While aftershave and cologne are often used interchangeably, the truth is that they are two different substances with two different functions. They are both scented materials that are commonly applied to the face after shaving, but learning about the differences between the two helps you make the appropriate choice.
Aftershave is specifically formulated to be used after you shave. Though it is often scented, it contains conditioners that heal and soothe your skin after you have run a sharp razor over it. Cologne is purely formulated for scent.
Because they are intended for different purposes, the content of aftershave and cologne are different. Aftershave contains cooling agents like aloe vera, which are meant to sooth the skin and it also contains astringents, which ensure that the small cuts and nicks from shaving doing not become infected. It has a small amount of essential oil in it, which gives it its scent. Cologne, on the other hand, has no astringent or soothing qualities. It has a higher amount of essential oil in it.
Cologne is more expensive than aftershave because it has more essential oils in it. The amount of essential oil in the cologne ensures that the wearer can hang on to the scent longer. While aftershave does leave behind a pleasant scent after it is used, it will usually fade within a few hours, while the scent from cologne can cling for the better part of the day.
While aftershave may come in a liquid, a gel or a lotion, cologne typically comes as a liquid.
The areas where cologne and aftershaves are applied differ. Aftershave is used on the lower part of the face, where hair has been removed. Because cologne is intended to distribute scent, it is most effectively placed on the neck and the pulse centers, as the heat allows the scent to dissipate most effectively.