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5 Best Bay Rum Aftershaves In 2022

Every well-groomed man has to try bay rum at least once in his life. It’s the quintessential manly scent, and it’s actually more complex than people give it credit. Whether you’re after a new signature fragrance or a refreshing post-shave splash, you’ll find the best bay rum aftershaves for you on this list. 

St. John’s Bay Rum Aftershave (Our Top Pick)

St. John’s is a luxury aftershave modeled after 20th-century formulas, with a masculine, long-lasting fragrance. This aftershave is made of natural essential oils rather than synthetics, and it has a very timeless scent. To this day, the aftershave is still being produced in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The fragrance blend is made with real West Indian bay enhanced by other classic spice notes like cloves and cinnamon. There’s also eucalyptus, which adds a modern masculine touch. Combined with a good dose of alcohol, it’s a very long-lasting scent. 

To me, it’s better as a cologne than an aftershave, since the formula is heavy on the alcohol. It’s not great for the skin, but it smells amazing and the fragrance lasts longer than your average soothing aftershave. It’s also priced like a cologne rather than as an aftershave, which unfortunately means it’s a little pricy.  

The bottle that holds the aftershave feels pretty island-y thanks to the basketweave, and it adds a sense of luxury that enhances the user experience. 

Pros: 

  • This luxury aftershave is made with natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. 
  • The addition of eucalyptus oil makes it a more complex and masculine take on bay rum.
  • Quite long-lasting for an aftershave. 
  • Unique basketweave bottle adds to the luxurious experience. 

Cons: 

  • Luxury product with a price to match. 

Barberry Coast Bay Rum Aftershave

From Barberry Coast, this is a gourmand twist on bay rum aftershave. It mixes those spicy notes of bay, clove, and cinnamon with vanilla and orange. It has warmth, sweetness, and brightness, but with that masculine spiciness that makes bay rum so iconic. 

Unlike my top pick, this is more of an old-school aftershave than a cologne, which means it’s not as heavily scented. It does include alcohol for that post-shave sting, but there’s also glycerin which prevents the alcohol’s worst dehydrating effects. It doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry or tight, which is very important for preventing irritation. That said, I still wouldn’t recommend applying it to the skin immediately after you’ve shaved – I’d suggest layering it over a lotion or aftershave balm.  

Because it’s more of an aftershave, the fragrance longevity isn’t dramatic but it’s not non-existent either. You’ll smell pretty good for about an hour after applying it, and you could definitely layer it with a bay rum cologne if you want to smell great all day long.  

Pros: 

  • Excellent bay rum for fans of gourmand scents who enjoy spicy and citrusy notes. 
  • Made with glycerin which keeps the alcohol from dehydrating the skin. 
  • Great formula for layering scents. 

Cons: 

  • The scent doesn’t last especially long. 

Suavecito Bay Rum Aftershave

This aftershave deserves a lot of attention for being a very focused bay rum fragrance that lets its key scent shine. If you want to experience the scent of true West Indian bay, this is the best bay rum aftershave to try. 

Before bay rum became a hit in North America, it was a tonic created out of steeping West Indian bay leaves in alcohol. This formula gets pretty close to that since it’s made of bay essential oil, alcohol, water, and a few additives, but no other fragrance notes

When you first splash it on, the bay smells very similar to cloves. That clove hit fades quickly, though, and what’s left behind is vaguely spicy and warm. It’s subtle and not too long-lasting, so it could work nicely as a base for proper cologne. 

Otherwise, it’s your typical old-school aftershave formula. It’s made with a blend of alcohol and water, so it definitely stings, but it’s not overly dehydrating. That said, I wouldn’t expect it to have any post-shave benefits (aside from making you well aware if you’ve cut yourself).  

I think every man should try this aftershave at least once, just to get a good idea of what bay rum is supposed to smell like. 

Pros: 

  • The only fragrance note is from West Indian bay, so it’s great for men who want the most authentic, traditional experience. 
  • The light and subtle scent would make it a nice base for other aftershaves. 
  • Not as dehydrating as other alcohol-based aftershaves. 

Cons: 

  • The fragrance isn’t very long-lasting.
  • This aftershave doesn’t have any skin benefits. 

Genuine Ogallala Bay Rum Aftershave

If you’d like to stay away from harsh alcohol, this gentle aftershave is an excellent choice. It’s not a cologne-style aftershave at all. Instead, it’s designed to help soothe the skin after you’ve shaved. It’s easily one of the best bay rum aftershaves for men.

The main ingredient here is witch hazel, which is a gentle astringent ingredient. It reduces redness and irritation after shaving by gently constricting the tissue. If you have oily skin, it can be a really nice post-shave treatment on its own, since it’ll also help temporarily mattify your skin. For men with dry skin, I suggest you follow it up with an aftershave balm.  

