One of the oldest and most well-known resins to date for medical and religious reasons, frankincense essential oil is commonly used in OUR time for its numerous skincare benefits.
This rich, popular oil helps to battle inflammation, bacteria, and heals the skin.
Frankincense essential oil is also a key player in mental wellness by calming stress and focusing the mind, both factors which ALSO have a direct link to skin health and appearance.
As a certified aromatherapist, frankincense essential oil is a MUST HAVE in my toolkit – the information in this post will help you to use it for your own natural, effective skincare blends!
Frankincense Essential Oil Profile
- Latin name: Boswellia carterii
- Botanical family: Burseraceae
- Plant part: Resin/Gum
- Countries of origin: Somalia
- Extraction method: Steam distilled
- Aroma descriptors: Woody, spicy, resinous, coniferous
What is Frankincense Essential Oil?
Frankincense essential oil is a precious oil that is quite the intensive process to obtain.
Frankincense is dried tree sap that is harvested from Boswellia trees by cutting the bark, causing the sap to seep out to heal the wound.
The sap is allowed to dry and harden for several months, and is then broken off to use as incense or to steam distill for essential oil.
It is important to note that the number of Boswellia trees is reducing. Purchasing sustainably sourced Frankincense essential oil is highly encouraged.
Which Frankincense is Best for Skin?
There are several different types of frankincense essential oil available on the market, each with a slightly different aroma and set of constituents.
Frankincense Essential Oil Chemistry
To understand WHY frankincense is so effective, I’m going to give you a very brief overview of what it is made up of (worry not, you don’t have to memorize this – but it’s my job as an aromatherapist to give you the scientific background of the oils we use for the skin care recipes on this site)!
All essential oils are made up of hundreds of molecules referred to as constituents.
The amount of each one is what gives essential oils their unique aromas, benefits, and uses.
Frankincense essential oil is the heaviest in a-Pinene (31.99%) and Limonene (14.42%), both classified as Monoterpenes.
*This chart is taken from a GC/MS report for a batch of Boswellia carteri on Nov 7, 2019, Lot #: Frankincense Carteri F30108 – however, most frankincense essential oil (of this type) is rich in the same components.
What the above tells us is how frankincense behaves and why we want to use it in our skincare formulations.
The monoterpene chemical family is made up of smaller molecules, which means they can penetrate the skin quickly (as opposed to larger chemical families such as sesquiterpenes that sit on top of the skin for longer).
The monoterpene ‘a-pinene’ is antibacterial and antiviral, and ‘limonene’ is a healing component. Both of these aid in skin care by reducing inflammation, improving circulation, and cleansing the skin.
Knowing this type of information can help you know which skin types to use frankincense essential oil for, as well as helps you to explain your formulas to customers on your website if you have a handmade skin care business.
For example, I tend to use frankincense essential oil for acne and sensitive skin blends, since it is so beneficial for inflammation.
It is also incredibly helpful when included in recipes for normal skin, as it helps to improve circulation and is a powerful antioxidant.
Keep scrolling for information on how to use frankincense safely and to get some blending inspiration!
Download Your Free Essential Oil List and Dilution Chart!
Safety Notes for Frankincense Essential Oil
If you are new to the world of using essential oils for skin care, the most important thing to note is that they are incredibly concentrated and must be stored correctly to avoid serious reactions.
Can you apply Frankincense directly to skin?
Nope nope nope. You should not apply frankincense essential oil (or any essential oil for that matter) directly to the skin, as it may result in burns, allergies, and sensitivity, each dependent on the individual’s skin it is applied to and where on the body it was placed.
How much Frankincense essential oil to use on skin?
For most natural skin care recipes, you’ll want to stay in the 1% to 2% dilution range for daily use on healthy adults.
If you are creating a facial product, keep to 1% total essential oils, which breaks down to six drops of essential oil for every one ounce of carrier oil.
For a body product, you can increase the essential oils to 2%, which is twelve drops per every ounce of carrier.
Note that essential oils should not be used during pregnancy, on children (under the age of twelve), or for individuals with compromised immune systems.
Frankincense essential oil shelf life and storage tips
Frankincense essential oil has a shelf life of one to three years from the time of distillation, assuming ideal storage conditions.
