What Does Iris (Orris) Smell Like?

A subtle, powdery scent commonly found in makeup products, Iris is also known as Orris is a wonderful ingredient in perfumes.

The Egyptians cherished irises as a symbol of majestic power while the Ancient Greeks and Romans bottled it as an essential oil. Today, iris is still an incredibly well-loved ingredient. The dried roots of the plant are ground up, distilled and extracted into either a resin, an absolute or a butter. They have a buttery-soft, smooth and skin-like scent. Its powdery aroma is undeniable and can also be reminiscent of suede or even freshly-baked bread.

Worth The Wait

Iris is a beautiful flower with origins in Italy and Morocco. It takes on all the colours of the rainbow but is most commonly known for it’s purple and blue petals. The flower itself actually carries little scent. It is the roots (orris) that hold the scented magic but only one species is used in fragrance – Iris pallida. When the iris is picked, it is left to dry for up to 6 years! In our opinion, it’s well worth the wait. Like a fine wine, the scent of iris gets better with age.

The Perfect Combination

During the drying process, the roots naturally develop a soft, powdery, clean smell that is amplified once they are ground into a powder. ‘Irone’ is a molecule found in iris and belongs in the ionone family. Ionones are also found in violets so its no wonder the powdery aroma or irises are often associated to parma violets.

Violets have been used since the Victorian era as a scent additive to cosmetics and powders. This explains why people think of makeup powder when they first smell iris. It’s an aroma that evokes a certain kind of comfort.

Related Articles