For all of those with sensitive skin, this is the natural beauty ingredient you need to know about for brightening, acne-fighting, and maintaining a youthful glow: bee propolis. This powerful substance, made by honeybees, has been around for centuries yet has flown under the radar in modern times—especially in times when acids and retinols are touted as the best skin-smoothing ingredients. However, there is a very gentle alternative skin-enhancing ingredient.
What is bee propolis?
Bee propolis is what is created when bees harvest a tree's immunity-boosting secretions like sap and resin, adding enzymes through their body processes, as well as plain beeswax, to produce an end product that's antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and an antioxidant.
"To truly understand what a powerful compound propolis is, you have to look at the plant world. Propolis comes from the giants in the plant kingdom: trees. And trees have evolved to live thousands of years, but in order to do this, they have to survive all environmental aggressors: viral, bacterial, pollution, insects, etc. To withstand all of this, trees have created a strong immunity of plant phenol chemicals and bioflavonoids to defend themselves," says Tanya Hawkes, sustainable beekeeper and founder of organic skin care line Therapi Honey Skincare. Hawkes continued to explain that bees mainly line their hives with propolis as an external immune system.
What are the benefits of bee propolis in skin care?
This powerful natural ingredient has become a staple in the natural world. Below, the benefits you can look for—especially for those with sensitive skin. It's especially great for those with sensitive or sensitized skin because it treats and nurtures skin rather than stripping the skin barrier—like many of the topicals on the market can do.
- Eases inflammatory redness and pigmentation. Inflammation can be caused by a variety of triggers, be it external (the cold, a skin care reaction), or internal (food or stress). One of the more common signs of inflammation in the skin is redness, and using a moisturizer or topical with bee propolis can help ease said redness1. It can also help ease and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation for that reason.
- Can help treat acne. Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory nature1, it can help aid acne treatments in two ways: first, by targeting the bacteria-causing acne; second, by easing the inflammation in the skin that leads to the acne in the first place. Inflammation also does this by drying out your skin, which can lead to flakes, scabs, and even scars.
- Offers antioxidant protection from environmental aggressors like pollution, sunlight, and radiation. The resin is high in antioxidants and can neutralize free radicals and oxidative stress1 that damages skin cells, leading to premature aging, dullness, dark spots, and more.
- It may aid in wound healing and supports collagen production. Studies have shown that bee propolis can help support wound healing2 by spurring Type I and Type III collagen production3. It's not as widely studied to see how bee propolis spurs otherwise healthy collagen production.
What about bee propolis tinctures?
Amy Chang is a writer and beauty blogger currently living in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor's in communications from New York University, and is the founder of BOND EN AVANT, a beauty and wellness blog dedicated to sharing her journey exploring nontoxic skin care and makeup, cosmetic anti-aging trends, and wellness do’s and don'ts.