The first time I ever used propolis was during a trying time in my health. I was receiving treatment for a viral issue that was sucking my immune system dry. A naturopath friend recommended supplementing bee propolis, and it got me out of a funk of repeated colds faster than you can say "honey bunny." I haven’t taken it in years, but know that when a really bad cold strikes, it can really help out when used as support for conventional treatments.
Essentially, propolis is a resin-like substance made from collected tree resins that are then processed by bees and secreted, much like nectar and honey, and is often referred to as "bee glue." It’s always being tested for its efficacy in many folk remedies, but it has been used for thousands of years with great success and is being accepted for more uses by scientists every year. Ancient remedies becoming conventional ones is my favorite hipster cliché!
In skincare, propolis’s antiviral and antimicrobial action provides wonderful benefits for acneic skin as well as those of us who deal with a lot of environmental pollution. It forms a barrier just like how bees use it, and is very nutritious with antioxidants and vitamins, hence it’s growing popularity in skin care.
I rounded up these four great examples below of the wonder that is propolis, so you can get to know this bee glue business!
I grabbed this from the xoVain beauty closet to do two things: Protect my hand tattoos from the sun and see if it helps with the slight scarring I experienced, and also to force upon my beloved, who for some odd reason shaved his head and now needs to wear sunscreen on his noggin. Consequently, propolis is being studied for boosting hair growth, so this will help him grow back his handsome hair for me to run my fingers through.
Epicuren sunscreen has been working beautifully on my hand; its texture is creamy and hydrating, not sticky and chalky like most sunscreen. The antioxidant content is really potent, with flavonoids and terpenes supported by vitamins C and E as well as buriti oil, which is very high in beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps prevent sun damage from the inside.
This sunscreen is luxurious at $50, but would be an excellent choice as a dual-use product: serum and sunscreen in one. You would have a nice base for either bare skin or a full makeup look.
Ampoules are fairly new to me. I fux with some essence, but with the similarity between ampoules and serum, I have mainly just stuck to serums. This Shara Shara product is technically an ampoule because of its super-charged ingredients, but can also act as a toner and moisturizer, and you know I put it to the test. Manuka honey, royal jelly, and propolis truly make this a honey bomb, and it’s great for those of us who don’t want a long routine but want good results.
You get a very large (8.5oz) jar for $40 and really only need a dime-size amount for a normal day. I used a nickel-size amount to do a more intensive overnight face mask and found it to be as hydrating as my much-loved sheet masks. This is because honey is much like glycerin when it comes to skin hydration; it’s humectant action literally dampens the skin and adds dewiness. This baby is exclusive to the US through GlowRecipe, and they showed me a few other long favorite Korean products that contain propolis.
This is what a typical ampoule looks like. Acne is something I suffer from, but lately (knock on wood!) it’s been under control. Under no circumstances does this mean I must cease treating my skin with utmost care. Subway germs, eyeglass and phone germs, all of these things can cost me a cystic zit if I don’t wash them off with care every single evening.
Vita-Propolis Ampoule is a great choice for those who want to stay hydrated while fighting bacteria: 50% propolis extract with sea buckthorn oil, rose oil, and witch hazel help keep pores closed and clean while softening and adding a dewy glow. I like this for day and night, and would love to use this to make a DIY cushion compact for combination skin!
What a good night cream this is! It has the texture of what I would imagine that cheese cream that Wendy reviewed has—goopy in a fun way. I enjoyed the dewy finish, love how it sealed in my routine, and was even more excited about the vitamin and EFA content. Propolis along with sea buckthorn and camellia oil help treat dry skin without clogging pores, and perilla and chia help deliver potent anti-inflammatory omega-3—so crucial for cystic acne, rosacea, and eczema.
Propolis is noncomedogenic and emollient on top of its nutritional and protective capabilities, so it's obvious why it’s being used in skincare, and it looks like studies are going to get it even more press, so keep an eye on bee glue!
- Anyone use this stuff already?
- Know any other ancient remedies that need attention?
Photos: Darnell Scott