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25 January 2022 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Bay Leaf Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Bay leaf oil extracted from Pimenta racemosa is often called West Indies bay oil.

Bay Leaves spilling out a jar onto a wooden table.

Not to be confused with bay laurel, bay leaf oil is a hidden gem known best for its use in modern perfumery.

While both oils have largely similar properties, bay leaf has become a name in and of itself, largely as a result of its powerful assets in eliminating and masking body odour.

Though much is yet to be discovered about what bay leaf can ultimately do for our health and wellbeing, its distinct familiarity and revered cosmetic use has made its role in aromatherapy much more prominent over the years.

What is Bay Leaf Essential Oil?

A key ingredient in the famous aftershave Bay Rum, the smoky, spicy notes of bay leaf essential oil have made it one of the most popular masculine scents of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Bay rum was created after sailors in the West Indies noticed that rubbing bay leaves on themselves could help to mask the personal odour that came from long days and weeks spent on deck.

Extracted via steam distillation from the leaves of the bay tree, bay leaf oil’s distinctive scent is still present in male-targeted haircare and skincare products today, and it was a key ingredient in medicine cabinets for decades.

What are the benefits of Bay Leaf Essential Oil?

Like bay leaf has been used across history, both as a traditional symbol of celebration and as an effective medicinal remedy.

While bay leaf’s properties are much more cosmetic than those of bay laurel, it is undeniable that this oil is a worthy addition to any aromatherapy collection.

Some bay leaf essential oil benefits include:

  • Natural aftershave
  • Cleaning and strengthening hair
  • Positively impacting skincare

Bay leaves on a wooden table.

Can bay leaf essential oil be used as a natural aftershave?

It’s easy to see why bay leaf has been such a popular scent for so long.

The aromas of bay leaf oil are not only warm and spicy – they are also strong and long-lasting. This makes it a great natural aftershave or perfume. 

Bay leaf has also been cited for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, particularly against gram-positive bacterial strains such as S. aureus and E. faecium. Some sources have also suggested that bay leaf can eliminate strains of E. coli.

Try mixing a few drops of bay leaf oil with a carrier oil and applying it in place of regular aftershave for a clean, fresh scent.

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Can bay leaf oil clean and strengthen hair?

Bay leaf oil has several key components that make it a great choice for hair and beard care.

Firstly, it’s a stimulant, which means that it can help boost blood circulation to the scalp. Many people have found that this encourages hair growth and helps to make hair and beards thicker and healthier.

Bay leaf’s anti-fungal properties can also help it to eliminate the symptoms of common scalp conditions like dandruff by cutting off the potential source of the problem at its core.

Lastly, bay leaf’s antimicrobial quantities make it an effective agent against the microbes that disrupt the pH balance of the scalp, helping facilitate a sounder environment for hair growth and thickness.

Bay leaf oil should always be diluted and patch-tested before being applied to the scalp. Like all natural remedies, results won’t always be immediate, so it's important to be patient and trust overall processes.

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Does bay leaf essential oil benefit skin health?

Bay leaf oil has astringent properties which allow it to tighten the skin and inhibit the production of oily sebum.

This can leave skin looking younger, brighter, and less shiny with oils. Its antimicrobial properties also help it to clear bacteria from pores and leave skin looking clean and healthy.

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How do I use bay leaf essential oil?

Aromatherapy

Smoky and spicy with just a hint of citrus at its core, bay leaf essential oil is a fragrant concoction that will leave your home smelling clean, fresh, and lightly sweet.

A even indicated that diffusing bay leaf oil around your home could help improve cognitive functioning, so including this scent in your office spaces could prove very useful for concentration.

Add a few drops to your essential oil diffuser or oil burner and allow the timeless masculine aromas create an ambiance.

Deodorant and perfumes

Bay leaf is famous for its applications in cosmetics – particularly deodorants and perfumery – for good reason, so why not implement it into your own cleanliness routine?

Bay leaf’s known antifungal and antimicrobial abilities mean it may be able to effectively kill odours as well as just mask their unpleasantness, while its long-lasting scent profile is sure to facilitate freshness throughout the day.

A distinctive but grounding middle note, bay leaf oil may also work well in perfume blends, particularly when combined with spiced and floral essential oils.

Haircare

Adding some bay leaf essential oil into your hair or beard routine can be an ideal way to not only leave it smelling great but also help it to grow and thicken in the process.

Combine a few drops of bay leaf with your chosen carrier oil ( is a popular choice for haircare) and apply daily before rinsing off.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle some into your shampoo and conditioner, shake well, and use as normal.

Skincare

Because bay leaf oil is an astringent, it makes for an impactful daily cleanser and toner.

Combine with a carrier oil and apply all over the skin of the face before rinsing off to keep the skin looking youthful, clean, and bright.

Remember to always perform a patch test before applying any essential oils topically.

Bay Leaf Illustration.

    Despite the historic confusion, oil from the West Indies bay tree has its own unique set of properties and benefits that distinguish it from bay laurel oil and make it a useful, interesting oil in its own right.

    It’s hardly a new discovery – its cosmetic uses can be traced back at least over a century – but the timeless warmth of its scent ensures that it will never go out of style.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Bay Leaf Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Pimenta Racemosa
    Scent Type Herbs
    Benefits & Uses Hair Growth, Astringent, Natural Aftershave
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this bay leaf essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this bay leaf essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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