7 Frankincense Skin Benefits You Probably Haven’t Heard of Before: The Real Reason We’re Not Afraid to Use Essential Oils (And Why You Shouldn’t Be Either)
There’s been a lot of noise around essential oils lately. And we’ve seen a divide into two main camps:
- Essential oils are the magic cure-all for every problem in your life
- We should avoid essential oils at all costs because they’re poisonous
If your head is starting to spin with all the back and forth-- you’re not alone.
And in reality, there’s truth to both sides.
While not every essential oil is created equal-- you don’t need to run for the hills.
Let’s break down why we’re big fans of using the right amounts of properly sourced oils, like frankincense, to deliver skin-loving and health-promoting benefits through our nourishing tallow skincare formulas.
Essential Oil Sourcing and Extraction Methods Matter
(We won’t get too technical here, but it’s important to know where your essential oils come from and how they’re extracted so you can make informed buying decisions.)
There are a few main ways to make essential oils
We prefer to stick with third-party tested, steam-distilled, or whole-food, resin-bound essential oils in our formulas to ensure the highest purity and efficacy.
Why We Love Frankincense Resin
You might be wondering-- wait, what exactly is resin?
You know that sticky stuff you got all over yourself climbing pine trees as a kid? Yeah, that’s resin.
It’s not the same thing as sap. The sap is usually more watery and runs through the tree’s vascular system. Resin is the thick, fragrant secretion that oozes through the bark of certain trees and acts as a healing agent when it faces trauma. Frankincense resin comes from Boswellia trees native to the Arabian Peninsula. (8)
Most of the juicy benefits of frankincense are thanks to the triterpenes and boswellic acids found within the resin itself. These compounds are too big to be transferred in other distillation processes used to make traditional essential oils. Extracting them is sort of like cooking a roast and not using the nutrient-dense bones to make a broth-- what a waste!
And this is exactly why we choose to use the whole resin form of frankincense instead of the distilled version. The only process needed is the removal of the water-soluble gums, leaving us with the oil-soluble base known as oleoresin that contains all the “essentials”-- see what we did there?
We wanted to ensure that you’re not only smelling the sweet, earthy aroma of frankincense we all love-- but that you’re also getting the oodles of anti-inflammatory, healing perks.
There are several different types of frankincense. One of our favorites is the boswellia sacra variety grown in Oman. (11) Historically known to have been offered to Christ himself, boswellia sacra is commonly referred to as ”holy frankincense” because of its superior quality. We source our beloved frankincense sacra resin from a fair-trade, small-batch, sustainable distributor based in Canada. No cutting corners here.
7 Hype-Worthy Frankincense Skin Benefits
Though Frankincense is no magic cure-all, it’s pretty much as close as we can get. This legendary jack-of-all-trades ingredient truly deserves the spotlight. So let’s dive into what you really came here for-- all the ways frankincense resin might just transform your skin.1. Calm Breakouts
Music to the acne sufferer's ears. Frankincense resin is packed with antibacterial goodness that fights all types of breakouts, from blackheads and whiteheads to angry cysts. And because it’s non-comedogenic, you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores and making matters worse (phew!). (1, 2 6)
2. Slow the Formation of Wrinkles
Getting older is nothing to shy away from-- the experience and wisdom that comes with age should be welcomed and celebrated. Let’s shift our focus from slamming on the breaks to simply supporting our skin as it ages through rejuvenating ingredients like frankincense-- which is shown to support healthy cell growth that effectively softens lines and maintains skin strength + integrity. (12, 7, 13)
3. Restore Moisture Balance
The naturally occurring terpenes in frankincense nourish and moisturize the skin while also regulating sebum production. It’s truly a win-win. The astringent-like properties also detoxify and tighten the skin resulting in visually smaller-looking pores. (9)
4. Relieve Pain + Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory benefits of frankincense go beyond the skin to soothe sore muscles and arthritic joint pain. (14) Massaging frankincense resin within a high-quality carrier oil, like tallow, on the affected area can reduce swelling and inflammation, effectively reducing pain.
5. Fade Scars and Hyperpigmentation
Frankincense is known to harmonize cell turnover and encourage skin healing. This is great news for those of us prone to scarring. The secret is its ability to inhibit Collagen type III. We know what you might think: “wait, isn’t collagen a good thing?” And you’d be right. But when left unchecked, Collagen type III can overdo it-- leaving you with a scar. Frankincense regulates the production of this type of collagen to repair the skin more evenly, reducing the likelihood of a scar. (7, 12) When dealing with acne or other skin conditions, the last thing you want to worry about is the marks that could be left behind once it finally clears.
6. Reduce Redness and Skin Sensitivity
The soothing properties of boswellic acid found in frankincense resin help calm redness associated with inflammation while strengthening the skin against further irritation. We’re calling all folks suffering from rosacea, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis, and eczema-- meet your new skincare BFF. (4, 5, 6)
7. Fight Bacterial Infections
The natural antiseptic properties of frankincense resin are super helpful when treating microbial infections. Boswellia sacra, in particular, has been used for centuries to neutralize and clear bacteria, even stubborn staph infections. Yeah, we meant it when we said this stuff works overtime for your skin. (1, 2, 3)
The Skincare Dream Team: Frankincense and Tallow
Now that we’ve given you a little insight into the beauty of frankincense resin and why we’re pretty much obsessed here at Fatskn, let's talk about the secret sauce to getting the most out of your resin: tallow.
