How to Make Homemade Aftershave + 3 Recipes

Learn how to create your own natural homemade aftershave with herbs, spices and other healthy ingredients.

I also include 3 aftershave recipes to get you started: Bay Rum, Juniper Woods, and Cedarwood & Vetiver.

3 bottles of homemade aftershave

Several months ago, my husband requested that I create some natural aftershave recipes for him.

In preparation, I spent a long while browsing through the Badger & Blade forums to get a feel for what discerning shavers liked and didn’t like in an aftershave, plus to get an idea of what ingredients I might want to play around with.

My husband likes an aftershave with a bit of ‘bite’ or slight sting to it, so I already knew I wanted to use rum as the infusion base.

If you have extra sensitive skin or want to avoid using rum, you could try using witch hazel in its place. I’m also working on some alcohol-free aftershave ideas, plus an aftershave balm recipe – so stay tuned!

bowls of clove, juniper berries, yarrow, pine needles and dried orange slices

Step 1: Make the Aftershave Base Infusion

These aftershave recipes are made in a two step process. First, you make a base infusion, then in the second stage, dilute it with witch hazel, add a touch of glycerin or aloe, and your desired essential oils.

You have a ton of choices as to what can be included in the infusion (see more ingredient ideas further down).

These are just two combinations of herbs, spices and citrus peel that I tried and liked, feel free to play around with all sorts of other combos!

Infusion 1 – Woodsy/Forest Blend

This combination has a wonderful woodsy scent with mellow underlying tones of orange and clove.

Juniper is astringent and antiseptic, making it especially nice for those with oily or acne-prone skin, while yarrow is a styptic that can quickly stop the bleeding from small nicks.

  • 10 juniper berries
  • handful of chopped white pine needles
  • 10 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp dried yarrow (or 2 – 3 tbsp fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 4.5 oz rum (or as much needed to fill the jar)

Place the juniper berries, pine needles, cloves, yarrow and orange zest in a half-pint jar.

Pour the rum into the jar until it’s almost filled.

Cap with a lid and store in a cabinet or other cool dark spot for 3 weeks or longer. (Mine steeped about 6 or 7 weeks.)

Strain and use in aftershave recipes as desired.

Ingredients to make DIY natural aftershave

Infusion 2 – Spiced Blend

This blend has a strong spicy scent that blends well with a variety of essential oils. Because of its warmth and strength, I use less of it in a recipe compared to the woodsy/forest blend above.

You could decrease the amount of cinnamon and cloves to weaken it a bit, but I find it more useful to dilute it further as needed with witch hazel, once it has finished infusing.

Violet and plantain leaves provide an extra level of skin soothing, while yarrow is helpful to quickly stop the bleeding from nicks and small cuts received while shaving.

  • several violet or plantain leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 10 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tbsp dried yarrow (or 2 -3 tbsp fresh)
  • 4.5 oz rum (or as much needed to fill the jar)

Place the violet/plantain leaves, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and yarrow in a half-pint jar.

Pour the rum into the jar until it’s almost filled.

Cover with a lid and store in a cabinet or other dry dark spot for 3 weeks or longer. (Mine steeped about 6 to 7 weeks.)

Strain and use in aftershave recipes as desired.

Jar of homemade aftershave infusing

Herbs, Spices & Other Ingredients for Your Aftershave

You have all kinds of options when it comes to creating the base infusion for your aftershave.

Herbs to Include for Skin Benefits:

  • yarrow – stops bleeding, astringent
  • plantain leaf – helps itchy & irritated skin
  • violet leaf – soothes irritation & dryness
  • thyme – for acne prone or oily skin
  • calendula – repairs damaged skin
  • dandelion flower – for dry chapped skin
  • chamomile – for splotchy or itchy skin
  • elder flowers – for smoother clearer skin
  • sage – for oily skin
  • juniper berries – astringent, antiseptic, good for problem skin

Other Additions – for Scent & Label Appeal:

  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • allspice
  • orange zest
  • lemon zest
  • lime zest
  • pine needles
  • menthol crystals
essential oils in colored glass bottles

Essential Oils & Dilution Rate for Homemade Aftershave

A 1% dilution rate is often suggested for products applied to your face. This works out to around 12 drops of essential oil per 2 ounce bottle of aftershave. (The recipes below fill a 2 ounce bottle, though the Bay Rum Aftershave recipe makes a bit over that.)

