Fragrance Notes

Incense Scent in Perfumery

What Is Incense?

In the perfume industry, incense refers to a blend that emulates the scent of burning incense, typically having woody, spicy, or resinous notes. They are often combined with floral, herb, and spice notes to add depth and complexity to a fragrance. Incense blends can be made using natural and synthetic materials like essential oils, resins, and synthetic aroma chemicals. Some common ingredients used to create incense blends are frankincense, myrrh, cedarwood, patchouli, and sandalwood.


For centuries, incense has been used in cultural and spiritual practices around the world. It also has a long-standing use in perfumery, with some of the earliest known incense oils dating back to ancient civilizations in Egypt, China, and India. These cultures used incense in religious ceremonies and rituals and believed it to have medicinal and aromatic properties. In contemporary perfumery, incense scents add depth and complexity to fragrances and are found in many different perfumes.

Function of Incense in Perfumery:

In a perfume, incense can be used to add depth and complexity to the fragrance. It is frequently employed as a base note, which means it has a strong, long-lasting presence in the fragrance and helps to anchor the other notes. Incense scents can be woody, spicy or resinous and add a warm, rich, and mysterious quality to the fragrance. Incense blends are commonly incorporated with other notes such as florals, herbs, and spices to produce a unique and sophisticated scent.

Ingredient Type:

Both natural and synthetic materials can be utilized to create incense scents for perfumes. The materials chosen depend on the desired scent and intended use. Natural materials commonly used to create incense scents include essential oils, resins, woods, and spices. These materials are extracted or distilled to create concentrated aromatic compounds that are utilized to create incense scents. 

In addition to natural materials, synthetic aroma chemicals can also be used to create incense scents. These chemicals are artificially created in a lab and can replicate the scent of natural materials or create new and unique fragrances. Synthetic aroma chemicals are often preferred in perfumery as they are more consistent and stable than natural materials.

What Does Incense Smell Like?

Incense scents have a woody, spicy or resinous profile, meant to emulate the scent of burning incense and create a warm, rich and mysterious effect. The specific scent profile of an incense oil will vary based on the materials used to create it. For instance, frankincense and myrrh have a sweet, woody, and slightly spicy scent, while cedarwood has a dry, woody and slightly sweet aroma. Patchouli has a rich and earthy scent, whereas sandalwood has a warm, woody aroma.

Variations of Incense in Perfumery:

In perfumery, various types of incense can be used to create different fragrances and effects. Some examples include:

  • Frankincense: Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree, it has a warm, spicy, and slightly balsamic aroma.

  • Myrrh: Made from the resin of the Commiphora tree, it has a warm, slightly balsamic and medicinal aroma and is often combined with frankincense to add depth and complexity to a fragrance.

  • Dragon's Blood: Obtained from the Croton and Dracaena plants, it has a spicy, sweet, and slightly balsamic aroma and can bring a unique sense of character to a fragrance.

  • Copal: Derived from different species of the copal tree, it has a fresh, lemon-like aroma and brings a light and refreshing aspect to a fragrance.

  • Labdanum: Obtained from the Cistus shrub, it has a very musky, amber-like aroma, and is commonly used to add warmth in a fragrance.

These are only a few examples of the variations of incense used in perfumery. The specific form of incense used by a perfumer depends on the desired final scent profile and the intended use of the blend.

What Fragrance Family is Incense in?

Since incense is known for its warm, rich, and complex aroma, it is often associated with the amber fragrance family and is characterized by its combination of spices, resinous and woody notes. Some common notes in incense fragrances include cinnamon, clove, pepper, frankincense, myrrh, balsamic and smoky notes. These notes work together to create a warm, exotic and mysterious scent. Incense is commonly used in perfumes, candles, and other fragranced products to add depth and complexity to the overall aroma.

Phlur Perfumes Containing Incense:

No PHLUR fragrances utilize Incense materials at this time.

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