Which Frankincense Should You Choose? - Everyday Essentials

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Which Frankincense Should You Choose?

We have our favorite essential oils here at Plant Therapy and Frankincense is at the top of the list. This workhorse of an essential oil has a number of versatile uses that make it a must-have for your collection. Even though we offer several varieties of Frankincense that each bring unique nuances, they share the same wonderful benefits. No matter which Frankincense you use, you really can’t go wrong. But we also understand that you want to invest in the oil you’ll use the most without buying all four varieties of Frankincense (yes, we said four).

Find more details on the benefits and uses of Frankincense here.

Frankincense Carteri Essential Oil Plant Therapy

Frankincense Carterii

Frankincense Carterii boasts more of a green, balsamic aroma than the other varieties. It’s also the most popular and readily available variety of Frankincense. It’s wonderful for meditation and yoga practices as it helps provide a grounding and comforting atmosphere. And it’s even a great choice to use during times of grief or mourning. Try combining with other comforting oils like Rose and Sandalwood.

Frankincense Carterii is also wonderful for bumps, bruises, aches, and pains. Try diluting in your favorite carrier oil or lotion so you can apply it whenever you need it. Learn more about the benefits and uses of Frankincense Carterii here.

Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil

Frankincense Serrata

Even though all Frankincense is good for relieving aches and swollen joints, Frankincense Serrata is also the best choice for this issue. It can also be used to ease pain caused by menstruation. These pain-relieving benefits make a great choice for your toolkit if you work out a lot, experience aches and pains from everyday wear and tear, or need a little extra relief during that time of the month. Frankincense Serrata’s green, woody, and earthy scent helps promote clear and deep breathing. Try combining it with oils like Eucalyptus Globulus and Fir Needle for a fresh, clearing blend. 

To learn more about all the ways you can use Frankincense Serrata, click here.

Frankincense resin in bowls with full essential oil bottles

Frankincense Frereana

This variety of Frankincense is well-known for its rejuvenating benefits when added to your skincare routine. It can help smooth the appearance of wrinkles, scars, dry and damaged skin. Who doesn’t need a little extra TLC in your skincare routine? Try incorporating this oil into your daily skincare routine by diluting it in one of our amazing carrier oil blends like Younger Glo or Near Perfection. This variety of Frankincense, like the other varieties, can also help to support a healthy immune system.

Plant Therapy the Fantastic Franks essential oil

Fantastic Franks

Get the best of everything Frankincense with this incredible blend. Fantastic Franks combines four different varieties: Carterii, Frereana, Papyrifera, and the highly sought-after and valuable Sacra. It’s one of the most important essential oils for skincare and provides remarkable rejuvenating and healing properties. Great for anything from blemishes and minor skin wounds to aging concerns, just dilute it in a carrier oil and apply it to your face (1-2% dilution) or other areas of your body (3-5% dilution). As a gentle “balancer” for oily skin, Frankincense is thought to help regenerate aging skin, keep wrinkles at bay, and may even smooth out the appearance of some existing ones. And like all varieties of Frankincense, this blend brings a lovely grounding note to your diffuser blends.

Learn more about the benefits and uses of Fantastic Franks in this in-depth blog post.


Remember, no matter what Frankincense Essential Oil you choose, you’re sure to fall in love. Do you have a favorite variety? Let us know in the comments below!


170 thoughts on “Which Frankincense Should You Choose?”

    1. Each variety of Frankincense offers moisturizing properties to the scalp and hair, which helps promote hair health and keep dandruff at bay. And we love the idea of offering Fantastic Franks in an organic version! We will have to look into this – thank you for the suggestion!

  • Why you don’t offer sole Frankincense Sacra oils like the other brands? For me, it has the best scent among all of ther types of franks.

    1. I will pass this comment along and hopefully we can locate an excellent source for Frankincense Sacra to add to our collection. Thank you for the recommendation!

  • This was very helpful. I was confused as to which one I should order, but this post really made it easy to determine what would best suite my needs. Thanks!

  • My daughter has been getting rashes regularly. I want to add a bit of frankincense to lavender when she is itchy (it has been helping her), which kind should I use?

    1. Frankincense Carterii is a good place to start. It’s great for all kinds of skin issues like rashes, irritation, bumps and bruises. But really you can’t go wrong with whatever type of Frankincense you have on hand.

  • If I want to apply Frankincense under/around my eyes and for reducing sun spots, is Frankincense Frereana the preferred one to use? Can I apply the oil directly to skin? Thanks.

