A fragrant gem of the Amazon rainforest, rosewood oil uplifts the mood and gives a touch of rarity to Lush perfumes.
What are the challenges around rosewood sourcing?
The Aniba rosaeodora rosewood is native to Amazonia and Guyana. It’s been added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2020 as endangered. There are actually around 300 species of rosewood in the world and, sadly, they are all at risk. This appalling situation is due to the wood’s popularity in making furniture, musical instruments and essential oils. A luxury for centuries, rosewood can be found in the salons of Kings and Queens in one form or another. The wood is indeed beautiful with its rosy hue and has the rare quality of containing essential oils that diffuse even after being cut.
As is often the case, this popularity has led to overharvesting, unsustainable practices and illegal logging of rosewood. This is why local and global governing bodies (such as CITES) have successively imposed strict regulations on its trade. Today, rosewood oil is one of the most difficult extracts to buy as it is subjected to heavy controls of the trees, harvests and volumes produced.
At Lush, we love the scent of rosewood, but we would remove it from our formulations without hesitation if we suspected our producers were fraudulent. Thankfully, Lush’s very dedicated team of creative buyers has forged ties with a few remarkable sources over the years. Every batch travelling to the UK means long hours of admin work and often some nervous, sweaty moments at checkpoints, but we think the oil and its producers are worth it.
Where do we get it, then?
Lush purchases rosewood oil from two different sources:
- Brazil - Located at the heart of the State of Amazonas, this plantation is managed sustainably. They started planting trees in 1989 in a pasture area, and have planted more than 30,000 trees until 2022. Using agroforestry principles, they also plant other species like guaraná, copaíba and Brazil nuts trees, among others. They now own enough hectares of plantations to leave the wild forest trees alone. To produce their oil, they use a fairly new technique which consists of distilling not only pieces of the rosewood tree trunk, but also leaves and coppiced branches. This unusual practice produces an excellent oil quality. It also spares trees from being entirely cut off, and pruning seems to encourage them to get bigger and stronger.
- Peru - On another side of the rainforest, in North-East Peru, our other supplier encourages local farmers to grow rosewood in addition to their existing plantations (usually pineapple and yucca), also using agroforestry methods. The fragrant trees provide them with a fixed income and promote forest conservation. Starting in 2016, they now work with over 100 farmers in 6 communities around Tamshiyacu. In 2020 they had given farmers approximately 40,000 saplings to grow on their land. They use tree trunks but they’re cut (at least) 1 metre above the ground to allow the trees to grow back.
What are the benefits of rosewood oil?
Rosewood oil is praised in perfumery for its unique rosy, spicy and woody aroma with a hint of citrus. It is part of some of the most famous fine fragrances.