Everyone knows about the use of aromatic resins in burners, perfumes and incense, but did you know that it is also possible to take advantage of their properties in our cosmetic preparations?

The use of benzoin resin to flavour and preserve many cosmetic preparations such as the famous virgin milk is legendary. However, it is also possible to successfully use other resins such as sangre de drago or copal to benefit from their properties for the skin.




Resins are sticky, liquid, aromatic organic substances that flow from a plant, either spontaneously (as in the case of rosin or pine resin) or through an incision made to obtain the resin from certain tree species. This yellow or brownish-yellow substance hardens in contact with air and takes on a shiny, amorphous appearance. When burned, it gives off a smoke with a very aromatic odour. The resins are soluble in alcohol, ether, oil and other organic solvents, but not in water.

Taking advantage of the ease with which resins dissolve in oil, we are going to show you how to make oleates with the different resins in order to take advantage of their properties in our cosmetic preparations.



There are many types and varieties of resins around the world which, since ancient times, have enjoyed a great reputation for their therapeutic properties.


There is a great variety of them and depending on their characteristics they can be hard, oleoresins and gumoresins.

Hard resins are brittle like glass and shiny. Among them are Amber, Lentiscus (or mastic) and Sandarac…

Oleoresins are semi-solid, amorphous and sticky and contain essential oils such as Sangre de Drago, Balsam of Copaiba or Copal and Trementina…

And finally, there are the gum-containing gomorresins, including myrrh, galbanum, benzoin resin, asafoetida and frankincense…

Examples of plant resins include Canada balsam (Abies Balsamea), boswellia (or frankincense) resin, copal resin from Protium copal and Hymenaea courbaril trees, dammar gum from trees of the Dipterocarpaceae family, dragon’s blood from dragon trees (Dracaena species), elemi, galbanum from Ferula gummosa, hashish (cannabis resin) from Cannabis indica, labdanum from the Mediterranean species of Cistus, lentiscus (plant resin also called mastic) from the mastic tree Pistacia lentiscus, myrrh from Commiphora shrubs, styrax (benzoin resin from various species of Styrax) and Storax, which is another resin from the styrax family …

As we said, it is well known that natural resins provide natural aromas that not only perfume the atmosphere, but also disinfect it naturally. Boswellia resin, known as frankincense, is possibly the most popular and sought-after resin. It has traditionally been used in churches to purify and scent the air.




However, it is possible to make tinctures from the resins, as is done with benzoin tincture, but in this case, we would have to use perfumery alcohol or, better still, 70 degrees ethanol. So, we are going to propose you to elaborate oleates as they are easier to emulsify and to include in cosmetic compositions.


First, the resin is thoroughly ground in a ceramic mortar.


Next, place the oil in a bain-marie for about 40 minutes over a medium heat so that the oil does not heat up to a temperature of over 70 degrees and the properties of the whole are lost. Then add the previously pulverised resin.

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For a quantity of 200 ml of oil, we can use, for example, between 15 and 20 grams of raw resin, previously crushed.

Depending on the therapeutic properties that we want to endow our cream with, we will use some oils or others. For example, interesting oils in dermo-cosmetics are the following:

For dry skin:

Sweet almond vegetable oil: Soothing, softening and nourishing, this vegetable oil is ideal for delicate and dry skin. Very gentle, it is very pleasant to apply and leaves a velvety look and soft feel on the skin.

Avocado vegetable oil: Obtained from avocado pulp, this oil is nourishing, protective and restructuring. Repairing and soothing, it works wonders on dry or mature skin.

Wheat germ vegetable oil: Repairing, rich and regenerating, it is a particularly remarkable oil for dry and dehydrated skin. With a thick and very soft consistency, it gives the skin a velvety feel.

Argan oil: Ultra-nourishing, this beauty oil is ideal for mature, dry or devitalised skin. Rich in antioxidants, it helps maintain skin hydration and fights the effects of time.

For sensitive and atopic skin:

Chaulmoogra vegetable oil: This oil soothes irritated, damaged and flaky skin. Purifying and non-comedogenic, it cleanses the skin and normalises sebaceous secretions. Ideal for the care of scaly, atopic-prone or blemished skin.

