What was your skincare routine like when you first started to get into K-beauty?
I like looking back at my routines to see how far I’ve come (some big mistakes) and what similarities there are (things my skin truly loves).
Looking back I see snail, always lots of snail, and that hasn’t changed too much. I also see propolis.
Propolis was one of those ingredients that made a big impression on me early in my skincare journey because it brightened my skin, helped with acne and gave lots of hydration. Back then I was in love with Let’s Cure Honey Bunny Propolis Ampoule (discontinued?).
But looking back at my routines made me realize that somehow this little gem of an ingredient had been lacking in my routines for a while now. So I was very excited to get the opportunity to try Iunik Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum!
What is It?
Iunik (pronounced i-unique) is a brand that’s dedicated to mild, safe and natural ingredients. They believe in minimal skincare that’s effective and shuns long skincare routines with products that don’t perform. Iunik started as an exporter of K-beauty goods for 10 years before they created their skincare line based on a need they saw in the market. Iunik is all about quality ingredients and keeping their prices affordable.
Iunik Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum claims to calm, nourish and brighten skin while diminishing wrinkles. This Iunik serum is made up of a whopping 70% propolis and 12% Hippophae Rhamnoides a.k.a. sea buckthorn fruit.
Is it Honey?
I think a lot of us have had this question before — I definitely did! Is propolis a honey product? I think this confusion has been taken advantage of by brands that market propolis products as honey, e.g., the aforementioned Honey Bunny Ampoule and Cosrx Overnight Honey Sleeping Mask (contains no honey!).
Propolis is actually a bee byproduct and is a combination of bee saliva, beeswax and sap. Propolis is the glue that holds the honeycomb together in the beehive and no bees are harmed in the collection of propolis.
So propolis is not honey, but it has a whole host of benefits for our skin, just like honey does:
- Brightens skin
- Anti-acne properties
- Anti-bacterial properties
- Has a good oil/water balance
- Encourages gentle cell turn over
- Reduces hyper pigmentation
- Stimulates collagen production
- Lots of antioxidant protection
As mentioned above, Iunik Propolis serum contains a whopping 70% of this golden gem for skin. Just to give you an idea of the competition, Lee Gee Haam Vita Propolis Ampoule Amazon* | Yesstyle* contains 50% propolis and only contains 15ml of product. Iunik contains 3.3x more with 50ml! You’d pay close to $50 to get the same amount from Lee Gee Haam.
What’s the Vitamin in Vitamin Synergy Serum?
The vitamin refers to the 12% hippophae rhamnoides in the serum. Hippophae rhamnoides is just the fancy name for sea buckthorn fruit. Sea buckthorn fruit is packed with skin nutrients, including high levels of vitamins C, E, and K.
Sea buckthorn fruit is actually considered one of the best plant sources for vitamin C because it contains on average about 695mg of vitamin C in a 100mg sample.
Vitamin C has a huge antioxidant profile that is extremely beneficial to skin and carries its own skin brightening benefits. To be clear, this isn’t the type of vitamin C that will exfoliate your skin harshly. Vitamin C has to be at a pH level of 3.5 to chemically exfoliate the skin. The Iunik serum is pH 5 and therefore will not exfoliate the skin in an irritating way. The combination of propolis and sea buckthorn will gently encourage cell turnover, but this should be well tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types.
Iunik has also managed to get a few more interesting extracts and ingredients into the remaining 18% of the formula! They include: extracts of ginkgo, mulberry, pomegranate, and figs, plus niacinamide and adenosine.
All the ingredients in the Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum are rated Green (low level) on the EWG scale.
Propolis Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract, Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Niacinamide, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Betaine, Glycosyl Trehalose, Honey Extract, Beta-Glucan, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Allantoin, Carbomer, Arginine, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Adenosine, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Centella Asiatica Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Ficus Carica (Fig) Fruit Extract, Morus Alba Fruit Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Nut Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Aspalathus Linearis Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract
Is it Sticky?
The texture of the serum is very lightweight and thin with a low viscosity. This slips onto the skin very luxuriously, with an almost pillowy feel. I liken it to rubbing a silk pillow case over your face!
This also sinks into the skin immediately and never dries sticky or tacky. This is also a good team player that layers up well with other products, without any heaviness.
Does it Work?
Okay, I’ll tell you more! I recently went through a bad irritation breakout with lots of inflamed, red and painful pimples underneath my skin. I started to use this during the breakout and noticed that it definitely soothed and calmed down my skin on application. I also believe this had decent redness reducing properties. I really liked how this serum felt balanced between hydration and moisture and made my skin feel well fed and nourished.
But I wasn’t like super impressed, just happy to be using it.
Until the breakouts went away and my skin was left with a battlefield of hyper pigmentation and uneven skin tone. That is when this serum pulled its weight and made its way into the winner’s circle.
This really stood out to me for its capabilities to brighten up my skin, even when it was at its worst! This wasn’t just a skin brightening effect but a healthy, lit from within glow. I have this theory about hyper pigmentation and acne: most people will not even see your dark marks and/or acne if the rest of your skin is glowing with health, because a healthy glow always cancels out little imperfections.
So this really restored the vitality to my skin quickly after that horrible breakout. I also believe this helped to speed up the process of lightening the dark marks left over from the inflamed pimples. To be fair, I did use other stronger products to address those issues, but I felt that this acted as a booster product to help speed up the process.
And that’s how this little baby won my heart, it really did help speed up the healing process after a particularly bad breakout.
Is it Right for Me?
I think this serum is suited for all skin types, including sensitive.
This is thin and lightweight, which makes it a good choice for oily skin, and we definitely know it’s good for acne prone skin. It’s a very balanced serum, so it’s perfect for dehydrated skin and will help address oily and dry patches on combo skin. This isn’t a crazy moisturizing serum, but it still has incredible nourishing benefits for dry skin.
*Indicates use of affiliate links that provide a small commission that help run this blog
Product was provided as a PR sample; post is not sponsored nor part of any agreement with Iunik