Do a quick survey of the fragrance market right now and one thing becomes apparent: pepper is trending. This trend is nothing new — pepper has been popular and will continue to be — but from luxury launches to mass market to small niche brands, it’s seemingly everywhere. The most common types of pepper used in fragrance are black and pink (white makes an occasional guest appearance.) Despite a similar name, black and pink pepper have distinct scents and applications.
From luxury launches to mass market to small niche brands, pepper is seemingly everywhere in fragrance.
Black pepper is the more spicy of the two — it’s stimulating, spicy aroma is a popular top note that adds fire and warmth to a fragrance. Over time the scent becomes slightly woody and smoky with a touch of citrus.
Pink pepper (also called pink peppercorn, baies roses, poivre rosé) is less spicy with an underlying sweet, rosy facet that makes it a popular ingredient in rose fragrances. It’s exotic, feminine, optimistic character has made it extremely popular in modern perfumery. It adds a rosy element to a fragrance without feeling old-fashioned or powdery.
Black and pink pepper can be featured alone or together. Marc Jacobs Bang, for example, contains black, pink and white pepper in addition to benzoin, vetiver, woods, patchouli and oakmoss. Victoria of Bois de Jasmin paints a great picture of Bang’s peppery opening: “[Bang] has a great opening accord that fits well with its name—the composition explodes into a vibrant, brilliant, peppery sparkle. Experiencing this piquant woody-spicy prelude is not unlike biting through the fiery, pleasantly burning pepper crust on steak au poivre, and the effect is just as mouthwatering.”
Experiencing this piquant woody-spicy prelude is not unlike biting through the fiery, pleasantly burning pepper crust on steak au poivre, and the effect is just as mouthwatering.
- Pink pepper is produced from the bright pink fruit of the evergreen tree, Schinus molle. Despite the name, it is unrelated to true pepper.
- Pleasures by Estée Lauder, released in 1995, was the first fragrance to make use of pink pepper.
Notable Pepper Fragrances
Bang (Marc Jacobs)
Terre d’Hermes (Hermes)
Black Pepper (Molton Brown)
Pleasures (Estée Lauder)
Honor Man (Amouage)
Rose Poivree (The Different Company)
Baie Rose 26 (Le Labo)
Santal Blanc (Serge Lutens)
Eau de Merveilles (Hermes)
How do you use pepper in a formula? Tell all in the comments below!