Vetiver is a common ingredient in fragrances and after shave for men, but until I became a beauty editor, I had no idea what it actually was. As it turns out, vetiver is a tall grass that grows in volcanic areas of India and Haiti.
The essential oil that comes from vetiver is derived from its extensive network of roots. They are washed, chopped, soaked in water, and distilled to create a green, herbal scent similar to a really fresh potato peeling.
Vetiver oil also has other uses than fragrance. It has antiseptic and muscle-relaxing qualities, and it can be taken orally to calm nervous tension or used topically to heal redness, skin irritation, and inflammation on sensitive or oily skin. If you are interested in layering vetiver, it also very much complements lavender, patchouli, and sandalwood.