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Fragrance Facts: Uses and Benefits of Vetiver Oil

Fresh, uplifting and earthy, vetiver produces a subtly masculine scent that makes it a good match for aftershaves and cologne, as well as a great accompaniment to contemporary interior scents.



Vetiver’s long history and distinctive scent make it one of the most interesting natural extracts available, and it continues to grow more popular in perfumery and home fragrance.

Here, we explore the origins, uses and benefits of vetiver.

Where Does Vetiver Oil Come from?

Vetiver oil comes from the Vetiveria Zizanoid weed (more commonly known as vetiver), which is a tall perennial grass weed found in South India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Vetiver grass is tall, with some species growing up to 2m in height. The plants have a spongy, dense and fibrous root system, and it’s from here that the oil is extracted. Even before steam distillation, the roots have an aromatic and pleasant odour that’s dry, musty and fresh, with subtle notes of citrus.

Traditionally, vetiver wasn’t used for its fragrance, but as a building product thanks to its strength and flexibility. Additionally, indigenous people also burn the leaves as they believe the smoke can cleanse the body and refresh the mind.

It wasn’t until steam distillation was invented that the unique aroma of vetiver was fully realised. When the roots of the vetiver weed are steam distilled to produce essential oil, the result is a natural extract regarded as one of the finest in oriental perfumery, and one which lends itself perfectly to men’s aftershaves and cologne.

What is vetiver used for?

Vetiver has been used for centuries across India and other parts of Asia, with its leaves valued for their strength and dexterity. In Java and Indonesia, the leaves are also used to create blinds that shelter traditional homesteads from the intense heat, and here, they’re often sprinkled with water to release their signature scent.

Vetiver’s use as a natural extract stems back to Indian folk magic, in which the vetiver root was often burned as part of traditional ceremonies. It’s believed that the smoke from the vetiver root can cleanse body and mind, and bring safety and financial security to those who inhale its unique aroma.

One particular ritual involves inhaling vetiver smoke while visualising the body being protected and sealed against negative energies. Such ceremonies remain popular across India today, where vetiver is often referred to as the oil of tranquillity for its ability to bring about a sense of inner calm.

Since the Middle Ages, vetiver oil has been widely used in the production of scents and fragrances, and it became particularly popular in Mediterranean countries thanks to its cooling effect. Inspired by ancient Chinese homeopathy, vetiver oil has been used to soothe dry skin, ease negative feelings and bring balance to the body.

What Are the Benefits of Vetiver Oil?

Vetiver oil is one of the world’s most sought-after natural extracts, and is thought to offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Confidence boosting and anxiety relieving – A mild natural sedative, the scent of vetiver encourages stillness and tranquillity, combating nervousness and anxiety. Using it in the home is said to boost confidence and reduce irritability.
  • Promotes a healthy sleep cycle – The subtle sedative effects of vetiver are also revered for aiding a healthy sleep cycle, so placing a vetiver-scented candle in your bedroom is recommended.
  • Removes stale odours and refreshes the air – Vetiver’s fresh, grassy fragrance is a natural deodoriser, helping to mask bad smells and cleanse the air.
  • Highly moisturising – Used topically, vetiver oil is highly moisturising and used to treat dry skin conditions.
  • Low evaporation rate makes it an excellent extract for perfumery – Vetiver retains its odour well and is soluble in alcohol, making it highly popular in personal fragrances and reed diffusers.
  • Vetiver is an aphrodisiac – The attractive scent of vetiver makes it a natural aphrodisiac, perfect for use in modern perfumery.

Vetiver facts and information

Here are a few of our favourite facts about vetiver.

  • Vetiver roots are strong, complex and highly-scented, and grow deep in the ground. In India, the roots of the largest vetiver crops can grow deeper than tree roots.
  • Vetiver is an incredibly hardy species of grass, capable of thriving in temperatures as high as 50°C and as low as -10°C.
  • Vetiver is considered one of the most popular extracts in modern perfumery, used by the likes of Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy.
  • Vetiver oil promotes the regeneration of new skin, making it highly sought-after in dermatology.
  • Like sandalwood and patchouli, natural vetiver extract improves with age and is often allowed to sit for six months to improve its fragrance.

At Parks, we use only the finest extracts in our luxury candles and home fragrance gifts. To browse our complete collection, visit the homepage today.