So I while back I tried the LJH Vita Propolis ampoule and immediately fell in love. It made my skin look super-glowy without feeling heavy or greasy... problem is, that stuff ain't cheap. American retail prices are around $38 for a 15ml (yes, just 15ml!) bottle, and even if you have the patience to order from Korea with slow/cheap shipping, you're still looking at paying around $30. What's a gal on a budget to do? Try out cheaper propolis ampoules, of course. Today I'll be taking an in-dept look at Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule, which is loaded with a whopping 90% of propolis extract and costs less than half the price per volume of LJH. But does it measure up? Read on to find out!
First, a little background: Pure Heals (by Nature Village) is a Korean company specializing in skincare and other beauty products made with natural extracts. I would consider their pricing to be mid-range. They actually have a whole bunch of propolis products on offer—there's a cream, mist, cushion, BB cream and more. (I've actually been trying out the cream too—will post a review of that as well in the next week or so.)
Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule is, as the name might suggest, an ampoule (AKA facial serum) containing 90% propolis extract, among other things. There's a ton of claims on the box in both English and Korean, but I'll just give you the highlights:
- Good for wrinkle improvement, whitening, calming, balance care, and intensive moisture
- No animal testing
- Paraben-free preservatives allow the product to be stored safely for extended periods
I suppose I should briefly talk about what propolis is, for those who don't already know. The box describes it as "a mysterious mixture of natural materials made by honeybees, which collect the sap of plants and mix them with their saliva, adding beneficial enzymes, It contains nutritional ingredients to protect the skin from both internal and external irritants and repair damaged skin. It helps restore skin to health by soothing sensitive skin." I'm not sure how mysterious that actually is—it's basically like bee snot mixed with sap. Bees use it to fill in gaps in their hives, which is why it's sometimes referred to as "bee glue". So why would you want to put such an unappealing-sounding substance on your face? It purportedly has excellent antioxidant and skin-soothing properties. In its raw form, it also has the ability to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth.
Propolis Extract, Aloe Vera Leaf Water, Niacinamide, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Sodium Polyacrylate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Honey Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Algin, Caramel, Adenosine, Illicium Verum Fruit Extract, Argan Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Peppermint Leaf Oil, Cardamom Oil, Thyme Oil, Clove Leaf Oil, Vetiver Root Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Scented Geranium Flower Oil, Lavender Oil, Orange Peel Oil
Let's talk about a few of the key ingredients here:
- Propolis Extract: As referenced above, an antioxidant ingredient that's good for soothing skin.
- Aloe Leaf Water: An anti-inflammatory, antioxidant gem that's also great for soothing (and moisturizing) skin.
- Niacinamide: A cell-communicating ingredient that's great for lightening discoloration/general brightening. It also has the potential to improve skin elasticity.
- Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid): A humectant (AKA moisture-binding ingredient). One of the most basic ingredients out there, but it helps keep your skin looking hydrated and plump, yo.
- Algin: Seaweed. Has emollient and antioxidant properties. The text on the box also suggests that Alginic Acid has water binding properties.
...and SO MUCH MORE! I found this product on CosDNA and the only ingredient it flagged as a (minor) possible acne trigger was Butylene Glycol. Nothing new there. Though I will say that there are an awful lot of aromatic oils towards the bottom of the list... not a big deal for most folks, but if you have allergies/very sensitive skin they could be irritating.
How to use:
The box suggests patting a "moderate amount" of the product onto your skin after cleansing and toning. I'm not sure what they consider to be a "moderate amount", but I find a few drops to be adequate. Personally I've been using this after cleansing and toning like they suggest, but you can also mix it in with your cream.
Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule sells for 26,000원 (~$23.78 USD) for a 1oz/30ml bottle on their Korean website, but if you live outside Korea you can easily find it online for around $20 shipped. I got mine from eBay seller blueprint21 for $18.04, just as an example. And there's also a jumbo 90ml size available if you really, really love propolis (original retail price 47,000원/$42.99 USD).
I have to say: 30ml might be the smaller size, but it's still fairly sizable for an ampoule. One of the downsides is that the bottle it's housed it comes with a very broad pipette, making it difficult to dispense just a few drops at a time. I often end up with too much in my hand if I'm not careful.
The serum itself is slightly yellowish in color and has a very slippery texture. I don't find it to be incredibly sticky if I'm only using a few drops, but it's definitely more sticky than the LJH ampoule on a microscopically nitpicky stickiness scale. If you overapply it it definitely feels a little bit tacky to the touch though. Best to only use a few drops and let it dry almost completely before applying the next layer of your skincare routine, in my opinion.
One thing I didn't really like about this product was the scent. It doesn't smell bad—kind of a general floral/herbal smell—but I found it to be a little strong for my tastes. Thankfully it doesn't linger.
As for results: I've been using Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule for over a month now and don't see any dramatic results in terms of wrinkle-reduction and brightening, but I will definitely agree with the claims that it's soothing. I use a lot of acids in my nighttime routine and that can sometimes make my skin feel a bit tender the next day, so this stuff comes in really handy. It also works really well to deliver a light layer of moisture. I can see this being suitable for everything from dry to normal to combo skin types—not sure about the extremely oily though. One of unadvertised benefits of this product is that it gives your skin a bit of "glow", which is great if you're concerned about dullness, but maybe not if you're already feeling too shiny.
So now for the big question: Is Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule a budget-friendly alternative to LJH Vita Propolis? Well... no. The ingredients lists aren't really that similar, and Pure Heals has a few minor flaws that LJH does not, namely:
- Slightly stickier texture (minor, but there is a difference!)
- Aroma is not to my liking
- Awkward packaging
I still think it's very good in it's own right as a general hydration serum/glow-getter though, so I'm going to recommend it. Honestly, I doubt you'd do better for the price. Two buzzy wings up!
What do you think of Pure Heals Propolis 90 Ampoule? Have you ever thought of incorporating propolis into your beauty routine?
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