Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aftelier Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir

This is sort of an epilogue to my list of favorite incense perfumes. Technically, Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir from Aftelier is a body (and hair) product and not a perfume. However, it definitely functions as a personal scent, and since the longevity is phenomenal (as in all day till late evening) , one can (and should) choose it as a scent-of-the-day. And, yes, Ancient Resins has a warm and rich incense fragrance derived from organic frankincense, Balm of Gilead (poplar buds), benzoin, elemi, and labdanum.

Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes originally created Ancient Resins for Leonard Cohen, making this oil one of three best celebrity scents of all time in my book (the others are Deneuve and ELdO Like This/Tilda Swinton). Leonard Cohen is one of my biggest musical idols and have been so since I was in junior high and heard his Various Positions album. I immersed myself in this revelation and in his older work, while still dreaming of becoming Madonna. However, it was Cohen's Suzanne that I played again and again (from a tape. It was years before the "repeat" button) in some kind of a meditative trance. The balsamic scent of Ancient Resins would have been a good fit, though I highly doubt that 13 or 14 year old me had the ability to appreciate it. The oil smells like what I imagine and ancient temple built on top of a Mediterranean mountain would smell. The smoke from the incense, the cistus/labdanum shrubs baking in the afternoon sun perfuming the open air and wafting through the stone and marble columns.

Aftelier  oils are among my most favorite hair and body products. They're made of a jojoba oil and coconut oil base that feels incredible, sinks in quickly and does wonders for my hair. Ancient Resins has a stronger fragrance and lasts much longer than the regular oils/elixirs. It includes a higher percentage of precious oils, making anointing myself from head to toe a wonderful feeling (though I'd probably be more conservative in using it on my hair (I have a massive mane that drinks oil like a Ford LTD from the 70s). The scent of Ancient Resins is like a protective spell and the formula shields the skin on cold days without feeling too heavy when it's warm.

Aftelier Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir ($40, 50ml) is available from Samples are also available. This review was based on a sample sent by the perfumer.

Ancient terracotta perfume bottle vessel  via
Photo of Leonard Cohen from
The Incense Burner, c. 1512 by Marcantonio Raimondi from Art Institute of Chicago.


  1. Love reading your Blog and also love L. Cohen. Your story re: Suzanne reminded me of this cartoon I found a while ago and connected with:
    My own version of the story involves absorbing 3 hours of Brook Benton's cover of A Rainy Night in Georgia, on a sad and rainy summer night many, many years ago.
    PS: beautiful terracotta perfume vessel. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love incense and resin scents, Mandy's Patchouli Spice oil is a fabulous moisturizer for my kinky curly hair. I bet it would smell wonderful on a very warm day or layered with L' Eau Trois. I can't wait to try it

  3. "dreaming of becoming Madonna"... The 80's were the best times to be a teen. Glitter hair gel. Madonna. The Cure! And my father had a LTD, I learned driving (and kissing) in it!

  4. I’m honored to have Ancient Resins on your incredible blog Gaia, thank you for all of your very smart & intimate writing! I love your integrity and sophistication – you have done more than anyone to improve the way I look!
    xo Mandy

  5. Thank you for your informative post; I did not know this oil was made for Leonard Cohen. I just saw him in concert and have Leonard Cohen on my brain and heart....and hopefully Ancient Resins in my hair soon

  6. 'Suzanne' is just one of those songs that brings back so many feelings of my teen years, and 'Hallelujah' does me in, every time. I have wanted to try Ancient Resins for a while. My favorite Aftelier fragrance has been Shiso, it's utterly unlike anything else, I adore it. -- Annunziata


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