There are countless scents that are used as perfume ingredients. From roses to lavender, from cinnamon to vanilla, we can go on for hours. Most people recognize fragrance notes like these: you know in which fragrance family the ingredient belongs (flowers, spices, etc.) and what it smells like. In addition to these well-known notes, there are also many perfume ingredients that are less obvious. You've heard of it, but what it smells like is a mystery. The name doesn't say much and you also do not know exactly where the note comes from. Think of ozonic, musk, benzoin... In the series 'Vague Perfume Ingredients' we explain vague perfume ingredients one by one.


What is patchouli?

Patchouli is an herb with fluffy, green leaves and white flowers with a purple hue. Patchouli belongs to the mint family and therefore the leaves are very fragrant. These fragrant leaves are used to extract oil from the patchouli plant. This oil is the base for the famous perfume ingredient patchouli. The herb grows best in tropical climates and is native to Indonesia. In the 60s and 70s, patchouli became extremely popular in perfumes. Today, patchouli is mainly found in chypre, woody and oriental perfumes. This ingredient gives perfumes a luxurious feeling with a deep sensuality.

How is patchouli converted into a perfume ingredient?

By drying the fragrant patchouli leaves and distilling them with steam, patchouli oil is obtained. The ingredient in patchouli that largely determines the specific smell is patchoulol. Perfumers use this fraction of patchouli in perfumes. Patchouli oil can be aged just like wine to determine its fragrance. After a long ripening, the oil has a much deeper, more fruity and dark aroma. Young patchouli oil is greener and less complex.

What does patchouli smell like?

Patchouli as a perfume ingredient smells earthy and woody. It is reminiscent of green leaves and wet soil. You can also experience sweet and leathery notes. Patchouli has a dark, deep and sensual character. This perfume ingredient reacts strongly to other ingredients. For example, if patchouli is combined with vanilla in a perfume, the perfume gets a warm and oriental character. It is therefore a basic ingredient for many successful gourmand perfumes, such as Angel by Thierry Mugler.

Perfumes with patchouli


For him: Rituals - Maharaja d'Or

For her: Zadig & Voltaire - Just Rock! For Her

Unisex: Maya Njie - Vanilj

03 February 2021