Palo Santo Oil - Learn What it is, its Uses, and Possible Benefits


Palo Santo incense and essential oils have made their way up the Pacific Coast and into the American consciousness. It may not be on your radar yet, but it should be. If you could use some positive energy in your life, you need a Palo Santo ritual cleanse.

The Incense Family Tree

The Palo Santo tree, or Bursera graveolens, belongs to what’s known as the incense tree family, which is related to the trees that produce frankincense and myrrh. Palo Santo essential oil, like its cousins frankincense and myrrh, derives from the resin of the aromatic tree.

Male and female Palo Santo trees grow in a cluster, according to Each male tree is surrounded by a group of eight females. The life span of the male tree is significantly longer than the female trees, living for up to 200 years versus forty to fifty years for the female trees. (Sucks to be a female Palo Santo …)

Where Does Palo Santo Oil Come From?

Palo Santo trees are native to Mexico, and can be found along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to South America, as well as in the Galápagos Islands. Palo Santo, meaning “sacred wood” or “holy wood” in Spanish, has long been revered (as the name implies) for its ancient place in indigenous rituals and Shamanic healing practices. Its use is believed to date back to Incan times. The trees are still revered today, and harvesting the wood of Palo Santo trees is stringently regulated by the governments of Ecuador and Peru, where most Palo Santo incense originates.

“The most remarkable thing about the harvest of Palo Santo is that only the dead wood is collected. The pieces of wood must die naturally, and fall to the forest floor. There, the wood must be allowed to lie and decay for four to ten years. This aging process ensures that the resins in the tree can migrate to the heartwood and oils can develop properly into a fully aromatic and quality product. Without the proper amount of time to die and decay, the oils of the Palo Santo tree do not have the time to intensify to their full power. Harvesting Palo Santo wood in this way is as sustainable as possible.” – from What is Palo Santo?

Creating Positive Energy: Ritual Uses of Palo Santo

Because female Palo Santo trees are more abundant than their male counterparts, they are typically harvested more frequently. The wood is made into objects like boxes, wine barrels, and beads for jewelry, though its primary uses are medicinal, aroma-therapeutic and ritualistic.

Following ancient rituals, shaman in South America burn shavings of Palo Santo wood and use the smoke to purify the air of negative energy believed to cause bad health and misfortune. Not only is Palo Santo thought to clear bad energy, but the sacred wood itself brings harmony and positive energy to a space. Palo Santo is also made into incense for spiritual practices. The aromatic scent of Palo Santo is effective at repelling bugs, so it is used in insect repellents as well.

Benefits of Palo Santo Essential Oil

Essential oil made from the Palo Santo tree contains a family of phytochemicals called terpenes. Limonene and alpha-terpineol comprise the largest portion of the terpene family found in Palo Santo oil, and in smaller quantities, menthofuran, carvone, germacrene-D, muurolene, and pulegone can be found as well. Terpenes, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals in Palo Santo essential oil deliver a myriad of benefits, including: 

  • Reducing inflammation: limonene, a compound also found in citrus, is a proven anti-inflammatory.
  • Fighting free-radical damage and cancer formation: Limonene has also been studied for its ability to fight cancerous cell mutation. Researchers have discovered that other compounds in Palo Santo inhibit tumor growth, as well as mutation in lung, breast and colon cancer cells.
  • Alleviating allergies: Anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties in Palo Santo make it helpful in relieving the symptoms of season allergies.
  • Treating cold and flu: Anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds in Palo Santo have made it a popular remedy in South America for treating for cold and flu.
  • Eliminating headaches: Effective at reducing the pain of migraine and stress-related headaches.
  • Elevating mood, reducing stress and improving sleep: Scientific evidence suggests that the sense of smell is intimately tied to our sense of emotional well-being and our ability to cope with stress. Scent can improve our sleep and even help improve our tolerance for pain.
  • Treating muscle pain: Palo Santo essential oil, when applied topically, can reduce the pain associated with muscle inflammation.
  • Boosting immunity: Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals make Palo Santo essential oil a powerful immune booster.
  • Repelling insects: Palo Santo is commonly burned (like citronella) or sprayed on the skin to repel mosquitos and other insects.
  • Cleansing the home: Because Palo Santo has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, it can be used as a household cleanser and odor reducer.

BeautyGARDE Palo Santo Ritual Cleanser

Do your own Palo Santo cleanse and suffuse your hair with the positive energy of this ancient essential oil. Paired with argan oil, sweet almond oil, cedar, and sandalwood, the scent will transport you to a place of peaceful calm. Not only will your hair smell amazing, but these oils are restorative to scalp and hair.

Palo Santo Ritual Cleanser is Sulfate-free!

Shampoos create a foaming lather through the use of chemical compounds called sulfates. Though we’re accustomed to this kind of cleansing experience, sulfates have some downsides for us and the environment.

What do sulfates do? Sulfates are a type of detergent that strips the skin on our scalp of its natural lipid layer. The lipid layer acts like an immune barrier, and it also regulates the hydration of our scalp and hair. When it’s stripped of moisture, it can cause dry, itchy skin.

Our unique vegan cleanser is not a lathering product. Rather, it cleans your hair without stripping its natural moisture or leaving your hair feeling frizzy and dry. The intoxicating essential oils will nourish your tresses and your spirit.

Palo Santo Conditioning Ritual

Follow your Palo Santo Ritual Cleanse with our Conditioning Ritual. Like the cleanser, the conditioner is vegan and sulfate-free. Rich in natural fatty acids and antioxidants, this cleanser will leave your hair feeling soft and luxurious. Oh, and did we mention it smells amazing?

If your ever feel like you need some deep conditioning, leave the Palo Santo Conditioning Ritual in the ends of your hair for a while after showering. The shaft of your hair will soak up extra nutrients from the essential oils. Soak up the calming smell and a appreciate a little extra ritual time to center yourself.

Back to Expert Makeup Advice