Aftelier Ancient Resins ~ quick body product review

Aftelier Ancient Resins body and hair elixirAftelier Ancient Resins body and hair elixirAftelier Ancient Resins body and hair elixir

I'm not generally a big user of body oils, in fact, I can't remember the last time I bought one. But a body oil with organic frankincense made for Leonard Cohen? Ok, twist my arm. Mandy Aftel of Aftelier says Cohen uses her Ancient Resins body oil and hair elixir every day, and I'm glad to hear it because he must smell lovely and hey, doesn't Leonard Cohen deserve to smell lovely?

Ancient Resins goes on oily and thick, but the organic jojoba and fractionated coconut oil formula soaks in nicely — Aftelier says it leaves a "subtle veil" on the skin, but lightly applied on my winter-dry arms, it left behind virtually nothing but the scent. And the scent is lovely, especially if you're an incense freak. The blend of frankincense, Balm of Gilead, benzoin, elemi and labdanum starts strong and a little camphorous; it softens into an airy incense that fits right into my own idiosyncratic “outdoor incense” category — see Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure, Tauer Perfumes Incense extrême and Comme des Garçons Ouarzazate. It's meditative but not churchy, dry but not bone dry, and after 15 minutes or so, it's mostly close to the skin. It would make a perfect sheer scent for bedtime, winter or summer, but really you could wear it anytime, and it would presumably make a great layering agent. I'm sorry I did not find time to test it that way, nor did I try it as a hair oil.

Going on my buy list, and since it's reasonably affordable, I may actually buy it.

Bonus poll: name your favorite Leonard Cohen song in the comments.

Aftelier Ancient Resins body oil and hair elixir is available in a 50 ml pump bottle ($40) or sample size ($4).

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  1. JolieFleurs says:

    I am lemming this one bad. Love body oils, love incense, love Leonard, so it’s going right to the top of the Buy list! Thanks for the review!

    Hallelujah remains my favorite song of his, and one of my favorite songs, period.

    • Robin says:

      Pretty sure that was the first LC song I knew, and I heard it first in the Jeff Buckley version.

      • JolieFleurs says:

        To me one of the best things about the song is that everyone makes it their own.

        I get chills every time I hear KD Lang’s version. It’s like it was written for her voice…but again, everyone sounds so good singing it!

      • Lise says:

        Jeff Buckleys version is fantastic.

    • littlemoron says:

      Hallelujah is a good one. The LC one is the best, but Jeff Buckley’s version is very powerful.

  2. Veronika says:

    Oh… Cohen

    I adore In My Secret Life!

    As for body oils – a actually don’t like scents to come from body products (or it has to be a really sensational smell, like a powdery jasmine one in Leonor Greyl products) – because this way I can’t apply my perfume – and there are very few things more pleasant than spritzing on perfume!

    but I love to put a drop of oil on my hair ends

    • Robin says:

      I should have tried this on my hair, but just didn’t get to it in time.

  3. Veronika says:

    Going Home is also a great one) listening to it right now
    his voice is so husky so deep
    he has to smell of soft woods I think

  4. xendawg says:

    So Long Marianne is just pretty damn dreamy

  5. Lise says:

    Oooh, I love Cohen! And I am also a fan of body oils. It is a must have in cold Norwegian winters. So this is a very tempting product.

    Favorite Song: Suzanne.

    • Robin says:

      That might be my favorite too, but can’t decide. Also love Tower of Song, although admit it is perhaps slight compared to the others, & don’t love the U2 input.

      • Lise says:

        Tower of song is also great. Just listening to it now. My gosh, that man has a sexy voice :-)

  6. akimon says:

    I got two samples this week, one for me, one for a friend who just happens to be Leonard Cohen fan. My favorite title is “I Can’t Forget (But I Don’t Remember What)”. However, as far as Cohen songs go, I find “Guests” to be my special one.

  7. Emily says:

    Add me to the folks who are lining up to buy this.

    I’ll have to go with Bird on the Wire — like Kris Kristofferson, I think the opening lines would make a fine epitaph.

  8. HemlockSillage says:

    Oh, you make this sound tempting even though I’m not a huge fan of oils! I do adore incense, and the notes you describe check all the right boxes for me. As for Leonard Cohen, I love his voice, and will always associate it with “Everybody Knows,” which was the first thing I heard by him; dark, moody, sad and matter of fact all at once. I went to the record store immediately to find more. Be well.

    • Robin says:

      LOL…”I went to the record store” dates you as my age :-)

      I admit that I did not even know Leonard Cohen when there were still record stores. I was late.

  9. Erin says:

    Oh man, I feel so conventional, because my favorite has to be “Hallelujah”. kd Lang’s version is the heart-shredder, but Buckley was great, too. (Sorry, Rufus, I love you, but you’re not even in this race.)

    But there are so many great ones already mentioned here, too. Glad to see “Everybody knows”, because that was one of the first greats that jumped to my head. “Bird on the Wire”. And “Suzanne” — which I always link in my head with the love ballad – stalker song “Suzanne” by Randy Newman, who I believe has quipped that he was inspired by Cohen’s version. (I can’t shut up about Newman this week since he was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame. But then I can never shut up about Randy Newman.)

