5 Best Alum Blocks - the Perfect Way to Finish Your Shave
Whether you’re using a blade that is too dull or are trying to race through your shaving routine a little too quickly, razors can cause some major skin irritation. Virtually any man who has ever shaved his face can attest to how uncomfortable nicks and cuts can be.
What if I told you, that dabbing your face with a tissue to get bleeding to stop isn’t the only way to remedy an unpleasant shaving experience?
Gentlemen, I introduce to you, the alum block.
Not only can this versatile block quickly stop nicks and cuts from bleeding, but it also contains beneficial astringent properties. I’ve gathered up some background information, important factors to consider, and product reviews so that finding the best alum block isn’t a confusing decision.
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What is an Alum Block?
Even though you might not have heard of them before, alum blocks are far from being a new invention. In fact, many historians believe that over 4,000 years ago Ancient Egyptians used alum for its antibacterial properties.
Our ancestors were no strangers to the many benefits of alum and were well aware of its usefulness. Common uses that have some old school roots include using it as a deodorant, adding it to water for purification purposes, and, of course, applying it to nicks and cuts to help stop bleeding.
Without getting too technical, alums are chemical compounds that contain a group of hydrated double salts. General characteristics of alums are that they tend to be acidic, have astringent properties, and are colorless, odorless, and dissolvable in hot water.
Usually, if you hear about alum, it’s about potash alum, also known as, potassium aluminum sulfate. Not only is it an ingredient in some deodorants, but you'll see it at the grocery store used in baking powders and pickling agents.
Potash alum is a naturally occurring mineral. Alum blocks that are made with this compound help to clean and disinfect the skin after shaving and the antimicrobial properties are what make it useful in deodorants.
There are a few different kinds of alum, though. If you start paying close attention to labels, you’ll likely come across chrome, soda, ammonium, and selenate alums as well. Most commonly, it's available as a powder, but it’s sold in a crystalline form as well. In the realm of grooming products, you’ll most likely see it as a large crystal. For example, it’s often advertised as a deodorant block that is intended for underarm use, or an alum block for shaving.
In short, there’s a ton of different ways alum is available. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to finding an excellent quality bar to use after shaving, keep an eye out for potassium aluminum sulfate.
Why You Need an Alum Block?
Alum block can be such a great addition to your shaving tool box.
Stop the Bleeding
As I’ve mentioned above, alum blocks do an amazing job at cleansing the skin. The astringent properties help to tighten your pores, and its ability to restrict blood vessels rapidly stops bleeding caused by nicks and cuts.
Not only is it unsanitary to walk around with open cuts, but it can also make the shaving process take longer than it has to. There’s truly no need to spend an extra amount of time trying to stop and clean up the bleeding. On busy mornings, I know I’ll take all of the help I can get to get headed out the door more quickly.
Improves Your Shaving Technique
Another perk of using an alum block is that it helps you to become more aware of how good of a shave you are getting. For example, if you’re using a dull razor or a low-quality shaving cream, you may be nicking your facial skin but are unaware because no sign of blood is present. When you use an alum block, as the pores constrict, it will cause you to feel a stinging sensation wherever these invisible cuts may be. I think of the sting as a helpful way to keep me aware of the how well my shaving products and techniques are doing.
The astringent properties in alum blocks pull moisture out of the skin. So, if you have sensitive skin, be cautious when using these blocks because there is a chance that it can cause excessive dryness. Many guys don’t have an adverse effect when using this product, though. For men with oily skin, alum is a great, natural way to reduce grease and combat against breakouts popping up.
Cheap & Natural
They are inexpensive, long-lasting, and natural. Compared to fancy aftershaves and astringents, you can get a great quality alum bar at a low price point. The low cost of the bars become even more attractive after considering how long these products last. When properly cared for, a lot of alum blocks out there will last you well over a year. Lastly, I don’t like to worry about what chemical fillers are in my grooming products, so the fact that these bars are natural is a huge plus for me.
Is There an Alternative?
As an alternative to alum blocks, you can always consider using an astringent, such as witch hazel, or an alcohol-based aftershave. You can find some rather inexpensive, pure witch hazel astringents out there at a fairly low cost. Witch hazel can dry out your skin though, so be careful if you have sensitive skin.
Alternatively, some aftershaves are packed full of chemical additives, so make sure to read labels carefully. Some good quality aftershaves can also be quite pricey, but on the plus side, many of them are available in wonderful fragrances and feel cool when applied to the skin.
Lastly, you can use a styptic pencil as a spot treatment for nicks and cuts, but I like that alum bars are intended for use on the entire face.
What to Look for When Buying an Alum Block
During your quest to find the best alum block, you’re going to find that there are many products that seem similar. I just suggest paying attention to the following:
It’s not necessary to shell out a bunch of cash to get a quality block. Alum blocks are typically available in sizes between two to four ounces, so keep that in mind when price-comparing.
Some packaging includes travel cases, so that may be an accessory that interests you.
It’s also important to note that there are some products out there that are marketed as alum blocks, but don’t actually contain real alum. Make sure to read ingredient lists to make sure that you are purchasing the real thing.
5 Best Alum Blocks - Reviews
The Gentlemen Jon Shaving Company makes a lot of fantastic quality shaving products. This company’s alum block is a fairly inexpensive option. Regarding packaging, the block is inside of a plastic traveling case, which is a great bonus.
