Most of us are familiar with aloe vera, jojoba, coconut, tea tree and argan oils. One or more of the naturally-derived oils are found in countless skincare products.
But one essential oil you might not be so well acquainted with is frankincense.
Often touted as the king of essential oils, frankincense is something of a secret skincare hero in the beauty world.
Lauded for its benefits, the resin has been used for thousands of years to combat premature signs of ageing and help firm, tone and heal skin.
Today, while you won’t find products with frankincense lining the shelves in Boots, it’s slowly gaining in popularity in the Western world.
But it’s almost too late; we’re currently facing the very real possibility of losing it forever.
Thanks to overtapping, quarrying, urban development and animals grazing on their bark, the Boswellia scara tree, which the world’s best resin is sourced from in Oman, is dying out.
It’s such an issue that the tree is now listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of ‘near threatened’ species.
Enter, Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR). The beauty company is all about natural and organic skincare and boasts a line of products specifically formulated to harness the power of frankincense.
But the brand’s investment in the essential oil doesn’t stop there.
Earlier this week, NYR kick-started a new, frankincense-saving initiative. The company’s pledged to save Oman’s frankincense by planting 5,000 seedlings a year over the next 10 years.
It’s quite the investment: the trees that are being planted won’t offer saleable frankincense for a decade – minimum.
“It really is a project based around regeneration and protection,” says Susan Curtis, the firm’s director of natural health.
“We see it as a two-pronged approach; the first is plantation growing, where the trees are nurtured and cared for in a more controlled environment, which will take the pressure off the species that grows in the wild. The second part of this process is ensuring that the wadis stay populated with Boswellia sacra. You really do need both to sustain this.”
NYR’s hoping that ‘Project Frankincense’, as it’s being called, will create a roadmap for low-impact yet high-yield harvesting in a sustainable fashion for other brands to follow.
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