Camelina vegetable oil: Rich in omega-3, camelina vegetable oil is nowadays a noble ingredient in the production of anti-ageing care products or soothing and revitalising care products for sensitive and atopy-prone skin.

Borage care oil: Ideal for delicate or atopic-prone skin, it soothes and relieves tightness. The skin regains suppleness and comfort.

Black cumin or nigella sativa vegetable oil: Purifying, black cumin oil is used in the composition of care products for acne-prone skin to prevent the formation of small pimples. Soothing and repairing, it is a wonderful treatment for irritated skin.

The best anti-wrinkle facial oils are those of:

Rosehip oil: Exceptional anti-ageing treatment, this rare Patagonian oil is a real concentrate of benefits for dry and mature skin. Rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants and carotenoids, it nourishes, regenerates and tones the skin.

Argan oil: This Moroccan oil, rich in omega-9 and omega-6, protects the skin from external aggressions and helps maintain its elasticity. Thanks to its concentration of antioxidants such as polyphenols and tocopherols, this virgin oil fights free radicals involved in skin ageing.

Apricot kernel oil: Illuminating, regenerating and revitalising oil, it combats the signs of ageing by toning and softening the driest skins. It nourishes the skin, reinforcing its hydrolipidic film and protecting it from dehydration.

Evening primrose vegetable oil: A restructuring and anti-ageing active par excellence, evening primrose vegetable oil fights against the signs of skin ageing and restores suppleness to the epidermis. It also has softening and revitalising properties.

However, if you have oily skin, you should use jojoba vegetable oil: Soothing and rebalancing, this oil regulates sebum secretion. Nourishing, it penetrates without leaving a greasy film on the surface.

Oily skin with blemishes and imperfections due to acne benefit from the oils:

Grape seed oil: Sebum regulator, it is known to be exfoliating and very penetrating without leaving a greasy film. It is ideal for skin prone to blemishes.

Hazelnut vegetable oil: Balancing and softening, this oil has a penetrating, non-greasy touch, appreciated for preparing the care of oily and acne-prone skin. This non-comedogenic oil balances the sebum production of oily skin and promotes the regeneration of the skin’s hydrolipidic film.

If the imperfections are due to redness associated with couperose, the best oils to prevent redness are those from:

Safflower vegetable oil: Thanks to its vitamin K content, it is known to soothe atopic and redness-prone skin. Soothing, nourishing and emollient, it helps to restore the skin’s moisture and preserve its elasticity.

Calophyllum or tamanu vegetable oil: Rich in powerful soothing active ingredients, this oil is an ingredient of choice for the care of tight skin or skin prone to redness. Also known as a restorative, it promotes the regeneration of cutaneous tissue and gives the skin suppleness and elasticity.



Thirdly, we filter our oleate with a coffee filter to remove resin residues.

Once filtered, we can use it in our cosmetic preparations.

The saturated oil remains of the crushed resin should not be thrown away, as they make an excellent home exfoliator.



Resins, as we said at the beginning, can be used as active ingredients in our creams and preparations to treat the skin.

However, it is not advisable to use such potent active ingredients during pregnancy, while breastfeeding or in children under 6 years of age. And of course, as with some essential oils, the resins should not, in principle, be ingested, even if they are well tolerated by the skin.

Natural resins, in contrast to synthetic perfumes, not only bring therapeutic skin care properties to our cosmetic preparations, but also their excellent aroma and natural preservative properties.

We start with Drago’s blood resin, as its uses are particularly interesting in cosmetology.


Drago’s blood (croton lechleri) has important medicinal healing, disinfectant and anti-inflammatory properties. When it comes to using it in our cosmetic preparations, its enormous antioxidant capacity stands out, making this resin a powerful rejuvenating treatment. Drago’s blood is known to be rich in compounds of the proanthocyanidin family, which have been shown, in experiments, to be 20 times more potent than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E.

This resin was used for millennia by the Indians of the upper Amazon, who extracted the red sap of this tree for its healing properties, as a great restorative of tissues, which is why it was highly sought after to heal wounds. Current science has been able to prove that with the application of this sap the skin regenerates 20 times faster than normal.