Weighing in at 3.7 ounces, this block is sold in a larger size than many of its competitors. Thanks to its large size, this product is designed to last for many months to even a year. It’s also 100% potassium alum, making it a completely natural astringent and antiseptic.
This product has a ton of positive reviews. A lot of users appreciate that it is fragrance-free.
Since the block is composed of densely pressed-powder, there are some reports that the surface can become jagged and a little rough. It’s ideal to have a block that remains smooth after many uses, so this is a bit of a downfall.
Lastly, unlike styptic pencils that work almost instantly after touching a nick, you may have to pass over small cuts multiple times before bleeding stops.
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
Since this brand is fragrance-free, it is a suitable option for men with sensitive skin.
While it might not be the highest quality alum block that is available, for the price, it’s a great option. I especially appreciate that it comes with a carrying case. If this block is going to last around a year, it’s certainly a good idea to have somewhere safe to store it.
Bloc Osma is a French company that has been around for over seventy years. Unlike some other brands, this company’s alum block is handmade.
The cost of this product is at the lower end of the price range, which is a good thing because this block also comes in a smaller size than many of its competitors. Bloc Osman doesn’t sell a travel case along with this bar, so it just comes in a fairly basic cardboard packaging.
The only ingredient in this block is potassium alum, so there is no need to worry about any fillers or preservatives. Since the bar is only 2.65 ounces, it won’t last you as long as some other brands out there, but it’s safe to say it should last you for at least several months.
A lot of users have reported that they’ve seen a decrease in facial skin irritation after using this product. The block is very smooth to touch and easily glides over the skin. If you end up nicking yourself while shaving, the block is capable of quickly stopping the bleeding. This product is also fragrance-free
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
This product can be used by just about anybody. There’s no special ingredients added to it, so it doesn’t offer any unique added benefits, but it still offers the antimicrobial perks that are associated with skincare items made out of alum.
While I wouldn’t say this is the best alum block, it’s a very good product. It’s available at a fair price, which is nice, but it also comes in a smaller size than a lot of other blocks on the market, and it doesn’t come with a carrying case.
Based out of Italy, RazoRock initially began as a small company specializing in creating artisan-shaving products. Thanks to popular reviews on the Internet, this brand quickly grew in popularity and is now available internationally.
The alum block comes in packaging that slightly resembles a deodorant stick, which makes it easy for travel. The size of the stick is 2.15 ounces. When factoring in size, it’s no the cheapest alum product out there, but it’s not the most expensive either.
Due to its small size, the alum stick isn’t going to last as long as some of its competitors. I’d guess with daily use it will still last quite a few months though. Lastly, this stick is composed of naturally occurring potassium alum mineral salts.
Thanks to the packaging of this product, it can easily be used as a deodorant. Obviously, I recommend purchasing a separate one for face and armpits! This stick has a lot of favorable reviews, and many guys enjoy that it is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
The application is easy, and it goes on smooth, but quite a few users comment that it doesn’t stop bleeding as effectively as some other similar products out there.
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
If you travel a lot, or you are tight on space in your bathroom, the compact size of this stick makes it a great option. Since it’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, it should be effective for most skin types.
The unique packaging of this product distinguishes it from competitors. It’s moderately priced, so I wouldn’t categorize it is a great value item, but it’s certainly still more cost effective than many other aftershave options.
Note: It has come to my attention that people who bought this alum block received the 'block version' and not the 'stick version'. Make sure to verify it before buying.
Taylor of old Bond Street is a British company that has been around since the 1800s. Taylor of Bond Street is well known for creating high-quality shaving accessories.
Compared to the competition, this alum block comes at a pretty hefty price point. This block weighs in at 2.72 ounces and does not come with a carrying case. As with other similar blocks, when cared for correctly, this product can last you for several months. Lastly, it is made out of real, potassium alum.
Users report that this block is extremely soothing to irritated facial skin, and it rapidly seals up small nicks and cuts. Unlike some other brands, this bar stays smooth for a long time. There are no added fragrances, so you can still use your favorite aftershaves and colognes.
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
This alum bar is a great option for just about any guy. There are no crazy additives, so men with oily, normal, dry, or sensitive skin should be okay using the bar. Since it doesn’t come with a carrying case, though, if you travel a lot this may not be the best option for you.
This is a good quality product that is manufactured by a trusted company, but I think that you can get a better deal by purchasing some of the other brands out there.
Parker is a well known company in the shaving business. This block weighs four ounces, which is considerably larger than most of its competition. The large size may explain why the price is on the higher end as well. The packing of this product isn’t anything special, but it does come with a plastic carrying case. Similar to the other blocks I’ve reviewed, this product is made out of potassium alum and should last for months, if not years
A lot of reviewers feel that this is a great alum block. It’s free of any added fragrances, and it does a good job stopping small cuts from bleeding after a short amount of time.
WHO IS IT BEST FOR?
Since it’s just composed of alum, the block is suitable for all skin types. The carrying case that it comes with makes it a decent option for guys who travel frequently.
A lot of guys seem to be happy with this product. They can do a better job with the storage plastic. This is a huge block that will last you for a long time (years).