Fragrance Notes

Black Pepper Scent in Perfumery

What is Black Pepper?

Although commonly associated with the culinary world, black pepper is also a highly valued ingredient in perfumery as well. The spice is used to add a bold and captivating aromatic warmth to both men’s, women’s and unisex fragrances, elevating a perfume’s complexity and introducing an interesting and dynamic element to any scent.


Black pepper, which comes from the berries of the Piper nigrum plant, has a long and storied history in the world of perfumery. This ingredient has been used for centuries, dating back to ancient times when the Greeks and Egyptians would incorporate it into their aromatic blends for religious ceremonies and personal grooming. As time went on, black pepper became even more popular as a fragrance ingredient during the Renaissance period in Europe.

Its unique scent profile and versatility have helped it maintain its status as a beloved ingredient in the perfume world for generations.


In modern perfumery, black pepper is incorporated as a top or middle note to add depth and warmth to a fragrance as well as a contrasting note to sweeter, floral scents.

As a top note, black pepper provides an initial burst of warmth and spice. This can be useful in creating a strong first impression and adding contrast to sweeter, lighter scents. As a middle note, it contributes to the core of the fragrance and adds depth and complexity to the final scent. Its warm, spicy, and slightly bitter aroma helps enhance the overall blend and creates a more balanced composition.

Black pepper can also function as a fixative, extending the longevity of a fragrance and helping anchor other fragrances in a perfume.

Ingredient Type:

In perfumery, black pepper exists as both a natural raw material and in a synthetic version. Black pepper essential oil is derived from the dried and crushed berries of the Piper nigrum plant and is steam distilled to extract the aromatic compounds. It can also be synthesized in a laboratory setting, recreating the natural oil’s signature spicy scent. 

What Does Black Pepper Smell Like in Perfume?

Black pepper is best known for its intense scent profile, one that is often said to evoke feelings of energy and excitement. Spicy, warm, and woody, the aroma of black pepper can be described as sharp, yet slightly sweet.

When used in moderation, black pepper enhances the overall scent of a fragrance, especially when it is combined with ingredients such as bergamot, clove, and ginger. Many perfumers reach for black pepper when crafting bold fragrances meant to make a memorable statement.

Variations Used in Perfumery:

Black pepper essential oil is derived from different types of the plant, each with a unique scent profile. In addition to these differences, the fragrance can be altered by factors such as the soil, climate, and harvest method.

Some commonly used black pepper variations used in perfume include:

  • Piper nigrum: Has a warm, spicy, and pungent aroma and is widely used in perfumes

  • Piper cubeba: Has a more subtle aroma than Piper nigrum, with hints of wood, earth, and a slightly sweet and fruity character

  • Piper longum: Has a milder, sweeter aroma than other varieties, with a distinct character of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice

Apart from these species, there are also varying grades of black pepper essential oil that differ in quality and aroma intensity. The uniquely flexible nature of the black pepper note is one of many reasons it is a favorite of perfumers. Because of the many variations of black pepper available, it offers virtually limitless possibilities for creating engaging, one-of-a-kind fragrances.

What Fragrance Family is Black Pepper in?

Black pepper is a member of the amber fragrance family, which includes a subfamily characterized by warm, pungent, and often invigorating scents inspired by spices, herbs, and botanicals commonly used in cooking and traditional remedies. Along with black pepper, other popular ingredients in this family include cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Phlur Perfumes Containing Black Pepper:

  • EXPLORE MORE: Fragrance Notes


    The Growing Popularity of Unisex Fragrances

    Identifying a fragrance as “unisex” is in reference to its targeted appeal to all genders. When it comes to “categorizing” a fragrance as unisex, or for no particular gender, it can be a very subjective evaluation. What connotes a unisex fragrance? What are the qualifications and/or deciding factors in the development process?

    Read more

    Fragrance Longevity 101

    We’ve all experienced or heard others proclaim “I love this perfume but it doesn’t last very long.” What qualifies as “long lasting” in a perfume? What contributes to a perfume's ability to be long lasting or have “wear longevity”? What is the average time a perfume should last on your skin? Fragrance longevity is essentially the length of time the olfactory presence stays detectable on the skin of the wearer. It’s not an easy straightforward time period for all perfumes.

    Read more

    Why Gourmand Perfumes Are So Universally Appealing

    Reference to the term gourmand primarily focuses on a connoisseur of food. A person who enjoys and appreciates good food, good wine and good company with which to enjoy it. So it seems very natural to attach this same appreciation to a gourmand fragrance in the perfume industry. The broad characteristic of a gourmand fragrance or perfume is that it smells edible.

    Read more