This reddish sap, which contains high doses of proanthocyanidins, not only binds natural collagen fibres, but also inhibits the action of enzymes that tend to break down collagen as we age. As a result, this sap has a long-lasting effect in reducing wrinkles, which are ultimately the visible expression of tissue deterioration.

ITS USES IN COSMETOLOGY: Very interesting for the production of anti-wrinkle creams, products for mature skin, antioxidant creams, lotions for the prevention of stretch marks and post-sun care…

If we are going to use the tincture of Sangre de Drago, it is important to respect a maximum dosage of 2-5% of the product, as it is a very potent active ingredient.

However, if, as in our case, you decide to make an infused oil (oleate) with this resin, you can completely replace the amount of oil in your cosmetic with the oleate of Drago’s blood.


We are going to make our cream with an aqueous phase to incorporate the resins because creams with water not only moisturise more and better than ointments and balms based on oils, but they are also easier to incorporate active ingredients such as resins.

The only disadvantage of aqueous phase creams is the need to add preservatives, and we will overcome this obstacle thanks to natural balsamic resins combined with borax salts.



53.50 g of Drago’s blood infused oil.

33 g of a hydrolat of your choice or distilled water, to avoid bacterial proliferation.

13 g white beeswax (only if it is naturally bleached with charcoal, if it is not and is bleached with chemical bleaches, it is better to use regular beeswax)

0.5 g borax* (which acts as an emulsifier as well as a preservative).

*Borax is necessary to properly emulsify the beeswax, otherwise a good O/A emulsion would not be possible, and the phases would separate. As you know, beeswax cannot be used to emulsify creams with an aqueous phase. Moreover, borax, at such a low level of concentration, is not attributed with any risk of reprotoxicity, as the French ANSM recognises.


Melt the beeswax and the oil in a bain-marie. At the same time, heat the hydrosol to the same temperature and add the borax. Both phases should be at a maximum of 70 degrees.

When the wax and oil mixture is completely melted, add the water and borax mixture a little at a time and keep whisking vigorously. Now we can put the mixture in a bowl of cold water (immersed in a bain-marie of cold water) and continue whisking until it is completely condensed.

Finally, pour the cream into a glass container, if possible. The only preservative, as well as co-emulsifier, in this preparation with aqueous phase is borax, so using a glass container will extend its shelf life and preserve our cream in better condition. It is also important to prepare small quantities as we do not use any preservatives other than borax.

It is always better to avoid the problem than to use preservatives which, however natural they may be, can alter the microbiota of our skin, reducing the regenerative capacity of the active ingredients and the bioavailability of the product.

Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to sell your cream to prepare it as naturally as possible. You will notice the difference.

Specifically, this cream based on Sangre de Drago resin is very regenerating and when you apply it you will notice an important warming effect as it increases cell metabolism and favours the formation of collagen, which also depigments and evens out facial tone.

Wow, a home treatment much more effective than any expensive cream you can buy at the chemist. Drago’s resin is so regenerative and healing that I have sometimes used this cream when my shoes have rubbed against my feet and the problem has improved in a matter of hours, believe me.



Another resin with interesting cosmetological properties that we have already discussed in previous posts is benzoin resin.


Benzoin is a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of several species of trees of the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes and some types of incense and as a flavouring and medicine in the form of benzoin tincture*.  *Benzoin tincture is a solution of benzoin resin in ethanol that is applied to the skin under an adhesive bandage. It protects the skin from allergy to the adhesive and makes the bandage stick longer. It is also used by athletes because of its reputation for toughening the skin. Orthopaedists often apply it under a cast because it protects the skin and reduces itching.

Benzoin tincture can be easily made at home.

According to the Codex of the French Pharmacopoeia of 1835, we will use:

12.5 grams of Benzoin resin, previously crushed in a mortar

And 50 grams of 70-80 degrees ethanol

Dilute the 12.5 grams of previously pulverised resin in 50 ml of 80-70 degrees ethanol and close the glass bottle. The preparation should macerate for about 15 days, during which time it should be shaken periodically. Then filter it through a coffee filter, for example, and reserve the mixture thus obtained.