Essential oils need to be stored in a cool area, out of the light, and as tightly capped as possible to avoid oxidation (the breaking down and/or changing of the molecules that make up the oil).
Using essential oils outside of its shelf life or after being exposed to heat, light, or air can cause major skin irritations, bad odors, and ineffective product.
Frankincense Essential Oil and Holistic Skincare
Holistic means ‘support that looks at the whole person, not at an isolated ailment.’
With that in mind, holistic skincare is the practice of looking at an individuals entire lifestyle to address skin issues rather than just using a product to try to improve skin appearance.
For example, getting enough rest is imperative for vibrant, glowing skin. And in order to get this deep sleep, it is best practice to get sufficient exercise and limit your amount of caffeine and alcohol intake. Water and a healthy diet are also major influencers of skin health.
The way skin looks and feels is a major indicator of other health factors, and frankincense essential oil can help in a holistic way beyond a traditional skin care blend, as you’ll see below in the mental and physical wellness blends.
However, we’ll start with traditional skincare blends since that is why you’re here to begin with!
Frankincense Skincare Blends for Personal Use
It is important to know the difference between making blends for yourself and making blends that are suitable to sell to others.
The blends below are great for personal use, as they need to be used immediately due to the inclusion of water-based ingredients (they would go rancid if shipped to a customer without preservatives; I do not promote the use of preservatives on this site).
Frankincense Face Mask (for immediate use)
Mix ingredients together, smooth onto face, wash off after ten minutes with warm water:
- 2 tsp Green Kaolin Clay Powder
- 1 tsp Plain Yogurt
- 1 tsp Oat Flour
- 1 drop Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 1 drop Palmarosa essential oil (Cymbopogon martinii var. motia)
- 1 drop Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)
First Aid Gel (use within a week)
Mix ingredients together, keep in refrigerator, apply to superficial cuts and scratches as needed):
- 1 oz Aloe Vera Gel
- 4 ml Polysorbate
- 5 drops Helichrysum essential oil (Helichrysum italicum)
- 5 drops Patchouli essential oil (Pogostemon cablin)
- 5 drops Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 3 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)
- 2 drops German Chamomile essential oil (Matricaria recutita)
Daily Moisturizing Oil
Mix ingredients together, use daily after bathing:
Facial Blends Using Frankincense to Sell
The frankincense essential oil blends that I link to in this section do not use water and include recommend carrier oils that have a significant shelf life.
This makes them suitable to sell online as a handmade skincare business, or at in-person opportunities such as Farmers Markets, fairs, or boutique consignments.
Face serum recipes that include frankincense essential oil:
If you’re looking for more recipes to add to your handmade skin care line, be sure to check out my larger natural skincare recipe book here!
Mental and Physical Wellness Blends Using Frankincense EO
Mental and physical wellness is so directly tied to skincare that I don’t consider it to be a separate category at all. However, if you are new to the idea of holistic skincare, I have separated this into its own section for greater understanding.
A healthy mindset allows deeper rest, less stress (which decreases cortisol levels), and less tension (which tends to be coupled with headaches, tight muscles, and shallow breathing).
Mood Enhancing Nighttime Blend
Mix ingredients together and apply to chest and shoulders before bed:
- 1 oz apricot oil (Prunus armeniaca)
- 7 drops Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 5 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
- 2 drops Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album)
- 2 drops Copaiba Oleoresin (Copaifera officinalis)
Pinched Nerve Massage Blend
Mix ingredients together and massage into back on top of spine and down through the back of legs behind the knees:
- 1 oz Grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera)
- 4 drops Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 4 drops Bergamot essential oil (Citrus bergamia)
- 3 drops Cardamom essential oil (Elettaria cardamomum)
- 2 drops Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum)
Tension Massage Oil
Mix ingredients together and massage into back of neck and shoulders:
Best Supplier for Frankincense Essential Oil
The frankincense essential oil benefits for skincare are vast, but only work if you’re purchasing PURE oil.
Unfortunately, frankincense is known to be a highly adulterated oil, which means that some suppliers cut the oil (add other things in) to get more bang for THEIR buck. Not awesome.
The only way to tell if an essential oil company and individual bottle is pure is by referencing a GC/MS report that tests the quality of every batch. This is why it is so important to shop at suppliers that run these tests for you.
Plant Therapy is my go-to essential oil company because they make these reports available to the public and only sell 100% pure products.
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