While honey gets all the attention, propolis, a source also made by bees, is a powerful ingredient you need to know about, and is making its way into skincare everywhere.
I first learned of this amazing ingredient while chatting with Therapi Honey Skincare founder, Tanya Hawkes, about her line (read interview here). We got to talking about the powerful ingredient used in the line’s Rose Otto Propolis+ Ultra Radiance Cream, which I liken to La Mer’s signature cream in texture and quality. It’s amazing at boosting skin radiance, smoothness and hydration levels.
This powerful organic anti-aging cream uses propolis as it’s main active ingredient, and I asked, Tanya, a sustainable bee keeper for over twenty years to explain – what exactly is propolis?
She broke it down like this, “Propolis is in essence nature’s most powerful antioxidant.” This antioxidant is made by bees in the hive from the resin and sap from trees. “Plants, like trees, that live for many many years have to develop complex compounds that they use as a way of combating pathogens or microbial attack, this immunity forms and is secreted in the form of resins and balms,” she explains.
The bees go around to all of these different trees and collect resins that are full of immunity. They add enzymes and beeswax to it to make it malleable and coat the inside of their hives with it to create a protection border. A type of immunity from infections and pathogens. “Propolis,” she says “has an ancient pedigree in skin care and medicine, and was used before we had antibiotics as a wound healer.”
Pretty potent stuff, and an ingredient organic skin care brands are looking towards. Though, the stuff is slightly rare since just a thin layer is needed to line the inside of the colony. Which led to my next questions, “If it’s such a precious source in a limited quantity each season, how can you make something like this sustainable?”
“From our point of view, it has never been our intention to exploit a creature we are passionate about,” she says, “It’s all about quantity in harvesting and management techniques. We don’t harvest pollen because it’s something we feel the bees can’t give up; it’s their protein source and we would never take pollen from the bees and give them protein substitutes like industrial practices would; They give the bees soy and flour. And we would never take so much honey that the bees are then fed high-fructose corn syrup in lieu of honey. For organic beekeeping standards all of these things are built into the standards.”
She says a lot of sustainable beekeeping is about animal welfare and sustaining the colony, so it’s really a matter of only taking enough and leaving enough for the bees. (Read more about sustainable bee practices in the full interview here.)
Organic, sustainable skin care products that use propolis:
Organic, Sustainable Propolis Skin Care To Try:
Worker B Dusk Serum
Skin type: Mature
Main Ingredients: Avocado Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry Seed, Propolizer Tincture
Why we love it: This dense serum is all about repair. Great for scars or dry hair, it will nourish and replenish.
Tip: Mix three drops in with your moisturizer.
Skin type: Dry/Mature
Key ingredients: Rose Water, Jojoba See oil, Rosehip Oil, Propolis, Honey
Why we love it: Extra rich and nourishing cream that will repair and brighten skin.
Tip: Apply on clean, dry skin and press into skin before bed.
Written by Amy Chang; Image source: Therapi Honey Skincare