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 Vetiver?
Vetiver is a fragrant extract or essential oil obtained from the root of an Indian grass, used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Vetiver is a tropical grass, originally from India and Sri Lanka. Vetiver grows best in humid and warm climates and often grows around swamps and river banks. When the grass comes into contact with water, it releases the characteristic scent of vetiver. This complex aroma is extremely popular in perfumes and smells most similar to cedar wood in fragrances. There are several types of vetiver used in perfumery. Bourbon Vetiver originally grew on an island to the east of Madagascar (Réunion) and smells complex and salty. Haitian Vetiver has a greener scent with earthy undertones. Vetiver from Java has a smoky character. Vetiver as a perfume ingredient is mainly used in green, woody and oriental perfumes. Vetiver gives perfumes an earthy, warm and elegant character.
How is Vetiver converted into a perfume ingredient?
Vetiver is an herb that can grow up to a meter and a half in height. A complex network of roots grows underground, so that the grass can settle in the moist banks and wetlands. These roots sometimes grow up to 3 meters deep. The fragrant roots of the grass are washed and then dried in the sun. After this, the dried roots are steam distilled and thus the vetiver essential oil is extracted as absolute. 1 kilogram of essential oil requires up to 1,000 kilograms of dried roots. Vetiver oil is precious and very unique and therefore cannot be replaced or synthetically replicated. This makes vetiver a very natural and clean perfume ingredient.
What does Vetiver smell like?
The scent of vetiver is somewhat like dried grass, but woodier, earthier and saltier. Vetiver as a perfume ingredient smells smoky, citrusy, green and woody. It is an interesting, rich fragrance that is sometimes described as 'masculine'. In addition to wood tones, Vetiver also combines well with spicy floral scents or fresh citrus scents. Vetiver reminds some of incense and cigars, others would describe the scent as woody and even slightly sweet. It is precisely this complexity and versatility that makes vetiver so popular. So popular that vetiver is said to be used in as much as 20% of all men's fragrances. This could be your reminder to add a perfume with vetiver to your perfume calendar!
Perfumes with Vetiver