The Local Fragrance That Became an International Star
The fragrance industry is dominated by the western world but not many people realized that many of the ingredients are plucked from Asia, including Indonesia. The archipelago is one of the major exporters of patchouli (nilam) essential oil, supplying more than 90% of the global market and is grown by around 25,000 smallholder farmers.
The musky and earthy scent has been infusing a number of top brands such as Thierry Mugler Angel, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Patchouli, and Tom Ford White Patchouli. It’s a scent that most Indonesian people are familiar with but only when it comes in a luxurious perfume bottle. In reality, patchouli, a bushy herb closely related to the mint leaves, are in abundance here. And its popularity as a single entity only recognized in tourist spots where the aroma- therapy industry is booming like Bali.
Though Bali itself is not known as a major patchouli producer-that would be Aceh-the aromatherapy industry reaps great benefits from patchouli oil for its many benefits, though perhaps not as fan-favorite as lavender or lemongrass. Patchouli oil is kind of like a “super oil”, really: it’s astringent, antiseptic, an- ti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and mildly sedative. For topical usage, the oil is effective as an insect repellant, a natural deodorant, and can be mixed with your shampoo to get rid of dandruff. Or, yes, you can simply dab it on your body or mix it with a carrier oil to create your own fragrance. Who needs expensive celebrity perfumes if you can make it your own, right?