The Art Of Crafting Resinous Scents – A Perfumer’s Guide

In the world of perfumery, there exists an ancient and exquisite tradition that dates back centuries. This artful practice revolves around the creation of resinous scents, a category of fragrances that taps into the rich aromatic potential of natural resins. These resins, often derived from trees and plants, offer a depth and complexity to perfumes that is truly unique. In the following, we delve into the captivating world of resin-infused scents, uncover the secrets behind their allure and explore the process that goes into their creation.


When creating perfumes, resinous elements are very useful compounds that are essential in creating intricate fragrances with complex aromas.

They transmit naturally sweet and spicy scents, which are widely used in modern formulations. These perfumes are laden with potent facets such as: sugary, powdery vanilla; fruity, dry labdanum and many animal notes.

They are also used in cosmetics, and their essential oils are extracted from plants, which are known to produce a thick, sticky substance known as resin.

Pine Resin Sap

Aromas and origins are different, but history dates these facets as the foundation for oriental (ambery) perfumes dating back to the days of ancient Egypt, Cyprus, where the oldest perfume factory was discovered in 2005, Mesopotamia and Imperial Rome. 

Down through time, these raw materials were incorporated into the creation of incense and antiseptics.

Frankincense, labdanum, myrrh, Copahu and Tolu balsam and gum benzoin are prevalent in natural perfumes, while pine and fir resins are mostly favored in synthetic scents.

Frankincense Fragrance in Modern Scented Products

Resinous perfumes seep with elegance and luxury and are revered for their intense, inviting and balsamic facets.

Their fragrance are alluring, adventurous and evocative of deep woods and mysterious, far away places.

The following are some of the most widely used resins found in modern perfumery.

Balsamic Notes In Perfumery

Benzoin 

Also known as Friar’s Balm and Storax, this gum resin is known for its rich, sweet, smooth and vanilla-nuanced character.

It is extracted from the bark of styrax trees and is a natural compound that is highly versatile and appreciated today by expert perfumers, such as the masters at Alpha Aromatics.

It often renders the smoky, sacred nature of incense or the sharp balsamic facet used in gourmand and woody accords, where it serves as a superior fixative because it delays the dispersion of other aromatic particles.

There are two types of benzoin resin; Siamese benzoin and Sumatra benzoin.

The former is light, delicate and vanilla-toned. It is the  most valued by perfumers and is the rarest of the two, which is why it is so costly. Also known as gum benjamin, this variety dates back to ancient India, and is obtained from the Commiphora wightii tree.

It is often blended with frankincense to render a refined effect. Used for hundreds of years as an ingredient in church incense, it is prepared by spilling the resin over the embers, which creates a smoky, vanilla-tinged, woody balsamic aroma.

Benzoin Sumatra has a rich, and complex fragrance that is known to comfort and uplift the human spirit. It is sugary, resinous, slightly floral and spicy. 

Copahu Balsam

This fragrant resin accumulates within the cavity of a tropical tree bearing small, white, sweet-smelling flowers. It is known to reach heights of up to 100 feet and the raw material is extracted from the trunk by incisions made into the bark. 

Popular in perfumes and scented lotions and soaps, this balsam is also an agent that restores faded color in old paintings.

In fragrances, it renders a heaviness  to woody accords and is known to linger on the skin.

Some popular notes used in many of our formulations include: honeyed amber; creamy sandalwood; elegant vanilla; creamy caramel; sugary coumarin; floral-tinged iris; balsamic gummy resins; roasted coffee; and sweet honey.

Frankincense

It roots lay in Africa, India, and the Middle East, where for thousands of years frankincense oil was vital both economically and culturally as an ingredient in incense, which was believed to create spiritual awareness, and cosmetically in perfumes, which were traditionally sweet and citrus-nuanced.

Resinous Scents frankincense

Prepared from aromatic hardened gum resins extracted from the Boswellia tree, frankincense was traded along the Arabian Peninsula along the Horn of Africa during the era of the Silk Road trade routes and was used extensively in ancient Cyprus to worship the cult of Aphrodite. 