    1. We actually don’t recommend applying essential oils near the eyes as it’s such a delicate sensitive area. But if you wanted to use Frankincense on your face, we recommend diluting it to 1% in your favorite carrier oil (Younger Glo is a great option!).

  • I’m looking for the right frankincense oil to help my grandfathers gut function, he has a bad liver along with cancer in his liver as well. Anyone know which one?

  • Hi. I am wanting to try frankincense oil to try and get rid of lipomas. Which one would be best and what dilution. I’ll be combining with a few other oils.

    1. If you’re using Frankincense on a regular daily basis, we recommend sticking to a 1% dilution.

  • Thank you so much for clarifying the difference in frankincense oils. Was looking to add to my DYI natural deodorant project.

  • Great article. Informative without being overwhelming. Think I will give carteri a try as it is on sale this week!

  • I have read that putting Frankincense on skin tags on the face or body, may dry the tag making it fall off. Is there one variety of Frankincense that is better for this than another?

    1. For skin concerns, I recommend Frankincense Frereana. However, please make sure to dilute appropriately before use.

  • Thank you so much for the informative article!

    I recently was introduced to frankincense by a friend and purchased f. Carteri from a different supplier for primarily skin and immune health purposes.

    I love the calming fragrance and was surprised to learn here that there are multiple options which have different applications.

    SO, I splurged and also bought F. Frereana from your store in hopes that it would be even more effective at skin rejuvenation.
    I’m also hoping that it smells better in dilution/blends than it does straight from the bottle.

    I much appreciate that you include fragrance descriptions with your products and cannot emphasize enough how important it is for scent-sensitive individuals to take note. Frereana is more intense and heavy on the “woody-pine”, it is also much less “lemony” than the gentler aroma of Carteri.

  • Thank you for great summary! I have all 3 oils and add them to my facial blends. Love love love the way it supports my skin!

  • Thank you for explaining the difference. I’m still learning about the subtle differences of some of these oils. Now I know to get all 3 Frankincense because I have a use for each one.

  • oh, it seems I have been using the wrong Frankincense. I have been using Frankincense Carteri in my skincare routine to handle freckles.

  • This article helped me figure out which to buy the frereana is working well in my serum with the rose and lavender. The carteri is net on my list. Thank you for the recipes and bundling all the information in one place.

  • Questions: The article describes Carteri as being ” great for relaxing and meditation practices”, but the recipe for yoga and meditation spray uses Serrata. Also, the description for Serrata states it is, “the best choice to aid in relief for aching or swollen joints”, but the DIY recipe for Muscle and Joint Rub calls for Carteri. Is the article contradicting itself?

    1. Diane, I understand why this can cause some confusion! Each variety of Frankincense may have some specific benefits over another, but generally, they are pretty interchangeable. For the particular DIYs you mentioned, it is possible that the aromatherapist creating those blends chose a particular variety of Frankincense based off of aroma or how it interacted with the other oils in the blend to produce the desired effect, rather than only considering how one Frankincense is slightly more relaxing than another. I hope this makes sense and helps answer your question, which is a great one!

  • I am trying to understand how one can get three different types of frankincense. Is it that they are derived from different parts of the plant? How is it that other essential oil companies only sell one and state all these benefits in one bottle? Thank you for your time.

    1. Sarah, the different varieties are a result of chemistry differences between them and notable aroma differences. Each is distilled in the same manner but you’ll notice their botanical names are different. The differences also come from the where the Frankincense is being sourced from, as different climates can produce drastically different qualities in an oil. As for other essential oil companies, you’ll have to reach out to them to learn more about the type of Frankincense they carry as we really can’t assume what their policies regarding this are 🙂 I hope this helps!

      1. To clarify, the serrata, frereana and Carteri are all different species of the frankincense plant, correct? They’re all different breeds of frankincesne, and the different frankincense oils are made from these completely different plants, right? Not just different parts or areas of the same type of frankincense plant, right?

    1. Liz, you can use Frankincense Serrata for facial care, but I highly suggest Frankincense Frereana as the better choice. It’s known primarily for its skin benefits and also has a more pleasant, sweeter smell 🙂

    1. Mary, all types of Frankincense can help with migraines because of their ability to reduce discomfort so it’s hard to say for sure which variety would be best for you particularly. I would suggest starting with the Frankincense variety you think you’ll like best and seeing how it helps with your migraines, and of course taking advantage of our awesome return policy if you find that it’s not the right one for your situation. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of aromatherapists at [email protected] if you need more guidance 🙂

  • Hi there. Is the frereana the better choice to be added to my skin care regimen? I just ordered the carteri and am wondering if I should make an exchange.

