Page 1 of 1

Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:43 am
by TRBeck
I've posted about this in SOTD, but I thought I would share about homebrewing aftershave splashes for anyone who is interested. I started doing this some time ago, almost right after I started wetshaving, but things have evolved considerably. My first homemade aftershave was orange-scented isopropyl alcohol from Walgreen's mixed with Sanborn's Orange Blossom cologne to tame the musk in the latter. I added some Humphrey's witch hazel as I recall, which did not improve the scent. It was definitely less than the sum of its parts and ultimately got dumped.

Later I made bay rum with some 151 to which I added essential oils: pimenta racemosa, lime, vanilla 10-fold, and bergamot. The proof wasn't high enough to make the oils soluble, so after months of aging (8 months?) I carefully siphoned off the oils floating on top. I then tamped down the alcohol by adding aloe vera juice, a tiny amount of witch hazel (for reference, Dr. Galen's herbal face tonic has 4.3% witch hazel and is an excellent aftershave/toner), and some hydrovance (a less tacky-feeling alternative to glycerin). It's good stuff, very classic-smelling but kind to the skin.

For the last 2-3 years, though, I've been using almost exclusively a homemade splash that works as both an aftershave in the morning and a toner before I go to bed. I have several scents, but most often use "Un-Cologne." The ingredients are:

Alcohol (25% - I use Everclear instead of Perfumer's Alcohol these days due to cost and calculate it at 27% of the overall formula since it's "only" 190-proof)
Hydrovance (2-3% - glycerin is easier to get and works fine, too)
Aloe Vera Juice (22-25%)
Witch Hacel (8-10%)
I aim for these four to total 60% of the overall formula

Plant Hydrosols (40%)

Plant hydrosols are also called floral distillates or flower waters. They are the byproduct of essential oil distillation. I get them from the same suppliers as my EOs, and there are also some reputable sellers on eBay. These are an inexpensive way to get some very nice scent, as they contain the fragrance of essential oils but obviously at a much lighter concentration. I have on hand the following hydrosols:
Douglas Fir

I use them in various combinations to get a very light, fleeting scent. For instance, The first four plus sandalwood add up to an classic 4711/Farina "eau de cologne"-style fragrance that finishes off a shave very nicely. It's also gone in 60 seconds so I can follow with a true cologne/EDT if I want to (and often these days I don't).

Douglas Fir with a touch of lavender and cedarwood is wonderful stuff to follow one of my woodsy homemade soaps.

Lime on its own or dressed up with a touch of sandalwood and orange is a great summer splash.

Lavender on its own is a very nice bedtime toner that helps me mellow out.

You can lay out a lot of cash for hydrosols if you try to collect bunches of them at once, but then again, the resulting product lasts forever. I've made 2 gallons of aftershave in the "un-cologne" vein in the last 3 years and am still working through my first 16-oz. bottles of hydrosols. I mixed a new half-gallon batch last night, and just now finished off my sandalwood. I bought 32 oz. of lavender and rose, so I've got a ways to go on those.

Anyone else every make or alter their own aftershaves?

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:16 am
by Gene

Are you saying that the "base" is 60% of the total? So, if I wanted to make 32 ounces of aftershave I would need 19 ounces of the "Base" (and that 19 ounces would be created using the proportions you laid out) and the balance (11 ounces) would be the scent?

Makes me think you could craft a big jug of the base that you could store until such time as you wanted to make a new batch - scented to a clients desire or your whim.

If the base is capable of long-term storage.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:11 pm
by TRBeck

That's the way I do it, but it doesn't have to be that way. The main thing is to have at least 25% alcohol, which is ample for long-term preservation but not enough to burn. I find that 40% hydrosols is enough scent to overcome the witch hazel aroma but not enough to be overpowering, but even then, some hydrosols are stronger than others - neroli, sandalwood, and fir are stronger than lime or orange, at least in the brands I've purchased. I got to these proportions in this order: I knew I needed alcohol at 25%, added hydrovance at 2-3%, decided on no more than 10% witch hazel due to scent and feel of higher concentrations, and the rest is just a blend of whatever. I settled on 40% hydrosols after experimenting a bit, but more would be fine. Just hydrosols, alcohol and the hydrovance works, I can attest, and provides a stronger scent. Aloe vera doesn't agree with everyone, nor does witch hazel. The moisturizing effect of hydrovance/glycerin, the preservative effect of alcohol, and the rest is just gravy: what do you want out of the splash? Aftershave soothing? Cleansing? Scent? Only you can know that, but for me, this is the right balance. My skin is not tacky or greasy after applying, just well-moisturized and smooth.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:30 pm
by Gene
OK, this is interesting.

