We're more accustomed to seeing frankincense fill the air with wisps of fragrant, meditative smoke, but connoisseurs know it is also fantastic in cosmetics and perfumery.
What is frankincense?
First of all - frankincense can also be called olibanum, and this is something you can undoubtedly learn at Lush as we tend to use both! They’re equally beautiful and accurate names, and it’s been hard to make a choice.
Now, what is it exactly? Frankincense/olibanum is a tree resin harvested across Africa and the Middle East. Small notches are made on the trunk of Boswellia trees, causing a milky sap to flow. Cutting the same spot several times allows this sap to become more fragrant each time. Harvested once the resin has begun to harden, the finished product looks like small rocks. These chunks can be burned to diffuse a fragrant smoke but can also be distilled, diluted or crushed to obtain other consistencies.
What are the benefits of frankincense in cosmetics and fine fragrances?
- Its complex and evocative scent makes a beautiful base note for perfumes. It is often described as earthy, piney and spicy with fresh citrus notes.
- The scent of incense is said to anchor and calm the mind, help slow breathing, and improve overall well-being.
- As a fixative, it carries and enhances other fragrancing ingredients and helps perfumes last longer.
- Thanks to its antimicrobial qualities, it can serve as a natural preservative.
- It is often found in skincare products for its astringent, antibacterial, soothing and smoothing effects.
As old as times
Frankincense was already burned during religious ceremonies by ancient civilisations and was one of the first materials used as a perfume. In the age of the Pharaohs, its preservative properties led to its use in embalming and mummification. It was also widely popularised by the Bible, which mentions frankincense as one of the rare and expensive gifts given to baby Jesus by the three kings. Even today, it can still be found smoking on altars and is particularly appreciated to purify the air or encourage meditation.
Where does Lush source frankincense?
Boswellia is a genus of trees with several species producing a fragrant resin. The oil and resinoid we purchase is made from the Boswellia sacra (syn. Boswellia carterii) tree. It's been considered a Near Threatened species since 1998 and that's why the Lush buying team strives to find the best possible suppliers who respect the trees, the land and the people. To learn more about these suppliers, browse your Lush product’s list of ingredients and click on the ones you are interested in. This should take you to a page full of details!