Best Bay Rum Aftershaves: Some Notes & What To Know


As some of our readers might already know, I’m a huge fan of witch hazel. It has helped me tame my vicious razor burn problems that would drive me mad before that.

Now, the best bay rum aftershaves actually contain witch hazel too. They basically serve the same purpose – splash a bit of an astringent to cool your skin post-shave, and prevent any irritation.

There are two main differences between a quality bay rum splash – the best for me is the legendary Ogallala Sandalwood from,  and pure witch hazel:

  • Most bay rum aftershaves contain alcohol
  • And they have a more prominent, lingering smell

Sure, I currently use a scented Thayers’ witch hazel from

But if I’m to be objective, the manly, eclectic aroma of a good quality bay rum aftershave for men goes well beyond any scented witch hazel.

To me, half the point of using an aftershave is for that classic barbershop scent that can only come from best bay rum aftershaves.

Here’s my problem: with the years, my face decided it doesn’t like getting alcohol splashed on it.

Numerous other men, however, have no such issue. If you’re one of them, go ahead. Draw the manly, fragrant benefits of the best bay rum aftershaves!

If you have bad blood with astringents that include alcohol, however, stick to clean witch hazel or similar lotions. That’s why I used quotation marks in the title, actually. “Best” is a relative term.

What does bay rum aftershave do?

Any aftershave, whether it contains alcohol or Witch Hazel, is an astringent. What this does is to tighten the skin. This is what helps to give you a smoother feeling shave. The best bay rum aftershaves are no different.

Think about it.

What is smoother? Your unmade bed or some Marine’s cot in a barracks that a coin can bounce off of?

It’s the same principle. Your skin tightens up around the pores and the roots of your facial hair so it feels like the closest shave ever.

The other thing it does is to disinfect your skin. When you shave, you are collecting dead skin cells and bacteria trapped in your pores and then they get spread all over your face. The alcohol or Witch Hazel kills any bacteria that might have gotten a free ride over your mug.

Lastly, it smells great. As I mentioned, it just smells really manly and has that old school smell. Like your grandfather but in a good way.

What exactly is bay rum?

Yes, there is an actual bay rum recipe that goes way back. Since it did actually contain rum it should be no surprise that it originated in the Caribbean.

Back then, herbs were steeped in alcohol and added to some essential oils from pimento, probably something like allspice, and bay leaf oil. Then it was used as a tonic, just like we use it today.

There are a lot of different recipes that varies by brand, but generally you will find that it has clove oil, bay leaf, citrus like lime or bergamot, cinnamon and sometimes vanilla.

These days there is not usually any rum in it as it has been replaced by rubbing alcohol and the previously mentioned Witch Hazel.

The 3 best kinds of bay rum aftershaves I recommend you

1. Best variety bay rum after shave:
Ogallala Sandalwood

Ogallala bay rum reviewed: the best Sandalwood scent for cool aftershaves.

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Ogallala is, hands down, the best thing ever in the bay rum aftershave world. One of the reasons, obviously, is the outstanding quality of their products.

The other is the amazing selection of various bay rum lotions they have. Their Sandalwood one is probably the best smelling and reasonably long lingering fragrance. 5 ingredients take care of its strong anti-inflammatory and cooling action:

  • Witch hazel
  • Purified water
  • Bay oil
  • Alcohol
  • Sandalwood fragrance oil

Packed in a 8 oz vintage looking bottle, they give a manly, yet not too overbearing scent. Both the old-fashioned bottle and the smell will transport you on a quick trip to an barbershop from ye ole’ times.

If you’re a fan of more refreshing, summer scents, try their Limes and Peppercorn bay rum on aftershave. It’s a bit bolder in terms of smell, with some fruity notes – not sweet, but full on citrus-powered!

Run away from the scorching summer days and dive right into a blissful feeling of total invigoration!

Note: Be careful with the Double Strength Ogallala. For me, it ruined the manly balance bay rum aftershaves usually exhibit. It narrows on being too strong, too overbearing and while it certainly cools your skin, it can be too aggressive for people’s noses.

In fact, the Double Strength could be classified as a cologne and not an aftershave. That’s why it is too intense to be splashed onto your face after the shave. It should really only be used sparingly on your pulse points like your wrists and your neck.

I’ll get more into what the difference between aftershaves and colognes are after the best bay rum aftershaves review section.

A little definitely goes a long way, so it isn’t like you need to bath in it to get the full effect.

Put a little bit in the palm of your hand and rub between your palms. Then rub it on your fast. You don’t need to splash it on like you see in the commercials.

2. Best Bay Rum Aftershave lotion with more witch hazel notes:
Captain’s Choice

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Witch hazel usually has some more neutral tones, but for some reason I love its aroma. Captain’s Choice is a bay rum aftershave that bridges slight spiciness with a stronger witch hazel scent.

I want to point out a very important ingredient you’ll see here. Can you guess which is it? Let’s see:

  • Witch hazel
  • Alcohol
  • Essential oils & extracts
  • Glycerin

That’s right: it’s the glycerin. Glycerin helps a bit more with moisturizing, so Captain’s Choice will perform a bit better in this regard.

