phb brightening serum with white birch and frankincense review

Citrus scents in skincare: love ’em or hate ’em? Me, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I dig the scents, but they can be so irritating for sensitive skin. Argh!

Luckily, mine ins’t, so I could put PHB Brightening Serum White Birch & Frankincense to the test. Scent aside, does it deliver?

What’s In PHB Brightening Serum White Birch & Frankincense?


Aloe Vera gels comes from the mucilage that oozes out of the leaves. This mucilage is made 99.5% water. It’s the remaining 0.5% that holds the real magic.

It’s a combination of mucopolysaccharides (basic sugars), lipids, vitamins, choline and choline salicylate that have soothing properties for your skin. That’s why aloe vera is so good at reducing redness and irritations.

It’s also a good moisturizer for all skin types, including oily. It works by attracting water from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated for longer.

Related: The Complete Guide To Aloe Vera In Skincare


PHB claims that white birch can reduce dark spots. I couldn’t find any proof confirming (or denying this). As it’s often the case with natural ingredients, the claims are anecdotal.

But it does have powerful antioxidant properties that can prevent wrinkles from forming. And yes, science backs it up this time.

Need help creating an anti-aging routine that really works? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Anti-Aging Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


Gel-like and very lightweight. It sinks into the skin quickly, without leaving a greasy residue behind.


Citrusy. Zesty. Uplifting. Not too strong. I can’t wait to put the serum on every morning just to get a whiff of it.

How To Use It

Morning and/or night, after cleansing.

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Performance & Personal Opinion

Especially formulated for normal and combination skin, PHB Brightening Serum promises to brighten skin and give it a radiant glow. And it delivers. My skin is definitely that little bit more radiant since I started using it.

It’s also a little more hydrated. Glycerin and Aloe Vera add a little moisture back into my skin, helping it to stay softer and suppler during the colder winter months.

Aloe also helps prevent and soothe irritations. Unfortunately, the citrusy scent can irritate sensitive skin. If that’s you, stay away.

Only one more thing left to discuss: does it prevent and fight wrinkles like it claims? A little. It has a sprinkle of antioxidants to help with that, but it doesn’t work as well as retinol or vitamin C. You still need those in your skincare routine.

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Who Is This For?

  • Dull skin

Who Is This Not For?

  • Sensitive skin


Grey and orange bottle with a pump applicator. Sleek and practical.

Does PHB Brightening Serum With White Birch & Frankincense Live Up To Its Claims?

PHB’s handmade brightening serum combines a carefully formulated blend of Organic White Birch and Frankincense to enhance skin whilst improving the appearance of age spots & pigmentation for a brighter & more even complexion.  It’s true it contains these ingredients and that the serum can brighten skin and make it glow. But I couldn’t find any proof it helps to reduce dark spots.
PHB’s unique gel formula quickly and deeply penetrates skin, allowing the pure botanical extracts to get to work at the lowest layers of skin where they can truly make a difference. It’s true it sinks in quickly, but most ingredients can’t penetrate that deep into the skin to make a big difference.
Encourages collagen & elastin for a more youthful complexion. It could do that if the ingredients penetrated deep into the skin, but they don’t.

Price & Availability

£19.95 at PHB

Do You Need It?

Not really. Too many essential oils for my taste.

Dupes & Alternatives


Aqua, Aloe barbadensis** (Organic aloe vera) leaf extract, Vegetable glycerin, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Coco-caprylate, Sclerotium Gum, Betula Pendula** (Organic White birch) bark extract, Propandiol & Salix alba, Helianthus Annuus** (Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil & Euphrasia Officinalis** (Organic Eyebright) Extract, Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) peel Oil, Citrus bergamia (Bergamot) peel Oil, Boswella cartii (Frankincense) resin oil, Citrus aurantium (Neroli) flower oil, Benzyl alcohol, Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) resin oil *Limonene * Linalool * *Citral *Geraniol *Farnesol *Occurs naturally in essential oils, **Organically grown ingredients.