But I would want to scent to last a bit longer - I don't do cologne myself - and rely on the AS as a pleasant scent for myself.

Oh - and Everclear? Buy at the liquor store Everclear? Hard to imaging that's less expensive that what you mentioned.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:36 pm
by TRBeck
Gene, Perfumer's Alcohol is expensive, not to mention that there is a hard cap on how much one can purchase for personal use.

1.75L at only 27% of the formulation lasts a long time, and I pay less than $40 for that much here locally.

Now as far as scent goes, most hydrosols don't last. Just not in their nature. A higher concentration might last a bit longer, though, especially of tenacious fragrances like sandalwood.

There are a couple of other routes you can go. I have messed around some with adding PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil as a solubilizer, which allows for adding EO or fragrance oil to lower-alcohol splashes. Something like 30% alcohol, some witch hazel if desired, and EOs, and hydrogenated castor oil. Not "natural" but effective. Then, too, there's a company that makes an alcohol-free aftershave splash base. It has solubilizers in it, all-natural (it is the base B&M used for their discontinued Latha splashes), and if you follow the manufacturer guidance for the concentration of fragrance to add, you will have a clear, nicely-scented splash. Finally, you can choose not to care about a cloudy splash with stuff floating in it and just use whatever concentration of alcohol you want for the splash "feel" plus some sort of moisturizing/toning agents and scent. I used to use Taylor's lavender water, which clearly had EOs floating in it. I just shook it up before splashing it out each day.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:29 pm
by brothers
Altered: Superior 70 mentholated splash. Cheap and good, it smells great going on but has no lingering fragrance discernible to me. I add a large quantity of menthol crystals to the big bottle to make it even colder than normal. I also add a large dollop (1/3 tube) of 444 after shave balm. One bottle lasts 6 months. I'm on my 5th bottle and have plenty in reserve. I haven't taken the time to figure out all of the cool chemistry that those folks in Ponce, Costa Rica have obviously done in order to create my favorite aftershave splash. I just know it's got a lot of alcohol in it.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:21 pm
by TRBeck
Sounds great, Gary! Adding menthol crystals is great because it works with almost any splash. Does the balm just mix itself in with some shaking?

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:21 pm
by brothers
Fortunately 444 is highly soluble. I was concerned about that before I added it the first time. Once it has been introduced into the bottle, there's never any separation. It's completely dissolved.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:23 pm
by TRBeck
Thanks for the 411 on the 444, Gary. :)

Inspired by the Superior 70 talk, I dug out one of my bottles and went to work on a different variation. I like this stuff, but it's too much alcohol for my skin on a daily basis. I also love Meehan Bay Rum, an EDT or even EDP strength scent that includes rosewater. Rose and bay rum are IMO an old-school match made in heaven. Spicy rose...yum. I approached it roughly like my other splashes, and came up with the following:

40g Superior 70 (@65% alcohol, this should yield roughly 25% alcohol in the final product)
3g hydrovance
5g witch hazel
12g aloe juice
40g rose hydrosol

It smells terrific. First use as an aftershave will be tomorrow. Superior 70 seems like it might make a good canvas to play with: lime hydrosol, sandalwood hydrosol (bay rum and sandalwood is sublime), menthol, coniferous additions...I wish I could still find it locally, but I do have two full bottles on hand (minus what I used today), so some room to experiment a little.

Re: Homemade Face Tonic/Aftershave

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:34 pm
by drmoss_ca
I had a friend in Toronto who was strongly interested in blending colognes. I have a bottle of a mix of incense and oudh scents that he created that is quite stunning. Sadly, he drowned in the Turks and Caicos islands earlier this month, so I can no longer ask his advice on such things. He proved that one can mix commercial products and make something better if you know how, unlike the old saw about apple pie and cow pie in which neither is improved.