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What Is Vetiver And Why Is It In My Shaving Stuff?

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what is vetiver

Vetiver is a fragrant grass from the tropics with a distinctively strong, masculine, earthy scent. It is widely used in perfumery and home fragrances, most notably in men’s colognes and aftershaves. 

What Is Vetiver?

Vetiver has a bit of a mysterious aura: its oil is commonly used in fragrances and aromatherapy, but there are also purported medicinal uses, including skincare and stress relief.

Physical Characteristics

Vetiver has a yellow-green color and can grow up to 1.5 meters in height. The leaves are long, thin, and have a silver-green color. Vetiver is a hardy plant that can thrive in difficult conditions, such as sandy soil and hot temperatures, has an extensive root system that can reach up to 3 meters deep in the ground, and helps stabilize soil against erosion. Its roots also help to capture water, making it an ideal crop for areas prone to drought. 

Where Is Vetiver Found

Vetiver is a grass that is native to southern India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Haiti, the Philippines, Japan, the Comoro Islands, West Africa and Polynesia are some of the other countries where vetiver is extensively cultivated.

It is an important crop in the perfume industry as its oil is used in aromatherapy and cosmetics.  But the vetiver plant can also be found in lawns, gardens, and roadsides. 

What Does Vetiver Smell Like?

The smell of vetiver is warm and dry, with earthy, woody, leathery, balsamic, and smoky with subtle notes of citrus, spice. It’s similar to the smell of a grassy lawn on a warm day.  Others describe it as reminiscent of camping on a grassy meadow near an old wood fire.  Its complex scent profile is made up of more than 100 compounds.

Vetiver stands out from other scents because it can be thick or light depending on how it’s used, making this scent remarkably versatile.

Vetiver Essential Oil

vetiver oil

Vetiver is harvested when the plant is 18 to 24 months old and essential oil is created by steam-distilling the roots. It was only discovered to have a unique aroma after steam distillation was invented. 


Vetiver oil has many uses ranging from medicinal and odorous to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, lotions and soaps, which can be used aromatically or topically. The oil is rich in antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Vetiver is also known for its use in skin cell regeneration and boosting the growth of new cells, facilitating wound healing and providing relief from stress, emotional traumas and shock. 


Vetiver oil has a few side effects as well. Some people may experience nausea, dizziness, and headaches when using it, but these effects are usually mild. 

There is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of vetiver oil to treat any health condition. When used as a medicine, it must be handled with care and only by healthcare professionals familiar with its safe usage. Additionally, it must be diluted with an oil such as sweet almond or grape seed oil before application to ensure that it remains safe and effective.

Vetiver In Shaving Products

[Note: Amazon, PAA, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]

The use of vetiver in shaving products is typically just for its scent: very few (if any) shaving products contain enough vetiver oil to rise to the “therapeutic” level of strength. Many use synthetic fragrance.

And few shaving products use vetiver as the only scent–many find a vetiver-only scent to be too strong, almost overpowering.  Most often vetiver is used with other ingredients for a more complex, but still masculine, scent:

Ariana And Evans Vetiver Magnifique Shaving Soap

Cyril R Salter Luxury Shaving Cream – French Vetiver

Mama Bear Haitian Vetiver Essential Oil Shave Soap

Martin de Candre Shaving Soap, Vetyver

PAA Al Fin Shave Soap

Saponifico Varesino Desert Vetiver Shaving Soap: Special Edition Beta 4.3


The vetiver scent and shaving is a classic combination that has stood the test of time. Not only can it provide an enjoyable experience, but vetiver is said to be naturally calming and grounding. Whether you choose a traditional shave cream, a handmade soap, or an aftershave balm, adding vetiver to your grooming routine can make it something special. With its special place in history and its unique aroma, vetiver is the perfect addition to elevate your shaving experience.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts


3 thoughts on “What Is Vetiver And Why Is It In My Shaving Stuff?”

  1. Manly vetiver fragrances you can recommend, please.

    One I can recommend is Just Jack Vetiver. It’s very similar to a well known fragrance called Grey Vetiver.

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