Good natural(ish) incense fragrances

ScentMemory

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2013
I'm looking for a frankincense-prominent scent that doesn't make heavy use of synthetic aroma-chemicals. I really like certain aspects of the CdG Incense series, but the heavy hand with ACs ultimately ruins them for me. Any suggestions?
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
I'm looking for a frankincense-prominent scent that doesn't make heavy use of synthetic aroma-chemicals. I really like certain aspects of the CdG Incense series, but the heavy hand with ACs ultimately ruins them for me. Any suggestions?

Many incense fragrances make use of these 'smoky' or 'sweeteners' aromamachemicals. For a 'pure frankincense resinoids' experience, I'd suggest
Tauer - Incense Extreme (petitgrain / lemony frankincense)
Tom Daxon - Resin Sacra (soft frankincense and suede leather)

For a present but softer hand on the smoky facet, I'd suggest
Diptyque - L'Eau Trois (if you don't mind aromatics and spices)
ELdO - Attaquer le Soleil (labdanum with soft spices on top, Frankincense and Myrrh in the base)
Trudon - Mortel (possibly the best incense fragrance, but there is some smoky/churchy facet)
Goutal - Encens Flamboyant (combined with fir)
 

divad8

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2019
If you want to avoid heavy use of ACs then stay away from these:
Armani Bois d'Encens
CDG Avignon
CDG 2 Man
Pd'E Wazamba
Tauer Incense Extreme

Tauer Incense Rose and Timbuktu aren't as loaded as the previous ones, but you should avoid them as well. Maybe the incense accord in Profumun Roma Olibanum feels quite realistic, but the whole fragrance has some clear synhtetic parts too...

Sorry, I don't have any recommendations. xD
 

ScentMemory

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2013
A lot of great recs here! I need to try Copal Azur and Encens Flamboyant, for sure. Some of the others I've already tried and had issues with.

Has anyone tried Aesop Hwyl? Seems to get described as a more natural-smelling Kyoto.
 

uhbhatti88

Well-known member
Jan 13, 2012
Abdes Salam / La via del Profumo - Acqua Santa. A very soft orange blossom and incense scent. Sounds like exactly what you're looking for.
 

Jed_Or_Alive

Active member
Sep 15, 2020
Another vote for Prin - Ma Nishtana, although it sounds like that may not work out for your preferences.

Elixir Attar Fumee Royale is nice. I haven't tried Salalah (also Elixir Attar) but that sounds intriguing as well.

TRNP - Prayer is a good balance between a variety of woods and frankincense.
 

Darjeeling

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2012
A lot of great recs here! I need to try Copal Azur and Encens Flamboyant, for sure. Some of the others I've already tried and had issues with.

Has anyone tried Aesop Hwyl? Seems to get described as a more natural-smelling Kyoto.

It smells nothing like Kyoto. It’s like a more natural smelling Hinoki.
There’s a touch of incense in there but it plays a lesser role.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
If you want to avoid heavy use of ACs then stay away from these:
Pd'E Wazamba
Tauer Incense Extreme

These two smell nearly only of resinoids, nearly no smoke. If that's too much, well, that means that you just don't like frankincense - and that's perfectly fine not to.


A lot of great recs here! I need to try Copal Azur and Encens Flamboyant, for sure. Some of the others I've already tried and had issues with.

Has anyone tried Aesop Hwyl? Seems to get described as a more natural-smelling Kyoto.

Yes, Hwyl is a more refined Kyoto. Very similar, but a step up in quality (and in price, too). If you like Kyoto, you'll love Hwyl.


It smells nothing like Kyoto. It’s like a more natural smelling Hinoki.
There’s a touch of incense in there but it plays a lesser role.

I respectfully disagree. To my nose, Hwyl is a high end version of Kyoto, while Hinoki only shares similarities with Kyoto. Of the two, Hwyl is round, and way closer to Kyoto than Hinoki is with its sharp camphor note.

I don't think it has frankincense, but you may want to sample Copal Azur.

Copal is a resin from the copal tree, half polymerized (semi-hard) that is burned as incense. That said, it is not used in perfumery because it gives poor results in extraction. I read somewhere (where? I don't remember) that Copal Azur is made of frankncense extracted with 3 different processes. It is a beautiful fragrance, but I haven't listed it, as I think there is also a bit of smoky aromachemical in that.
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
Many incense fragrances make use of these 'smoky' or 'sweeteners' aromamachemicals.

