I've been hearing that all of these beauty girls are using men's after shave balm, specifically, my OG from Nivea, as a makeup primer. They're all saying it outperforms even the best makeup primers, and comes at a fraction of the price with at least double the product. I was curious, so I went out, re-upped on a bottle, and road tested it for you over a few days to see if they were onto something.
Here's my gross bare face.
I hopped in the shower and did my morning skincare bullshit as usual. Then, I used about a nickel-sized drop of After Shave Balm and smeared it, liberally, all over my face.
My biggest hang up was that this was going to be heavily scented, you know, like a boy. To my surprise and delight, this was not the case. It does have that after shave smell, you know the one. Generic Dude Smell. Cold musks. It's very light though, lighter than I remember it, and doesn't gag you out even though it's all over your face. It's gone by the time it dries down, which takes no longer than 30 seconds.
Then, I used my favorite foundation of the moment, Charlotte Tilbury's Light Wonder Foundation in shade 2 Fair.
I'll tell you more about this guy later, but it's amazing. I'm usually all about medium to full coverage foundations, used sparingly and blended out. This one, however, is light to medium, and gorgeous. It's light enough to let your natural coloring show through, but buildable enough to cover blemishes and dark circles. Maybe I should have used a more heavy duty foundation to test out this primer, but this is what I've been using religiously lately and I'm living my truth.
The consistency is very similar to my usual primer, Too Faced's Hangover Primer, maybe a litte tiny bit thicker. Point is, they're both thin. It goes on, sinks down quick, and you're ready to apply makeup.
The first thing I noticed is that the primer leaves a thin film on your face. No, not that kind of film (you guys get so nasty in the comments every time I use that word). It's not noticeable, so you're not gonna feel tight or sticky like you just took a money shot, but your skin is going to bounce more light than it normally would.
The second thing I noticed is that my foundation went on smoothly, like, really smoothly. Any good primer is going to make your foundation apply better because, duh, that's its job, but this stupid after shave balm was the perfect base for my foundation to glide right over evenly and beautifully. I smacked on a highlight, a little blush, a brow, and some lashes, set it all, and was out the door.
Throughout the day, I noticed that I didn't have the normal problems that I have with some foundations. For one, my foundation actually stayed on, so, hooray. Two, there was no creasing, AT ALL, which I sometimes have problems with. Charlotte Tilbury's Wonder Light Foundation is pretty good at not creasing up on its own, but nothing is perfect. Under my eyes and on my enormous forehead, where I tend to crease, were crease-free, completely. Check.
I worked behind the bar on the nights that I tested this. For me, bartending is the ultimate product test because I'm running round, sweating, and putting my face right in front of a hot grill and a hot washing machine. Basically, it's the perfect place to really put products through the ringer.
I noticed a lot less shine or oil than with other primers. If I'm gonna get shiny, it's gonna be when I'm wearing foundation, especially when I'm at work, and the shave balm really kept my face in check.
This is a photo snapped at 3 am with my iPhone after I closed the bar, to show how the aftershave primer and all of my makeup held up. I hate this picture because I couldn't shoot it in natural light with my good camera, which is how I prefer to shoot, but, you know, 3 am. It's a pretty good illustration though.
Yes, front-facing iPhone photos are the worst because everything is blurred, but you can still see that my face has held up pretty damn well after my eight hour shift. I mean, by brows are still on, that's the most apparent.
But why, WHY does this work so well? If you look at the ingredients on the after shave, you'll see that the second one after water is glycerine. Glycerine, beyond being a great moisturizer for the skin, acts like glue for any product you put on top of it. The after shave balm is also formulated with chamomile and witch hazel for my sensitive ass. Er, face.
They weren't kidding about this beauty hack. Nivea Men's After Shave Balm really primes better that any primer I've used before! Will I use it instead of my actual primers from here on out? I'm not sure, but chances are good. For double the product at a fraction of the cost that outperforms products that cost almost four times as much? There's no reason not to!
What beauty hacks do you swear by? Have you tried this aftershave as a primer? Tell me below!
Talk dirty to Tynan on Twitter @TynanBuck.