Frankincense. Even the name sounds exotic. If you performed in a Christmas nativity play as a kid, you’ll definitely recall that it was one of the gifts the three wise men brought to baby Jesus. So frankincense certainly has a pedigree, and it’s been seen as something special for quite a while indeed.
Frankincense is the gummy white sap from a tree with an equally exotic-sounding name, the Boswellia Carterii tree. This gooey stuff may not seem exciting but it has a magical aroma and once it hardens into a resin, it can be scraped off the tree and used as incense or transformed into an essential oil through steam distillation.
You can only find Boswellia Carterii trees in the Arabian Peninsula and Northeast Africa, and it takes about ten years for each tree to produce its sap. This precious liquid should only be harvested a couple of times a year, when incisions are made in the bark allowing the sap to bubble out like liquid pearls. This is why for much of history, frankincense was in short supply and high demand — as rare and valuable as gold.
The name frankincense comes from an old French term, franc encens, meaning “high-quality incense” and its fragrant perfume has been used for medicinal, religious and social purposes from as early as 1,500 BC.
Frankincense was probably first burned for its antiseptic, insect-repelling qualities but over time its other-worldly fragrance made it ideal for ceremonies: weddings, childbirth and funerals, when pieces of the resin would be burnt. The incense was also used as a hair oil and to sweeten the breath, while soot from the incense burners was used for eye makeup and tattoos.
The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus mentions the benefits of frankincense for throat infections and asthmatic attacks, and when King Tut’s 3,000-year-old tomb was opened in 1922, it contained jars of still-fragrant frankincense-infused perfume oil.
Frankincense appears in a 6th century Chinese manuscript Mingyi Bielu and is still used in TCM to relieve joint pain and balance emotions. Ayurveda loves frankincense too, here it is used to treat rheumatism and respiratory problems.
Frankincense is definitely tried and tested, with a 5,000-year track record and solid recommendations from “influencers” like King Tut. But what can it do for us now?
Apart from its mystical aroma, frankincense is a skin saviour.
This is due to its naturally occurring compounds, including Boswellic acid, which boasts a bounty of benefits for the skin. Studies show that boswellic acid:
Frankincense also delivers a dose of aromatherapy and its woody, comforting fragrance acts on the nervous system to lower stress levels, calm anxiety and promote sleep.
Adding fabulous frankincense to your daily skincare routine is a breeze and you’ll soon see the difference.
1. Moisture booster
Add a few drops of organic Frankincense essential oil to your existing moisturiser or body lotion
– Use 6 drops of Frankincense essential oil per 30ml for facial products
– Use 12 drops of Frankincense essential oil per 60ml for body products
3. For spots
Add a couple of drops of Frankincense oil to a cotton bud and dab directly onto the spot.
4. To even skin tone and fade age marks
Add 2–4 drops of Frankincense oil to a carrier oil (jojoba or almond). Gently rub into the mark.
5. Facial steam
Add 3 drops Frankincense oil and 2 drops of Geranium oil to a warm face cloth. Press the cloth on your face for up to 30 seconds and breathe deeply, then wipe your face clean.
6. Frankincense toner
Mix Frankincense oil with pure water or witch hazel (6 drops of Frankincense oil per 30ml of water) for a light, uplifting toner and refresher. You can also use this to set your makeup. It is best to use a dark glass spray bottle and shake well before using.
7. Scaly hand soother
Add a few drops of Frankincense oil to your hand cream to hydrate and soften rough skin. The scent will add a warm, spicy note to your hand cream.
8. Fingernail balm
Apply a drop Frankincense oil on your fingernail and gently massage it into the cuticles and ragged edges of your nails to make them strong and healthy.
9. Skin serum with Frankincense oil
Frankincense is one of the eight oils in Derma Botanica No.3, a luxurious skin-nourishing treatment oil blended from 11 botanical oils to replenish and restore moisture to the skin. Derma Botanica No.3 is completely free from synthetic chemicals and revives dull, tired skin, refines texture and restore balances. With just a few drops, your skin will feel so much softer and beautifully supple.
Derma Botanica No.3 can be used as a serum, underneath your usual moisturiser, or alone, instead of your daily or nightly cream.
Derma Botanica No. 3 is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. The multifunctional formulation is packed with potent antioxidants and antibacterials but is gentle on the skin.