Vanilla in Perfumery: Exploring Why People & Perfumers Love It
Vanilla in perfumery is unique due to its popularity, alluring essence, and fixative qualities, making it the ideal ingredient for perfumers to use in their compositions.
Let’s take a look at vanilla to understand it as an ingredient and learn how it is used in perfumes and colognes for both men and women alike.
What is Vanilla?
Vanilla is a spice derived from the dried pods of orchid vines of the genus vanilla variety. It’s the world’s second most expensive spice, behind saffron. The high cost is due to both the vine growing, and the pod cultivation & curing, requiring extremely lengthy and labor intensive processes.
Vanilla can grow in many tropical locations around the world. Most vanilla grown globally traces its origin back to the species found in Mesoamerica.
However, the scent characteristics of any natural vanilla is directly related to the particular region it is grown in. More on that ahead…
Why Vanilla Appeals to and Seduces the General Population
Vanilla is strongly associated with positivity, happy memories, and beloved comforts and people of the past. For most people, vanilla is extremely familiar and often associated with heartwarming memories of family, food, cooking, and holidays.
Many people instinctively comment that vanilla reminds them of their youth and their mother, grandmother, or holiday baking. Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, profiteroles (a.k.a. cream puffs), rice pudding, and cheesecake are just a few of the many delicious vanilla based baked goods and dessert staples.
And don’t forget vanilla ice cream. What’s a discussion of vanilla without mentioning ice cream and all of its happy moments of childhood and beyond. Eaten alone, in root beer floats, in banana splits, or over pie–vanilla ice cream often the perfect dessert boosting ingredient.
Some scientific studies have linked vanillin (a taste compound found in processed vanilla) to activating a higher number of human taste receptors, aiding to improve overall taste capabilities. This means the natural compounds within vanilla may be ideal to bring joy to human taste buds.
What Makes Vanilla so Popular in Perfumes?
Vanilla is popular in perfumes due to its versatility, unisex appeal, alluring aphrodesiac-like qualities, and its ability to fit into diverse fragrance styles across the seasons.
It’s commonly used within the highly popular ‘gourmand style’ perfumes and colognes, meaning fragrances which smell edible. Most gourmands lean toward sweet dessert-like notes including: chocolate, coffee, cream, berries, and of course, vanilla!
Since vanilla is so resilient, as a prominent note inside a fragrance composition, it is often mixed with stronger notes. Vanilla can be used to stand up to, offset, or compliment bold notes such as anamalic ouds or sharp musks. It can also serve to unify an overall fragrance composition, rounding off some of the sharper notes thus mellowing the overall vibe.
Vanilla is well known as a note of seduction and intimacy, due to its soft, sweet, and creamy characteristics. Perhaps this is another main reason why perfumers tend to love it in their compositions. Who doesn’t like the idea of smelling enticing or magnetic to their ‘special someone’?
Vanilla Featured in Modern Fragrances
Vanilla’s versatility and popularity make it a staple of perfumery that won’t go away anytime soon.
You’ll find it blended with florals in femenine leaning perfumes like Dior Addict.
You’ll even find sea salt accords blended with vanilla in popular warm weather perfumes like Vanilla Vibes by Juliette has a gun.
Vanilla is a beloved scent used in heavier fragrance that are geared towards Fall and Winter, like Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille.
How is Vanilla used in perfumery?
Vanilla is classified as a diffusive base material in perfumery. This means that the wearer can usually smell the vanilla from the top notes all the way to the dry down many hours later.
Perfumers enjoy working with vanilla for it’s unique fixative qualities.
Vanilla’s ‘perfumery super power’ is that it lasts a long time and ‘fixes’ other raw materials to the wearer's skin, causing those fragrant notes to last longer.
Vanilla’s Scent is Based on Origin | Madagascar vs Tahitian Vanilla
All vanilla is not the same. Not even close...
To illustrate, let’s compare two of the most popular vanillas used throughout the world; one from Madagascar and another from Tahiti.
Madagascar Vanilla (a.k.a. Bourbon Vanilla) is what most people recognize and expect from vanilla. This is because up to two thirds of the world’s vanilla is cultivated in Madagascar and other islands in the southwest Indian Ocean.
Madagascar Vanilla is quite creamy, almost like vanilla ice cream mixed with a light cedar wood note.
In comparison, the Tahitian Vanilla is much different, it smells dark and complex. It's very resinous, meaning it’s smell reminds you of a dry and/or woody tree sap. In this case, it contains a sweetness along with the scent of dried bamboo.
While both varieties are ‘vanilla’, they’re both uniquely distinctive despite being from the same mesoamerican species.
Beach Geeza Fragrances Featuring Vanilla
The house of Beach Geeza is not immune to the seductive power of vanilla. We too share in the love and appreciation for vanilla in food and especially in perfumes and colognes.
Beach Geeza’s YouTube Video Exploring Vanilla in Perfumery
Learn about vanilla in perfumery with Ryan Hunts, Beach Geeza Founder & Perfumer, as he explores its characteristics and use as a raw material used in fragrances.
At Beach Geeza we always encourage you to:
Enjoy Life and Smell Extraordinary.