While the ingredient label does list alcohol, it’s a small, largely insignificant amount that helps to extract the beneficial compounds in the witch hazel. 

The fragrance here is quite simple and spicy, with notes of cloves and cinnamon. Some men may find it a little too reminiscent of a Christmas cookie, but it’s not a serious issue because the scent doesn’t linger. 

Because there’s very little alcohol here, the scent doesn’t emanate to the same extent as with other aftershaves. It’s just enough to camouflage the medicinal witch hazel scent and to invigorate you when you splash it on, but it won’t stick around. 

Pros: 

  • This gentle formula is a great option for men who want to avoid alcohol-based aftershaves. 
  • Made with witch hazel, which soothes and tightens the skin post-shave. 
  • Helps to temporarily mattify, which is perfect for men with oily skin

Cons: 

  • The fragrance does not linger at all. 
  • Strong spicy notes are quite polarizing. 

Captain’s Choice Original Bay Rum Aftershave

This is another modern, citrusy bay rum aftershave. If you’re not a fan of overpowering clove notes, it might appeal to you. This aftershave is made with alcohol, glycerin, witch hazel, and an undisclosed fragrance blend that may or may not contain actual West Indian bay.

My only gripe with this aftershave is that I don’t think it’s a great cologne nor is it a great post-shave product. The fragrance dissipates a little more quickly than St. John’s or Barberry Coast. At the same time, there’s too much alcohol in the blend for it to be particularly beneficial to the skin, so the witch hazel and glycerin are only in there to mitigate the harsh effects rather than to do anything on their own. 

If you’re still married to the idea that alcohol-based aftershaves are good for the skin, by all means, give this one a try – it’s vastly more gentle on the skin than aftershaves made strictly with alcohol. However, if you’re after an aftershave that’ll double as a lasting fragrance, you may be disappointed. 

Pros: 

  • This aftershave contains fewer clove notes which can be a little overpowering in other bay rum formulas. 
  • Glycerin and witch hazel mitigate the dehydrating effects of the alcohol. 
  • Nice choice for men who are firmly set on using an alcohol-based aftershave to soothe their skin. 

Cons: 

  • The scent disappears very quickly. 
  • No transparency regarding the fragrance blend. 
  • This formula is at an awkward, less desirable point between cologne and aftershave. 

What Does Bay Rum Aftershave Smell Like?

Bay rum aftershave has a warm, spicy scent. Traditionally, the scent comes from West Indian bay, which is a plant related to allspice. It smells nothing like the laurel bay commonly used in cooking. Instead, it’s reminiscent of the warming, sweet spices like cloves and cinnamon. 

Today’s bay rum aftershaves aim to replicate this scent, sometimes using real bay rum essential oil and other times using fragrance blends that replicate it.  

That’s not to say all bay rum aftershaves smell the same. Each brand takes a slightly different approach to bay rum, so some formulas can have a touch of citrus, which adds brightness, while others might be enhanced with woodsy essential oils that add earthiness and increase longevity.  

Can Bay Rum Be Used As An Aftershave?

Historically, bay rum was an all-purpose skin tonic that was primarily recommended as an aftershave. Today, the term “bay rum” can be used to refer to bay rum aftershaves, West Indian bay leaf oil, or any fragrance blend that aims to emulate West Indian bay’s spicy smell. 

Before slapping any liquid advertised as bay rum on your freshly shaven skin, I recommend taking a second to examine the product as well as your own skin. Old-school aftershave splashes should be used like weak colognes – not as a post-shave tonic. 

With the exception of products like Genuine Ogallala’s Bay Rum Aftershave, those alcohol-laden, heavily-fragranced lotions are just too likely to irritate freshly shaven skin. We’ve come far in our understanding of what the skin needs after a shave (namely, barrier-restoring moisturizers that’ll strengthen the skin), so the idea of using alcohol-based astringents is pretty dated. So give that bay rum some love as a scent – not as a skincare product

Is Bay Rum A Manly Scent?

Bay rum is definitely considered a masculine scent. Over the years, it has been strongly associated with all sorts of masculine archetypes and tropes, including Caribbean sailors, American prohibition, traditional barbershops, and the high-powered execs of Madison Ave. Today, some fragrance lovers may accuse it of being outdated, but no one will ever deny bay rum’s incredible manliness. 

Miles is a professional men's grooming analyst who believes that to look good a man just needs to take good care of himself. He’s all about wet shaving, sustainability, and evidence-based grooming - an obsession he’s ready to share. Miles is known for his in-depth analysis of men's grooming products, brands, and best practices you can't find anywhere else.