This Often-Despised Perfume Is Actually a Fashion-Girl Favorite

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.

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.

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. Next up, wearing this cult-loved perfume brand practically guarantees compliments.

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