For a present but softer hand on the smoky facet, I'd suggest
Diptyque - L'Eau Trois (if you don't mind aromatics and spices)

Well said, Andy. There's a lot of aromachems in these types of scents, as I found out after a long way to finding one that I could be comfortable wearing.

The Diptyque you suggest is a really good example of 'smoky' as you mention, but unfortunately it is loaded full of synthetics. I get a very distinct 'pencil shavings' note in it, which to me is ISO E Super.

I'd also suggest Honour Man by Amouage which is a fresh peppery incense.

Full of ISO E Super...

Maybe the incense accord in Profumun Roma Olibanum feels quite realistic, but the whole fragrance has some clear synhtetic parts too...

Another one that is loaded full of ISO E Super. I did like it when I first put it to my nose, but it wasn't long before the olfactory trick fell apart.
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
LAVS by unum

Lavs by Unum

I have tried this one and I find it quite 'natural' smelling.

The only other one I would suggest is Amouage's Jubilation XXV. Even the current bottles are good in my opinion - but you do need to decant/use some, introduce some air into the bottle before the accord really kicks in. It's the only 'real' incense-based scent that I own, which I think says a lot.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Well said, Andy. There's a lot of aromachems in these types of scents, as I found out after a long way to finding one that I could be comfortable wearing.

The Diptyque you suggest is a really good example of 'smoky' as you mention, but unfortunately it is loaded full of synthetics. I get a very distinct 'pencil shavings' note in it, which to me is ISO E Super.

L'Eau Trois has been originally issued in 1975, and Iso E was only recently patented at that time (1973). Only in the 90's did perfumers really start to use overload of it, and even if I can't guarantee that there is none in L'Eau Trois, there is none that I can spot, honestly.
What you read as pencil shavings might very well be the combo of rosemary and bone-dry myrrh. To my nose, there is little use of aromachem in that one, but the combo of aromatics and spices is what makes it sharp and dry/dusty - but I would totally understand that it might not work for me, as the effet is indeed not so far from iso-e induced pencil shaving effect.


Lavs by Unum

I have tried this one and I find it quite 'natural' smelling.
[...]

This one navigates between Bois d'Encens and Avignon. I love it, but definitely a heavy use of smoky aromachems, too.
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
L'Eau Trois has been originally issued in 1975, and Iso E was only recently patented at that time (1973). Only in the 90's did perfumers really start to use overload of it, and even if I can't guarantee that there is none in L'Eau Trois, there is none that I can spot, honestly.
What you read as pencil shavings might very well be the combo of rosemary and bone-dry myrrh. To my nose, there is little use of aromachem in that one, but the combo of aromatics and spices is what makes it sharp and dry/dusty.

Could we perhaps be overlooking the fact that it might have been changed at least once since it was first released?
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Could we perhaps be overlooking the fact that it might have been changed at least once since it was first released?

I doubt it. It was discontinued in the late 90's/early 00's, and then re-issued a couple of years ago (2019 I think). Iso-E super would have totally changed the structure of it, and not sure why they should have, since it's an aromachem 'imitating' cedar/woods, and cedar is only a subtle supporting note in that, barely noticeable. Again, I don't have a developped enough nose to say if there is a bit or none of Iso-e, but 'full of iso-e' is a description that would not fit at all this fragrance. On top of that, L'Eau Trois has poor projection on my skin, pretty much the opposite of what is expected from a fragrance that would be 'full' of iso-e super.

I have the feeling that 'iso-e' has become a generic way to describe dry woods, and is often a way to say 'I don't like a bone dry fragrance', more than really spotting it - as most of people have never smelt iso-e in near purity. EM Molecule 01 is very close to that (even if not 100% pure - in spite of the statement of the brand), and honestly, I cannot remotely smell anything close to Molecule 01 in L'Eau Trois.
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
I doubt it. It was discontinued in the late 90's/early 00's, and then re-issued a couple of years ago (2019 I think). Iso-E super would have totally changed the structure of it, and not sure why they should have, since it's an aromachem 'imitating' cedar/woods, and cedar is only a subtle supporting note in that, barely noticeable. Again, I don't have a developped enough nose to say if there is a bit or none of Iso-e, but 'full of iso-e' is a description that would not fit at all this fragrance. On top of that, L'Eau Trois has poor projection on my skin, pretty much the opposite of what is expected from a fragrance that would be 'full' of iso-e super.

