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The issues with rosewood essential oil

The issues with rosewood essential oil

Up until now we have always used a combination of rosewood and geranium essential oils to create the beautiful natural, spa-like scent of our Willowberry skincare products.

However, it came to our attention that the production of rosewood essential oil was endangering the rosewood tree species. This is because traditionally, to extract the rosewood oil from the rosewood tree, the entire tree has to be cut down. As it is a slow-growing tree, it can take up to 30 years for a new rosewood tree to reach maturation.

Sustainable harvesting?

While there are now initiatives for sustainable harvesting of rosewood, such as replanting, or using the branches and leaves of the tree to produce the rosewood oil, and organisations that help to protect the species, we were no longer comfortable with using rosewood to scent our skincare.

We were using a sustainably-sourced rosewood oil but after learning about the issues with rosewood, we personally don’t believe that the measures go far enough to protect rosewood and the potential environmental impact is not worth it.

The mission began

So we went on a mission to find a replacement for rosewood to scent our products. It was a difficult mission, as the characteristic scent of our Willowberry products is much-loved by our customers, so we knew we had to keep the scent exactly the same somehow, while removing the rosewood. It was no easy task!

Fragrance experts recommended Ho Wood as a direct alternative to rosewood, but while the chemical composition is very similar to rosewood, in reality the scent is quite different, with a much more antiseptic overtone to it. We were also recommended to use faster-growing trees such as cypress or cedarwood. But rosewood has a beautifully unique scent that is part woody, part floral, and the other woody scents just didn’t have the rich, deep woodiness combined with the floral aspect that we needed.

In the end, Willowberry’s founder Jenni Retourné undertook her own research, trialling many different essential oils at varying combinations alongside the geranium. Jenni was the one that had created the original Willowberry scent, so she thought; why can’t I do it again?

A breakthrough

After extensive research, Jenni discovered that coriander seed essential oil has the same scent as rosewood essential oil, while being a far more sustainable option; a wonderful discovery that we share here in case you may be looking to replace rosewood yourself. We believe in sharing knowledge to be able to truly be sustainable on a wider scale.

Replacing the rosewood with coriander seed oil in our Willowberry skincare products required lengthy and expensive re-testing of all our products. This is where being truly sustainable comes down to putting your money/time/resources where your mouth is, rather than claiming to be sustainable just to create a marketing story. 

The entire process took a huge amount of time and money, and we are proud to have stuck to our guns to honour and protect our environment.

Willowberry is an award-winning independent British skincare brand loved by top make-up artists & facialists, offering high-performance natural skincare with all ingredients de-coded on-pack, while supporting your self-esteem. Shop the collection here.