Fragrance Notes

Elemi Scent in Perfumery

What Is Elemi?

Elemi, when referenced in perfumery, is the resin obtained from the elemi tree (Canarium luzonicum), found in the Philippines. In development, it is used as a fixative and base note, and is valued for its fresh, lemon-pepper aroma with a slightly balsamic and incense-like undertone. Elemi helps to enhance the longevity and diffusion of other notes in a perfume, and is often used in light, fresh, and uplifting fragrances.


Elemi has a long history in perfumery, dating back to ancient times when it was utilized by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for incense, cosmetics and medicine.


Elemi is regarded as a top or middle note in perfumery with its fresh, slightly spicy, and balsamic aroma.  It contributes depth and complexity to a fragrance and is frequently blended with other notes to create a balanced scent. Additionally, elemi can be used as a fixative to extend the longevity of a fragrance.

Ingredient Type:

Elemi can either be a natural or synthetic ingredient in perfumery. Natural elemi resin is derived from the elemi tree and has a long history of use in traditional perfumery. Synthetic elemi, on the other hand, is produced in a laboratory and provides a cost-effective and consistent alternative to natural elemi, while replicating its fragrance and fixative properties.

What Does Elemi Smell Like?

Elemi is a fresh, slightly spicy fragrance with layered undertones of balsamic, lemon, pine, and frankincense. Its scent is often described as bright and invigorating, with a touch of uplifting sweetness.

Variations in Perfumery:

In perfume development, two variations of elemi are commonly used - natural and synthetic. Natural elemi is sourced from the resin of the elemi tree and has a fresh, slightly spicy, balsamic scent profile. Synthetic elemi, produced in a lab, provides a similar fragrance at a lower cost.

What Fragrance Family is Elemi in?

Because of the complex scent profile of elemi, the topic of its fragrance family is widely debated. Most commonly, elemi is categorized as a member of the amber or fresh fragrance families. These families generally have fragrances with scents that are invigorating, bright, and slightly sweet; elemi's scent profile of fresh and subtly spicy notes fits well within these categories. However, others believe it to be better-suited to the woody fragrance family, due to its uniquely warm, grounding qualities.

Phlur Perfumes Containing Elemi:

No Phlur fragrances utilize elemi materials at this time.

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