That's cool with me. It's your opinion - which I respect - so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

I have the feeling that 'iso-e' has become a generic way to describe dry woods, and is often a way to say 'I don't like a bone dry fragrance', more than really spotting it - as most of people have never smelt iso-e in near purity. EM Molecule 01 is very close to that (even if not 100% pure - in spite of the statement of the brand), and honestly, I cannot remotely smell anything close to Molecule 01 in L'Eau Trois.

If this is - as you put it - your 'feeling', that's again your opinion, which you are entitled to.
For the sake of clarity, my comments were meant in the literal sense: when I perceive something, I mean just that and nothing else. It wasn't intended as a generalisation.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
[...]
If this is - as you put it - your 'feeling', that's again your opinion, which you are entitled to.
For the sake of clarity, my comments were meant in the literal sense: when I perceive something, I mean just that and nothing else. It wasn't intended as a generalisation.

Well.... that's what I have noticed around. There are a very small numbers of trained perfumers in here, but many that state to be able to perceive X, Y or Z aromachemicals (which is basically closer to an uneducated guess, than to real perception of anything, at this point), and I'm not sure how someone can identify something that hasn't been smelt before individually. I thus question what people mean when they say it's 'iso-e', which seems to be used nowadays as a descriptor like 'green' or 'damp'.
So more than a feeling, it's a logical deduction. (call it reasonable guess from my side if you prefer).

[...]I get a very distinct 'pencil shavings' note in it, which to me is ISO E Super.

But indeed, as you said, you perfectly expressed that it is what you perceive. So for Rum, 'Iso E Super' means 'pencil shaving effect', independently if there is or not really Iso E in it. (and very probably for many people it is the same) It's noted, I just tried to understand!

That said, there is a way to give a pencil shaving effect without Iso E involved. I personally think it is the case in L'Eau Trois (even if I don't really get pencil shavings, personally). But more than trying to understand if there is or not, it is importnat to understand if one likes or not a fragrance. I am a fan, you're not, and that's perfectly fine like that!
 

divad8

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2019
These two smell nearly only of resinoids, nearly no smoke. If that's too much, well, that means that you just don't like frankincense - and that's perfectly fine not to.

It's not about smokyness but the use of ACs that cause nose blindness or make the fragrance smell too synthetic.
 

Darjeeling

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2012
These two smell nearly only of resinoids, nearly no smoke. If that's too much, well, that means that you just don't like frankincense - and that's perfectly fine not to.




Yes, Hwyl is a more refined Kyoto. Very similar, but a step up in quality (and in price, too). If you like Kyoto, you'll love Hwyl.




I respectfully disagree. To my nose, Hwyl is a high end version of Kyoto, while Hinoki only shares similarities with Kyoto. Of the two, Hwyl is round, and way closer to Kyoto than Hinoki is with its sharp camphor note.



Copal is a resin from the copal tree, half polymerized (semi-hard) that is burned as incense. That said, it is not used in perfumery because it gives poor results in extraction. I read somewhere (where? I don't remember) that Copal Azur is made of frankncense extracted with 3 different processes. It is a beautiful fragrance, but I haven't listed it, as I think there is also a bit of smoky aromachemical in that.

Hinoki smells nothing like Kyoto, except for the fact that they both have a large dose of iso e super ;)
 

ScentMemory

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2013
Lots of good suggestions from the posters who took the time to read my (very brief) OP. Some that aren't very on-topic from people who, I suspect, read only the subject line. Topic creep ... the struggle is real ... :cheesy:
 

jdnba

Well-known member
May 30, 2007
Cardinal by Heeley is the most pure incense I’ve ever smelled. It’s clean and bright, but to me smells exactly like Latin Mass-I’m not much for church, but I have always loved that smell. This one is addictive.
 

ZhangFan

Well-known member
Sep 9, 2018
The most popular here is Passage d'Enfer. Also, isn't Azzaro Visit an incense fragrance? I think that one is very affordable.
 

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