At a glance

Bees are your skin’s baes! Honey and propolis are not just great for your health, they also do wonder for your skin.

Skincare products rich in hive ingredients such as honey and propolis have always been popular, especially amongst sensitive skins. The use of these ingredients in cosmetics is definitely not new, but skincare products made in Korea have put a spotlight on both of these very powerful and effective natural ingredients.

If you’re a fan of Korean cosmetics, you have most likely heard about propolis skincare products. Propolis is this resin made by bees to fortify the hive.

Bees spend their days buzzing from flower to flower with only the well-being of their hive in mind.
In doing so, they produce many natural treasures such as honey, propolis and royal jelly that can all be used to heal the skin.

Honey and propolis are the two ingredients from the hive which are most used in cosmetics. Often confused with honey, propolis doesn’t exactly offer the same benefits for the skin. And many cosmetic products use both ingredients in their formulas to take advantage of the great combined benefits.



Honey has always been consumed and appreciated, it’s a great sweet treat created by bees.

This liquid, thick and sticky substance that bees make is harvested from the nectar of flowers. The bees then carry this nectar (= a mixture of sugar, water, and pollen) to the hive. At the hive, other bees add enzymes, significantly reducing the substance and separating the sugar molecules. What has become honey is then placed in the hive’s alveoli, to be used as food for the larvae or stored for the winter.

The small sugar molecules of honey are easily absorbed by the digestive system. Honey is therefore considered a high-energy food. The sugars contained in honey also have anti-bacterial properties. Honey has been used extensively in the treatment of wounds and skin disorders for hundreds of years.

Indeed, honey improves skin nutrition, accelerates the healing process and is very effective to cleanse the skin lesions. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient. It also helps regenerate and repair the skin.

Honey is also used in cosmetics for its humectant action, which means it retains moisture in the skin. It is therefore a natural moisturizer that enhances the elasticity of the skin.

Honey can also be used fermented, which allows it to be even more concentrated and effective! It’s often used this way in Korean cosmetics where fermented ingredients are commonplace.



Propolis is a natural resin made by bees to build and repair their hive. It’s also used to protect the hive against various attacks and bacterial diseases. It’s made with tree buds, beeswax and other bee’s secretions.

Historically, propolis was used in Greece to treat abscesses. Assyrians also used propolis to treat wounds and tumors, while Egyptians used it for mummification.

Because propolis has a powerful effect on the healing process of the skin. Its antimicrobial action purifies the skin and prevents the proliferation of bacteria. It boosts the regeneration of the epidermis by stimulating the collagen production, and its antioxidant effect makes it a powerful anti-aging ingredient.

With all these beneficial effects, propolis has a great ability to repair damaged skin.


For which skin types:

Both ingredients are perfect to:
– repair damaged skin,
– soothe sensitive skin,
– calm redness,
– provide long-lasting hydration to dry and dehydrated skin,
– calm inflammation and help to heal the breakouts of acne skin,
– prevent the signs of aging with its antioxidant action.

In short, they are great for all skin types, especially sensitive skins!


When is the best time to use them:

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, Cosrx AHA/BHA Toner, Pixi Glow Tonic, ALpha H Liquid Gold, Biologique Recherche Lotion P50W, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solutiondummy Ingredients Exfoliating acids: AHA, BHA, PHA Some cosmetic ingredients are notoriously great to give the skin a true glow from within. And exfoliating acids are definitely among them! Read more Honey and propolis are perfect to use when the skin is sensitized by a strong treatment. For example, it’s great when you’re using exfoliating acids.

They both strengthen the barrier function of the skin and help you benefit from your acid treatment by reducing the undesirable effects. It works also if you’re using in combination with other strong active ingredients such as retinol, for example, which is prone to drying out the skin.

They’re also ideal ingredients in winter when the skin is sensitized by cold and windy weather. Honey and propolis help to nourish and regenerate the skin.

Honey and propolis are also great for acne prone skin because of their anti-bacterial and healing properties. They can be used in addition to an anti-acne treatment to enhance its effects and help the skin heal faster.

I personally love to use these ingredients in summer, because the air conditioning tends to dehydrate my skin a lot.


Product recommendations:

All these products are silicone-free (except for the Nuxe lip balm), mineral oil-free and alcohol-free.

Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence :
A Korean essence/serum that I adore, especially when my skin needs some extra comfort. More info in my mini-review!

Cosrx Propolis Light Ampule :
A Korean ampoule/serum with a light texture, ideal for combo skins which still want to repair but also to rebalance. My mini-review is here.

Leegeehaam Vita Propolis Ampoule :
this ampoule/ serum is probably my favorite of the bunch; see my mini-review.

Farmacy Honey Drop :
My mini-review is available.

Farmacy Honey Potion :
A heating mask that helps to clarify and stimulates the dull skins. It contains honey, propolis, and royal jelly as well as other moisturizing ingredients such as amino acids and vitamin B. Its texture transforms when you apply it on the skin. At first, it’s quite sticky (like honey ), then it becomes creamy and has a slight heating effect. It helps to give radiance to the skin and has a revitalizing effect. I would not recommend it for a very dry skin but it’s great for a tired and dull skin.
It retails for $56 for 117g.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm :
One of my all-time favorite lip balms. In France, it’s definitely a cult-classic product! This little jar contains honey, sunflower, rosehip, calendula, sweet almond oils, shea butter and grapefruit essence. It’s quite thick and waxy, so I usually apply it in the evening, just before going to bed in a rather thick layer, like a night mask for my lips. It helps to deeply repair the lips and it also prevents them from dehydration. The jar lasts a while, usually more than 6 months.
I repurchased this product 1 million times already, I have used it for almost 20 years.
It retails between $10 to $15 for 15ml.


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