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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth McComsey

Frankincense, Boswellic Acid and Your Skin

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

What is Frankincense?

Quite simply, Frankincense or Olibanum, is the dried resin that comes from any of the trees from the genus Boswellia. It has been held in high regard for thousands of years, and as I'm sure you are aware, was one of the three gifts given to Baby Jesus from the Three Kings, or Wise Men.

During these thousands of years, Frankincense has been used in religious ceremonies, during meditation, in perfumes and even used as medicine. Frankincense has a deep woody, somewhat spicy smell, and studies show that the aroma induces relaxation and improves meditation. It's no wonder that frankincense has such ties to spirituality and religion.

One of our products that really allows you to breathe in this calming aroma is Frankin' Beautiful's Facial Serum for Mature Skin. Not only does this contain resin from the Boswellia sacra tree (or Sacred Frankincense), it also contains additional amounts of essential oil from that tree as well as from Boswellia Carterii.


Frankin' Beautiful's Facial Serum for Mature Skin contains Frankincense in the form of Royal Green Hojari Resin from the Boswellia sacra tree as well as additional Frankincense Essential Oils from both Boswellia sacra and from Boswellia carterii.


Now We Know About Frankincense, But What is Boswellic Acid, and Why Is It So Special?

Boswellic Acid (BA) is a series of pentacyclic terpenoid molecules unique to the resin of the different species of Boswellia, or Frankincense tree. Here at Frankin’ Beautiful, we use Royal Green Hojari Frankincense resin, ethically harvested on a private farm in the Mountains of Oman. This is an extremely high-quality resin that comes from the Boswellia sacra tree, also known as “Sacred Frankincense.” This tree is primarily grown in both the mountainous and coastal regions of Oman. The Green Hojari Frankincense is the version that is grown in the mountains. "Hojari" translates to "Mountainside" in English. And the very best of the Green Hojari Frankincense has been traditionally reserved for royalty, hence the name, "Royal Green Hojari Frankincense." This is the resin we use in our products. It is the best quality available and has the greatest benefits for skin. This type of resin also contains the highest amounts of the most beneficial Boswellic Acids.


So What Does Boswellic Acid Have to do with Skincare?

While around 12 distinct variations of Boswellic Acids have been identified, the two that seem to stand out are 11-keto-β-boswellic acid (KBA), and 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid AKBA. Evidence shows that these two appear to be the best at inhibiting the enzymes responsible for inflammation. AKBA, in particular, has shown strong antimicrobial, antitumor and immunomodulatory activities. Studies have even shown that these compounds can reverse the effects of photoaging on skin, literally reversing part of the aging process. Mountainous Boswellia sacra trees produce resin with a much higher concentration of these compounds than do other species, including Boswellia Serrata and even other Boswellia Sacra trees that grow along the coastal regions. The Boswellia sacra we use, is from this mountainous version, allowing us to incorporate a much higher concentration of these important compounds into our products.


Our Frankin' Balm contains the highest concentration of Boswellia sacra resin of all of our products, at about 50%. It can be used as a lip balm, as a wrinkle treatment, or even to lessen the appearance of age spots. We combine the resin with other ingredients like mango butter, so it is not only effective, but when used as a lip balm, it tastes great too!


Why Don't More Skincare Products Contain Boswellic Acid?

It is worth noting that while BA's are a dream ingredient in skincare, they come with a few hurdles that must first be overcome before they can offer any real benefit to your skin. One major misconception people have about frankincense is that the essential oils contain these compounds, when in fact they do not. Frankincense essential oil (FREO) can be very beneficial for skin, and we use it in almost all of our formulations. FREO, most notably, can help with wound-healing and scar-reduction, but it is extracted from the resin using steam distillation, and the BA molecules are just too heavy for this type of extraction and are left behind.

Another hurdle is that BA’s are naturally not very bioavailable, meaning that the body does not absorb them easily. If you take an isolated BA, and add it to a cream or serum, it will just sit on the top of your skin, offering little to no benefit, even if the rest of the cream or serum is absorbed into the dermal layers.


If Boswellic Acid Can't be Absorbed, Why is it in Frankin' Beautiful Skincare?

The great news is that it CAN be absorbed, and we have the right formulation to make it happen. There is a way to overcome almost any hurdle if you keep at it, and in this case, the answer is through nanotechnology. By separating the different boswellic acids into nanoparticles while combining them with the correct phospholipid and stabilizer, we are able to create a homogenized emulsion that is easily absorbed into skin. It is this emulsion that makes Frankin' Beautiful products so effective. During our trials, which included women participants between the ages of 19 and 78, we were very excited to find that every person involved in the trials noticed a significant improvement in skin texture, and almost 70% noticed a significant decrease in both wrinkle depth and length.


We have found that the products that yielded the best results, were the products that had the highest concentration of Boswellic Acids. Above, you already saw the link for our Frankin' Balm.

I will post information about our other two most popular products below. For further reading, I have linked to several studies that provide additional information about Boswellic acid, and Frankincense EO. I used these sources for much of my initial research.


Frankin Facial Serum is our original serum recipe and contains the highest amount of what we lovingly call our “Frankin’ Sauce,” (or our special emulsion that allows the ‘good stuff’ in Frankincense to absorb into your skin.) out of all of our serums. This serum also contains the powerhouse combination of Sea Buckthorn, Rosehip, Milk Thistle and Pumpkin Seed oils, along with some of the best essential oils for skin, including Neroli, Helichrysum and Geranium.

The other product I would like to call out is our Frankin' Night Crème. This deeply nourishing cream also contains a high amount of our 'Frankin Sauce.' It combines the power of frankincense with easily absorbed nutrients like Kokum Butter, Pomegranate Seed and Sea Buckthorn oils. It also contains more than TEN pure essential oils, including Sacred Frankincense, Rosemary, Bergamot and Ylang Ylang. Our Night Crème provides your skin with the nutrients it needs most as it enters "restoring mode" during the night, encouraging epidermal cell-renewal, supporting collagen production, providing important antioxidants to support DNA repair, and deep hydration to combat transepidermal water loss that often increases during the night.


Resources and Further Reading for for Nerds Like Me.

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