Patchouli. Sandalwood. Ylang-ylang. Neroli. You see them listed as primary ingredients in many of the perfumes, lotions, creams, colognes and fragrance oils that are manufactured and produced today. But do you know what they are? Where they come from? What they smell like? Most people don’t. So, here is a short discourse on each of them to help you get started on learning more about where your fragrance components come from.
Patchouli is a bushy herb that comes from the mint family. While native to tropical Asia, it is now grown for commercial purposes throughout many other tropical regions in the world. It is the small, pale, pink-white flowers that produce the fragrance oil. Patchouli carries a rich, earthy, woody aroma that has a faint notice of fruit within it, and is used as a base note for many perfumes and colognes.
Sandalwood is a name that is given to a variety of different fragrant woods. The true sandalwood is a protected species, is extremely expensive, and demand for it cannot be met in full. For this reason there are many different species of plants that are traded under the name of “sandalwood” legitimately … in fact, there are 19 species within just one genus that can be called sandalwood.
Sandalwood is heavy and yellow in color, with a fine grain to the wood, and unlike many of the other aromatic woods available it retains its fragrance for decades. Sandalwoods aroma is one that is rich, sweet and woody in character.
Ylang-ylang is a very fast growing tree that can grow over 15 feet each year, reaching an average height of about 40 feet very quickly. The flower of the tree is a long-stalked, drooping flower with greenish-yellow petals that is reminiscent of a starfish, and which yields an extremely fragrance essential oil. The scent of Ylang-ylang is one that is fresh, floral, sweet and slightly fruity … very rich, deep and strong in character.
Neroli is one of the most commonly used fragrance oils, with more than 12% of all modern quality perfumes list Neroli as their principal ingredient. This is due not only to its strong scent but because it is a non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-photo-toxic substance. Neroli oil is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree, and has an intensely floral, citrusy, sweet and exotic fragrance to it … one of the classic elements in fragrance design historically!