Aftershaves have become less popular compared to aftershave balms or creams. Mainly because they also help moisturize. So, it comes as a nice bonus to be able to use best bay rum aftershaves and still get the moisturizing benefit of a balm.

This is the logical choice for aftershave for guys with sensitive skin. Since it has moisturizing properties it won’t leave your skin dry and irritated after. It does still give a bit of a sting when applied, but it dissipates quickly and your skin is left feeling plump and hydrated.

As I mentioned, you’re getting a tang of spiciness here. This product is also cooler than the sandalwood Ogallala – it might sting just a little when applied.

A possible reason to nitpick would be the smaller 4 oz bottle. It would’ve been great to have Captain’s Choice in at least an 8oz bottle. You can always get two of them, true, but still…

The Captain of bay rum splashes trades the stronger witch hazel scent for a subdued aroma of the essential oils included in it.

So, if you’re leaning more towards the classic bay rum scent with oil fragrances, it might be a bit too weak for you.

3. Best Bay Rum Aftershave exotic/woody splash:
Clubman Pinaud

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We’re used to have more woody, earthy notes in colognes or, sometimes – in whiskey, the nectar of Gods.

Clubman Pinaud has this woodsy scent to it, which is an absolute hit once it mixes with the bay rum aroma. Add a hint of spiciness – more subdued than the Captain, I feel, and you’re in heaven.

This combination comes at a small price: the “bite” once you apply it. If you don’t like astringents stinging your skin a bit, the Pinaud won’t be your perfect fit.

However, I’ve yet to meet a man who minded a little bit of a “kick” after a darn good shave.

As the bay rum cherry on top, the Pinaud lasts long enough to make an impression. This could be my limited experience, but from all of the bay rum splashes, the Pinaud has lasted me the longest.

The catch? You’ve got some synthetics here, as well as coloring agents. I’m not sure how much of a fan you are of organic aftershaves, but the Pinaud isn’t one.

This is the classic bay rum that was in every barbershop when your dad was growing up. Back then they didn’t care about organic. They wanted it to work, be cheap and smell good. If you’re the same way then you’ll get exactly what you are looking for as this is one of the best bay rum aftershaves for generations.

Pinaud comes from a time when men were not concerned about the kind of ingredients their cosmetics had. Also one of the selling points of Pinaud is its consistently low price. Unfortunately, to maintain the budget friendliness, that means it has to use some synthetics. But, there is simply no substitute for how classic their scents are that can take you back in time to sitting on your Grandpa’s lap.

Keep this in mind if you have allergies/extra sensitive skin, and stick to the previous choices!

Can I use bay rum aftershave as a cologne too?


That wouldn’t work that well.

Most bay rum splashes are designed to be pure aftershaves that calm your skin and linger for some minutes.

Note: minutes, not hours.

Their scent can be rich and pleasant, but it’ll diffuse into thin air after a short while. You’d do better if you stuck to traditional colognes for men.

See, the thing is, there is not much oil in an aftershave. In fact, really none at all. So they evaporate quickly. Yes, they are supposed to smell nice, but the point is as a skin toner and disinfectant.

Their main purpose is to clean the skin after a shave in case the razor spread any bacteria around the face. Plus, to tighten up the skin which makes the shave even smoother.

A cologne has one purpose only. To make you smell nice. So, the ingredients are there to help that and as a result the scent lasts a lot longer.

That said, Ogallala actually have a designated Cologne Bay Rum on variety. It might be worth a shot, though I haven’t tried it out yet.

If you want to check out some other best bay rum aftershaves options to treat razor burn, check our extensive article on preventing razor burn/bumps for black men. A lot of the razor burn parts there are applicable even for straighter hair (and beards.)

I get a little nostalgic when talking about the best bay rum aftershaves. They really represent what a barbershop is and how attached to the notion I am along with so many others. Smells are so important to memories and there is nothing like being taken back to a place or time simply be smelling an old school aftershave or cologne.

Forgive me for waxing too nostalgic over this, but there are certain products that go beyond what they are supposed to do. And aftershave is definitely one of those things.

There are a lot of ways to achieve the same toning and disinfecting procedure. I mentioned Witch Hazel earlier. You could easily save some money and just use that and get the same results.

But, really the results are not exactly the same. Yes, you get your skin toned and disinfected, but without the other side benefits.

But, to me, why not use something that gives so much more satisfaction? If you can handle the burn, then it is worth it to make an experience out of it instead of just go through the motions.

Think about it like this: Did those sailors back a couple of hundred years ago ditch the bay rum because it burned? No, they certainly did not. Now, you may not be making a transatlantic trip in a rickety ship with a few hundred of your closest smelly friends like they did, but there’s no reason to give up on an old classic.

I get it if you have sensitive skin and don’t want to go to work and be uncomfortable for a few hours while your skin feels like it’s on fire. But if you can handle the sting for a few minutes then I say go for it.

Do you have any stories about your father’s or grandfather’s aftershave? Any cool memories of going to an old school barbershop that you want to share?

Or, do you need more information than I provided here?

Either way, let us know but adding a comment in the box below.


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