PALO SANTO | 23-03-2023

The use of Palo Santo in perfumes

Palo Santo, literally meaning "sacred wood", is an aromatic wood native to South America, specifically Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. The wood has been used for centuries in shamanic and spiritual rituals of indigenous peoples. But did you know that Palo Santo is also one of Skins founder Philip's favourite ingredients? And that the wood is a popular ingredient in fragrances today? In this blog, we tell you all about the use of Palo Santo in perfumes.

Two tree species, one name

The creation of Palo Santo as we know it starts with not one, but two tree species. Bulnesia sarmientoi and Bursera Graveolens do not grow in the same region and each has a completely different appearance. Yet both trees have acquired the nickname 'Palo Santo': something that causes some confusion. Bulnesia sarmientoi is a tree common to part of the Gran Chaco region of South America, along the borders of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. It is recognisable by its dark, twisted and very dense wood. Its use in perfumery is limited to the extraction of guaiacol, an aromatic substance present in large quantities in guaiac wood.

What we are talking about is Palo Santo which comes from the Bursera Graveolens. It grows in several countries of South America such as Peru, Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Ecuador. This is the Palo Santo tree we are such fans of.

How is Palo Santo obtained?

The process of extracting the essential oil differs slightly from the usual patterns. Because Bursera Graveolens is a protected species in just about every country where it grows, it is strictly forbidden to cut down a living tree. Only the collection of Palo Santo on the ground is allowed: the branches are therefore meant to have already fallen to the ground. Moreover, trying to extract the essential oil of Palo Santo from a living tree results in a poorer quality. What makes its pleasant and characteristic fragrance is its refinement over time. The wood that has fallen and dried for years under the southern hemisphere sun smells the very best.

Palo Santo, a sacred wood

Originally, Palo Santo is used to expel negative energies and evil spirits from an environment, and bring a sense of calm and harmony. The latter comes from its distinctive Palo Santo fragrance: soft, sweet and earthy, a woody scent with notes of citrus and hay. Not for nothing is it often used as incense, natural perfume or as an addition to aromatherapy products. The wood is also a popular tool when meditating, to create a spiritual connection and to help in healing and cleansing rituals.

A mystical dimension in perfume creations

Since Palo Santo comes from the same family as myrrh and frankincense, you can immediately spot some similarities. To go further into the olfactory description, we would say it has a sweetish scent reminiscent of a blend of woods, hay, spices and citrus. Palo Santo's woody fragrance notes add a sensual, pungent but also spiritual touch and sometimes an almost mystical dimension to perfume creations.

In perfumes, Palo Santo is often used as a rich base note to give depth and warmth to the fragrance. It can be combined with other woody scents such as cedarwood, sandalwood, or patchouli, as well as citrus and floral notes to create a more complex fragrance. In general, Palo Santo in a perfume gives a warm, earthy and woody scent with a hint of freshness.

Skins perfumes with Palo Santo

Have you become curious about the scent of the sacred wood, and want to experience it for yourself? In the perfume SKINS X VILHELM, distinctive woody notes of creamy sandalwood come together with the warmth of burning Palo Santo, flowering violets and lavender. As a result, this fragrance embodies the ultimate Skins feeling. Just like the Skins x ZENOLOGY Trigger Spray. Choosing Palo Santo, one of Skins founder Philip's favourite ingredients, gives the creation a personal touch. Another beautiful creation for the home is Le Labo's Palo Santo 14 candle. While retaining the essence of the original ingredient, a warm and comfortable accord has been added with cedarwood, frankincense, patchouli and the dark resinous nature of labdanum.