Homemade Aftershave

by Rosalee de la Forêt

Here is an herbal gift for the men in your life. They'll love this homemade aftershave.

I know men can be hard to shop for and sometimes it’s even harder to create a homemade herbal gift that they’ll actually like. But don’t worry, we’ve got it covered!

In this newsletter we’ll be making a homemade aftershave. Aftershaves typically have a strong scent, but they do more than act as a cologne.

Typically, when a man shaves, warm water is used to open the pores and soften the facial hair, making it easier to shave.

Aftershaves can be used after the shaving process to tighten and tone the pores on the face. This can prevent dirt and oil from entering the pores.

The aftershave recipe we’ll be making today is also anti-microbial, which can keep any razor cuts from becoming infected.

Let’s take a closer look at our ingredients.

Witch Hazel Extract

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a native shrub to the eastern US and Canada and has been transplanted to the west coast of north america and Europe as well.

It has a long history of use for sores, wounds, hemorrhoids, and other external abrasions.  It was used by a variety of north american tribes and was a part of the US official pharmacopeia from 1882 to 1955.

Witch hazel is primarily known for its astringent properties. Astringency is the ability to tighten and tone tissues. It’s also anti-microbial, meaning that it helps to keep cuts clean, thus preventing infection.

Orange Peel

Many of us are familiar with this fruit.

Did you know that the orange tree originally comes from China?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the orange peel is used medicinally for digestion and expectoration (mucous congestion). We use citrus peel in this recipe for its fresh scent.

Spices including cinnamon, allspice and clove

Each of these spices add their own unique smell to this homemade aftershave, but they do more than just smell good. All of these spices have been used for thousands of years to aid digestion and even preserve food.

At one time in history cinnamon used to be more valuable than silver. Today it is used for colds and flus, diarrhea and to help balance blood sugar levels.

Whole cloves are actually dried flower buds and are especially high in antioxidants. Clove essential oil is commonly used today to alleviate toothaches.

Allspice (Pimenta dioica) is the fruit of a myrtle tree that commonly grows in Jamaica. It’s called allspice because it is said to taste like the combination of various spices including cloves, juniper berries, cinnamon and pepper.


Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from molasses, a sugarcane byproduct. It’s believed to have originated on the island of Barbados and is an important beverage in the Caribbean.

Bay West Indies Essential Oil

This essential oil is distilled from the Bay Rum Tree (Pimenta racemosa). It is a common scent in men’s aftershave products.

For this aftershave recipe you will need...

  • 2 cups of witch hazel extract
  • 1 ounce of rum
  • zest from one organic orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-5 cloves
  • 3-5 whole allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon glycerin (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon aloe vera (optional)
  • Bay West Indies Essential Oil
  • Pint Jar

Of course, you can get many of the above items for your homemade aftershave at Mountain Rose Herbs

Begin by grating the orange peel to get its zest. I use the tool you see in the photo but you can simply use a fine cheese grater. You want the orange part of the peel, not the white beneath. This usually yields about two tablespoons of orange. It’s fine if you have more or less than this.

Once you have the zest put it in your pint jar along with the cinnamon stick (you can break it up if you would like), the cloves and the allspice.

(note: Make sure you use the amounts in the recipe and not in the two photos above)

Next add the optional glycerin and aloe vera. These are great additions for men with especially sensitive skin.

Next add the rum. You can buy a small one ounce bottle from the liquor store.

Next fill the jar with witch hazel distillate. This will be just under two cups.

Finally add 25-40 drops of the bay west indies essential oil to your aftershave recipe.

Cover the mixture with a tight fitting lid and shake well.

Shake it well every day or so for 4 - 6 weeks.

Once the homemade aftershave is done, strain off the ingredients and put it in a dark colored bottle. This makes enough to fill two 8 oz bottles.

Attach a label and now you have a wonderful holiday gift for the men in your life.

To make this present especially easy we even have a label you can download and print. You can simply print this out on normal paper and attach it with clear packaging tape.

For men who don’t shave this homemade aftershave also works well as a cologne. If they have especially sensitive skin this mixture can be diluted with a little water just before application.


P.S. Remember to support you local herb shops this Holiday Season. If you do not have one, then you can get many of the above ingredients and bottles at Mountain Rose Herbs.

BONUS: Aftershave Label Template!

Would you like my template for the label you see on the bottle above?

Download link (right click and save) to download a Word document template.

This can be opened in MS Word, Apple Pages, or any free software such as OpenOffice.org. Feel free to change the font or add your own designs. Simply print on plain paper and tape to bottles with clear packing tape.

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