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  1. #1

    Question What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    I see the word "incense" in the descriptions of some perfumes.

    What exactly does that mean? Is it some combo of resins, woods and/or balsams?
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    It is a resinous smoky scent. You can almost feel it. Sort of reminds me of the ambiance found inside a church after incense has been burned. I pick up on it through my Amouage fragrances which specialize in the use of frankincense. Something to keep in mind is that the only constant to incense is that resinous smoky signature. The other notes in perfumes affect the perception of incense yet the smoky signature is always there.

    Amouage Ciel Man; frankincense surrounded by an accord of flowers so the incense appears brighter in texture

    Amouage Memoir Man: frankincense surrounded by a green and dark accord of basil, absinthe, lavender, and woods so it appears dark and subdued in texture.

    Hope that helps!

  3. #3

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Incense can mean specifically frankincense (the one coming from southern Arabia, the base for church incense, which has a purer, almost lemony note), or more generally various burnt resins or woods (with myrrh and many other materials). So, as roderick was saying, this involves smoky-resinous notes, broadly intented.

    cacio

  4. #4

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by MissVanilla View Post
    I see the word "incense" in the descriptions of some perfumes.

    What exactly does that mean? Is it some combo of resins, woods and/or balsams?
    Perfume descriptions are written to market the perfume. They tell you, in most cases, very little about the ingredients used. What they do tell you about is how the perfume smells (or at least how it is intended to smell) - so incense as a note listed in a perfume description means simply that the perfume has a note which reminds (some) people of the smell of incense - nothing more or less than that.

    That note may or may not be created with any of the traditional incense components. It may be a combination of synthetic, or other completely different materials that create that effect.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 3rd May 2014 at 10:41 PM. Reason: minor corrections
    Chris Bartlett
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    And they do vary a bit as well. Sometimes you'll see incense listed, but it's hard to isolate in a scent (frankincense that's buried in a blend, for example). Other times, incense is developed as the main focus, and what you get is a very direct and overt take on incense (Sahara Noir, Avignon). And then, although perhaps not as prevalent, there are scents that convey countercultural nuances—like a head shop kind of aesthetic in which, perhaps, a nag champa accord is deployed to form connections in the wearer's mind (Matriarch's Blackbird does this, but without the champa).

  6. #6

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post
    overt take on incense (Sahara Noir, Avignon).
    And after having Avignon GC'd, I'll tell you that it has zero frankincense in it.

    PK
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  7. #7

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    I think Avignon has more of an accord of Frankincense rather than being focused on it. It's a really nice addictive scent but I feel it has more chamomile and myrrh in it rather Frankincense being in the center IMO.

    The truest Frankincense dominant scent that I tried so far is Sahara noir, followed by Micallef shaanan. But the latter is very weak though.

    I also need to try Robert piguet casbah.
    Hypocrites will always be a thorn in my back....and my middle finger will always be the best remedy.....

  8. #8

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    And after having Avignon GC'd, I'll tell you that it has zero frankincense in it.

    PK
    Interesting Sure as hell smells like incense though!

  9. #9

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    ... the perfume has a note which reminds (some) people of the smell of incense - nothing more or less than that.
    Definitely.

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    And after having Avignon GC'd, I'll tell you that it has zero frankincense in it.

    PK
    Interesting. Love the scent, but I actually have no idea what frankincense smells like when burnt.
    Just say no to oniomania.

  10. #10

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darjeeling View Post
    Interesting. Love the scent, but I actually have no idea what frankincense smells like when burnt.
    Tons of places online that sell the resins. Get the boswellia sacra resin (olibanum), the Omani Frankincense.

    You can easily burn it by putting the resin on an aluminum foil and light it. No need for a special burner, unless you wanna go the extra mile

    If you wanna stick to perfume, spray one spritz of Sahara noir (less is more with this one) and wait one hour. You'll get an idea.
    Hypocrites will always be a thorn in my back....and my middle finger will always be the best remedy.....

  11. #11

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    What's more confusing is that sometimes incense is made with wine, dried fruit and spices (Kyphi), sometimes it's just a single resin, and sometimes it's a stick that has powder that has been soaked.
    Although usually when we smell them (well, maybe not usually) we know it has been burned, and not a result of someone sprinkling something fragrant on themselves.. (Or am I wrong on this one?)

  12. #12

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Some incense fragrances smell smoky, and others smell like unlit resin (my preference.)
    Two of my favorites are Etro's Messe de Minuit and La Via del Profumo's all natural Gringo.
    My favorite resins are Pinon pine, frankincese, myrrh, and olibanum -- each with its own fragrance profile.
    Kyphi smells more spicy than pure resin incenses because it is a blend of ingredients, including spices, whereas resin is just dried tree sap.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    Thanks for the info!
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  14. #14

    Default Re: What is meant by "incense" in a perfume?

    One thing to bear in mind here is that the French word encens means frankincense (if I'm not mistaken). Therefore when you see that word printed on a perfume bottle, it should mean frankincense. However, that certainly isn't how the word is used in English; its meaning has become vague, which is why all the definitions already given here are probably valid enough. In fact, look at the notes of an incense fragrance on fragrantica.com and you'll notice that sometimes frankincense and incense are listed as separate notes. I have also heard La Myrrhe referred to as an incense fragrance (by Turin and Sanchez) even though it has no frankincense, which probably indicates that frankincense is not an essential component of an incense fragrance. My conclusion here is that incense in the narrowest sense in frankincese, and in the widest sense it is any resin or wood that burns on charcoal, be it oud, opoponax, benzoin, frankincence, or myrrh.
    Last edited by ToddHuyett; 5th May 2014 at 07:24 PM.

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