Vetiver scents: an expert guide


Even if you haven’t heard of vetiver, there’s no doubt that this complex scent note has stealthily caught the attention of your nostrils.

Vetiver has long been a major player in luxury men’s fragrances thanks to its classic masculine properties, but – such is its charm – it is now estimated that it is also present in around 40% of women’s fragrances. So despite the classy sounding name, it’s kind of a treat for people.

That’s not to say vetiver is an ordinary man, however. Where the perfumes of oud can smell of sordid opulence, smell of vetiver has been described as woody, deep, smooth, smoky and earthy – it is precisely this ability to wear many different hats that is the key to its appeal. Talk about a complex character, eh?


Roja Dove even goes so far as to make it the king of all men’s-friendly fragrance notes, saying, “It truly is the ultimate men’s fragrance. Vetiver exhibits a refined, natural elegance that represents the height of a man’s sense of smell. Great praise indeed.

These days, vetiver is one of the classic scents that defy the peaks and troughs of fragrance popularity (you’ve probably worn it without realizing it), but long ago it was the underdog of world rank of perfume. Carven claimed to produce the world’s first vetiver-based perfume in 1957, but it was Guerlain’s vetiver two years later that gave the ingredient its starring role, producing a scent so compulsive it still does. subject to regular name checks some 60 years later.

To help you sniff out vetiver in a line-up, here’s our guide to getting to know the Mr Popular of the perfume world, as well as our selection of vetiver scents available today.

What is vetiver?

Like all the best things in life, vetiver oil is all natural and currently cannot be reproduced synthetically – authenticity, check. Scientifically speaking, vetiver (or chrysopogon zizanioides as it is called boffins) is a long tropical grass native to India. The grass itself isn’t what’s important, it’s the long, web-like roots that give the right thing: vetiver oil.

Although this tall, fragrant herb still grows in its native India, commercial production has seen vetiver grown further with Haiti, Indonesia and Reunion in particular, muscling up to distill the precious oil from the roots of the grass. . In fact, some communities depend on vetiver exports as their primary source of livelihood, so every time you spray this scent, rest assured that you are helping grow the industry in underdeveloped areas. Smell good, do good.

What does vetiver smell like

Since vetiver is actually an herb, you can expect it to have an earthy smell. It is woody and warm, slightly leathery and is reminiscent of cool grass on a summer day.


Vetiver is closely related to other fragrant grasses like lemongrass and is harvested between one and one and a half years. The scent actually comes from the vetiver root and is then made into essential oils.

Thanks to the heavy earthy scent of vetiver, it is known to have calming effects, reduce anxiety and strengthen the immune system.

Vetiver In The Colognes

Due to the fact that it cannot be imitated and must be cultivated, vetiver does not come cheap. It takes 200-250 kg of vetiver root to produce 1 kg of vetiver scent, which means that entire fields of grass produce surprisingly little vetiver essence. Chuck in a turbulent tropical climate and destabilizing geopolitical influences in areas where it’s mostly grown and you’ve got an elusive ingredient. Ouch. Despite this, the fragrant smell of vetiver is too good to be without.

Paola Paganini, Director of Product Development and Innovation at Acqua di Parma, explains the fragrance’s continued popularity: “Vetiver is one of the main notes of classic perfumery. Its warm and bright accents have always been used to convey a sense of timeless and understated elegance, ”she says. To strangers, that means vetiver is a mature, grown-up scent that says “I’ve got a dollar or two,” but in the style of a Savile Row tailor, rather than just a signed-my-first- type of major football contract.

However, don’t think that the smell of vetiver means old-fashioned and PAO-compatible. The fact that it has many different qualities means that the smell is a bit of a shapeshifter, and only heavy when paired with other intense ingredients. The best vetiver fragrances balance fresh scents with the characteristic masculine aroma of vetiver, making it ideal for the office or evening.

“Vetiver has a less ‘dry’ effect than other woods such as cedar,” explains Paganini. “On the other hand, it brings a smoky earthy note to the bottom.” In short, vetiver brings a bit of everything to the table, which means it’s hard to categorize. This is great news for guys who don’t want to bother with the different scents of the day and the evening. Dove is also a fan of the versatility of vetiver. “Vetiver is usually associated with the freshness of a scent, but what it actually does is bring sophistication and depth to make them more universally pleasurable,” he says.

