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Article: What is Amber in Perfumes? An Introductory Guide

what is amber in perfumes

What is Amber in Perfumes? An Introductory Guide

Scent preferences are highly personal – it's a work of season, memory, mood, palate, and occasion. Your perfumes are what describe your personality as a person. Knowing about the scents in-depth helps in finding out your favorite scent. 

With that being said, the fragrance families in the perfume industry are organized into categories, which makes it easy for consumers to recognize a scent that fits perfectly for them. The scent families are divided into four main families – each family has its own subfamilies, respectively. 

We will be taking a dive into the most popular member of an oriental family which is known as Amber and is also formally recognized as oriental perfumes, amber perfumes represent an expanding category of scent compositions. Amber in perfumes is a perfect blend of ingredients that elaborates powdery, sweet, and warm scents.

1. What Is Amber?

There are two prevailing interpretations about what amber is and what it should smell like. 

Firstly, most people associate “amber” with fossilized tree resin. This element starts as an organic, viscous liquid exuded from tree bark, and it hardens with time into a reddish-golden stone. In ancient China, it was burned during traditional festivities to create a musky, pinewood fragrance. But with time, fossilized amber is also used in jewelry making. 

Secondly, “amber” fragrances originated from ambergris, a waxy substance that is produced inside the gut of the sperm whale. Regardless of how it sounds, ambergris has been coveted since ancient times to be used in high-end and rare perfumes. It has a unique musky, earthy and sweet odor with a little hint of animal and marine elements. 

However, ambergris and amber are two different and unique scent notes, each with a distinct fragrance profile utilized in separate products. Meanwhile, both are used in high-end and premium perfumes. From the above two interpretations, we affirm the first one to be more precise – that the interpretation of the new, modern amber scent was most preferably inspired by the beauty of fossilized resin gemstones. 

2. Where Did Amber Originate From?

The base ingredient in most amber formulations is labdanum, vanilla, and benzoin. Some may also include balsam, tonka bean, patchouli, and other fragrance oils with similar perfume profiles.  

Labdanum is a sticky brown resin that originates from the Cistus ladanifer plant native to the Mediterranean. Its fragrance is also sometimes compared to that of leather and pine, with a slightly smoky aroma and with heavier balsamic. 

Vanilla is known as a spicy and sweet scent that almost everyone is familiar with. Essentially, it is one of the world’s most famous spices and is number one in the flavor of ice cream. The characteristics of its smells come from the chemical vanillin, which is extracted from vanilla beans. The addition of vanilla as an ingredient in amber brings richness, warmth, and subtle sweetness. 

Benzoin is a gum resin that is produced from the Styrax benzoin tree, native to Thailand, Java, and Sumatra. Ordinarily used in the essence – Benzoin has a strong odor that provides amber its resinous and exotic notes. 

Altogether, these three main ingredients craft the pleasant combination that most people now acknowledge as amber – sensual, slightly sweet, exotic, and warm. 

3. What Does Amber Smell Like?

Among the fragrance families, amber is synonymic with the oriental family. These fragrances are normally described as warm, sensual, and exotic. Other scents in the amber or oriental family include tonka beans, frankincense, and vanilla. 

There is no typical formulation for the scent of amber, but it commonly includes a mixture of benzoin, vanilla, and labdanum along with other ingredients. The accurate formula varies from brand to brand with each maker’s separate interpretation of what amber is mixed in. 

Comprehensively, the overall comforting scent of amber can be described as:

  • Musky and rich 
  • Warm 
  • Sensual 
  • Exotic 
  • Slightly sweet 
  • Soft and resinous 
  • Hints of spice and powder 

As an incredibly adaptable base note, it can be combined with a range of fruity, floral, and citrus scents to add some depth and roundness. 

Various versions of amber fragrances also include hints of spicy, powdery, smoky, or balsamic notes to give it an exotic and distinct flavor.


The diversifying allure of Amber remains unchanged and unchallenged on the fragrance wheel, and their strong and heavy scents will forever represent the masterful and mysterious reckoning to the scent masters of the world. Check out for more at Wani Perfumes.

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