    1. Jennifer, Frefreana is the preferred choice for skincare, but that surely doesn’t mean Carteri isn’t also great! Before making an exchange, give Carteri a try because you may find that you love it and it works great for you. We all interact with oils in our own unique ways, and thanks to our 90-day return policy, there is no risk at all in giving Carteri a try 🙂

    1. Carmen, the Frankincense Carteri and Sacra (sacred) species are very similar. They are both alpha-pinene chemotypes and there is some debate surrounding the confusion with whether or not Carteri and Sacra are different names for the same oil. However, Sacra contains the overall highest levels of alpha-pinene and comes from Oman, while Carteri is not quite as high in alpha-pinene and comes from Somalia and Somaliland. This means that the benefits of Carteri can be applied to Sacra, as well as both being KidSafe 🙂 If you need more in-depth information, please reach out to our team of aromatherapists at [email protected] and I’m sure they’ll be able to answer any more questions you have 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this information! I was just about to email customer service w/questions about Frankincense and thought to check the blog first 🙂

  • This was super helpful! I kept going back and forth on which one to get and now I know! Thank you for all you guys do!

  • I’m heading to the market today to pick up some Plant Therapy Frankincense! I can’t wait to add it to my skin care routine 🙂 this is a great post about which of the three is best for what! Thank you!

  • So grateful that you include safety for our kids. They’re actually the reason I got into essential oils in the first place and your site has been such a huge help – even the way you have a kid safe oils shopping page. Totally the best!

  • I’m so grateful for this article!! I had no idea which one to choose for emotional stability but now I do.

    1. I have been buying the wrong Frank too. I use it for my skin. So now need to order Frankincense Frereana. The Carteri I will use it for joint and muscle ache. There are so much to learn about EO. Thanks I joined the blog. I’m still waiting for the Hydrosol Rose which has been out of stock since 2 weeks.

  • This was very helpful in choosing which one was best for me. I wanted relief from joint pain in my thumb joints. Thank you!

  • Drat, just when I thought I didn’t need any more essential oils, I see I need one more frankincense. It’s nice to have a handy place to see the comparisons.
    Thank you for another great blog.

  • This article was incredibly informative. I may be less hesitant to purchase any of the Frankincense oils in the future.

  • This is a really awesome article that I bookmarked so that I can refer back to it easily. I recently bought a frankincense oil and was confused on which one to buy so I just bought the most popular one. I love that this article really breaks down the differences between them. I am happy with my purchase but will probably end up buying another one too!

  • Oh my! Where do I start my story with this oil? It is amazing how fast its action is! I’m using Frankincense oil for muscle pains and headaches, it works like a charm all the time! Literally, the pain is gone in 5 minutes or so!

    Thank you for the precious infos about this oils. I knew there are more than just one type of Frankincense, but didn’t know about the usage of it and the differences, and I’m sure to gathering all the recipes I can find now to make my own blends!

  • Thank you for information Plant Therapy. Serrata & Carteri are part of my much loved collection. It sounds like Frereana will soon be purchased to add to my DIY hand creams.

  • I was looking at making Christmas gifts that someone had shared in a PT group last year of the 3 gifts: a roller with Frankincense, Myrrh, and gold (flecks) and I wasn’t sure which Frank to choose but now I know thanks to this blog!!!

  • Thank you for this helpful information, It is great to see comparisons of the benefits. I love Frank S and after reading I bought Carteri when they were the spotlight oils. Love love love them both. Thanks for always sharing information and safety with us.

  • Great article!! I needed this information when I ordered and definitely wouldn’t have felt as comfortable with my purchase without it. Still know I will be getting all the oils :-), but I started with my most needed!

  • Thank you – I hadn’t put a lot of thought into there being more than one type. I’m going to order the Frereana for a skin oil. I’ve liked burning solid frankincense on a charcoal round, but would like to try diffusing or spraying to get away from the charcoal.

  • Very good explanation of the differences between the three types of Frankincense. I love Frankincense Carteri, but plan to try them all. Thank you!

  • Can you substitute the variants of Frankincense with each other? Like can you use Carteri for skincare and respiratory issues or Serrata for a minor wound?

