How to Make a Self-Preserving Rosemary and Honey Facial Cleanser

Today we're going to make a simple, all-natural cleanser that is both gentle and effective for all skin types.

The best part? There are only 2 ingredients
The other best part? It smells divine and works like a dream
The third best part? This cleanser is self-preserving and has a very long shelf life
The worst part? It takes a few days to prepare 

Are you ready to get started? Excellent, then let's get busy!

Testing Limits

You only need 2 ingredients to make this cleanser: raw honey and fresh rosemary.

Admittedly, this started last year as a bit of a 'let's-test-the-limits-of-these-ingredients' experiment. To really challenge the process, I decided to used freshly picked herbs – straight from my summer garden. 

You might already be gasping at the very thought. 

Raw botanicals with raw honey?!

Those ingredients are just asking for trouble!
Combining 'bug food' with more 'bug food'?! (and isn't it about time we retired that ridiculous term? Thank you, yes, I believe it is.) 

I told you I was testing limits, didn't I?

Well guess what.

Despite doing 'all the wrong things', the results were all kinds of skin-loving fabulous, so I decided to share this cleanser how-to with you.

LisaLise Rosemary and  honey
Here are the proportions

LisaLise’s Rosemary Honey Facial Cleanser

Ingredient Percent
Fresh Rosemary 25
Raw Honey 75


  1. If your rosemary has thick stocks, remove the leaves and discard the stocks 
  2. Wash the rosemary in distilled water and let dry thoroughly
  3. Lightly chop the rosemary
  4. Weigh out honey and add to sanitized container
  5. Weigh out rosemary and add to honey
  6. Stir with a sanitized tool to incorporate
  7. Place lid on jar
  8. Let infuse for 3-5 days at room temperature away from direct light and heat
  9. Strain and bottle

Straining Tips

I strained this batch through a clean piece of muslin. If you wear latex gloves, you can easily squeeze out the last bit of honey.

Alternatively, place a sanitized, fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, pour the honey mixture into the sieve, place a lid over it and let gravity do its thing until your honey cleanser is ready to be bottled.

Viscosity and Bottling

My end result was thinner than the original (thickish, spreadable) honey so I opted for the pump bottle you see above.

Raw honey can have many colors and viscosities and still be the real thing. Depending on what your raw honey is like, you might find a squeezy tube ideal for your cleanser.

The book pictured below has a section on how to tell if your honey is the real thing (along with a whole lot of preservative-free cosmetics formulas you can make). Click the picture to be whisked to my site where you can read more.

Shelf Life

I know you're curious about shelf life. So am I. At the time of writing this, I've been using this rosemary honey cleanser for over 6 months and it's still going strong. If I can keep myself from using it all up, I will save a bit for monitoring and report back on shelf life.

Do Tell

Have you ever used honey as a cleanser?


Febe said…
Holy moly! This is incredible! Say more about why you selected rosemary. I am thinking other herbs as well. Like, fresh lavender or dandelion.....

Is your result moisturizing? I wonder what would happen if you added a pinch of clay.......
Anonymous said…
I'm curios about the change in viscosity. Why do you suppose it became thinner?
Lisa Belt said…
Yes I am curious as to how and why it became thinner. How do you use it? Do you apply it to a dampened face and rinse off with water?
LisaLise said…
@Febe - Rosemary has a history of both medicinal and anti-bacterial uses, so it's a great addition to a cleanser. The result after using this cleanser is moisturising indeed. You can infuse other herbs in honey as well. Lavender is a great option. I've never tried fresh dandelion in honey so I can't comment on how it would turn out (although I now plan on giving it a try).

@Anonymous - the viscosity change is in all likelihood due to the natural moisture content of the fresh rosemary as it infused into the honey.

@Lisa Belt - To use this as a cleanser, apply to a lightly dampened face, massage gently (as you would with any other cleanser), then rinse off. Honey rinses away without a care in the world, but do be sure your hair is kept away from the face as it's a bit fiddly to rinse out of hair. :)
Unknown said…
Hi Lise! Will you do a challenge test of this formulation?
I’m just wondering how we know for certain there is no bacteria inside.
Aish said…
Hi Lise, this is lovely. This reminded me of how, back in India, we would preserve fresh amla (Indian gooseberries) in honey. The preserved amla is then consumed to boost immunity and health. Never seen a bottle go bad :)
Anonymous said…
Great experiment Lisa! I too am so tired of bloggers who use the phrase ‘bug food’ over and over again. Well meaning perhaps, but i wish they would stop parroting what they learnt from one blog to another. Most serious DIYers know preservatives are mostly necessary but they also want to learn when things can be overpreserved, and also underpreserved if that be the case. In a world where homecrafters can buy so many functional ingredients, whether synthetic or natural that are similar to what commercial companies use, those who have a natural product inclination probably see you as a shining light in the confusing world of diy. I myself will buy a commercial product that is well formulated whether or not it is ‘natural’ but if I make it myself I want something different. otherwise I will buy from the manufacturers who can produce it more efficiently and therefore it’s better for our earth. Thank you so much for sharing your experiential learning, and that is what makes your blog so enjoyable. —Macy
Unknown said…
I must say that the pure honey is thik so it will be a litle dificult to infuse thw herb in the honey. Only if we put it on heat but it will be thik again after a little time!!
LisaLise said…
@Kris Boggs - You bring up an excellent point. Challenge testing is indeed the only way to know for sure. I am still working on testing different herbs and infusion methods, so this whole concept is still in early stages. Like I mention in the post - about 6 months at the time of writing this post.

