Skip to content
Crisp and Clear: Understanding Alum Blocks and Mastering Their Use - New England Shaving Company

Crisp and Clear: Understanding Alum Blocks and Mastering Their Use

Alum block, containing mineral salts, is the original antiseptic after shave. Its usage dates back over 4,000 years to ancient Egypt, where it was valued for its antiseptic and healing properties, as well as its ability to cool and refresh the skin.

An Alum block is a crystal like stone that, when moistened with water, helps to stop bleeding from small cuts and nicks. It is composed of potassium alum, a naturally occurring mineral. Barbers have long used it as an antiseptic, gently rubbing it over a person's shaved area. Not only does it combat various post-shaving skin issues such as redness, razor bumps, and razor burns, but it is also an essential step in the post-shave process, as recognized by the barber and shaving community for centuries.

Alum blocks are available in different forms and sizes, such as an alum bar for covering larger areas or more convenient travel-size alum sticks for precise application.

When it comes to choosing between an alum block and a styptic pencil, many wet shavers wonder which one to use. Cuts and nicks are inevitable, no matter how careful or experienced you are with a safety razor or straight razor. To stop the bleeding and soothe the skin, two popular after shave products are commonly used: the alum block and the styptic pencil. Let's explore the key differences between these two products:

  • The alum block is effective in stopping minor nicks and cuts, while the styptic pencil is more suitable for more serious cuts and nicks.
  • With its astringent and antiseptic qualities, the alum block not only stops bleeding but also tones the face. On the other hand, the styptic pencil lacks astringent properties.
  • After drying, the styptic pencil leaves a white powdery residue on the face, whereas the alum block does not.
  • In addition to stopping bleeding, the alum block can also provide relief for bug bites.
  • Applying the alum block on the face and neck is quicker and easier compared to using a styptic pencil.
  • In terms of longevity, the alum block is more economical as it lasts longer than a styptic pencil.
  • The alum block effectively tones the skin and promotes quick healing of damaged areas.
  • It also works wonders in calming the skin after waxing.
  • Besides its primary use, the alum block can even be used as a natural deodorant, thanks to its antiperspirant properties.
  • If you have oily skin, the alum block is a great choice.
  • However, it's important not to leave the alum block on sensitive skin for more than 20 seconds. Rinse it off and apply a light moisturizer.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision on which product suits your needs best.

How to Use an Alum Block During and After Shaving in 4 Simple Steps

Step 1: Prepare Your Face with Cold Water

After shaving, rinse your face with cold water to remove any soap or shaving cream. The cold water helps to close your pores, soothe your skin, and reduce post-shave irritation.

Step 2: Apply the Alum Block

Wet the alum stone and glide it across your face, focusing on the shaved areas. Pay special attention to any areas where you may have irritated your skin or nicked yourself. This will soothe your skin, prevent razor burns, and minimize bleeding by closing cuts. If needed, you can apply the alum block between passes to address any nicks or cuts.

Pro Tip: Applying the alum block between passes can help you learn to apply less pressure with your razor in those areas during your next shave.

Step 3: Let It Sit

After applying the alum block, let it sit on your face for up to 20 seconds. This allows the alum block to work its magic by penetrating any abrasions and promoting healing.

Step 4: Wash It Off

To remove any residue, wash your face again with cold water. Gently tap your face dry and finish off by applying your favorite moisturizing balm. This is especially important during harsh winter months when natural moisturizers are crucial for your skin's health.

Important: Since alum potassium is water soluble, always dry it off after each use.

Exploring the Many Uses of Alum Blocks

For Oily, Greasy, and Spotty Skin

If you have oily skin, an alum block can be a natural remedy for acne and oily complexions. This incredible natural product effectively combats greasy skin, acne, and blemishes. After showering or washing your face, gently apply the alum block to the affected areas. It helps to dry out your skin and spots, resulting in a more radiant appearance. You can also apply it to pimples and blemishes before bedtime. Remember, though, not to exceed two applications on your face, as excessive use may lead to increased oil secretion.

Using an Alum Block as a Natural Deodorant

For centuries, people worldwide have utilized alum blocks under their arms for their antibacterial properties to prevent odor. If you prefer a natural deodorant, an alum block is an excellent choice. Apply it to your underarms for a reliable, alcohol-free deodorant. Since it is unscented, you can even pair it with your favorite scented deodorant.

Alum Stone for Post-Waxing Treatment (Especially for Women)

Alum blocks are not exclusive to men; women can also benefit from their healing properties, especially after waxing. They are highly suitable for sensitive areas like the bikini area and the face.

PRO TIP: Some men and women find rubbing an alum bar on their fingertips before shaving beneficial. It enhances grip on the razor, particularly when shaving in the bath or shower, where hands tend to be wet and soapy.

Unveiling the Key Takeaways!

The alum block is an early post shave treatment known for its healing properties on burns and minor razor cuts. Gently moisten and apply the alum block to your shaved skin to cool, soothe, and promote healing. While the alum block is not a perfect alternative to a balm, it can be used as an antiseptic after a shave.

FAQs about Alum Stone

One common question that arises when reading alum stone reviews or browsing shaving forums is, "Is there a difference between inexpensive and costly alum stones?"

At first glance, they may appear similar in appearance, but there are hidden micro-cracks in naturally occurring alum stones. The quality of the stone depends on the craftsmanship and manufacturing process. Poorly cut alum stones may gradually deteriorate, while well-crafted ones can be used for years.

We recommend choosing a reputable manufacturer for the alum stone. We carry Nick Relief products from four different brands. Some of them come in a convenient container or a travel sized alum stick. OSMA specializes in alum based products, including after shave products and alum bars.

Check out the online selection of alum products available at the New England Shaving Company shop.

Previous article Open comb vs. closed comb razor
Next article Straight Razor - Why You Should Consider and Try it