For all my sensitive skin ladies out there, I present the natural beauty ingredient you need to know about for brightening, acne fighting, and a youthful glow: propolis. This powerful substance, made by honeybees, has been around for centuries yet flown under the radar in modern times, where (often harsh) acids and retinols are touted as the best skin-smoothing ingredients. But if you’re like me and the sheer mention of strong acids and vitamin A derivatives incites the onset of a skin reaction, you’ll be relieved to know about this alternative skin enhancing ingredient.
What is bee propolis?
I first learned about propolis while interviewing Tanya Hawkes, sustainable beekeeper and founder of organic skin care line Therapi Honey Skincare, who said, "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," she said.
Bees then piggyback off the trees' powerful immune systems. They harvest the immunity-boosting tree secretions like sap and resin and add enzymes through their body processes, as well as plant and beeswax, to produce an end product that's antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and an antioxidant. "The end result is propolis,” she explained.
Wow. Hawkes continued to explain that bees mainly line their hives with propolis as an external immune system but that it can be used in many other ways. For instance, if a mouse were to get inside the hive, which happens with relative frequency, the bees can sting the mouse to death, neutralizing the intruder. But since it’s too large to carry out of the hive, and a decaying rodent would unquestionably bring disease and bacteria, the bees mummify the mouse with propolis, protecting themselves completely from the decaying animal.
What are the benefits of bee propolis in skin care?
This powerful natural ingredient has become a staple in the natural world. As you might imagine, it can help reduce pigmentation and inflammatory redness, boost collagen, and offer antioxidant protection from environmental aggressors like pollution, sunlight, and radiation.
Personally, I’ve found when using propolis products, my skin appears brighter, and my inflammatory red acne marks fade more quickly. But what I love the most about this ingredient is its ability to produce powerful results gently. Instead of exfoliating my skin with harsh acids to reveal brighter, more youthful skin, propolis allows me to achieve these ends without stripping the skin.
Therapi Honey Skincare’s Propolis + Ultra Radiance Cream is one of my favorite propolis skin care products. I call this cream the "natural alternative to La Mer." It’s made with organic ingredients, including powerful propolis, and offers the perfect blend of water, oil, and waxes to keep my dry, dehydrated skin plump and nourished.
Farmacy’s Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Mask is another great option for sensitive skin in need of soothing and revitalizing. The creamy, warming mask contains potent propolis along with another powerful healing substance created by bees: royal jelly, a glandular secretion rich in antioxidants and fatty acids "nurse bees" feed to a larva when they want to turn it into a queen bee.
If I’m dealing with a skin reaction, which undoubtedly happens as a sensitive-skinned beauty blogger (aka guinea pig), in the past I’ve always opted for soothing Manuka honey masks, but recently I’ve discovered and been loving Beekeeper’s Naturals Bee Powdered to quell any irritations. Bee Powered is a potent blend of raw honey, propolis, royal jelly, and bee pollen that makes for a great mask alone or mixed with a spoonful of clay power, like S. W. Basics Hibiscus Mask, for gentle detoxing.
What about bee propolis tinctures?
But skin care isn’t the only way to access the potent beautifying potential of propolis. Beekeeper’s Naturals makes a Propolis Spray made of 95 percent propolis, non-GMO vegetable glycerin, and purified water. It can be added to drinks or sprayed directly into the mouth daily via tincture for allergy-fighting, immunity-boosting holistic care.
Another incredible ingredient for sensitive skin? Hyaluronic acid—instead of burning, it surges the skin with a moisture boost.
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