History of Frankincense

In the Bible it is mentioned as one of the gifts of the Magi.  In fact, its importance is ranked right up there with gold in the Gospel of Matthew (2:11).  Going all the way back to the third century B.C, – or more than 5,000 years – the people of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have been familiar with the aromatic resin known as Frankincense.  Indeed until recent times it was thought of as a highly coveted commodity to be traded and sold at a premium price.  In fact, in ancient Oman it was one of the key trade items in the Mediterranean region.  This is because Frankincense has many uses aside from its use as a fragrance.  It also has many religious and medicinal uses that are utilized even to this day.  Frankincense is used in products such as:

  • Clothing freshener
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Food flavoring
  • Drink flavoring
  • Medicine
  • Bath-Soak
  • Anti-Aging & Wrinkle Fighter
  • Aromatherapy

What is Frankincense?

Frankincense is a resin derived from the Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacara tree that’s commonly grown in Somalia.  The word Frankincense itself comes from “franc encens,” which means quality incense in old French.  The essential oil from the tree is sourced from its leaves, stems or its roots.  The process of making it includes “wounding” the tree using a sharp tool.  After this the white sap the tree secretes is leached out and once it dries the hole drilled into the tree is deepened and enlarged.  The dry sap is what is used and collected about two week later.

Frankincense and its History

One of the oldest uses for Frankincense apart from its aroma is for religious services.  The Ancient Egyptians are said to have used it during animal sacrifices and while preserving human mummies.  Hebrews and Christians also used it in religious ceremonies as far back as the third century B.C. and fourth century A.D.  The aromatic resin continued being used for religious and medicinal purposes during the 1500 B.C., by priest who would used it to treat wounds.  Today, Frankincense is a common ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics.  There is also evidence that Frankincense can be used to alleviate asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis and collagenous colitis.  Finally, though not as coveted as it was back 5,000 years ago, Frankincense continues to be a popular fragrance.  It many uses and its wonderful scent guarantees that people will still be harvesting and using it 5,000 years from now.

How to Tell if your Perfume has Gone off

Does something seem to be amiss about the smell of your favorite perfume?  Have you noticed that your favorite fragrance containing citrus notes that no longer smell as citrusy?  Well, if you’ve noticed either of these things then the answer to this mystery is quite simple – perfumes expire.  They go bad.  As much as we would like to think that our favorite fragrance is eternal, the bottle of perfume you buy is not.  This is because perfumes are a complex balance of many ingredients that work together to produce just the right scent we desire but that also, over time, change chemically.  For example, the natural oil in many perfumes comes from a long chain of substituted allyl aromatics which are susceptible to decomposition and bacterial growth.  This is a fact that many people are blissfully unaware of as they choose their favorite fragrance.  Moreover, the reality that fragrances do expire is obscured by the fact perfumes do not come with expiration dates stamped on them.

Tests for whether your perfume has gone off

The Nose Test:  Ultimately, then the best way to tell if your perfume has gone bad is the same way you chose it in the first place – smell it.  If it smells “off” it probably is.  If the smell is not one you are used to then toss it out.

The Color Test:  Color changes – getting darker for example – are not a normal process in colognes.  Color changes signify chemical changes and these changes mean that the fragrance has reached the end of its life.

Look at the label:  As stated earlier, perfumes do not come with a “use by” date stamped on them.  Still there are ways to tell if your perfume may have a particularly short lifespan by reading the label on the bottle before buying it.  Some ingredients are notorious for shortening the life of perfume.  (One example is listed in the first part of this article.)  For example, perfumes containing natural ingredients tend to last less time than those containing artificial ingredients.

If all this seems discouraging there are some ways to extend the life of your favorite fragrance.  First, know that many perfumes containing essential oils last 6 years on average.  Next, minimize the contact your perfume has with oxygen and direct sunlight.  Store your perfume in dark, cool place in order to extend its life.  Finally, minimize your perfume’s contact with heat which is another natural accelerant to the aging process of fragrances.  Try these tips and you may spare yourself the disappointment of watching your favorite fragrance go to waste.