If we want 80º ethanol alcohol, we must mix it like this (41.5 ml of 96º ethanol + 8.5 ml of distilled water).

If we want 70º ethanol, the proportions would be: (36.3 ml of 96º ethanol + 13.7 ml of distilled water).

We do not advise you to try to make the mixture without reducing the alcohol because it can become excessively gummy and difficult to filter.



Benzoin resin is said to have antiseptic, antifungal, healing, soothing and moisturising properties. Benzoin acts as a skin protectant as well as a natural preservative, and as a resin, it acts as an essence fixative in the production of natural perfumes.

Its skin therapeutic effects help to nourish very dry and dehydrated skin and to soothe and improve the skin’s texture and appearance. It serves to remove impurities and make-up, along with a skin moisturising function. Benzoin tincture can be used in conjunction with a daily cream for its excellent moisturising and soothing properties, both for the face and body.

It is recommended for use in lotions and creams for better penetration and absorption into the skin, thus achieving the full action and benefits of benzoin.

For all these reasons, we have decided to offer you a recipe for a facial tonic made from rose hydrolat and benzoin resin, which has been known since time immemorial as virgin milk.



Virgin milk is an ancient cosmetic. It is said to be one of Queen Cleopatra’s beauty secrets. It is classically made using rose hydrolate and tincture of benzoin, which, when in contact with the rose hydrolate, tints the liquid into a beautiful milk-like white colour. The smell of this resin is very reminiscent of vanilla and, together with the rose, the scent of the mixture is deliciously captivating.

The recipe is very simple, and although many variations have appeared in which people have added glycerines, oils, etc., we have preferred to keep the original recipe which, as well as being simple to make, works very well. As it contains no preservatives other than benzoin tincture, we advise you to prepare small quantities that you can use within a few days or to keep it in the fridge in a glass spray bottle so that it is less contaminated.


50 ml rose hydrolat.

A maximum of 10 drops of tincture of benzoin.

Please note that a maximum ratio of 2% benzoin tincture to 98% rose hydrolat is normally recommended.

For example, for 100 ml of virgin milk:

2 ml of tincture of benzoin (about 20 drops) and

98 ml rose hydrolat.

Some of the virtues of virgin milk are to eliminate fatigue and facial stress, regenerate, moisturise and protect the skin, especially sensitive, irritated, asphyxiated, reddened, pimples. It also can refresh and reduce inflammation of the eyelids.

Its whitening effect on the skin has made it very popular. In addition to smoothing the skin, this milk makes it look more even.

USE: It is usually used after removing make-up as a facial tonic or before applying our daily cream or serum.




Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is obtained from the resin which, when its trunk is cut, sprouts from trees called Boswellia sacra, which grow in the arid soils of Somalia. Distillation of this resin yields an essential oil that is widely used in perfumery.

Frankincense oil promotes cell regeneration and keeps tissues and cells healthy. It is useful for skin health and can help treat dry skin, reverse the signs of ageing, and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Frankincense or boswellia resin, as we know, is also used as one of the main essential oils for anti-wrinkle creams because of its powerful toning effect, which helps to keep the skin elastic and firm and to prevent the signs of ageing.

Its essential oil, extracted from frankincense resin, has the following properties: anti-inflammatory, dermoprotective, antiseptic, astringent, moisturising, promotes the regeneration of tissues, gums and hair and helps to stop the bleeding of wounds.

For this recipe we are going to use frankincense essential oil, extracted from frankincense resin. Essential oils can be distilled at home with a still, although most of us usually buy them.



The advantages of making our own lipsticks are not only the fact that we can choose our own personalised colour, but also that we avoid many chemical ingredients, some of which are toxic, such as the lead in the pigments contained in commercial lipsticks, which are responsible for drying out the skin on our lips.


The dosage of ingredients for a single lipstick will be:

Almond oil 4’8 grams,

Beeswax 1.8 grams,

1 capsule of vitamin E

1 drop of Egyptian Geranium EO

1 drop of frankincense EO

One tablespoon of DASH (about 0.15 grams) of mica mineral pigment in the shade you have chosen to colour your lipstick.


Normally, this lipstick can be prepared without the pigment, just with the almond oil, wax, and essential oils and will be perfectly moisturising.

