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What is Vetiver Oil?

Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet

Vetiver oil – also known as khus oil and is sometimes referred to as the Oil of Tranquility in India – has been used for centuries in incense and perfumes. It is a common ingredient in many modern perfumes, as a scent and a fixative, and is also used in many other cosmetic and beauty products. Vetiver oil is also a natural insect repellent and antiseptic, and has been used in traditional Asian medicine as a herbal remedy for a variety of complaints. The oil perhaps is best known as an aromatherapy essential oil used for its calming and relaxing effects.

Derived from the vetiver plant, Vetiveria zizanoides, the oil is also known as vetivert or khus khus and is a scented perennial grass that grows up to 3 feet (about 91.44 cm) tall. It is native to India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Vetiver has been grown around the world in places as far away as Japan, Brazil, West Africa, Java, and Haiti.

Vetiver oil.
Vetiver oil.

In India, vetiver has been cultivated to prevent soil erosion during heavy rains. The vetiver grass itself is used for thatching and for weaving mats. Vetiver is also used to make blinds for windows and awnings, taking advantage of its insect-repellent properties. The vetiver oil is derived from the plant’s spongy, white net of roots, which are steam distilled after having been dried and chopped, producing the essential oil.

Vetiver oil has been used for centuries in incense.
Vetiver oil has been used for centuries in incense.

Depending on the source, vetiver oil varies in color from brown or deep amber to olive green. The scent, which also varies depending on the source, can be described as woody or earthy, similar to patchouli oil. It is possible to identify the oil’s origin by color and smell.

Vetiver oil’s pleasant scent and calming effects have made it a popular choice for use in aromatherapy. Typically, vetiver oil is used by inhaling vapors produced by heating a small amount of oil. It may also be applied topically, massaged into the skin or dropped into warm bathwater. Vetiver oil has been recommended for treatment of a host of ailments including tension, insomnia, depression, and anger. It has also been used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, and general aches and pains.

Vetiver oil can be used to treat insomnia.
Vetiver oil can be used to treat insomnia.

The antiseptic properties of vetiver oil have also made it a natural choice as topical treatment for acne and to speed the healing of small cuts and abrasions. It may also be used to treat oily skin. Consultation with a health care professional is recommended before the treatment of any medical condition.

Discussion Comments


I read that historically in Southeast Asia, blinds made from vetiver released the vetiver perfume when it was sprinkled with water. It helped protect houses from the sun and heat and also acted as an air freshener. That is one of the best ideas I have ever heard! I would love to have blinds that emitted scents like that. It's so intelligent to make blinds from vetiver plants.

This might have had religious and spiritual significance too because Hindus and Buddhist inhale vetiver oil or burn inscense of it for protection and spiritual equilibrium. There are even religious ceremonies especially for vetiver.


I bought some soaps last week from a store selling natural products. I was looking at the ingredients when I saw vetiver oil and wanted to look it up because I've never heard of it before.

The soaps have a really unique scent, I'm not sure how to describe it, earthy is the only description that comes to mind like the article said. I think some rose has been mixed in, perhaps to make the scent more familiar or attractive. I like it though, it really does make my skin feel nice and I'm happy to know that it has some great benefits.


When I was in India, I saw Indian women using vetiver oil to condition their hair and also as a moisturizer for their skin. Indian women have really beautiful long hair and they really do take care of it well.

I saw vetiver oil being mixed with coconut oil, olive oil, apricot oil or sesame oil to make a sort of hair mask which is applied and kept on the hair before a shower or overnight. I think vetiver oil moisturizes the hair and makes it softer and shinier.

Indian women also use vetiver as a skin moisturizer or they use face masks with it. I've read that vetiver is very good for aged skin and also for dry skin. I think they take very good care of themselves and use more natural ingredients and essential oils than we do. Vetiver oil is definitely one of their favorites.

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    • Vetiver oil.
      By: wolfelarry
      Vetiver oil.
    • Vetiver oil has been used for centuries in incense.
      By: styleuneed
      Vetiver oil has been used for centuries in incense.
    • Vetiver oil can be used to treat insomnia.
      By: Dan Race
      Vetiver oil can be used to treat insomnia.
    • Vetiver oil is known as the Oil of Tranquility in India.
      By: Tupungato
      Vetiver oil is known as the Oil of Tranquility in India.
    • Vetiver is an aromatherapy essential oil that has calming effects.
      By: Lucie Říhová
      Vetiver is an aromatherapy essential oil that has calming effects.