  • Love this post! It’s so helpful to have this explanation of the differences between the Frankincense varieties. I learned a lot!

  • Thank you for this super helpful post! I used to think all Frankincense was the same! Now I know which types to use for specific things. I will definitely be mixing up the joint relief blend!

  • I started with Serrata and quickly fell in love with the smell. Then I added Carteri to my collection and I love it too, though Serrata is still my favorite. I need to try the Frereana next. Knowing me I’ll probably love it too. No such thing a too many essential oils in my book!

  • Informative post! Have always been curious about the uses of different species of frank. Just placed the order. Thanks!

  • I didn’t really know much about the Frankincense oils and that there were different kinds. I will be definitely ordering one now. Thanks for the info!

  • Frankincense helps with my aches and pains and smells great, too. After reading this post the other day, I diluted frereana, clary sage and lavender fine with argan oil to put on irritation rashes + acne on my cheeks and they quickly calmed down and remained that way until today. I am running out and will be stocking soon.

  • This is great! When I first ordered Frankincense, I asked the customer service rep about the differences between them. After she gave me the details for each, I (not so) jokingly said “Well, I think maybe I need them ALL then!” 🙂 I bought Frereana first (LOVE the smell of that one!) and later on got Serrata. And now I have Carteri on the way, which is scheduled for delivery today! Can’t wait to try out these awesome suggestions.

  • Printing this one! I’ve been amazed at what Frankincense has done for healing and scarring in our famliy. I don’t love the aroma, but I do love its power.

  • I was excited to get my Frereana this weekend to use in my skin care. I love both of the other varieties, but this one smells horrible. I can only compare it to the smell of the pachyderm house at the zoo. So bummed! 🙁

  • Thanks so much for the great descriptions and uses…never knew the differences and now have some knowledge! Really appreciate the information PT…the best!

  • If Frereana is the best for skincare, then why is it that your Anti-Age Synergy blend contains Serrata and Carteri and NOT Frereana??

    1. Rachel, that is EXACTLY what I was about to comment! I have been doing a little more research on the different types of Frankincense, and I’m finding such conflicting information. And then I looked at my Anti-Age synergy, and that just confused me even more.

  • I thought I remember reading a PT article stating there is some doubt as to if there really is differences among the three Frankincense varieties so I have been using Serrata for everything, including skin care. I love it , but it appears I need to order the Frereana. I had my eye on the Frankincense oils since they are featured this week with the Spotlight Oil of The Week discount, but had been considering Carteri. But this article has been helpful! Seems I’m not alone in using the wrong Frankincense for skin!

  • Thank you for the post on the different uses for the Frankincense varieties. I knew that Frereana was good for skin but didn’t know the difference between the others. I want to make up the mask recipe but I don’t have Frereana yet. Which would be better for skin between Caterii and Serrata?

  • This is so helpful! I always feel it’s a research project to figure out which one to use. Having this resource is going to save so much time!

  • This is perfect! I’ve heard great things about frankincense in regards to skin care and now I know which one to purchase. Added bonus, I didn’t know it worked for menstrual cramps. Guess I’ll be getting two versions, good thing they’re the oil of the week.

  • Such a helpful article on the differences in Frankincense. I’ve been using the Carteri for diffusing and in my skin care but will now be trying the Frereana and the Serrata for their benefits. Thanks for your great blogs.

  • Great article! I use Frankincense in my DIY face cream and realized I’ve been using the wrong one for the skin. Thanks for explaining the difference Plant Therapy!

  • Thanks so much, for the helpful information. I never realized that there is a difference between frankincense.

  • Thanks so much for explaining all of this great stuff to us, me. I am really excited because I am waiting on an order to come that should be here by Tuesday evening and it has Frankincense Carteri in it. My husband has a bruise on the inside of his left arm that is beginning to dissipate, but I am believing that this is really going to help him.

  • Thank you for an informative posts and helpful recipes! I made the muscle & joint rub for family and friends last Christmas – looking to purchase the other Franks and give the other recipes a try this year.

  • Thank you so much for this blog post! Now I know which Frankincense to add to my pain blend for the arthritis in my hands. With the weather turning colder here, the discomfort is getting worse.

  • To prevent the jar cracking from heat, you can also fashion a double boiler. Use two pans. In the larger pan, fill it halfway with water and bring it to a slow boil. Place the smaller pan inside the larger pan for an indirect heat. It wont heat as quickly but it will melt the beeswax just fine. Be sure not to get any water in the pan with the oils and wax. Good luck and have fun.