*The pigment will need to be obtained online in shops specially dedicated to make-up and natural home cosmetics.


Start by dissolving the pigment in the oil, if you have decided to do so, and stirring well so that the pigment is added to the oil. Then, melt the wax and add the mixture of oil and pigment. In case we are not going to use pigment, this previous step, logically, will not be necessary.

Then, before it cools down too much, add the thermolabile ingredients such as vitamin E and essential oils, and finally add the mixture to the lipstick mould. After half an hour or so, we will check that our mixture is hard enough to take it out and put it, now, into our empty lipstick container.


It is a resin extracted by exudation from Copal plants. Its origin is American, and it was widely used as incense by ancient Mexicans during ceremonies held in temples. It is the colour of amber, but has no smell, so it is highly recommended for use mixed with essences and aromatic oils.

In the Amazon, copaiba resin is still used today by indigenous tribes as a wound healer, to stop bleeding, for skin sores and psoriasis, and to treat gonorrhoea. Healers in the Amazon today use copaiba resin for all kinds of pain, for skin disorders and insect bites, and to soothe inflammation.

Copaiba is cited as having diuretic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, disinfectant, and stimulant activities.

Copaiba resin was first recorded in European medicine in 1625 (brought from the New World by the Jesuits and called “Jesuit balsam”) and has been used there in the treatment of chronic cystitis, bronchitis, chronic diarrhoea and as a topical remedy for haemorrhoids.

Non-medicinal uses: The balsam and its oil are used commercially as fixatives in perfumes and soap fragrances.

Modern medicinal uses: Used sparingly and sparingly, it is a wonderful natural remedy for stomach ulcers, inflammation of all kinds, bladder irritation, bronchitis, chilblains, constipation, cystitis, diarrhoea, excessive mucus (bladder, vagina, respiratory tract), oedema, gonorrhoea, haemorrhoids, intestinal gas, itching, venereal diseases and as an antiseptic, antimicrobial, and diuretic. Therefore, when applied topically, it also effectively combats nail fungus.

In natural cosmetics: It is easy to deduce from its healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties that it could be used as an active ingredient (in small doses) to prevent and treat skin problems involving inflammation such as psoriasis and dermatitis. In this case, it is applied directly to the skin to treat skin problems and wounds (usually a preparation of 1 part copaiba resin infused in 5 parts grape seed oil or 5 parts vegetable glycerine is used).



As we have been saying, copal resin is particularly suitable for treating skin problems. We are going to use it in the form of an oleate to make a serum that can be applied directly to the skin.


Based on the above list of vegetable oils recommended to treat different skin types, we will choose one of them according to our skin type.

For example, we have chosen apricot kernel oil to infuse our copaiba resin because of its omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids, which improve the appearance of the skin by hydrating and nourishing it from within. In addition, this oil is ideal now that summer is upon us because it has a high carotenoid content that reinforces the skin’s protective barrier, preventing ageing caused by free radicals, i.e. the effects of solar radiation and pollution. It also has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties for any itching or redness.

Previously, as we know, we will pulverise the resin in a mortar or coffee grinder.

For example, we will use about 10 grams of resin per 50 ml of oil.

It is then very important that we infuse the resin cold, i.e. leave it to macerate for a few days in the oil; or, if we infuse it hot, that the temperature never exceeds 70 degrees so that the exceptional qualities of this apricot kernel oil do not deteriorate.

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Finally, we filter our oil through a coffee filter and put it in a glass bottle with a dropper so that we can easily dose it and use it as a serum.




Next, we extend the list of balsamic resins with some resins that are no less important for their cosmetic uses, although perhaps less frequently found.

ELEMI RESIN: Elemi resin from the Canarium luzonicum tree is a pale-yellow substance with a honey-like consistency and a strong pine and lemon scent. One of the components of the resin is called amyrin. Elemi resin is used as a medicine to treat bronchitis, colds, extreme coughs, mature skin, scars, stress and wounds.

“The name Elemi is derived from an Arabic phrase meaning ‘above and below’, an abbreviation of ‘As above, so below’ and this tells us something about its action on the emotional and spiritual planes.”

