What Does Frankincense Smell Like? (Plus Top Perfumes)

What Does Frankincense Smell Like Plus Top Perfumes

Did you know that frankincense has been used in religious rites for over 6,000 years? It’s also an important ingredient in many perfumes and colognes due to its specific smell.

Frankincense is an aromatic resin harvested from Boswellia trees, which are hardy and able to survive in surprisingly difficult environments.

So, what does frankincense smell like? This article will explore this intriguing scent, and we’ll also share the top fragrances that feature this ingredient. Read on!

Where Does Frankincense Come From?

Frankincense is harvested from Boswellia trees in a similar way that maple is harvested. By peeling back the tree’s bark and tapping the tree, it releases a resin that is collected and sorted by hand. The resin is then boiled down through a steam distillation process to make an essence, and the harvesting process is usually performed two or three times per year.

However, the actual smell of the resin is affected by several factors. For example, it is crucial to harvest the tree less than three weeks after the resin has been released. It is also important to know what tree to harvest since there are a few types of Boswellia trees, and they all produce resin with a slightly different scent.

What Does Frankincense Smell Like?

There are four main types of Boswellia trees, and all of those provide different qualities and smells. However, all of these can be described as aromatic, musty pine, with slight notes of spice and citrus. Some might even say that the smell of frankincense reminds them of the rosemary smell. Frankincense essentially has a strong, earthy scent.

You should know that frankincense is a complex smell, and can have slight notes of citruses, greens, and spices. It can be very citrusy or smoky, depending on the harvesting time. It’s an oriental scent, and compared to Western scents, it lasts much longer.

Frankincense has a citrusy nature, which makes it smell uplifting, and its cooling effect makes it a great choice for hot days. It’s one of the main reasons why many people in the Middle East use frankincense to make their clothes smell better and have a cooling effect.

Due to rosemary notes that you can sense in frankincense, perfumes with this ingredient are also great for spring and fall. Rosemary is similar to pine and pepper, which leads to a sharp and strong smell.

So with all this in mind, what exactly does frankincense smell like? Frankincense smell is a combination of all mentioned scents, which lead to a musty-pine scent, along with citrus and spicy undertones.

Since frankincense is a complex smell, you can wear this fragrance throughout the whole year. It’s ideal for any season, from cold winter to hot summer days.

What are the Benefits of Frankincense?

One of the main benefits of frankincense is that its smell reduces anxiety. You might have noticed that smelling frankincence in church might send you away with a peaceful feeling. It was used for thousands of years, and even today, it’s one of the main essential oils in aromatherapy kits.

Some studies even found that frankincense might help reduce the chance of an asthma attack. According to a certain two-month study, 75 percent of asthmatic patients experienced improvement after using frankincense on a daily basis.

According to some recent studies, frankincense is also helpful in boosting the immune system. Some research even suggests that oils that contain frankincense can detect and even kill cancerous cells.

How to Tell Apart Frankincense Distinctive Aromas?

Boswellia Carterii

You might have noticed that limonene is the primary component in most citrus oils. Frankincense oils aren’t dominated by this ingredient, but certain species can contain a significant amount. For example, Boswellia Carterii can have up to 35% limonene content, which gives it a citrus smell.

Boswellia Sacra

This type of Boswellia tree provides an earthy, balsamic aroma. It comes from the naturally occurring alpha-pinene in Boswellia Sacre in almost 40 percent.

Boswellia Neglecta

There is a white and a black Boswellia Neglecta, and they smell very different. While the white has a piney aroma with a hint of peppermint, the black smells dark and woody and might remind you of a campfire.

Boswellia Serrata

Also known as Indian Frankincense, this tree provides a significantly different aroma than the previous three. It has a spicy and heavy orange aroma, and contains alpha-thujene in a very high amount, at around 75 percent.

Frankincense Perfumes

White Suede by Tom Ford

Launched in 2009 by Tom Ford, White Suede is one of the most popular perfumes that contain frankincense.

Its top notes are thyme and tea, and the scent seems like a combination of musk, powder, and leather. However, there are also some fresh and aromatic notes, similar to saffron or rose.

One of the great things about this perfume is its projection. A friend of mine wore this perfume and I could literally sense it a few meters away. If you are looking for a fragrance that will make you stand out, it’s definitely a great choice. Also, the perfume lasts for almost six hours, which is pretty good.

Due to its musky and powdery scent, White Suede is an excellent choice for autumn. Its scent makes a great combination with all those autumn scents and overall vibe. It also goes well with winter and spring, but it’s not a perfume for hot summer days.

Lolita Lempicka EDP for Her

Although not so popular, Lolita Lempicka is an excellent frankincense perfume for women.

It’s ideal for winter, and the top notes are anise and bergamot. Frankincense is the middle note, as well as tonka bean. It also contains vanilla, musk, and praline as base notes, which significantly affect the overall scent. Another good thing about this perfume is that it lasts very long.

However, while the perfume lasts long, it doesn’t leave much silage behind. Also, it is not one of those perfumes that you can sense from the distance. On the other hand, the perfume comes at quite a reasonable price.

Coco Noir by Chanel

In contrast to Coco Mademoiselle, Coco Noir is more understated and mellow yet it feels contemporary and polished.

Some of the main notes are grapefruit, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, as well as frankincense. It comes in an elegant bottle with a minimalistic design.

If you like to be noticed in the crowd, Coco Noir might be your best choice. It lasts for several hours and leaves a beautiful and unique scent trail. It is slightly more expensive than other perfumes that we mentioned, probably due to a very popular brand that sells them. However, it is definitely worth the price.


Frankincense has been used in religious rites for thousands of years. It provides a pleasant and unique smell that works well in perfumes and colognes. It goes well in combination with rose, jasmine, and sandalwood, and if you like the smell of frankincense, be sure to try out some of the fragrances that we mentioned.

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