Galbanum

Intense green, bitter, woody and balsamic, galbanum is a gum resin extracted from certain Asian aromatic umbrella-like flowering plants related to the celery and parsley family of shrubs.

They are known for their hollow stems, divided or compound leaves and flowers.

Used as a medicinal and aroma-therapeutic ingredient since the world was young, ancient Egyptians imported mass quantities of galbanum from Persia to use in their religious ceremonies, embalming, and as a therapeutic healing aid.

This resin is used extensively in modern Alpha Aromatics’ fragrances as a fixative, which effectively stabilizes other perfume elements. 

Incense

Native to South America and Africa, incense (like frankincense) derives from the gray bark on the trunk of the Boswelia tree, which is easily peeled.

The resin is collected and then steam-distilled. Incense has been revered down through time as both a sacred, healing ingredient and a coveted facet in perfume, which results in a composition that is dark, potent, woody, slightly fruity, smoky and licorice-nuanced.

Labdanum

Derived from the sticky brown resin found on the Cistus plant, which is also known as Rock Rose, in ancient times this resin was collected from the coats, beards and legs of the goats and sheep that grazed on these shrubs.

The fragrance of Labdanum

Today, extraction usually involves the leaves of the plant and solvents. Labdanum is one of the earliest resins used by ancient cultures, and is native to very dry locations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and

The Middle East. Rich, deep and soothing in character, when formulated into perfume, these notes are often found in the ambery, chypre and floral families of fragrance.

Myrrh

This primordial spice dates back to the splendor of ancient Greece, where it was deeply entwined in their sacred mythology.

It is also mentioned in the Bible as one of the precious gifts (among gold and frankincense) awarded to the infant, Jesus, on the night of his birth.

While there are more than 100 diverse species of myrrh, only three are used in perfumery (Commiphora Nees, Abyssinia and Schimperi).

The composition of myrrh involves 60% gum, 30% resin and essence plus a bitter facet.

It is rarely used alone and is most commonly burned with frankincense, greatly intensifying the incense to which it is added. Its olfactory profile is-licorice-nuanced, woody and slightly fruity.

This revered facet is most often used in ambery fragrances, evoking the mystery and intrigue of the Far eastern corners of the world.

Styrax

Similar to Benzoin, this liquid raw material derives from two species of trees that are active to Syria, Asia Minor and Africa  that contain resin, a substance known as styrol, cinnamic acid and styracine.

Its fragrance is fiercely vanilla, soft, creamy floral, leathery, thick and milky.

Styrol is found in many floral fragrances such as: almondy, green lilac; earthy, fruity hyacinth; warm, delicate apple blossom and spicy, fiery carnation, just to name a few. 

Tolu Balsam

The fresh and glorious aroma derived from this substance is tapped from the trunks of the tall Myroxylon toluiferum tree, which is indigenous to South America (Columbia) and the West Indies.

Small incisions are made in the tree bark, releasing thick brown drops of precious resin, which are collected.

Rich and complex, this raw material emits a fragrant billow of warm, inviting cinnamon, lush vanilla and soft, fetching floral facets.

It is often used in ambrées formulated by the perfume experts at Alpha Aromatics. According to Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays:

“…Tolu balsam feels like a glorious smell. It does more things to your mind and body than just set off your scent sensors… It starts a conversation with the ‘still small voice of calm’…In traditional perfumery, you’d use it to blend with the top and middle notes, you’d leave the mixture to macerate for months, to give it weight and depth, and to help keep the lighter molecules from flying away too rapidly…”

White Pine And Fir Resins

Different types of trees harvest diverse smelling resins, especially when hardened. Pine, spruce and fir resins are known to possess anti-carcinogenic properties.

In perfumery, spruce, fir, pine woodsy scents are rich and deep and combine well with creamy sandalwood, which is woody warm and laden with sweet facets that serve as a unique dry down for complex balsamic notes.

When crushed, fir needles are the basis for a potent, camphorous balsam sap, which is sugary, rich and woody.

White Pine And Fir Resins

The Artful Blending Process

Creating resinous scents is a delicate and intricate art. Perfumers carefully balance the resinous ingredients with other fragrance components like essential oils, floral notes, and spices to achieve a harmonious composition.