@Aish - Oh my goodness I can imagine how fabulous a mixture of amla and honey would be- the tart and sweet together! I wish I had access to the fresh berries - I would be all over this idea for skincare! (And would probably taste a lot too)

@Macy - Your words are so kind and truly warm my heart. I am totally with you on using and going with what works for you - whether a commercially manufactured or home crafted product.

@Anda - Thanks for your comment. Raw honey can have many different viscosities and colors. I buy local honey from different suppliers where I live and have everything from a light and runny to a dark syrup-y consistency to a thick spreadable consistency. Although I know some prefer using heat, I personally refrain from using heat in order to maintain the integrity of the honey.
Febe said…
I made a honey infusion with fresh rosemary and ginger root.

I’ve used it solo and with my Rose Milk Cleansing Grains. I was inspired by your post on roses. The power of roses is incredible! I am in love with this cleanser๐Ÿ˜. I digress....

The honey cleanser is impressive - either by itself or in combination. My Mom has dry skin...very dry skin. Plus, she has hard water which isn’t the best for faces. I am going to ask her to try this honey cleanser. She uses a Vitamin C focused Cleansing Grain I made. I think she will like adding the honey cleanser! too.

I will be posting pictures of the honey cleanser on my Instagram page- Barker Street Naturals. If you have the chance, stop by and see.

Thanks for your inspiration!
LisaLise said…
Hey there Febe and thanks also much for sharing! I have checked out your IG profile and am following! feel free to tag me when you post your cleanser. Meantime, I am loving your ginger idea and now inspired to try this too!
Febe said…
Hi Lisa! ๐Ÿ™‚

I was wondering if you think that dried herbs or flowers will infuse just as well as fresh. I personally think that freah is better. But. I have some really great herbs and flowers I want to try to infuse. Have you tried I fusing honey with and dried herb?

LisaLise said…
HI Febe - Dried herbs can indeed be used but expect a longer infusion time. I've got a fabulous lavender honey that took 3 months before I was happy with the scent , but it got there. :D
Alicia said…
Sounds amazing for my aging, irritated, and dehydrated skin!! I know fresh is best but I am just getting into EO’s and am wondering if using Rosemary and/or Lavender eo would suffice as I’ve spend so much money on these little bottles? TIA
LisaLise said…
Hi @Alicia - this is a real interesting question. Even though honey may seem like it would be able to 'carry' a small amount of essential oil, we have to consider that honey is water-soluble and essential oils are not. You would in all likelihood need to introduce a solubilser to get the EO's to disperse properly. I am however a little intrigued at the idea and may do a bit of testing now thanks to your inspiring question!
Dianna said…
I started out with fresh rosemary, but a week later I’m just now finding time to try this, and my rosemary isn’t quite so fresh. Much closer to dried but still a tiny bit sticky when pulling needles off. Should I use a bit more honey?
LisaLise said…
HI Dianna - I'm assuming you used the proportions described in this post, and from your description I don't think you need to add more honey. I'd try a very small portion and see how it goes. :)
Johanna said…
Hi Lise! This looks intresting. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Can't wait to make a test patch and see how this works! ๐Ÿ˜Š Me and my skin love bee stuff, but never used honey as a cleanser. I should have some fresh rosemary after few weeks and I'd love to use it together with fresh sage and dried mint. What do you think? Any tips? Filtering sage could be hard since it is so soft.
LisaLise said…
HI Johanna - Your combo sounds lovely but you are on point about straining being a bit of a challenge. How about doing a sage and mint toner to use after cleansing? :)
Johanna said…
I totally agree. It'd be best to just use rosemary. Thank you. Great tip, I should try infuse them in water. I don't know much about diy infusions/extracts so better start small...But I'm using mint + sage hydrosols and eo's in toners and serums literally all the time. �� Right now I use clarifying/purifying mint sage toner, serum and facial oil. I'm also working on a herbal cleansing powder of them.
Anonymous said…
Hi Lisa. I'm sorry, forgot to ask: Is this in grams? Somehow I'm struggling to get enough rosemary leaves in honey when measuring by weight (volume is way too much) and would be curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks, Johanna
LisaLise said…
Hi Johanna - It's in percent, but if you 'translate' percent to grams it's easiest :)
Johanna said…
Thank you, Lisa. Our rosemaries are maybe richer in volumes and lower in weight, and I need all the leaves (7,5 g) from two rosemaries (each 15 grams) to fit in 22,5 grams honey, it's quite difficult, If this makes any sence? :o
LisaLise said…
Hi Johanna - If you have 22.5 grams of honey, then you you only need 5.6 grams of rosemary for it to be 25% :)
Johanna said…
Hmm, really? I misscalculated it somehow, but I think I got them right, haha. Anyway, since I couldn't get enough rosemary in (even finely chopped) I used only 4 g (12,9 % of total weight 31 g) rosemary and 27 g honey. :p Let's hope for the best. Lovely recipe. Thanks, Lisa
I discovered the glorious power of raw honey a while back... COVID lockdown left me scrambling for a steading supply of personal hygiene products-- including shampoo-- that wasn't jam packed with paraffin or other preservatives. I had been a die hard Body Shop patron but even that came with a catch = plastic containers that couldn't be recycled, etc. I found a recipe online for a honey facial cleanser, elsewhere, and I have learned a lot from my body; tuning new ingredients into my cleansers has given my skin tremendous bounce and resilience. I confess, I have opted for good quality Manuka honey which is packed with so much goodness = my face can't stop saying thank you every time I wash it.

We get so used to eliminating oils and debris and dirt and old makeup with our skin that we don't even realize how much extra work we are giving our body to do. Honey is a fantastic antibiotic with superior healing properties and it doesn't parch the skin like other cleansers do (particularly acne treatments.). My Manuka facial cleanser incorporates a bunch of other oils including amaranth.