Dr. Axe > Natural Remedies Posts > Skin and Beauty

Homemade Bay Rum Aftershave

DIY aftershave - Dr. Axe

When you think of the bay leaf, you may be thinking of spaghetti and savory soups, but the bay leaf is also used in the iconic bay rum aftershave. In fact, the West Indian bay leaf comes from the leaf of the West Indian bay tree, typically used to produce the cologne called bay rum that became popular with sailors in the 16th century.

Because bay rum is also used as an under-arm deodorant, fragrance for shaving soap, and as a general astringent, it’s quite clear that bay rum can keep you smelling good.

The great news is that you can create your own version of bay rum aftershave in a just a few minutes. Through the combination of pure essential oils and rum, you will have a fantastic bouquet of spicy and sweet scents. So let’s get started making your own bay rum aftershave.

To get started, you will need an 8-ounce mason jar with a tightly fitting lid. There are attractive ones out there with corks that could make for a nice presentation or gift.

In your 2-pint jar, add 2 tablespoons of the rum and 4–6 ounces of witch hazel. Bay or Jamaican rum is found in different variations, usually with each producing a particular spice, sweet and/or herbal fragrance. Witch hazel is great because of its healing properties as a natural astringent for the skin and prevents the signs of aging.

Next, let’s begin to add the oils. First, for the most important ingredient, let’s add a whopping 20–30 drops of Bay West Indies essential oil. While you can use bay leaves, I have found that the oil is easier to work with and will last longer in your cabinet — just make sure it is pure. The traditional pimenta racemosa is the essential oil you want to use.

Now let’s put in 4–5 drops of cinnamon oil. The cinnamon provides a nice sweet and spicy scent while being effective at treating skin conditions such as acne because of its antimicrobial capacity. Blend the mixture well.

It’s time to include 5–10 drops of orange oil. Orange essential oil decreases wrinkles and improves your complexion while provide a sweet, citrus scent.  

Next up is 2–3 drops of black pepper essential oil, which contains both antioxidant and antibacterial properties — it can prevent wrinkles and reduce skin irritation.

And for the final ingredient, add 5–6 drops of vanilla oil. Vanilla oil not only provides a sweet, soft scent, but it also promotes healthy skin and reduces anxiety. This makes it the perfect compliment to the spicy scents.

Now that you have thoroughly mixed everything together, it’s time to put it in a dark, cool place for the next 2–4 weeks to allow the ingredients to blend and become your amazing homemade aftershave. The longer it sits, the stronger it will become. So, if you prefer milder scents, you can begin using it sooner. Simply check on it from time to time, and you will know when it is ready for your liking.

Once you feel it is ready, put it in a clean bottle and splash on your face after shaving. If you chose to use any dry ingredients, you will need to strain the mixture through several layers of coffee filters or a cheese cloth and repeat until there is no residue, then place it in a clean bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid.

You now have your very own homemade bay rum aftershave! I am sure you, and your significant other, will enjoy this sweet and spicy aroma.

Homemade Bay Rum Aftershave

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: Makes 7–8 ounces


  • 2 tablespoons Bay or Jamaican Rum
  • 4–6 ounces witch hazel
  • 20–30 drops Bay West Indies essential oil
  • 4–5 drops of pure cinnamon essential oil
  • 2–3 drops black pepper essential oil
  • 5–10 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 5–6 drops vanilla essential oil


  1. You will need an mason jar with a tightly fitting lid. In your jar, add both the rum and the witch hazel.
  2. Now let's add the oils, one at a time, blending well each time.
  3. Once well blended, place in a clean jar with a tight lid. You can blend all ingredients in this jar from the beginning unless you are using dry ingredients. In that case, you will need to strain the ingredients several times first.
  4. Then, place the jar in a cool, dark place for 2–4 weeks. The longer it sits, the stronger the scent. You may want to check it, and even test it, from time to time to get it just right for you.
Josh Axe

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  1. Julia Shultz on

    I love all of your recipes as I’ve been using essential oils for a long time from my skin to my cleaning products. There is a lot of back and forth about which company makes the best essential oils. Do you have one that you can recommend?

  2. ari gottlieb on

    Wow! I just used this recipe to make a pre-shave oil but using the Bay Rum essential oil blend. Awesome scent, Thanx for posting this!

  3. Ari Gottlieb on

    I love this combination of oils so much, I just used your homemade lavender soap recipe (I’m allergic to lavender) & made some Bay Rum soap. Again, I appreciate your posting these DIY recipes for us, Dr. Axe!


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