  • Another great blog. I love the recipes that are included as well and plan to make the salve.

    Of course, Frankincense essential oil is not what would have been gifted to Baby Jesus. It more likely would have been resin, or the sap, of the Frankincense tree. Distillation methods were not discovered until approximately 1000 years later. The mentioning of oils in the Bible, are most likely infusions of resins, herbs, or flowers. And, of course, we still enjoy aromatics-infused oils now!

  • I have PT Frankincense serrata. Can it be used for lower back pain during menstrual period? Does it also help with fatigue feeling during menstrual period? Thanks

  • I have wondered about the uses for the different varieties of Frankinsence. I have Carteri in stock but it looks like I might need Frereana also! Thanks for the info!

  • I love frankincense frereana. It’s only been a few weeks and my skin is great. Thank you for the wonderful blog post.

  • Thank you for posting this! I am new to EOs and I ordered from your website for the first time on Friday. I ordered the Frankincense Frereana and had no clue which I was choosing. I definitely want to try the Carteri as well. I got an email that all Frankincense products are 15% off this week, so I might place an order before even receiving my first package!

  • This was so helpful. I’m going to save this information in my eo notebook. Thank you for not only bring a supplier of excellent quality essential oils, but also for educating your followers and providing recipes to help us address our ailments and enhance our enjoyment of essential oils.

      1. Ledum is also another great oil for fighting cancer. I have been told that it fights cancer better than Frankincense. Been using both for my skin cancer and works very well

  • Great information, thank you! I absolutely love Frankincense Carteri, use it every day in a diffuser and skincare products. Now I want to add Frankincense Frereana to my collection. This post is a little nudge I needed to go ahead

  • I always wondered the differences between Frankincense carteri and serrata. This clearly explains what I wanted to know. It’s extremly helpful 🙂

  • This is a great read. I have serrata already and I have the other two oils ordered. I love the frankincense serrata that I already have.

  • Thank You!
    This article helped me narrow down which Frankincense to try first, I was so confused by the choices. I am trying carteri first and hoping to try serrata next! Thank you for explaining the differences and providing suggested recipes!

  • We recently had a massive tragedy in our life. A friend of mine recommended Frankincense oil for grief. I came to PT looking for a new Frankincense oil but was wondering which one to chose. I was thinking I wish someone would create a chart that lays out the basic uses for each oil…. then I remember about the blog. Sure enough, just 2 days ago a blog post on Frankincense! Thanks Plant Therapy for your blog, oils, customer service and helpful information.

  • I like the idea of putting the metal rim in the pan. I worried about cracking jars when I had done it the other way, too.

  • I love Frankincense Serrata! I need to make the blend with Lavender Fine and Cardamom, that sounds lovely for diffusing! Thank you!

  • I’m on my 2nd bottle of Carteri great product! Been using this on my face. Upon reading the article maybe I should be using the Frereana kind.

    1. One should only ingest essential oils under the guidance of a properly trained aromatherapist. In most instances, taking EOs internally is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

  • I’ve been using the wrong franensense in my facial serum this whole time. Who knew? Thanks for the article!

  • I’ve had my eye on the frankinsences for awhile now and just bought the serrata. I’m so excited to use it for the first time after reading this article. My thoughts were to use it meditatively, but since I’ve experienced joint pain on-and-off since childhood, I think I’m going to see how it works for me in the joint-relief department as well!

  • I had no idea there were different types of Frankincense! What a useful article so we can pick the right one for our purposes.

  • Frankincense is definitely in my top 5 favorite oils! I used it postpartum to help with afterbirth contractions. It was a lifesaver!! I’d like to try diffusing it for meditation next.

  • Frankincense is one of my absolute favorite oils and this article is perfect for explaining the difference between the scents and their uses. Thanks for this info!

  • This was super helpful in learning more about one of the best oils out there! This was definitely useful for me to get to know the different kinds and how to use them properly. Thanks, Plant Therapy!!

  • Wow I had no idea what the differences were. I just thought frankincense was universal. Thank you for taking the time to clarify which ones can provide more pointed uses.

  • Amazing article! This answered all my questions not only on the differences but also its uses .I also love the easy to read and understand format in which it was written. Also the blend formulas ,thanks so much PT team, keep up the great and helpful blogs, lessons and formulas…I heart you!

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