It’s true that a lot of skincare products have multitasking benefits, but none quite hold a candle to the all-around benefits of propolis serums when it comes to hydrating, calming, and healing the skin. This ingredient might sound like something straight out of a science lab, but it’s actually a natural bee byproduct that’s as gentle as it gets and can work wonders for a wide array of skin concerns. From acne to redness, dryness, and dullness, propolis-containing serums take no shortcuts in fixing most of your skincare woes and revealing that natural glowy skin. So where can you get your hands on the best propolis serums? Keep reading to learn more about propolis and find the most loved products to try right now.
What is propolis and how does it affect your skin?
Known as the bee glue, propolis has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments and now has made its way into modern skincare too. This natural ingredient is a resinous mixture produced by honey bees to protect their hives from bacteria and other invaders. But how does it work its magic on the skin, you ask?
Propolis is a storehouse of skin-loving compounds—including flavonoids and phenolic acids—that act as natural antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants. It’s used in concentrations of up to 90% in skin-care products and can calm angry and inflamed skin, fight free radicals that cause premature aging, and promote collagen production to maintain the skin firm. Moreover, propolis has humectant benefits that help the skin retain moisture and stay hydrated. It also has very strong antibacterial properties that can heal acne and reduce blemishes.
According to multiple studies, propolis serums effectively improve and treat a range of skin concerns, including:
- Acne breakouts
- Redness and inflammation
- Bacterial infection
- UV-induced skin damage like photoaging and sunburns
- Fine lines and wrinkles
Who should use propolis serums?
Propolis is that kind of good-for-every-skin ingredient. It’s gentle and hydrating, which means it’s perfect for dry, sensitive-skinned gals, and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects make it an ideal pick for acne-prone skin dealing with swelling and inflamed pimples. It also relieves eczema flare-ups and leaves skin with a natural glow.
However, keep in mind propolis products tend to be sometimes sticky in texture. Though it’s non-comedogenic (it doesn’t clog the pores), propolis can be a bit greasy on the face, which may feel uncomfortable on oily skin. Like other ingredients, propolis may not suit everyone, so a patch test is always necessary when using it for the first time.
The best propolis serums
Not sure which propolis serum to use? The nuance lies in finding the right formula for you that aligns with your skincare goals. To find the best propolis serums, we went to work researching every option available right now, spanning a range of budgets and formulations that address different concerns and types of skin. We evaluated the products based on the formula, texture (how sticky or greasy it is), amount of active ingredients, and how well they hydrate and improve the skin. We also took recommendations from our expert team and Redditors to bring you only the top performers.
Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum
If you’re after brighter skin, smoother texture, fewer breakouts, and less inflammation, this serum will become your new HG. You can literally feel the “healing” happening as soon as you apply it. With a whopping 59.94% propolis extract, the formula is rich in anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that instantly soothe irritated skin. Plus, it contains 2% niacinamide to balance oil and moisture levels and 0.5% betaine salicylate (salicylic acid derivative) to remove excess sebum from pores. The product does what it claims, clearing acne and rough patches while imparting a smooth and radiant appearance. It’s pretty thick and a bit sticky in texture, but it doesn’t leave oily residues. We give it extra points because it’s cruelty-free, free of fragrances, and suitable for sensitive complexions.
Some By Mi Propolis B5 Glow Barrier Calming Serum
This serum comes with a whole host of ingredients to strengthen the skin barrier and boost hydration levels. A healthier barrier means the ability to fight off bacteria and external threats and keep everything more in balance (including sebum) to reduce breakouts and irritation. There’s 73% propolis extract, honey extract, niacinamide, Centella asiatica, royal jelly (another bee byproduct), probiotics, and three forms of hyaluronic acid, all playing a key role in soothing the skin and restoring the barrier function. The serum has a lightweight consistency that is not as sticky as other propolis serums nor causes pilling, and the pump format makes it really easy to use without wasting any bit of product. The only drawback is that it does include synthetic fragrance.
Cosrx Full Fit Propolis Light Ampoule
Is this propolis ampoule a miracle in a jar? Probably no—nothing in skincare really is—but it’s the next best thing. Despite the rich formula in propolis (83.3%), the texture is lightweight and non-sticky, and just one drop goes a long way in reducing redness and transforming dull, environmentally-stressed skin into a radiant complexion with a healthy glow. The formula also loads a heavy dose of moisturizing humectants to quench the skin’s thirst. All ingredients are EWG-verified, meaning the serum doesn’t contain harmful compounds, and the formula is hypoallergenic tested so that even sensitive skin can use it without worrying about breakouts or irritation. We recommend using the ampoule at night because it does have a little bit of tackiness.
iUNIK Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum
The serum packs all things that your skin needs and none that it doesn’t. At work here is a 70% concentration of propolis extract, which earns top restorative marks for reversing UV-induced skin damage and protecting against oxidative stress. This, along with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and a combination of natural extracts, keeps the skin moisturized and protected throughout the day whilst probiotics encourage tissue repair. This serum sets itself apart from others that contain propolis with its thin and runny texture, making it never feel heavy or sticky on the skin.
Farmacy Honeymoon Glow
If you’re looking for a does-it-all sort of serum, we’ve been super impressed with this one. Though it’s not as rich in propolis as the other options, the serum compensates with a blend of exfoliating acids that works the night shift to minimize dullness, refine pores, and plump wrinkles. The 14% acid blend effectively removes buildup from the surface and within pores, while the humectants (honey, hyaluronic acid, propolis) pull water into the skin to max out hydration. There’s also a cocktail of antioxidant-rich plant extracts and botanical oils that protects against the negative effects of sun damage and pollution.
Cosrx AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum
We don’t usually make bold claims about a product, but we confidently say this is the best propolis serum to clear pimples and fade post-acne marks. It has propolis, ceramides, and a Centella asiatica complex, which do the double duty of hydrating skin and regenerating damaged tissues to speed up scar healing. Keep in mind it’s a spot treatment. Don’t use it all over your face. Instead, dab it on your blemishes and wash it off in the morning. With consistent use, you’ll notice a visible reduction in bumps, flakes, red spots, and other textural irregularities.
Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence
This nourishing essence boasts a combination of propolis extract, royal jelly, and black honey that join hands to create a stronger protective barrier while also boosting moisture retention. With its initial syrupy consistency, it glides on like silk, and the skin drinks it up in seconds, leaving it with a healthy glow and a comfortable feel without any stickiness or greasiness. The essence can be used as the last layer before moisturizer or in place of facial oil. Although suitable for everyone, it’s particularly beneficial for those with dry or easily reactive skin.
By Wishtrend Propolis Energy Calming Ampoule
This serum is a Redditors’ favorite, and the impressive formula convinced us it deserves mention. It uses houttuynia cordata extract instead of water as the base, which is a savior for sensitive skin thanks to its soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits. The formula is further boosted by 15% propolis and zinc PCA, which not only provides even more skin-calming effects but also balances oil production and decongests the pores.
Read next: Your Skincare Ingredient Bible: What Ingredients To Use (And Avoid) Based On Your Skin