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History of Bay Rum Aftershave & Cologne: Grooming Out of Necessity

With over 180 years of history, Bay Rum® has experienced some thrilling triumphs. It began as a grooming necessity for sailors, was part of the backdrop of World War II and has come a long way to become what we know today as the signature scent of St Johns Fragrance Company. 

St Johns Fragrance Company has spent the past 75 years preserving the quality and integrity of our authentic, luxurious Bay Rum aftershave, cologne and grooming products, staying true to our original formula. But how did this all begin, you ask?

1838: The Birth of St Johns Bay Rum

Our journey into handcrafting Bay Rum cologne and other pleasing scents began over 70 years ago, but Bay Rum’s origin dates long before then. In fact, we must go back to 1838: the random discovery of bay leaves by sailors in the Caribbean led to the invention of Bay Rum.

A Brief History of Bathing

With modern grooming standards, it can be difficult to imagine a world where people didn't shower, brush their teeth or shave their facial hair. Today, most people shower daily, but back then, clean water wasn't readily available to most people at any given moment. While bathtubs and bathing were standard throughout the 1800s, running water inside the home was not. Indoor plumbing did not reach most people until the early 20th century and it wasn't until the mid-1900s that showers became widespread.

Stinky Sailors Created a Natural Deodorant

Before bathing became mainstream, people were, unsurprisingly, fairly stinky. Men were sailing the seas for months at a time and it didn't take long for the aroma onboard their vessels to become putrid. That is, until one innovative sailor began to use the leaves of bay trees he found in the West Indies to help combat the bodily stench that developed while at sea. To his surprise and delight, using bay leaves as a natural deodorant began to catch on.

Sailors Discovered Bay Rum and Crafted Cologne

Once sailors realized the benefits using bay leaves to combat their horrible stench, they sought ways to advance this natural deodorant. They discovered that rum could extract the oils from bay leaves more efficiently than rubbing the leaves on their skin. As you can imagine, the rum added a new element to the aroma, and the Bay Rum scent was born. The sailors loved it so much that they steeped the bay leaves in rum and began using the liquid, transforming a natural deodorant into men's cologne.

The Start of St Johns Fragrance Company

U.S. Naval Officer John Webb found himself stationed in St. Thomas during World War II. With the knowledge and inspiration from Bay Rum producers that preceded him, he wanted to share the scent far beyond the borders of the Virgin Islands. 

Captain Webb began producing St Johns Bay Rum and designed the Fishnet Weave® bottles as an homage to the fishing pots the locals used, each carefully crafted by hand using native palm fronds. The combination of Bay Rum's distinct fragrance and beautiful packaging was a recipe for success.

What Is Bay Rum Like Today?

Today, alcohol is still integral to removing oils from the bay leaves before being distilled into an essential oil. At St Johns Fragrance Company, we also add ingredients to our Bay Rum products to guarantee a superior grooming experience. One of the main ingredients in our line of exotic bath and body soaps is olive oil, perfect for a natural, non-allergenic ingredient that gets rid of dirt without stripping the skin of its natural oils. We also add highly moisturizing glycerin and vitamin E to introduce natural healing properties that will leave your skin feeling as great as it looks.

What Is the Bay Rum Scent?

Bay Rum is a light, aromatic blend of exotic Caribbean spices, Jamaican rum and bay leaf oil from the West Indies. It is distinctly sweet and spicy, featuring warm, woody notes. Bay Rum is uniquely masculine and robust, but won’t overwhelm the senses. When you wear it, you are sure to turn heads and demand the respect you deserve.

Why Use Bay Rum Aftershave and Cologne?

Bay Rum isn’t just for old-timey sailors. The iconic blend of bay leaf oil and rum never goes out of style, offering a timeless manliness unlike any other fragrance. Bay Rum cologne and aftershave gives you a commanding air and connects you with the rich history of the tropics.

Discover Bay Rum Products at St Johns Fragrance Company

Chart your course for adventure when you incorporate premium Bay Rum products into your grooming regimen. With aftershave, cologne, triple-milled soap and hand-poured soy candles, you can enjoy all this luxurious fragrance has to offer. 

Explore our website to see which Bay Rum aromatic products appeal to you. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn more about our development process and what's on the horizon for St Johns Fragrance Company.

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