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What Are Resins?

What Are Resins?

What Are Resins?

Resins have long been used by ancient peoples for a variety of purposes, from medicines, religious ceremonies, tool making, Incense, and perfume.

It is said that the ancient Egyptians used resins in their embalming process, that the Greeks would harden resins into Amber as they believed it was sunlight in physical form, and the Arabs would chew Frankincense Tears to freshen their breath and to aid digestion.

Resin, also called Balsam or Balsamic Notes, can be found listed as Resinoid, Gum Resin, or Tears. Tears get their name from the tear drop shape the sap makes as it hardens. Gum is the sap that is water soluble while Resin is the sap that is not. 

Resins can be made from flower pods and bushy twigs, but are primarily taken from trees.

Sap is usually produced from a wound in the tree, created to protect the tree from disease or attack. The sap is typically commercially collected via incisions or cuts in the tree and collected in buckets, and/or left to harden and cut off with knives.

The sap is turned into essential oil by means of steam distillation, where pressurized steam goes through chambers where the Resins are placed, causing evaporation, and eventually condensation. The liquid collected is the essential oil used. 

The most popular Resins found in fragrances are Myrrh, Frankincense, Styrax, Benzoin, Labdanum, Amber, Elemi and Peru Balsam. 

The scent of the Resin will vary depending on the tree the sap is taken from. 

Myrrh Resin comes from the Commiphora Myrrha Tree found in Asia, including Arabia, and East and Northeast Africa. It tends to be earthy, slightly sweet, and musky.

There is also Opoponax, known as Sweet Myrrh, which has a sweet, boozy quality to it.

Frankincense, also called Olibanum, comes from the Boswellia Sacra Tree found in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. It tends to have a smoky, incense aroma, and can be slightly coniferous and slightly lemony.

Styrax, also called Sweet Gum, comes from the Liquidambar Tree found in the Southeastern United States, Mexico, and Central America. There is also the Liquidambar Orientalis, which comes from Turkey. Styrax tends to be sweet, ambery, and smoky, and sometimes spicy.

Benzoin comes from the Styrax Tree found in the tropics and subtropics of Sumatra, Java, and Thailand. There is no relation to Styrax from the Liquidambar Tree. Benzoin tends to be sweet, Vanillic, and is often paired with Vanilla and Tonka Bean in fragrances. 

Elemi comes from the Canarium Lizonicum Tree native to the Philippines. Its scent is Lemony, Peppery, and Piney.

Peru Balsam comes from a tree found in El Salvador in South America. It has a sweet bitter essence, similar to pure Vanilla, with a slightly cinnamon-like, earthy essence.

Labdanum, also known as Cistus or Rock Rose, is native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has a leathery, slightly bitter essence. 

No matter the source, Resins are often added to perfumes to enrich the quality, to add warmth, to add a smoky, balsamic, or velvety tone to the scent, and/or to provide depth and add fixative properties.

There are a number of Resin infused fragrances that can be found at Parfumerie Nasreen.

One recent collection is the Odyssey Collection from Amouage, which includes Search, Purpose, Lineage, and Guidance. Each scent is a journey through the varied veil of Frankincense. “Its citric and burnt facets in Search; its silver waves of mineralic aquatic opulence in Lineage; its floral vibrancy in Guidance and its woody roots in Purpose.”

Amouage also offers Overture Man and Woman, showcasing the Incense forward beauty of Frankincense. 

Opoponax is found in the timeless classic of Guerlain’s Shalimar, and the intoxicating essence of Hypnotizing Fire from The Harmonist. 

Benzoin is often found in scents that are Vanilla forward, or “Boozy” scents, and can be found in Creation-E Parfum Cologne from Roja Parfums as well as Grand Soir from Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Styrax shows its spicy facets in Nishane Papilefiko and Clive Christian’s X Masculine.

Myrrh can be found in many Amouage scents alongside Frankincense, and is commonly found in scents with a spicy nuance, such as many versions of the Opium Femme from Yves Saint Laurent, Psychedelic Love from Initio Parfums Prives, and Habdan from Parfums de Marly.

Labdanum boasts a Leathery essence and is often paired with Leather, and sometimes Frankincense. It can be found in many Amouage fragrances, including Jubilation XXV Man, as well as Absolue d’Osmanthe and Ambre Gris from Perris Monte Carlo, 

Peru Balsam adds to the spicy essence of Wood Jasmin from BDK Parfums, and adds depth to the sweet compositions of Moon Glory from The Harmonist and Bianco Laos from Giardino Benessere. 

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