You’ll notice that I only used 4 to 5 drops total in my recipes, since I was aiming for a subtle scent.

You can experiment and add more essential oils if you’d like for a more noticeable aroma, but try to stay around or below the 12 drops suggestion to avoid skin irritation.

My favorite essential oils for skincare come from Mountain Rose Herbs, but they were out of stock of the Bay West Indies oil so I purchased that one & some vetiver from Zoils on Etsy instead. (Great shop, fast shipping!)

Some possible essential oil choices include:

  • Bay West Indies (Pimenta racemosa) – fresh and balsamic, a classic fragrance for men’s shaving and personal care products
  • Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica) – a popular woodsy scent for guys, astringent, antiseptic, blends well with vetiver, fir needle, patchouli, cypress, lavender & eucalyptus
  • Juniper (Juniperus communis) – warm and woodsy, astringent, blends especially well with citrus, fir needle, cedarwood, cypress & lavender
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – fresh, with an evergreen scent, cypress balances oily skin, may help reduce redness & stop bleeding from nicks
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) – use a drop or two in a blend to add warmth & earthiness, helpful for chapped or inflamed skin
  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) – just a drop adds wonderful depth and complexity to a blend, antiseptic, relaxing
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) – strong, cooling, blends well with peppermint, tea tree, lavender, fir needle & rosemary
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – strong, fresh, minty, cooling, relieves pain, blend with lavender, eucalyptus, fir needle & tea tree
  • Fir Needle (Abies balsamea) – soft evergreen scent, astringent, antibacterial, blend with cedarwood, juniper, cypress, eucalyptus, lavender & peppermint
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – use bergaptene free to avoid sun sensitivity, excellent for many skin complaints (acne, psoriasis, chapping, etc), disinfectant, numbs pain, heals nicks & cuts, blend with cypress, rosemary, patchouli
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – invigorating, stimulating, blends with bergamot, citrus, cedarwood, lavender, fir needle, eucalyptus & peppermint

As you can see in the notes above, many of the essential oils blend nicely with lavender. Even though it’s not typically thought of as a “guy scent”, just one drop in a blend can help smooth the scent out, without smelling flowery at all. A drop of lavender is especially nice with cedarwood atlas, and it also helps mellow and take the sharp edge off of peppermint.

I found that the essential oils mix nicely into the aftershave with a brisk shake of the bottle before use, but if you’re concerned about that and want to add a solubilizer like polysorbate 80 to make sure the essential oils disperse, then add an equal amount in drops as essential oil. For example, if you add 5 drops essential oil, add 5 drops poly 80. (If you’re going for a 100% natural product, polysorbate 80 isn’t considered natural.)

How to Make DIY Men's Homemade Aftershave + 3 Recipes: Bay Rum, Juniper Woods, and Cedarwood Vetiver

Step 2: Make the Aftershave

Once the base has infused for several weeks, you’re ready to make the aftershave!

At this point, you’re going to dilute the infused rum with enough witch hazel until it’s a comfortable level to apply to your skin. (It’s not the same, of course, but I tested a lot of rum/witch hazel ratios on the skin of my inner arm, before ever testing on my husband’s freshly shaved face, just to get an idea of their strength level & to see how drying they were.)

I found that adding a small bit of vegetable glycerin or aloe to the mix does add a nice touch – you don’t need much though. (This tip was learned in the Badger & Blade Forums.) All of the test versions that my husband liked had glycerin or aloe in them, though he liked the ones with aloe just a bit more.

