Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Frequent Questions: What are Lace Benzoin Tears?

Lace benzoin tears are a puzzling "fragrance note" in Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers Jingle G fragrance. (An unimpressive introduction; if it were a note in Fath's Iris Gris, I bet you're all be sitting up straight with a new found attention in your eyes. All the same...) Several people online have been furtively throwing sideways glances in understandable puzzlement over this. Let's present an answer today and hope that some official reply comes soon.

Most readers attuned to just how misleading fragrance notes lists can be might be assuming it's all purple prose imaginings of a feverish copywriter. Others might suppose it's a new aromachemical with a poetic name for a change.
"Lace Benzoin Tears"  is in all probability a misspelling of Gum Lacc.Benzoin which appears for the actual well-known benzoin resin in some literature (notably by the Royal Society of London). Because there’s a dot after the c, and it’s in Italic, people mistook it for e and reproduced it. It's now everywhere on the Net, but curiously ONLY in relation to Harajuku Lovers Jingle G (just Google "Lace Benzoin Tears") and NOT from Stefani's official site either.
Lac. comes from the Latin, meaning to lacerate, to tear. Benzoin also typically comes in "tears", i.e. drops of resin which solidify resembling little lumps, like crystallized tears.

Then there’s also “bois dentelle” i.e laget, .lagetto/ lace-bark tree (Lagetta of Jussieu). So there just might be a comma missing in the list [i.e. lace (tree), benzoin tears etc.]. That would also make sense, though I find it highly unlikely because bois dentelle is nearing extinction.

I don’t know if the Harajuku fragrance is using either, though, I've never smelled it. But it's an interesting hypothesis, right? If anyone has smelled it, please let us known if it has a benzoin note.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Resinous & Balsamic in Fragrances (with notes on benzoin)

Photo of Anna Karina in Jean Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie film (1962)


  1. Anonymous17:56


    “Lace benzoin tears” is a misspelling of the actual note contained in Jingle G, “Laos Benzoin Tears.” Fragrance lab Givaudan gets a sustainable benzoin resin from Laos through Biolandes. Likely some amount’s being used here in Jingle G – and if the “tears” part of the name is an indication of dilution, very little.

    The misspelling may have happened on Sephora’s website and caught fire from there. Of course, “lace benzoin tears” is more poetic and more inexplicable than the original designation so it’s understandable why it’s caught on as a meme.


  2. Kitsune,

    so basically we're saying the same thing: that the Harajuku Lovers uses benzoin. Right?

    I thought it couldn't be anything else but a misspelling, glad to hear it's the Biolandes Laos stuff (which I have tried thanks to a generous perfumer who supplied me with lots of these goodies). I'm sure it should be tiny, given the mainstream appeal/budget of the fragrance.

  3. Anonymous18:19

    This is actually quite funny become all resins come naturally in tears and many times when someone uses the correct term they are accused of waxing lyrical. Of course I am glad that you explained "lace" :)

  4. C,

    yeah, absolutely right!

    I guess people with no experience with raw incense (like our Orthodox stuff sold in lumps) would. ;-)

  5. Anonymous01:32

    I just realized my comment on “nonsense” could come across as directed at your post – it wasn’t meant that way! It’s directed at the rampant internet misinformation that makes these errors self-replicating: no, there aren’t any lace benzoin tears in your ornament, people! And perhaps that’s a good thing as Jingle G seems fairly good-natured and festive.

    So, yeah, complete agreement on the benzoin. Thank you for the good and thoughtful read!


  6. Glad to hear my feeling confirmed Kitsune; I didn't think it was directed at me, as we agree.
    So, you obviously HAVE smelled Jingle G and can confirm that it smells of benzoin. Good! Thanks!!

    As to the Net perpetuating myths, looks at what happens with terminology/vocabulary. This is an onoing project I have undertaken to try to make a tiny bit of contribution into clearing things out. HIpefully not blundering myself :-D


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