Pre-Shave Oil & Bay Rum Aftershave

Still playing catch-up on posts for products that I’ve already made.

Not only do I make soap but I also other items that a gentleman should have in his bathroom.  Here are two products that I made while waiting for my first batch of soap to cure.

First of all I made a pre-shave oil.  Opinions are mixed in the shaving community as to whether or not they are effective, but pre-shave oils are a mix of oils which are applied to the face at some point before the lathering stage.  Some people apply it and then have a shower, but I personally apply it after washing my face just before I use a hot towel, letting it really treat my skin and prepare it for shaving.

I used a mixture of olive oil and castor oil.  Olive oil is light and generally has little to no real scent, while castor is an oil that is often used on the skin for the beneficial properties that it has.  I mixed in a little bit of lavender essential oil as this is also good for the skin and complements the sandalwood shaving soap that I use, as well as The Efficacious Gentleman General Purpose Soap # 1.  In use I haven’t found the issues that people have, that is to say that it doesn’t clog up my razor at all or make my face feel greasy.  But as I don’t shower before I wet shave, it certainly helps in preparing the beard for the blade – as well as smelling great!


Next I turned my hand to the final stage of shaving and made some Bay Rum Aftershave.

16th Century sailors would rub the leaves of the West Indian Bay on to their skin as a way to help keep themselves fresh during long periods at sea.  As other people in the West Indies were busy making Rum, it soon became apparent that the leaves could be steeped in Rum to produce a liquid version – no more rubbing a leaf on your neck!

At this time and until it fell out of fashion after World War II, people would often enhance Bay Rum to their own tastes with things like cinnamon, cloves and citrus.  Many brands of Bay Rum were available to buy, each one slightly unique.

Bay Rum


My recipe was fairly straight forward – Rum, Vodka, water and Bay essential oil.  It’s very important to use West Indian bay rather than the more common Bay Leaf.  It’s interesting that West Indian Bay is rather toxic, unlike the bay leaf used to flavour our food – people only say not to eat that as it’s usually rather dry rather than anything to do with it being toxic.

My batch is big enough that I can try to add some cinnamon and cloves to see how much that changes it, but with my current recipe I’m getting nothing but positive feedback – the Lady of the house is certainly impressed with it, which is really the main thing.  Personally, I also love the smell.  There is also something great about splashing on a cologne instead of spritzing it on.  After wet shaving, it also goes on once I’ve cleaned the left over soap away – very little initial sting considering how much rum and vodka is in there, plus it really leaves my skin feeling good.

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