Looking at the scent: Vanilla

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Vanilla is not only a delicious flavourant in desserts and soft drinks, but it has also become one of the most popular ingredients in fragrance. We’ve put together some interesting facts about this multifunctional plant.

Learning more about vanilla

What it is:
Vanilla is a climbing plant that comes in hundreds of variants, of which vanilla planifolia and vanilla tahitiensis are the two most popular forms used in commercial production. It is the only member in the orchid family that bears fruit.

Where it comes from:
Vanilla is believed to have been discovered by the Aztecs in the 16th century in central Mexico. It was later taken to Europe by the Spanish, which is where its name originated. The Spanish word vaina, meaning “little pod,” preceded the name “vanilla.” Thomas Jefferson is the first person to have introduced vanilla to the USA.

Where it’s produced:
Today, Madagascar is the biggest producer of vanilla, producing up to 1000 tons per year. Madagascar Bourbon vanilla is considered the highest quality and best vanilla in the world thanks to its consistency and staying power. Vanilla is also grown in certain parts of Africa and Indonesia.

How it’s used:
Vanilla is a common ingredient in food, particularly in desserts, baked goods and sweetened drinks.

In addition, it’s a majorly popular ingredient in both fragrances and home fragrances. In fact, it’s been suggested that it is the most common fragrance ingredient in modern perfumes! Vanilla essential oil or vanilla perfume oil is typically used to flavour perfumes, and this oil is made from vanilla beans, which are the seed pods of the vanilla orchid.

Why it’s so popular:
As consumers today, we are mostly familiar with synthetic forms of vanilla – fresh, “real” vanilla is extremely expensive and difficult to get hold of. The scent of vanilla is known for the feelings of warmth and comfort it creates when inhaled. It is connected to feelings of being at home, family, freshly baked goods and often, childhood memories. It is thought to be such a popular scent as it has positive effects on those who smell it, bringing comfort and warmth.

It is also known to be good for stress relief.

Interesting facts:
Vanilla is considered a powerful aphrodisiac, and in the past it was a common treatment for male impotency.

Studies have indicated that men are drawn to the vanilla scent, making vanilla-rich fragrances the favourites among the male population. Not only is it considered the sexiest-smelling ingredient, but it also creates a sense of family, home and comfort, making it a great all-rounder.

Vanilla-rich scents we love:
The Body Shop Madagascan Vanilla Flower Eau de Toilette
Dolce & Gabbana The One
Thierry Mugler Angel
Marc Jacobs Dot

Other articles you may be interested in:
Fragrance notes: woody
Fragrance notes: Oriental
Fragrance notes: floral
Fragrance notes: citrus and fresh
Fragrance myths

Written by

Anien studied English and journalism before heading off into the world of beauty. An undercover "tree hugger" and fashion lover, she's usually found with her nose in a magazine. She has far too many bottles of nail polish and is completely lost without her lip balm. Anien on Google+

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  1. TamIam Cole

    The body shop vanilla perfume is my everyday perfume. My boyfriend loves it and i love it. I use black opium for special occasions but that scent will always be my go to scent.

    1 year ago •

  1. Manyela

    Hmmn I guess I will be wearing a lot of vanilla perfum because I want my fiance to love me more ;) *off to the shops*

    5 years ago •

  1. Lady-T

    The never out of fashion smell. Vanilla is the sexiest smell.

    5 years ago •

  1. me

    Have always loved the smell of vanilla, for now I struggle to wrap by brain around wearing vanilla.

    5 years ago •

  1. Ruweida

    Didn’t know vanilla was used for the treatment of male impotency; I guess you learn something new everyday! Thanks for sharing :)

    5 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I love the scent of vanilla but the balance between smelling soft and genuine to overpowering is a fine line.
    I think vanilla ice cream is almost the perfect balance for me.

    5 years ago •

  1. Lynne123

    I Have Vanilla everything, Lip Gloss, Perfumes, in my car, in my home.. Always the best smell!~

    5 years ago •

  1. Rosegower

    I love vanilla scents! Thanks for the list of vanilla fragrances, will definitely look out for them!

    5 years ago •

  1. Chantelle Thompson

    Vanilla is one of those scents that just never goes out of date, beautiful

    5 years ago •

  1. Sammy

    I love this scent. It always calms me and since I grew up with vanilla being an ingredient how could I not love it.

    5 years ago •

  1. ABeauty

    I love vanilla, The Body Shop one is great and Angel is my go to fragrance.

    5 years ago •

  1. Kariwo

    Vanilla reminds me of my childhood and my mum baking for us :-)

    5 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    I am not a fan of vanilla but I do appreciate the warmness that the scent creates.

    5 years ago •

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