ALMACIGA: This is the aromatic resin obtained from the branches of the “mastic” shrub that grows throughout the Mediterranean region. It represents purity because of its white and transparent grains. The Greeks used this resin to preserve wine because of its enormous qualities against fungus and fermentation.

MYRRH RESIN: It is an aromatic gum, resin and essential oil (myrtle), which gives it its characteristic aroma. In ancient times it was widely used to make incense, perfumes and ointments. It was one of the gifts that the three wise men from the East offered to Jesus when he was born, according to the Bible.

In pharmacology, myrrh is used as an antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes as it strengthens and regenerates the gums. It is also used in some liniments and healing ointments that can be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments. Myrrh has been used as an analgesic for toothaches and can be used in liniments for bruises, aches and sprains.

Its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties have led to its successful use in psoriasis treatments. Ayurvedic medicine attributes tonic and rejuvenating properties to myrrh resin.

GALBANUM: Galbanum is a very aromatic yellowish-grey resin. It comes from a plant of the Umbelliferae family. It has a very strong and penetrating aroma. Galbanum-producing plants grow abundantly on the slopes of the mountain ranges of northern Iran.

In the Bible, galbanum was referred to as the sacred “mother resin”.  Galbanum was also highly prized as a sacred substance by the ancient Egyptians. It is believed that the ‘green’ incense of ancient Egypt was galbanum. Galbanum resin has a very intense green smell accompanied by a turpentine odour.

Today, a galbanum absolute is extracted with solvent from the oleoresin of the plant. It is a brown viscous liquid that acts as a base note in perfume compositions, one of the few green base notes of natural origin. Because it is both green and sweet, it finds a more specific role in creating a special effect in compositions such as Chypre green, floral green, Chypre coniferous, Woody Fougères and Aquatic Fougères.

LABDANUM: Labdanum, also called ladanum, is a sticky brown resin obtained from the shrubs Cistus ladanifer (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus (eastern Mediterranean), a species of rockrose. Historically it was used in herbal medicine and today it is still used in the preparation of some perfumes and vermouths.

Labdanum was produced on the shores of the Mediterranean in ancient times. The resin was used as an ingredient for incense and for medicinal purposes to treat colds, coughs, menstrual problems and rheumatism. The Book of Genesis contains two mentions of labdanum brought to Egypt from Canaan. Labdanum is produced today mainly for the perfume industry. The raw resin is usually extracted by boiling the leaves and twigs. Labdanum is prized in perfumery for its resemblance to ambergris, the use of which has been banned in many countries because it originates from the endangered sperm whale. Labdanum is the main ingredient used to make ambergris scent in perfumery.

COLOPHONY RESIN: Rosin is a solid form of resin obtained from pine and some other plants, mostly conifers. It is brittle and has a slight piney odour.

It is highly flammable, burning with a smoky flame, so care must be taken when melting it. It is soluble in alcohol, ether, benzene, and chloroform and combines with caustic alkalis to form salts (rosinates or pinates) which are known as rosin soaps. In pharmaceuticals, rosin forms an ingredient in various plasters and ointments. Turpentine is a liquid obtained by distillation of this resin collected from living trees, mainly pines.

The turpentine obtained from this resin has been used topically on abrasions and wounds, and as a treatment for lice. Mixed with fats it was used as a chest rub or as an inhaler for nasal and throat complaints. Vicks chest rubs still contain turpentine in their formulations, although not as an active ingredient as it has now been found that its absorption is not without slight toxicity.

ESTORAQUE RESIN: The resin of the American storax (Liquidambar styraciflua) is chewed like gum to freshen the breath and clean the teeth. Plinio (Historia Naturalis 12.98, 15.26; 24.24) notes the use of storax as a perfume. Dioscorides (De materia medica 1.79) reports its use as incense, similar to olibanum, which has expectorant and soothing properties.

RUDA: Ruda is a very aromatic plant that gives off a very particular smell. It is native to eastern Mediterranean countries and Asia Minor. It is used as incense, but in reality, it is its essence, extracted from its leaves, which, when mixed with other types of odourless resins, such as gum arabic or tragacanth, gives it its characteristic perfume.





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