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This Father's Day, give Dad a vintage after-shave bottle filled with home-brewed after-shave!

After-shave bottle craft photo
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After-Shave Bottle craft image)
Dad will get a spicy splash of after-shave - and a laugh - every time he reaches for his personal after-shave bottle! The bottle and label look like something from an 1890's apothecary, and the old-time fragrances of spices or herbs is pure nostalgia in a bottle.

Brewing up a bottle of after-shave is easy, using ingredients right out of your spice cabinet or garden. We have two recipes here, one starting with witch hazel and one with Bay Rum. Or, you can just fill the bottle with straight Bay Rum, which was the after-shave of choice back several hundred years, when the fragrant Caribbean Bay Laurel tree was first discovered by the perfume industry.

Bay Rum sounds like something pirates might drink - which could explain their short life expectancies. Bay Rum is actually a cologne or after-shave lotion formulated from bay oil, ethyl alcohol and fragrances. You can buy it from your pharmacy, cosmetic supply store or online sources. The label warns that drinking it will cause "serious gastric disturbances." Take that, ye scurvy bilge rats... arrrgh!

The bottle we used was from a set of corked oil and vinegar bottles we found at a thrift store. Any type of small antique or decorative bottle will do, as long as there is a cork or cap, and a flat surface for a label. We've given you three sizes of labels in the FREE PDF "Vitnage Images" download, both with and without the "Manly After-Shave" text. You might want to add a personalization or name of your own!

Materials for the After-Shave Bottle

  • Crafts & Supplies at joann.com!
    Vintage Images (FREE PDF download).
  • Self-adhesive label paper (for ink jet printers) or photo paper, 8.5" X 11" (see Tips).
  • Glass bottle with cork or decorative top, about 8-16 oz.
  • Necktie.
  • Decorative button.
  • Hot glue gun or tacky craft glue (like Aleen's)
  • Scissors or paper cutter.
  • Spicy after-shave ingredients: Bay Rum; ground mace, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
  • Herbal after-shave ingredients: witch hazel, apple cider, dried lavender flowers, dried sage (see Tips).


  1. After-shave Bottle craft, step 1Print the vintage images on to self-adhesive label paper or photo paper (see Tips).

  2. After-shave Bottle craft, step 2Trim the appropriate size image with scissors or paper cutter. Apply it to the front of the bottle.
  3. Cut off the narrow end of the necktie to a length that will circle the neck of the bottle with a 1" overlap. Glue the necktie piece to the bottle with tacky craft glue (or hot glue), with the pointed tail on the front of the bottle. Hold with a clamp or rubber bands until the glue is dry. Glue the button embellishment on the necktie and clamp until dry.

  4. After-shave Bottle craft, step 3Mix up a batch of your favorite after-shave recipe, shown below. (The recipe with Bay Rum needs to be boiled in the microwave, or on your stove in a heat-proof glass container in a saucepan half-filled with water, as shown here.)
  5. Fill your labeled after-shave bottle with your home-brewed lotion and seal it, add a funny Father's Day card, and surprise Dad!

After-shave recipes

(Adjust the measurements for the capacity of your bottle)

Sage and Lavender After-Shave Lotion

2 cups witch hazel
2 tablespoons apple cider or apple juice
1 ounce dried lavender flowers, crushed (see Tips)
1 ounce dried sage

Combine the ingredients in a large jar and seal with a lid. Let the mixture steep for one week, shaking it daily. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and pour into your after-shave bottle.

Spice After-Shave Lotion

2 cups of Bay Rum
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a heat-proof glass container (like a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup). Microwave the Pyrex container for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture boils for 1 minute. Alternatively, place the Pyrex into a saucepan, add a cup of water to the saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture boils for 1 minute. Allow the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and pour into your after-shave bottle.


  • We used White Shipping Labels made by Avery (#8165), which are really just 8.5" X 11" adhesive sheets with a peel-off paper back. One problem with these labels is determining the best color and image settings for your printer. We tried all the settings, and decided that a paper selection setting of "premium photo paper, matte" or "premium presentation paper" resulted in the best image. Still, the image was not as bright or sharp as on photo paper.
  • If you don't have access to printable label paper (or don't like the quality of printing you can achieve on it), you can print your label on matte or glossy photo paper and adhere the label to the bottle with spray adhesive, glue stick or double-stick tape.
  • You can dry lavender flowers quickly in your microwave. This isn't an exact science, since drying time is influenced by the size of the flowers, the moisture they hold, and the wattage of your microwave oven. Place the fresh lavender flowers between several layers of white paper towel or in a small brown paper bag, and set them on a microwavable plate. Cook them for 1.5 minutes on 50% power, let them cool for a minute, and check their dryness. Cook in additional 20-second increments at 50% power as necessary, until the flowers feel dry.
Our thanks to Dawn Cusick and her book, Nature Crafts with a Microwave, for basic information on drying flowers. Our after-shave recipes were adapted from Easy Does It, published by Leisure Arts in 1994, and Herbal Treasures by Phyllis Shaudys, published by Garden Way Publishing in 1990.

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