    And oh, yeah, frankincense. Cool. :)

    • JolieFleurs says:

      Hey there! You’ve been missed!

      • Erin says:

        Thanks very much! I’m trying to get R some picks for Best of 2012, and I hope I’ll have a post ready one of these days. Hope you are well.

    • Robin says:

      The Rufus version of Everybody Knows is fabulous though.

      And nobody has mentioned Chelsea Hotel. Or Famous Blue Raincoat.

      • Robin says:

        Oh, and 1000 Kisses Deep, and Dance Me To The End of Love. Actually not sure I can pick a favorite, but looks so far like Hallelujah & Everybody Knows are the winners here.

      • Veronika says:

        Famous Blue Raincoat is another great one! And 1000 Kisses Deep… it’s really hard to name a favorite one.

      • littlemoron says:

        Famous Blue Raincoat and Chelsea Hotel are both gorgeous. Sad, but gorgeous.

  10. FragrantWitch says:

    This sounds fantastic -wonder how it would do as a bath oil? As an incense freak with dry skin, I will be finding out! Fave Leonard Cohen song would be Hallelujah , the Jeff Buckley version as I’ve not heard the k.d lang one ( which I will rectify immediately) and a close second would be Everybody Knows.
    Happy Holiday preparations to all!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, good question. I know nothing about how you would formulate a bath oil as opposed to a body oil, so I’ll be no help at all.

      I think I read a poll once, and John Cale was picked as the best Hallelujah cover version. I do not like it though. I’ve come to love the other, later, Leonard Cohen version, the one with different lyrics.

  11. Angela says:

    I like these oils, too–they’re great in my dry, curly hair. She has one that’s pear, coffee, and something else (must eat, my brain isn’t working now) that is terrific. It’s definitely on my “to buy” list.

    And song-wise, give me some “Suzanne.”

    • Robin says:

      Oh, must look for that oil! And try on hair, my split ends could use some oil I’m sure.

    • miette769 says:

      It is Pear, Fig and Coffee… it’s a bit more green that what is featured on her site and wonderful. I really enjoy the Chocolate and Saffron, when it arrives it is like a mini lava lamp as the oils separate. The fragrances seem to fade quickly on me and the oils are truly wonderful as they absorb quickly into the skin leaving you soft and silky not at all greasy, unless you go to town with the bottle. I too have curly hair and the products work wonderfully on the ends and everywhere else. Samples arrive packaged in tiny glass bottles sealed in a tin and shipped in a pretty air puff package that always gets compliments and questions by my rental office. Try the Chef’s Essences too as they are a lot of fun in the kitchen!

  12. sacre bleu says:

    Song Bernadette
    There was a child named Bernadette
    I heard the story long ago
    She saw the Queen of Heaven once
    And kept the vision in her soul
    No one believed what she had seen
    No one believed what she heard
    That there were sorrows to be healed
    And mercy, mercy in this world

    So many hearts I find
    Broke like yours and mine
    Torn by what we’ve done and can’t undo
    I just want to hold you
    Won’t you let me hold you
    Like Bernadette would do

    We’ve been around, we fall, we fly
    We mostly fall, we mostly run
    And every now and then we try
    To mend the damage that we’ve done
    Tonight, tonight I cannot rest
    I’ve got this joy inside my breast
    To think that I did not forget
    That child, that song of Bernadette

    So many hearts I find …

    • Robin says:


    • juicejones says:

      Not only my favorite LC songs, one of my all-time favorites, period.
      Jennifer Warnes voice is sublime!

  13. lynne marie says:

    Love incense and I get to smell like Leonard Cohen? Too cool. “Everybody knows” is one of my very favorite songs – my very own pessimist’s anthem and particularly fitting for the political life I lead.
    The oil is definitely going on my “to sample” list.

    • Robin says:

      His songs in general are a pessimist’s dream, no? And that one most of all.

  14. Annikky says:

    This is just so cool. Am already preparing one-liners about smelling of/like Leonard Cohen and will go to ridiculous lengths to work them into a conversation. Need the oil first, though.

    I have nothing original to offer regarding the song – I love Buckley’s version of Hallelujah and KD Lang at the Olympics made me shiver uncontrollably.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, let us know how you manage to work them into conversation, perfect!

  15. Liza says:

    Suzanne, or maybe The Sisters of Mercy.

  16. Aparatchick says:

    Back in my record store days – the 1970s – when everyone else was listening to the beginnings of disco or else Chicago, I hung out with a bunch of kids who loved Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. So, I’d say “Suzanne” is my favorite, but my best friend was a Suzanne and that was always HER song.

    As much as I love “Hallelujah”, I’ll go with “Bird on a Wire” – so beautiful, so haunting.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, you were way cool. I was probably at a Bread concert or something, LOL…

  17. Bela says:

    I have loved Leonard Cohen since the ’60s, but I’d never heard him sing live until a few years ago, when he came to London. I went to the O2 and the Albert Hall. It was incredible.