3 Recipes to Get You Started:

1. Bay Rum Aftershave

The classic scent of bay rum with a spicy undertone of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, is highlighted in this natural aftershave. For an alternate scent option, try combining 4 drops of bay rum with 2 drops of cedarwood atlas.

My husband says this aftershave has the best “bite” or sting to it, making it his favorite one. If you don’t want the sting, try a higher witch hazel to infused rum ratio.

  • 5 drops bay west indies essential oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp infused rum (spiced blend, from above)
  • 4 tbsp witch hazel
  • 1/4 tsp aloe vera gel (or 1/16 tsp glycerin)

2. Juniper Woods Aftershave

Juniper essential oils blends together with the woodsy forest rum blend from above creating a warm pleasant scent.

  • 4 drops juniper essential oil
  • 3 1/2 tbsp infused rum (woodsy forest blend, from above)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp witch hazel
  • 1/16 tsp glycerin (or 1/4 tsp aloe vera gel)

3. Cedarwood & Vetiver Aftershave

A favorite combination for many, cedarwood atlas and vetiver is enhanced by the warm clove scent of the woodsy forest rum blend.

(If you own my book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, this aftershave’s scent goes perfectly with Lumberjack Soap on page 130.)

  • 3 drops cedarwood atlas essential oil
  • 1 drop vetiver essential oil (see note)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp infused rum (woodsy forest blend, from above)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp witch hazel
  • 1/16 tsp glycerin (or 1/4 tsp aloe vera gel)

Note: Since vetiver is thick & difficult to measure by drop, I dip a toothpick into the bottle of essential oil and then swirl it into the aftershave.

Bottles & Labels Sources

I bought the 2 ounce glass bottles from Specialty Bottle. They have an wonderful selection and you can buy as few or as many as you want.

The labels were a quick job I threw together in PicMonkey. (It costs a small monthly fee, but I’ve had a subscription for years and use it constantly.) :)

I printed the labels out on regular copy paper and used a glue stick to adhere them to the bottles.

You may also like:

Calendula Shave Soap | Herbal Intensive Lotion Bars | Pine Tar Salve

calendula shave soap and shave brush being lathered in a shave mug
Herbal Intensive Lotion Bar Recipe
Pine Tar Salve
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  1. Thank you for these recipes. I was an only child, had only girls, but now have two grandsons, and have had problems deciding what to give them as gifts. My oldest grandson is shaving now, and these will be great gifts for him!

  2. Well, I am going to make these now for Christmas gifts, but I can’t find White Pine Needles. Where do you get yours? I did a search, but nothing came up except for white pine tea, which is actually ….well, tea. Specifically baby tea leaves. I have regular pines outside, here at my house, but you mention WHITE pine specifically…

  3. Just want to thank you! I have been wanting to experiment with some manly scents and now I have a starting point. I’m new to selling my soap and I’m not especially creative. Thank you for being so generous with your work!

  4. Hello! I Love ALL your wonderful recipes and how nicely you explain them. And i like reading all you interstressing stories also. You are so knowledgeable on everything!!! and I want to thank you for sharing this with us!! Carol Jean

  5. Hi , Since you have included glycerin or aloe and both are water based ingredients then you didn’t use any preservative to keep your formulation away from bacteria and mold?

    1. Hi Nisha! These recipes have a high amount of alcohol so don’t need an additional preservative. If you make aftershaves without alcohol, or with a low level of alcohol, then you’d definitely want to investigate preservative options.

  6. Hello,

    If i replace the alcohol with witch hazel, would the amount be the same? 2 1/2tbsp of witch hazel instead of bay rum?

    And could you simply mix witch hazel, aloe and essential oil to make aftershave without needing the natural ingredients like the clove and bay leaves? Just by a bay rum spiced essential oil?

    1. Hi Brian! You can definitely replace the alcohol with witch hazel instead. If you decide to infuse herbs & spices into witch hazel, it will have a shorter shelf life than alcohol infused with herbs, but you can use it up quicker + store it in the fridge between uses. Also yes, you can leave out the clove & bay leaves. It’s very adjustable so feel free to experiment widely with variations!

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