If you say or hear the word Vetiver and struggle to imagine its smell lingering at your nose, well don't worry! Although it is a very prominent ingredient in the fragrance world, its scent isn’t as familiarly recognised in comparison to its colleagues such as Vanilla, Rose, or Tobacco. At Maison 21G, we specifically use Haitian Vetiver, and simply can’t resist, nor get enough of this scent!
As an ingredient, Vetiver is a labyrinth of nuances and sensations: dry, earthy, woody, leathery and smoky, whilst also having a rather fresh and sparkling twist. With a strong woody body, with even back accords reminiscent of hazelnut; Vetiver truly transfers you into different wooded environments, whilst the freshness of mint and eucalyptus give a rather intoxicating cooling touch. If you’re still struggling to imagine the scent of Vetiver, then simply think of uncut grass on a warm day; that will give you a rough idea!
A LITTLE HISTORY…
Vetiver is a tropical, perennial grass, part of the Poaceae family. Growing to around 1.5 metres in height, the upper part of the grass: the thin stems and rigid leaves are a useful animal feed, whilst the roots, where the fragrant essential oil is extracted from, are the treasury for perfumers. The characteristics of the oil can vary significantly, depending on where the grass is grown, the climate and the soil conditions. Although Vetiver is native to India where it is commonly referred to as Khus, nowadays 80% of the Vetiver oil that we use commercially comes from Haiti. The oil itself is amber brown in colour and rather thick in texture, whereas the fragrance, which improves with age, is deep, yet sweet, with amber and balsam-like accords. The oil from the roots growing in Java, is known to hold a smokier note; whereas the oil distilled in Haiti, unravels a more floral quality and is considered to be higher quality.
With twelve known varieties of the ingredient in the world of perfumery, the wonders of Vetiver don't stop there… Stepping out of the perfume bubble, unlike many other perfume ingredients, it is a grass which has endless uses to boast about! Firstly, it is especially beneficial to nature. A few of its many properties include, stabilising soil, protecting against erosion, whilst its astonishing strength allows the plant to resist cyclones, heavy rainfall, and even fire. Moreover, Vetiver truly is a super plant and plays a vital role in our planet's well-being, as it shares its amazing ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the air in the subsoil, which thus purifies it and limits global warming. Secondly, Vetiver is even used for thatching roofs and in producing consumer products, from rugs, mats, bags to curtains, hats and even sandals! Commonly, water is also sprayed on Vetiver furniture to moisten the material, releasing a delicious scent and refreshing the atmosphere, thus working as a 2-in-1, appealing for the eye and even for your nose!
Thirdly, Vetiver is also occasionally referred to as the “Oil of Tranquillity” or “The Fragrance of the Soil”. These names coincide with the oil’s calming properties and wide use in aromatherapy, which include boosting immunity, reducing anxiety, promoting mental clarity, as well as relieving insomnia. The essential oil mixed with a body cream or a carrier oil such as coconut oil is also highly effective in moisturising and nourishing skin, especially benefitting dry, irritated and dehydrated skin. It also helps reduce wrinkles and stretch marks.
PROCESS OF EXTRACTION
Overall, Vetiver as a plant is rather easy to maintain and little labour is required for its cultivation. Nevertheless, comparatively, to obtain and manufacture Vetiver essential oil, is vastly painstaking and labour-intensive with a specific time frame for production, which consequently drives the price up.
To reach the stage of oil extraction, this procedure follows: first, the simple step of cutting the grass, to then, the process of excavation, in which the roots are shaken with a curved fork until there is no more soil. The roots are then prepared for steam distillation which is usually done from August to December, obtaining on average 10 to 15kg of essential oil, from an astounding amount of 1000kg of dried roots! Just as you thought the process ends there, the distillation of the baked product, approximately 800kg, then needs to be distilled further for 8 hours. And there you go: strong in its initial aroma, yet unravelling to create a smooth, warm, woody, herbaceous and earthy aroma with nuances of soft resin and even a touch of salt, along with a spicy twist.
OUR RECOMMENDED MIXES
An ingredient that is adored by many prominent fragrance houses, including Guerlain who fondly use Vetiver in their compositions, this ingredient will add elegance and complexity to your perfume.
Our first recommendation, without doubt has to be VETIVER VIRTUOSO coupled with TERRIFIC TONKA. Captivating and yet subtle, this warm, woody and nutty mix is perfect for a ‘dandy’. Elegant, charming and sexy, you know you want to try it on your skin.
Although Vetiver is considered an ingredient more suiting to male fragrances and colognes, we have found a revolutionising combo to fit both men and women. VETIVER VIRTUOSO and TUBEROSE TRIBUTE, a sensual and powerful elixir. The enticing white floralcy softens the at-times intense woody aspect of Vetiver and yet preserves the bold character and undesirable elegance.
Finally, yet not least of all, VETIVER VIRTUOSO and AMBER AFFAIR. The hint is already in the name… the love affair of this duo creates a vibrant, sensual fragrance with hidden aphrodisiac mastery. With the droplets of this potion on your skin you will be addictive to those around you.