First made in the West Indies, bay rum is a combination of bay oil, citrus and spice oils, alcohol and water. Bay rum is prepared by boiling the West Indian bay leaves in white rum, then collecting what remains. Bay rum can be used to make many things, including aftershave, perfumes, lotions and even some medicines.
One of the main uses of bay rum is to make aftershave. When applied after shaving, the bay rum lotion leaves behind a lightly spicy scent, making it popular with men who want a rugged aroma that isn't overpowering. Bay rum has a lower alcohol content than other rums, meaning it won't sting the users as much as other aftershaves. The spices in the aftershave leaves the skin feeling smooth and clean.
Used in a lotion, bay rum can help those who suffer from acne. The rum's moisturising and astringent properties work to cool the skin, helping to close up pores and kill bacteria that cause pimples. The lotion's moisturising nature can also aid those with dry skin, sealing cracks. Virgin Islanders would also rub bay rum lotion into their scalps and muscle joints to relieve dryness and soreness.
Taken as a medicine, bay rum can be used for many purposes. Whether it's for treatment of colds or fevers in the United States Virgin Islands, to compel flatulence in Curacao or diarrhoea in the Grenadines, many different cultures look to bay rum for medical relief. Haitians use bay rum to combat nausea, while Trinidadians use bay rum as a remedy for pneumonia and the flu. Some cultures also rub bay rum leaves on the skin to treat irritation.
Bay rum is a popular ingredient in colognes and perfumes because of its spicy scent. A Virtual Dominica estimates that nearly every cosmetic fragrance in the world contains at least some bay rum, which is considered one of the essential oils in fragrance production. Bay rum has also been used with lime scents to produce a crisp fragrance that has proved popular with men and women.