    I don’t like anyone else’s versions of his songs. I love most of them, but I think Take This Waltz is probably my favourite. Oh, and Closing Time. And If It Be Your Will. And The Guests…………

    • Bela says:

      I adore Jeff Buckley’s Dido Lament, though. It send shivers down my back.

    • Robin says:

      You know, they showed one of the London concerts on TV here, and I was so excited but there was just something missing, maybe in how they filmed it or something else — it just wasn’t as enthralling as I expected. Wish I had been there instead, boy I would have loved to have seen it.

      • Bela says:

        That was the O2 concert I went to (if you look very closely, you can see me over there… just kidding). I’m afraid you had to be there: no film can convey the atmosphere, the excitement, the emotion, etc. I was closer to the stage at the Albert Hall, but there’s something about 20,000 people being excited and moved together in the same place…

        • Robin says:

          It’s true…concert videos don’t always work.

  18. poodle says:

    I love oils. I love incense. I really want this.

  19. mough says:

    I got two bottles of this, one for me and one for my new hubby. Love it! Favorite song has to be “Sisters of Mercy.” It was the first duet I ever sang in public. So lilting and lovely. Leonard Cohen’s a genius. I had a crush on him when I was 14.

    • Robin says:

      Nice…have you tried layering it with anything?

  20. Hilda Rosa says:

    I love body oils and I also love incense so this is something that really appeals to me. And it’s affordable!

    I have many favourite Leonard Cohen songs that have already been mentioned but I’ll mention two others: “I’m Your Man” and “The Partisan”

    What is sometimes forgotten is that Leonard Cohen made his first mark as a poet and novelist. In fact, in the 60’s he was nominated for the Nobel Literature prize for the brilliance of his poetry. As he remarked once, poets don’t make enough money to make a livelihood.

    • Lindaloo says:

      Yes indeed, Hilda
      My first was reaction on hearing about this scent was “Oh yes, how perfect for the man whose first book of poetry was The Spice Box of Earth.” (The first book of poetry that I ever received as a gift)

    • solanace says:

      Thank’s Hilda, gonna look for his books!

    • Robin says:

      I’m Your Man is a great song.

  21. katymae16 says:

    I love “Coming Back To You” (especially Martin Gore’s cover) and “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” and pretty much everything else he’s written. Tori Amos’s cover of “Famous Blue Raincoat” is incredible.

    I’ll definitely have to give this oil a sniff! Incense is almost always a winner for me.

    • Robin says:

      I have not heard the Tori Amos, I will look for it.

  22. littlemoron says:

    I would happily wear anything that brought me closer to my man Leonard Cohen. I think I will have to buy this, the bonus being that it smell like incense.

    While I don’t think I have a “favourite” Leonard Cohen song – they are all so painfully beautiful – I will say that the only one I have contemplated getting tattooed on my body has been “Anthem”. It resonates on a deeper level than most.

    God, I love that man.

    • Robin says:

      Good, everybody buy it and then she will keep making it :-)

  23. littlemoron says:

    Who By Fire is also amazing.

  24. solanace says:

    I can’t forget (but I don’t remember what). Hard to choose just one, though.

    How cool is Mandy Aftel?

  25. dolcesarah says:

    Jeff’s version may that gorgeous man rest in peace, yeah- that’s the beat version. This is on my to buy list. Can anyone recommend a great Aftelier perfume, one with deep rich woods, tonka, maybe labdanum that’s a favorite note. Le Labo’s Labdanum is a fav. Something deep and moody?

  26. aftelier says:

    Thank you so much Robin for the beautiful review! Leonard had input all the way along in the creation of Ancient Resins; I did make it to leave a deep resinous scent long after the oil is absorbed, as a backdrop for other fragrances. I have so many favorite songs from all the different periods! Bought and studied every album, but my favorite from the recent period is “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” so wise about aging, which I am doing! Every time I listen to it I find some new aspect that speaks to me.
    Mandy Aftel

    • Bela says:

      Mandy, how do I get hold of a sample of it in the UK? I’d love to know what Leonard smells like; unfortunately I can’t cuddle up to him to find out. :-)

  27. aftelier says:

    Dear Bela,

    I almost exclusively a web-based business and sell from my website. I have samples of everything and regularly ship all over the world. You can get a sample of Ancient Resins here where there is a button to add a sample: Thank you. Mandy

  28. AmyT says:

    I’ve always loved the song Bird on a Wire; in high school I sang it at a school coffeehouse.
    I just ordered a sample; it sounds wonderful!

  29. Prebendal says:

    I adore Leonard, so naturally I want to try this.

    There are many wonderful covers of his songs, but I think he does them the best. My all-time favorite is Sisters of Mercy.

    • Robin says:

      I have an iPod playlist with all the versions of my favorites, one right after the other. Often I start out liking a cover version best, then after repeated listening I come around to the original LC version.

  30. sharviss says:

    My favourite Cohen song would have to be Dance Me to the End of Love. As for Ancient Resins, I ordered it a couple of weeks ago (am in Canada) and am anxiously checking the mail whenever I get home from work!

    • Robin says:

      Love that song, both by LC & also the Madeleine Peyroux version.

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