Great Perfume Houses- Penhaligon’s

What is the measure of a great company?  It is longevity?  Is it the popularity it enjoys with the public?  Is it the dedication that company has to innovation?  It is the respect it has garnered from its peers?  Penhaligon’s – which was established in 1870 by William Penhaligon as a hairdressing salon and later evolved into a fragrance house – claims all four achievements.  Penhaligon grew his business the old fashioned way – by making and using only the best ingredients for the perfumes which were originally inspired by the aromas wafting from the London’s Turkish baths.  These elemental fragrances would later be refined and developed from his original shop on Jermym Street in London and at a second shop at 33 James Street.  Eventually Penhaligon’s opened a shop in 1975 in Convent Garden with the help of Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli.  His original fragrance formulas would live on and be recognized for the truly unique and distinctive mixes that makes them bestsellers to this day.  This is especially true of his Bluebell fragrance.

Today the company has continued to evolve diversifying into the field of fragrance including bath and body products, gentlemen’s grooming items, candles and gifts such as hand creams, lip balms and even an elegant oval scent bottle necklace.  Penhaligon’s scents are so well respected and so known by its users to be made from the finest ingredients like jasmine and hand-squeezed bergamot that it has long been used by the British royal family itself.  Penhaligon’s users know that they will experience a product that is based around old school formulas but one that is also made using the latest fragrance technology.  Its most notable products include:

  • Hammam Bouquet – 1872; the company’s first scent
  • Blenheim Bouquet – 1902; the company’s first bespoke fragrance for the Duke of Malborough at Blenheim Palace
  • Elizabethan Rose – 1984
  • Cornubia – 1991
  • LP No.9 for ladies – 1998
  • Artemisia – 2002; which was nominated for a FiFi Fragrance Foundation award in the Nouveau Niche category in 2002.
  • Bayolea – 2014; A modernized version of a bay rum tonic from Penhaligon’s archives

At Lily Direct we carry many of the products that are a result of this innovation and dedication to quality and that has made Penhaligon’s so well respected by its peers and well receive by its users.  These products include Penhaligon’s Sartorial Cologne for Men, its Bluebell Perfume for Women, its Blenheim Bouquet Cologne for Men and many other quality fragrances.  We invite you to see why the name Penhaligon has lasted for more than 145 years.

What You Should Know About Perfume Allergies

With thousands of fragrances on the market, it is not only likely that some people will develop allergies to some perfumes, it is a certainty.  In fact, back in 1999 the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) identified 26 ingredients as allergens in perfume.  As a result of this, some 2 million people suffer allergic reactions to one of more of the many ingredients in perfume.  Some of the symptoms of perfume allergies include:

  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Worsening asthma symptoms.
  • Runny and stuffy nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • A skin allergy like contact dermatitis — an itchy, red rash that appears on the skin.

Fortunately only a small number of fragrances actually cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.  The allergens that do and that are also present in other cosmetics include Cinnamic alcohol, Eugenol, Hydroxycitronellal, Oak moss absolute and others.

Identifying a Perfume Allergy

The problem with identifying which ingredient in a particular perfume is causing an allergic reaction is tricky since there are so many ingredients in fragrance products.  The best way to identify the specific ingredient causing a reaction is by patch testing.  A positive patch test result to a particular fragrance indicates that you are allergic to one or more fragrance chemicals.  An estimated 1-2% of the general population is allergic to one or more fragrance ingredients.

Treating a Perfume Allergy

While some doctors doubt that the fragrance itself is the cause of most “fragrance” allergies and believe that these reactions caused by some ingredient in a particular perfume, there can be no doubt that fragrance sensitivity is on the rise.  The best way to treat an allergy once it has been identified is to stop using the perfume in question.  If that ingredient is common to other scent-based products that you use it is also advised that you stop using those items as well.  The next best way to treat a perfume allergy is with nasal antihistamines and corticosteroid medications.  Both can control allergy symptoms caused by these sensitivities.  Ultimately, discovering that you have an allergic reaction to a particular perfume may cause you to seek out what may be an even better, more compatible perfume.  At Lilydirect we have a vast selection of perfumes and other fragrances that you can experiment with until you find the right scent that is safe and that helps you make your own unique statement about who you are.  If you believe you are developing an allergy to any fragrance consult with a dermatologist so that he/she can narrow down the specific cause and can develop a course of treatment.