close up of wrist and hand applying drops from dropper

Comparing Frankincense to Hydroxyacetophenone?

Hello, Bellas!

We had multiple requests to do ingredient comparisons again, so let’s get into it.

Today we would like to compare and contrast Frankincense and Hydroxyacetophenone. 

We’ll call it “Hydroxy” for short. 

Let’s begin with the benefits

Hydroxy is a powerful synthetic antioxidant and soothing agent. Its secondary benefit is boosting the efficacy of preservatives in cosmetics. 

It’s claimed to alleviate pain and redness on the skin by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, which is responsible for redness in the skin. 

Its also said to have antioxidant effects that make it capable of neutralizing several different types of free radicals.

This synthetic is considered a “nature-identical compound” as it replicates an ingredient found in the Norwegian Spruce trees.

Sort of like how manufactured gemstones are still *technically* gemstones.

Gemstone-identical, at least.

Hydroxy is a powerful synthetic and one that is used widely in many cosmetic products. And while it is claimed to be “safe in recommended amounts”, the accumulation of this ingredient could compromise your and your skin’s health.

Now, this accumulation occurs by the compound effect of using multiple products that contain this ingredient. 

So, while using it in small amounts – in only maybe one product a day – may not be such a bad thing, Hydroxy can be very commonly found in every single product of a skincare routine.

The potentially harmful effects of overexposure to this ingredient are as follows:

  • Irritation

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Allergies

Now let’s talk a little bit about a more natural ingredient: Frankincense.


For thousands of years, people have used frankincense for a multitude of reasons — from using both oil and resin in traditional application to prevention and treatment of serious diseases.

To this day it remains a highly praised oil that many religiously weave into their skincare rituals.

Although scientific studies are relatively sparse regarding the application of frankincense essential oil, many believe it possesses the considerable potential to support healthy skin and hair.  

Widely believed to be a natural astringent, Frankincense essential oil is also claimed to contain properties beneficial for tissue remodeling and wound healing.

Think: acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, injured skin, etc.

Additionally, Frankincense essential oil has been proven to contain high amounts of Boswellic acids which are thought to contribute to its anti-inflammatory nature.

An overview of proposed Frankincense benefits:

  • A natural toner which helps provide elasticity to the skin

  • Stimulates the production of collagen and regulates the growth of skin cells

  • Exfoliates

  • Reduces fine lines and hyperpigmentation

  • Anti-inflammatory and antiseptic 

  • Reduces the appearance of scar

It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Frankincense essential oil does have the potential to cause irritation to some sensitive skin types, typically if the concentration is too high.

Also, If you ingested it —which we definitely do not recommend you do with any skincare products— it could cause digestion issues.

However, please rest assured knowing we have never and will never incorporate unsafe levels of any ingredients into our products.

You can find Frankincense oil (in gentle amounts) in our Facial Elixir and our Daylight Facial Cream.

Our Final Thoughts

We hope you take this article into consideration when choosing which skincare products to use – and if you do happen to currently be using products that contain Hydroxyacetophenone, it‘s not the end of the world. 

We simply recommend that going forward you take some time to learn more about the ingredient, and any other synthetic ingredients you use, to make sure you’re not overexposing to something potentially harmful.

Back to blog

Leave a comment