What Is Vetiver (Vetyver or Khus)?

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What exactly is "vetiver"? In this article, we explain where this popular fragrance ingredient comes from, what it smells like, and share some perfumes that contain vetiver.

What Is Vetiver?

Vetiver (in French, vetyver) is a fast-growing perennial grass from the Poaceae family of plants, which also includes lemongrass and citronella. It has a large, interlinked root system from which the essential oil of the plant, used widely in perfumery and incense production, is derived.​

Where It's Found

Vetiver is native to Southern India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, but today is widely cultivated in various countries around the world, including Reunion, Haiti, the Philippines, Japan, the Comoro Islands, West Africa and Polynesia.

Vetiver Then and Now

In India, vetiver essential oil was an ingredient of ancient perfumes and was referred to as "the oil of tranquility". It was also a common ingredient of incense powders in India and Sri Lanka, where it is called Khus. It has long been prized for its fixative qualities and is still frequently used to stabilize other, more volatile or delicate perfume ingredients. Today, vetiver is a hugely important perfume ingredient, particularly in fragrances for men.

What It Smells Like

Vetiver is described as smelling warm and dry and conveying earthy, woody, leather, balsamic and smoky notes.

Vetiver Fragrances for Women

Some perfumes for women that feature vetiver in their composition include Chanel Sycomore, Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle, Lancome Hypnose, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon, Burberry The Beat, DKNY Delicious Night, Bond No. 9 Chelsea Flowers, Sarah Jessica Parker Covet, Alexander McQueen My Queen, Paris Hilton Heiress, and Dana Cologne Tabu for Women.

Other vetiver fragrances include:

Vetiver Fragrances for Men

A selection of men's fragrances starring vetiver includes Creed Original Vetiver, Carven Vetiver, Annick Goutal Vetiver, Guerlain Vetiver Extreme, Il Profumo Vetiver de Java, Prada Infusion de Vetiver, Lacoste Red Style in Play, and Tim McGraw Southern Blend.

Other options include:

Article Sources
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  1. Burger P, Landreau A, Watson M, et al. Vetiver essential oil in cosmetics: what is new? Medicines (Basel). 2017;4(2):41. doi:10.3390/medicines4020041

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