Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

Lilac Facial Toner

by cathym on May 14, 2019

by Cathy Monrad

Mother’s Day is here. And in Rochester, especially, lilacs are synonymous with this special day. I decided to make a large batch of this lilac facial toner to give as gifts to all the special mothers in my life.

This toner can also be added to a bath, used as a hair rinse, or spritzed on bed sheets for a lovely scent. 

Quart size wide-mouth glass jar with lid
1/3 cup lilac blossoms
1/3 cup organic witch hazel
2/3 cup distilled water
Spray bottle or clean jar for storing final product

To Make Toner

  1. Dry lilac blossoms overnight on a paper towel until they are slightly wilted. 
  2. Place blossoms in a jar, then add witch hazel and water to jar. Be sure the blossoms are completely covered by liquid. If not, add more witch hazel.
  3. Place lid on jar, then store in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
  4. Let the mixture infuse for two weeks, occasionally shaking gently to mix.
  5. Strain the mixture and pour face toner into a clean jar or spray bottle. The spent blossoms can be composted. 

To Use Toner: Apply lilac toner with a cotton ball or spritz on face after washing. Keep refrigerated if desired. Since the alcohol in the witch hazel acts as a preservative, the toner can simply be stored in a cool place. 

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and bestest garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Herin May 10, 2023 at 10:11 am

Hi! Is the 1/3 cup lilac blooms pre-dried? Once they dry it’s much less, so I want to make sure I’m using the right ratio.
Thank you.


cathym May 10, 2023 at 10:16 am

This recipe uses 1/3 cup of un-dried lilac blossoms. In step one, you let them dry overnight until slightly wilted.



Valencia Bedard June 7, 2021 at 12:38 am

I tried this before reading about it because I use witch hazel regularly (not daily though), and it has a really nice fragrance to it. The blossoms turned brown but it doesn’t seem to affect the scent. I started using it daily a week ago and I swear my wrinkles have all but disappeared! My crows feet are gone! It makes my skin nice and tight and look healthier. It could be a coincidence because I’ve been getting more sun and have a good tan now but I think its the lilac flowers because straight witch hazel doesn’t make my skin feel this tight. In a good way. Highly recommend trying this.


Beth August 4, 2022 at 4:14 pm

Hello, I let mine sit for a lot longer than 2wks. .I kinda 4got about it, my question is, after straining and storing it in the bathroom, I went to use it and it smells FERMENTED😳 Even has this cloudy white stuff when it’s resting. .did I ruin it?? I dnt have anymore Lilacs to start over again. .can I still use it on my face?? Please HELP!!!


cathym August 5, 2022 at 10:39 am

I would discard it. The toner should definitely not smell fermented or be cloudy.



Ellen collins June 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm

What happens if some of the dead lilacs get in by mistake
Will this smell like lilacs


cathym June 12, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Hi Ellen,
I am sure a couple of dead petals won’t hurt the finished product.

When I made my batch, the result had a light lilac fragrance, but the variety I used did not have a strong scent to begin with. I am sure there are varieties that would work better than others, but I have not experimented.

Thanks for reading and reaching out!


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