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Ingredient Check: Propolis Gel
Every once in awhile, a particular ingredient (edible or otherwise) gets a ton of press and starts appearing in everything from drinks to lotions. Why? Is it all hype, or are there any real benefits? If there are benefits, what’s the best way for you to incorporate this ingredient into your already-crowded life? We do the research so you don’t have to, because we’re good at reading between the lines: Welcome to Ingredient Check!
Why are people talking it?
With the discoveries of beauty bee venom and supercharged Manuka honey, it's clear that nothing our little bee friends have to offer goes to waste. Add to that list propolis, a resin produced by honey bees that has a host of skin and health benefits, from healing wounds to reducing tooth decay.
What is propolis, exactly?
Propolis is the glue-like resin that bees produce from mixing saliva, beeswax, and fluid collected from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources. The bees use the dark brown goop as a sealant in their hives to reinforce their structure, reduce vibration, and protect from pesky intruders. While we're just catching on to the benefits of propolis, it's been used for centuries as a remedy for a multitude of ailments: The ancient Greeks used it to treat abscesses, the Assyrians to treat wounds and tumors, and the Egyptians used it for mummification.
Do you need propolis?
You don't need it, but just like any other supplement, it can be helpful, especially if you struggle with acne, dry or chapped skin, redness, or other skin inflammation. Similar to honey, propolis has antibacterial and antifungal properties and contains bioflavinoids and hydroxycinnamic acids. It's also a super emollient, which means it can soothe burns, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis and accelerate healing at the same time. In northern, temperate climates, propolis is generally made up of 50% balsams, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, and 5% pollen. It's densely packed with amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, which makes it an ideal ingredient in skincare and cosmetics.
How to get it
We're fans of Institut Esthederm Intensive Propolis Cream ($47.50) and Lotion ($45), both formulated with high concentrations of propolis to cleanse, soothe and decongest oily, acne-prone skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes. We also like Epicuren Discovery X-treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen ($43), a moisturizing sunscreen that protects the skin from harmful UV rays while making it appear more supple and radiant.
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