I know, I know. Most average guys would shy away from slathering their faces in a mask made from avocado pulp, oat meal, olive oil and ground almonds, or admitting to using hand lotion that smells delicately of roses. The occasional metrosexual type might, but not the typical middle class man. However, there are plenty of home-made domestic cleaning products that the average man can feel comfortable about using.
Many of these natural grooming products call for essential oils. These are mostly added for the scent. Choose an essential oil that you like. Good choices for men include the spicy oils (cinnamon and cloves – if you like Old Spice male grooming products, you’ll like these); the fresh, tangy citrus oils; and the more herbal and woody oils, such as pine, sage, cypress, bay and rosemary. Lavender is another oil that isn’t overpoweringly sweet, floral and feminine (honestly!). Many of these essential oils are used in commercially available aftershaves – or at least synthetic versions of them are.
Just plain soap and water makes a good lather – it was all that many men had in the past. This recipe is less drying than plain soap and can easily be worked up to a good lather.
* 1 1/3 cup distilled water
* 250 g soap flakes (grate a bar of plain soap to get soap flakes)
* 20 drops essential oil of your choice – try a blend.
Put the grated soap in a wide screw-top glass jar. Put this jar in a saucepan of ordinary tap water and put the saucepan on the cooker and let the soap in the jar heat up and start melting. Meanwhile, warm the distilled water in another saucepan. Carefully pour the warm distilled water into the soap flakes and start stirring like heck. It will make a translucent, gloopy gel. Remove the jar from the heat and let it cool slightly. Stir in the essential oils. Screw down the lid and put the jar in a cupboard until use. When you need it, spoon out what you need and work it to a good lather with your hands and apply it with a natural bristle brush after rinsing your face.
Heavy-duty hand scrub
Get rid of that deeply ingrained dirt from the garden or the workshop with this tough soap. It’s also good for filthy knees obtained in a rugby match.
1 bar plain white soap, unscented (home made, if you like)
1 T olive oil
4 T coarse sand or ground pumice stone (to get ground pumice stone, grab a chunk of pumice, put it in a bag and bash it to powder with a hammer).
Essential oil (optional)
Melt the soap in a double boiler or in the microwave on Low. When it’s runny, stir in the olive oil and the sand until it’s all mixed in. If the mixture hardens before you’re ready for it, re-soften it by zapping it again in the microwave – or keep it over the heat in the double boiler. Add the essential oil last, if you’re using it. When the sand or pumice is added in, pour the runny soap into a mould to shape it – an old used margarine container or small yoghurt pot will do. Put it into the refrigerator to harden. When the soap is solid, press it out of the mould and wrap it in clingfilm until you need it.
Aftershave is necessary to kill any pimple-causing bacteria getting into the opened pores or little nicks once you’ve shaved. All you really need is the alcohol (we’ve used vodka in this recipe, but any strong spirit or surgical rubbing alcohol will do. Don’t use meths), but adding a bit of scent makes it reek less. Essential oils also help kill the germs.
* 2 cups vodka
* 4 bay leaves
* 20 drops essential oil – use a blend of woody and herbal oils.
Put the vodka in an airtight bottle or jar and put the bayleaves into the liquid. Close the lid, then put the bottle/jar in a dark cupboard for a week or so. At the end of the week, take out the bayleaves and put in the essential oil. Close the lid again and shake the bottle or jar hard. You can try using this straight away, but the longer the vodka and essential oils sit around together, the more mellow the scent.
Nick Vassilev is the founder of a successful carpet cleaning London company called Anyclean. The firm provides a wide array of various cleaning services, all of which are carried out with passion and high level of professionalism.