I first heard about the skin care benefits of propolis via Korean beauty blogger/vlogger Hover of Hover’s Jelly. She has used pure propolis extract as part of her skin care regimen for a long time and has raved about its healing and protective properties. A couple of years ago, a study came out that even confirmed propolis’ natural ability to protect the skin from sun damage, which I thought was pretty cool:
New Research Delves Into UV Protection From Herbal Extracts (full article by Simon Pitman, August 2nd, 2012) —
The study authors say they also discovered that a 16% concentration of propolis as a topical application had a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 20, and has proven to be an effective sunblock when applied to mice.
Of course, if you are allergic to bees or bee by-products, it’s best to consult your physician before using products with such ingredients on your face!
Many people attest to propolis’ very intense smell, and I was excited when Hover recommended a stink-free propolis essence on her channel that she has been loving, in lieu of the pure extract. So in comes Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Essence. For those that don’t have direct access to Korean beauty products, it’s available at a number of online Asian beauty e-tailers like Korea Depart, Cosmetic Love, TesterKorea, as well as eBay and Amazon . I purchased mine on eBay (seller: BringBringShop) for around $22 when it was on sale (you can usually find it in the $20-$35 range online.)
And let me just say, Korean beauty companies have truly mastered the art of irresistible packaging. It came as a stand-alone glass bottle wrapped in a clear plastic seal. It didn’t come with any information or instructions in English. Attached was a small tag with only Korean text.
You get 50mL of essence. The cap is quite unique to me — when you twist it to remove, a button pops up for you to press and dispense the essence from a pipette. I think it’s a lot nicer than a regular dropper, and it feels more secure. Note that the pretty yellow-orange ombré color you see on the bottle is not the color of the essence, but rather the coloring of the glass. The essence itself is practically clear and colorless, from what I can tell.
INGREDIENTS (via CosDNA): Propolis extract (50%), royal jelly extract (20%), honey extract (10%), glycerol, dipropylene glycol, butylene glycol, portulaca oleracea extract, arginine, beta-glucan, disodium EDTA, sodium hyaluronate, hydroxyethylcellulose, carbomer, phenoxyethanol.
I appreciate that all the key ingredients are at the very top of the list, and I like that there are no artificial colors or fragrances. It’s filled with lots of different moisturizers. The consistency is sort of a gooey gel (like watered-down honey). There is no discernible scent, which is nice, since I’m not a huge fan of fragrance in skin care. I need only one drop for my entire face, and it spreads easily without feeling sticky. It sinks right into the skin while it leaves a hydrating layer on the surface.
I prefer using it only at night. If I use it during the day, it’s only when I’m not wearing any base makeup, because it feels a little bit heavy for me sitting under a foundation or BB cream.
While the texture is great, and it has an awesome ingredients list, this essence seemed a bit too emollient for my oily skin for daily/nightly use. It’s very hydrating, but for me it would be better to use regularly during the colder months when my skin is a little bit drier, or even just when my skin is feeling irritated and needs to be soothed and protected. I’ve used it around the under-eye area where it can get quite dry and it has worked really well for that purpose too, but I wouldn’t recommend applying it to your lips — it has a very bitter taste!
It hasn’t seemed to cause any clogged pores or breakouts after a few weeks of use. I think people with dry skin who aren’t sensitive to bee byproducts could really enjoy this as a very effective moisturizer.
If you’re curious about incorporating propolis into your skin care routine, this could be a product worth checking out. If you’ve tried it before, or other bee-inspired skin care items, I’d love to know your opinion.