Basil Scent in Perfumery

Basil Scent in Perfumery

What is Basil?

Basil is commonly known as a culinary herb, but is actually a popular ingredient in perfumery. It is known for its fresh, slightly sweet, and slightly peppery aroma. Note that the basil used in perfumery is not the same as the sweet basil used in cooking (Ocimum basilicum), but rather the Ocimum gratissimum species, also known as "African basil" or "clove basil" due to its clove-like scent.


Basil has been a staple in perfumery for centuries, originating in Africa and Asia with a strong presence in India for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Through ancient trade routes, the herb was introduced to various cultures including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. During the medieval period, it was brought to Europe and utilized both in cooking and medicine. In the present day, basil is widely cultivated and utilized globally in various cuisines and traditional medicines.


In perfumery, basil is used for its strong, fresh, and slightly sweet aroma with a slight peppery note. It is a popular ingredient in perfumery, particularly in colognes, eau de colognes, and other fresh, crisp, and invigorating fragrances. It also can be used to add a unique and distinctive note to floral, herbal, and green perfumes.

Basil can be a top note, a middle note, or a fixative, depending on the use and the amount in the fragrance.

As a top note, basil is one of the first aromas you will smell when you apply the fragrance. It provides an initial burst of freshness, and usually lasts for the first 15 minutes to an hour, after which it evaporates quickly. The strong, fresh and slightly sweet aroma of basil can act as a great opener to a fragrance and sets the stage for the other notes.

As a middle note, basil can be used in smaller amounts to create depth and complexity in the fragrance. It blends well with other ingredients and can provide a unique and distinctive note, making it more complex and interesting. Middle notes are typically the heart of the fragrance, lasting for a few hours after application.

As a fixative, basil can be used to help prolong the longevity of the fragrance. It helps slow down the evaporation of the lighter, more volatile components of the scent, making the fragrance last longer on the skin.

Ingredient Type:

In perfumery, basil is usually categorized as a raw material. As an essential oil, extracted from the leaves via steam distillation, basil is a popular ingredient in perfumes and other fragranced products. Known for its fresh and slightly spicy scent, basil essential oil can be replicated with synthetic versions, but natural basil oil is more commonly used.

What Does Basil Smell Like?

In perfumery, basil essential oil imparts a strong, fresh, and herbaceous aroma with hints of mint, spice, and sweetness. It has a green, vegetal scent with a touch of camphor or eucalyptus. Unlike fresh basil leaves, commonly used in cooking, basil essential oil has a more potent and concentrated fragrance with stronger minty and spicy notes. When used in perfumes, it adds a refreshing and invigorating touch, enhancing fresh, green, and floral notes.

Variations of Basil Used in Perfumery:

Basil essential oil used in perfumery comes in various types with distinct scent profiles. Some popular varieties include:

  • Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), with a fresh, green, spicy and sweet aroma

  • Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), also known as "Tulsi," with complex notes of clove, camphor, and mint

  • Lemon basil (Ocimum x citriodorum), with a strong lemon fragrance

  • African basil (Ocimum gratissimum), with a pungent, camphorous scent

  • Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora), with a peppery and licorice-like aroma

Note that the aroma profile can be influenced by factors such as growing conditions, time of harvest, and distillation process.

What Fragrance Family is Basil in?

Basil is categorized as part of the herbaceous fragrance family. This family encompasses fresh, green, and slightly spicy scents from plants and herbs. Other scents commonly associated with the herbaceous fragrance family include lavender, rosemary, thyme, and mint.

Phlur Perfumes Containing Basil:

No Phlur fragrances utilize basil materials at this time.

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