Patchouli is probably one of the most misunderstood scents out there. When you hear or think about the fragrance, "earthy" might come to mind (and possibly not in the most positive light) or perhaps you associate it with the hippie era due to its popularity in the '60s. But patchouli, which is native to tropical regions in Asia, has been used for centuries as an essential oil.
The scent is musky, a little sweet, and spicy all at once. It's a strong, statement fragrance that's not exactly for people who want to fly under the radar. And although it's gotten an iffy rap in the past, that's definitely changed in recent years. Now, you'll find patchouli in many "sophisticated" and "chic" fragrances.
And it's a fashion-girl favorite. We've seen it on the vanities of many influencers, and even our own editor in chief, Kat Collings, is a fan. "I remember when I selected Le Labo's Patchouli scent over its more popular perfumes like Thé Noir and Santal 33, the shopkeeper gave me a nod approval, saying it was a special and rare choice," Collings says. "I, of course, let this go straight to my head, but it truly is an exceptional perfume. I find it to be a rather androgynous scent with notes of leather, smoke, and vanilla. The actual patchouli is very subtle too, nothing like the stereotypical patchouli scent associated with hippies."
Want to give a patchouli fragrance a try? These are some of our favorites:
This perfume might be called Patchouli, but it's not super overwhelming. It's a woody, earthy scent with notes of patchouli, leather, birch, and vanilla.
The smell of books and the library can be so comforting, especially for those bibliophiles out there. This best-selling fragrance has base notes of leather, patchouli, and vanilla, with top and middle notes of peach, plum, peony, and violet.
Kilian's Straight to Heaven perfume is inspired by "the heat of the Caribbean islands." It has notes of Indonesian patchouli oil, nutmeg, vanilla, and white musk for a mix of spicy and sweet.
Refreshing fruits and florals (cassis, peony, and geranium) pair with the grounding notes of patchouli in this fragrance. It's vegan, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free.
Vibrant, modern, and sexy, Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle has base notes of patchouli and vetiver plus top and middle notes of orange, jasmine, and May rose.
Described as a "balancer, relaxant, and aphrodisiac," this fragrance will be alluring, no doubt. Top notes of rose, jasmine, and Moroccan orris are paired with undertones of patchouli, cinnamon bark, and Australian sandalwood.
Fresh pear and freesias are grounded with notes of amber, patchouli, and wood so it's not overly sweet or floral.
Skylar's fragrances are clean, vegan, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free. Arrow is a confident fragrance with warm notes of patchouli, jasmine, rose, and vanilla.
If you're not the type who loves a floral or fruity fragrance, this warm-and-spicy one from Tom Ford is a good option. It has scents of patchouli, rose absolute, coriander, and incense.
Inspired by Sydney's Bondi Beach, Ouai's perfume has refreshing notes of apple blossom, raspberry, and lemon paired with a base of patchouli and sandalwood. It's just made for warm, summery nights.
At first smell, this is a classic floral rose fragrance with added notes of jasmine, pear, and bergamot. But it gets a little spicy and earthy with pink peppercorn, patchouli, and cedarwood.
Created for a "true libertine," this Gucci scent is free-spirited and fearless. The blend includes scents of mandora (a Mediterranean citrus fruit), pink pepper, lilac, patchouli, and geranium oil.
If you have wanderlust but can't exactly make it to Paris, Diptyque's Eau Capitale fragrance might be the smallest consolation since it's inspired by the City of Lights. Base notes of patchouli are paired with top and middle notes of rose and bergamot.
This perfume from Yves Saint Laurent is also inspired by Paris, particularly its reputation as being a romantic city. It has sweet and floral notes of red berries, pear, datura, white peony, and orange flower plus grounded scents of patchouli and white musks.
Both sensual and modern, Guerlain's eau de parfum blends vanilla lavender, sandalwood, and patchouli.
Far from overly sweetly floral, this fragrance has some warmth to it. Orange blossom and jasmine scents are contrasted with vetiver and patchouli undertones.
For both women and men, Kiehl's fragrance is both soft, warm, and distinctive. It has top notes of bergamot and orange blossom; middle notes of rose, lily, ylang-ylang, and neroli; and base notes of patchouli, tonka bean, and musk.
Inspired by the scents of a "London garden after the rain," this scent is quintessentially British. It's got notes of sweet pea, bergamot, geranium, freesia, roses, damask, and patchouli.
This perfume is super luxe and sumptuous thanks to scents of rose, red fruits, cinnamon, sandalwood, musk, frankincense, and patchouli. Definitely wear this on a date night.
Another unisex perfume, this one has a patchouli base that's paired with refreshing and Mediterranean scents of pomelo and star anise. Close your eyes, and dream of the French Riviera when you wear this fragrance.