The goal is to strike a perfect equilibrium between the resins’ deep, grounding qualities and the top and heart notes that provide freshness and complexity.

Resinous perfumes often fall into the category of oriental fragrances, known for their opulence and longevity. The resins act as a base upon which the rest of the fragrance is built, anchoring the scent and allowing it to develop over time.

As the perfume dries down, the resins slowly reveal their full character, making the fragrance evolve and change on the skin.

The Resurgence of Resinous Scents In Perfumery

While resin-infused scents have deep historical roots, they continue to be a relevant and cherished aspect of modern perfumery.

Perfumers today have access to a wide array of natural and synthetic ingredients, allowing them to explore and push the boundaries of resinous fragrances.

In recent years, resin-infused scents have experienced a resurgence in popularity as consumers seek unique and authentic olfactory experiences.

Perfume houses and niche brands are creating innovative resin-based fragrances that appeal to a new generation of fragrance enthusiasts.

These perfumes often blend traditional resinous ingredients with modern twists, resulting in captivating and contemporary scents.

A Few Of Our Compositions That Contain Resinous Scents

The following are just a few of the many resinous scents we’ve developed for an array of industries.

Frankincense

Fig Leaf and Thyme

Green and glorious, the head notes of this intriguing fragrance stream with opening facets of sugary, tart and balsamic raspberry leaf and smooth, soft and warm saffron.

A herbal, floral heart soon takes hold featuring spicy, potent thyme, nutty, sensual sage, rich, intense jasmine and earthy, fresh and sticky fig leaf.

This intriguing fragrance completes with a dry down marked by elements of piney, earthy frankincense, honeyed, warm amber and smooth, powdery and sensual suede.

Galbanum

Wild Iris Galbanum

Facets of fresh lemon, invigorating grapefruit, crunchy green apple and fatty apricot kernel stream through the head notes of this robust fragrance.

A heart bouquet soon follows marked by elements of intense, woody galbanum, haunting jasmine and smooth, fruity iris.

Aspects of lush, noble vanilla, earthy, erotic white musk, sensual, dark patchouli, buttery sandalwood, dry, balsamic cedar and exotic spices form the dry down of this intriguing fragrance. 

Labdanum

Labdanum Orchid

This glorious resinous perfume streams with opening notes of luscious orange, rich, buttery and sugary black coconut and dark, red berry.

These elements soon drift into a floral heart of light, floral neroli, vanilla-tinged orchid, rich, intense jasmine and creamy gardenia.

A dry down of sensual musk, deep, dark and warm labdanum, smooth and buttery sandalwood, earthy, passionate musk, lush, noble vanilla and dark, honeyed amber complete this compelling fragrance.

Myrrh

Indonesian Patchouli Amber

Unisex in nature, the opening notes of this potent, intriguing fragrance feature revitalizing citrus and tropical, colorful and sweet-smelling blooms.

These facets soon blend into a warm and intimate heart of velvety, sugary and sensual Indonesian patchouli.

They seamlessly drift into a deep, rich dry down marked by elements of elegant, sweet vanilla, velvety sandalwood, dry, balsamic cedar wood, musty, piney and spicy frankincense and woody, comforting and pungent myrrh.

Winter Fir And Balsam

This bright winter fragrance symbolizes the essence of the holiday season, sparking memories of Christmases past with warm cinnamon; invigorating, woody pine; potent, medicinal woody fir; roasted chestnuts; earthy fire wood and fresh apple pie.

Opening notes flow with aspects of sugary, crunchy and green apple, smoky essence of cypress, and clean, slightly woody and balsamic pine.

A heart note soon follows marked by green, slightly woody and dry fir balsam, honeyed, sharp and minty eucalyptus and marine, salty aquatic breeze.

The scent finishes with a dry down featuring woody-nuanced and fruity raspberry, and sweet, berry-like and vanilla-tinged crystallized sugar. 

In conclusion

If you are looking to add a depth and complexity to your product or product line, consider the world of resinous perfumes.

Call our teams today and discover all the possibilities of improving traffic to your establishment, brand loyalty and that all-important bottom line.

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