Most people use after shave lotions after shaving. But those in earlier generation did not have aftershave. I remember my grand father applying a translucent block to his skin after a shave. Initially I mistook it for ice, and was thinking he is using a block of ice to cool down the skin. But later I realized that it was Alum.
Alum is a compound but also could refer to as a class of compounds. The Alum we use after shaving is Potassium Aluminium Sulfate or Aluminium Sulfate. There are many uses of Alum but what makes it very useful for men after a shave are its anti coagulant properties.
Alum is a natural vasoconstriction and helps reduce the size of the blood vessels on the face. This is particularly useful after a shave. In the olden days we mostly used straight razor or even the safety razor often leading to cuts. With the advent of the modern safety razor with a cartridge and the electric razor the chances of cuts have reduced and so has the use of Alum.
As I went back to saving with a straight razor, I have a few cuts here and there and hence the use of Alum has really helped me. In addition to this Alum is a great anti septic, given its anti microbial effect. So not only does it stop bleeding, it also ensures that there is no chance of infection.
Finally Alum has an astringent action making the skin tight and giving it a firm texture after the shave.
There are some contraindications for using Alum
- If you have sensitive skin then you should wash off the Alum after 2 minutes of applying it
- If you have dry skin then use Alum in moderation and please don’t use alcohol based after shave as it dries the skin further
It is easy to buy Alum in India as it is available in most department strores, dont try the modern shopping formats, rather try older stores. I found mine in Bangalore in Shafiya Plaza in HSR Layout, I have also seen Alum bars at Families Supermarket on Sarjapur Road. There is also a brand called eshave that sells Alum on Flipkart but currently the product is unavailable.
Let me know your experience of using Alum and safe, healthy shaving..