So, the smell of vetiver is sophisticated without being overbearing and it’s a bit earthy, and sometimes smoky – don’t confuse it with a fresh, green scent. “A lot of people call this scent green because the first commercial scent of vetiver, by Carven, came in a green box,” says Dove. “This resulted in an incorrect association between the ingredient and the color, which continues today.” Fun fact: It’s not just the sweet scent of vetiver that keeps this ingredient on necks and wrists – it also weighs behind the scenes with its ability to increase the lifespan of a scent. “While [vetiver is] Known as a traditionally masculine note, it is used in almost half of all feminine compositions, thanks to its excellent fixing properties and its ability to provide a “backbone” to work on with other materials, ”explains Dove.

What to look for in a vetiver scent

The relationship of vetiver to other ingredients should be your first consideration when choosing a vetiver scent. As vetiver contains elements of warmth and dryness alongside various earthy, leathery and smoky aspects, a scent that also incorporates a slight citrus freshness will add additional balance and complexity to this already complex note.

“[Vetiver] is known to blend beautifully with citrus to add warmth and depth to a fresh accord, ”said Dove. However, how much you want the scent of vetiver to dominate your scent ultimately depends on the natural inclinations of your nose, so sniffle.

The best vetiver fragrances for men

If you’re looking for the best vetiver scents for men, start with these top picks:

Acqua Di Parma – Note Di Colonia II

Acqua Di Parma is the thinking man perfumer with a well-deserved reputation for bringing art into the making of perfumes. The Italian brand’s Di Colonia II note combines vetiver with sandalwood and musk as well as fresher notes such as orange and grapefruit to give a deep and intense, yet woody and uplifting finish, without quitting. ‘no note dominates the next. Plus, in terms of hold, it’s powerful without being overbearing. Buy Now: £ 280.00

Acqua Di Parma - Note Di Colonia II

Serge Lutens – Oriental Vetiver

In Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens, we will have to wait a little before the star of the show makes his appearance, and that’s the appeal of this fragrance. Sandalwood, chocolate, and musk are all present before the scent sits on vetiver, resulting in a bold, masculine and elegant combination in old school fashion. Buy Now: £ 150.00

Serge Lutens - Oriental Vetiver

Tom Ford – Gray Vetiver

You don’t need us to tell you that Tom Ford fragrances are sort of a gold standard in the fragrance world, so Gray Vetiver has a reputation to uphold. Without complicating things too much, in this scent the scent of vetiver is the dominant note with spices and citrus serving to balance things out. It’s sophisticated and suave but simple and unfussy, much like the man himself. Buy Now: £ 79.68

Tom Ford - Gray Vetiver

Guerlain vetiver

Guerlain’s 1959 vetiver may not be the first of its kind, but it was certainly the one that sent the scent stratospheric. After a first hit of citrus, this fragrance offers peppery spices before settling on the titular vetiver. It’s the original benchmark for the balance of freshness and warmth prized in vetiver scents, and it hasn’t aged a day. Buy Now: £ 50.50

Guerlain - Vetiver

Land of hermes

At some point in the past few years, Terre d’Hermès went viral and it seemed like at least every other guy was soaked in the stuff. It’s easy to see (or feel) how it has become a contemporary classic. The scent of vetiver lingers in the background while the lemon and citrus orange oils brighten things up; patchouli and cedar add an earthy woodiness; and the pepper brings the spiciness. Buy Now: £ 59.55

Land of hermes

Roja Parfums – Vetiver For Men

Proving that our continental neighbors do not have a monopoly on fine perfumery, British perfumer Roja Dove has created a local vetiver-based fragrance that rivals the craftsmanship used in renowned perfumes. Vetiver for men is dry and smoky and resists the urge to retain the distinct scent of vetiver, complementing it instead with a dominance of floral, citrus and spicy notes. The best of the British. Buy Now: £ 245.00

Roja Parfums - Vetiver For Men

Creed – Original Vetiver

Not content with plundering the goodness of the roots and clearly subscribing to the don’t waste mantra, Creed’s Original Vetiver is infused with all three parts of vetiver grass (leaves, root, heart) to give an overall fresher finish and more. green. Lighter than your usual vetiver scent in other scents, it stays on for a long time after being vaporized, making it ideal for future vetiver wearers in the summer. Buy Now: £ 139.50

Creed - Original Vetiver


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