Neal's Yard Remedies Project Frankincense – hands-down, a beautiful initiative
This week’s Fab Find of the Week (read about it here) is Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Intense Hand Serum. But we thought today we’d share a little bit more about the wonderful ‘Project Frankincense’ this pioneering British beauty name has embarked upon, thousands of miles away.
A mainstay of Middle Eastern perfumery for thousands of years, with many therapeutic benefits, the very future of frankincense is at risk. Livestock grazing, changing patterns of land use, over-exploitation – and most recently, we’ve heard that ‘Big Pharma’ has cottoned on to frankincense’s powers – place the source of Boswellia sacra (frankincense’s Latin name) at risk.
Since Neal’s Yard put frankincense at the heart of their very first Frankincense Nourishing Cream in 1983 – a product which scored so incredibly well in the early Beauty Bible Awards (back when we put them in our books, rather than online) – they’ve been developing sustainable ways to source this precious, ancient resin.
They established the first FairWild Ecocert-certified organic frankincense project, in Northern Kenya – but Project Frankincense takes these conservation efforts further. This pioneering British naturals brand is investing £30,000 a year for the next 10 years to plant Boswellia trees on a nursery site in southern Dhofar in Oman (the original home of frankincense), aiming to plant 5,000 seedlings each year. They won’t actually yield frankincense for a decade at the earliest, so there’s a strong likelihood this commitment will extend way beyond this timeframe.
Neal’s Yard Remedies are working with the Environment Society of Oman on an outreach programme which will empower the local community to care for the trees. This will ensure that the knowledge of how to grow, nurture and harvest frankincense – it’s gathered by tapping the trees for their resin – endures.
The vision is to reverse the dwindling fortunes of this extraordinary tree, regenerating the natural resources and keeping the traditional methods of cultivation alive. And they’re inviting us all to follow this fascinating conservation journey – on social media via #ProjectFrankincense and online here.
And really, we think they deserve a big – smooth, soft – hand for this initiative…
FASCINATING FRANKINCENSE FACTS
• In Yemen, female family members still perform an ancient baptism ritual which uses frankincense smoke to ward off evil spirits and bless young children.
• The Roman Catholic Church remains the biggest global purchaser of frankincense resin, for burning by priests during Mass.
• In Egypt, frankincense is burned by holy people to expel evil spirits known as Jinns.
• In Oman, it’s used during birth and funeral rituals. You can smell its sweet smokiness wafting through shops, hotel lobbies (and, we’re told, even the airport).
• Omani women burn incense in the home to ward off the devil, welcome angels and (usefully) deter insects.
Back then, we used to put the results in our Beauty Bible books, rather than online as they are here.)
then showcased in our books, rather than online)