Mixing your newfound frankincense love with nutrient-dense tallow is the recipe for skin success.
These two powerhouses are the dream team that makes up our FATSKN Face - Frankincense. This yummy blend of grass-fed + grass-finished suet tallow, olive squalane oil, and, of course, frankincense sacra resin extract blows what we thought about natural skincare right out of the water.
It combines all the anti-inflammatory, soothing benefits of frankincense resin with the abundant bioavailable, fat-soluble vitamins in grass-fed tallow. So if you’re sold on the benefits of frankincense resin and looking for a place to start your skin healing journey-- this is the first stop. It’s one of our faves!
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, ranting about all the things we love about frankincense resin, and we’ve linked several sources for you to look into below-- but we just wanted to point out that, as with most things related to health, nuance is key.
You know your body best.
While we hope to be a no-nonsense resource, we encourage you to always do your own research to find the best options for you and your family. You can check out our whole collection of good-for-you, tallow-based skincare products by hitting the button below. We hope to see you over there!
1. Al-Harrasi A, Csuk R, Khan A, Hussain J. Distribution of the anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant compounds: Incensole and incensole acetate in genus Boswellia. Phytochemistry. 2019 May;161:28-40. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2019.01.007. Epub 2019 Feb 22. PMID: 30802641. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30802641/
2. Al-Yasiry AR, Kiczorowska B. Frankincense--therapeutic properties. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2016 Jan 4;70:380-91. doi: 10.5604/17322693.1200553. PMID: 27117114. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27117114/
3. Di Stefano V, Schillaci D, Cusimano MG, Rishan M, Rashan L. In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Frankincense Oils from Boswellia sacra Grown in Different Locations of the Dhofar Region (Oman). Antibiotics (Basel). 2020 Apr 20;9(4):195. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics9040195. PMID: 32325952; PMCID: PMC7235874. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801908/
4. Eyre H, Hills J, Watkins D. Compositions containing boswellia extracts. Quest International B.V., assignee. Patent US 6, 589, 516 B1. 2003 Jul 8; https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/ed/fe/20/d6cb3ac96ac65e/US6589516.pdf
5. Halim SA, Khan A, Csuk R, Al-Rawahi A, Al-Harrasi A. Diterpenoids and Triterpenoids From Frankincense Are Excellent Anti-psoriatic Agents: An in silico Approach. Front Chem. 2020 Jun 25;8:486. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2020.00486. PMID: 32671018; PMCID: PMC7330179. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7330179/
6. Hamidpour R, Hamidpour S, Hamidpour M, Shahlari M. Frankincense ( rǔ xiāng; boswellia species): from the selection of traditional applications to the novel phytotherapy for the prevention and treatment of serious diseases. J Tradit Complement Med. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924999/
7. Han X, Rodriguez D, Parker TL. Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Biochim Open. 2017 Feb 3;4:31-35. doi: 10.1016/j.biopen.2017.01.003. PMID: 29450138; PMCID: PMC5801908. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29450138/
8. Nix, S. (2018, March 18). Tree Resin Protects and Increases Value. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-tree-resins-1343409
9. Orchard A, van Vuuren S. Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4517971. doi: 10.1155/2017/4517971. Epub 2017 May 4. PMID: 28546822; PMCID: PMC5435909. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/
10. Qurishi Y, Hamid A, Zargar MA, Singh SK, Saxena AK. Potential role of natural molecules in health and disease: Importance of boswellic acid. J Med Plants Res. 2010;4:2778–85. https://academicjournals.org/journal/JMPR/article-full-text-pdf/68BFC7723000
11. Times News Service. (2020, October 20). We Love Oman: The land of frankincense. Times of Oman. https://timesofoman.com/article/92396-we-love-oman-the-land-of-frankincense#:~:text=Frankincense%20is%20an%20integral%20part
12. Xuesheng Han, Damian Rodriguez, Tory L. Parker, Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts, Biochimie Open, Volume 4, 2017, Pages 31-35, ISSN 2214-0085, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopen.2017.01.003.
13. Yasrib, Qurishi, et al. "Potential role of natural molecules in health and disease: Importance of boswellic acid." Journal of medicinal plants research 4.25 (2010): 2778-2786. https://academicjournals.org/journal/JMPR/article-full-text-pdf/68BFC7723000
14. Zhu XF, Luo J, Guan YM, Yu YT, Jin C, Zhu WF, Liu HN. [Effects of Frankincense and Myrrh essential oil on transdermal absorption in vitro of Chuanxiong and penetration mechanism of skin blood flow]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2017 Feb;42(4):680-685. Chinese. doi: 10.19540/j.cnki.cjcmm.20170103.025. PMID: 28959837. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28959837/