A product featured in this post was provided for review by W2Beauty. All opinions and recommendations in this post are my own unless otherwise noted. Learn more about my rules for store partnerships by checking out my sponsorship policy and sponsor list.
Fiddy editorial note: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated that Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule does not have an adequate preservative system. I’ve updated the review and my rating of the ampoule to reflect that it does. My bad, guys.
Bees are such amazing little creatures. These fuzzy little guys spend their days buzzing around from flower to flower without a thought in their head except what’s best for their hive, and they make so many things that benefit us big bumbling humans (who so rarely think anything of the makers except to scream and run away when one of them flies too close to our faces). Honey is delicious, of course, and it can even be fermented into a mild alcoholic drink for your next Ren Faire excursion, not to mention how nice it is for the face. Royal jelly is also lovely for skin, and the nutritious substance is commonly sold for consumption as traditional Chinese medicine. Even propolis, the resin that our little honeybee friends make to seal up their hives, is wonderful! That’s why, when I see a propolis ampoule in a K-beauty shop, my first impulse is always to put it in my cart and check out before I can stop myself. Which, in turn, is why I ended up with two different propolis ampoules in my skincare wardrobe.
At first glance, the Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule and the Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule seem so alike that you’d think it doesn’t matter which one you use. As it turns out, that’s not true. Here’s my comparison of these two products and my conclusions about which one is better, and why!
Purpose: Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule and Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule are hydrating products formulated to soothe, moisturize, and deliver protective antioxidants to skin.
Best suited for: All skin types.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to propolis or honey, botanical extracts and oils, or anything else in the ingredients lists. Use with caution and definitely for sure 100% patch test if you have, or suspect you have, a bee allergy or sensitivity to bees or bee products.
When and how to use: At the serum step of your skincare routine, spread a thin layer of product over your face. Pat in if desired. Continue with the rest of your routine.
Graymelin and Tosowoong propolis ampoule ingredients comparison
Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule ingredients: Propolis extract (80%), PEG/PPG-17/6 copolymer, water, butylene glycol, betaine, Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylhydroxamic acid, honey extract, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, triethanolamine, allantoin, sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed collagen, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, aloe barbadensis leaf powder, sodium polyacrylate, magnolia biondii bark extract, acorus calamus root extract, zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, pinus sylvestris leaf extract, red ginseng root extract, panax ginseng root extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, thujopsis dolabrata branch extract, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract, salix alba (willow) bark extract (ingredients retrieved from Hwahae by Chel at Holy Snails)
Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule ingredients: Propolis extract (80%), water, butylene glycol, glycerin, glycereth-26, honey extract, artemisia vulgaris extract, sophora angustifolia root extract, coptis chinensis root extract, hydrogenated lecithin, acrylates/C10-30 aklyl acrylate crosspolymer, PVM/MA copolymer, glyceryl acrylate/acrylic acid copolymer, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit oil, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, pinus sylvestris leaf oil, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, PEG-2M, sucrose distearate, polyglutamic acid, xanthan gum, dimethicone, betaine, tromethamine, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin
I had THE HARDEST TIME with the ingredients comparison for this post. Both the Graymelin and Tosowoong propolis ampoules contain 80% propolis extract. Without any way of knowing whether one of the companies is using a higher quality extract than the other, I have to treat them both as containing equal amounts of actual propolis. They also both contain a number of botanical ingredients, but I’m guessing in amounts best described as “drops.”
Tosowoong lists several of its botanical extracts higher up in its ingredients list. This may or may not mean that the Propolis Sparkle Ampoule contains them in greater quantities. On the other hand, Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule also contains some citrus oils, and those may or may not cause photosensitivity and even phototoxicity if applied to skin that is then exposed to the sun (it depends on how the oils are processed, which is also impossible to gauge from the product label). For what it’s worth, I’ve used the Propolis Sparkle Ampoule for months without experiencing any UV-related problems. Then again, I also use strong sunscreen every day.
Performance: Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule vs. Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule
As you might assume based on the superficially similar ingredients lists, Graymelin’s and Tosowoong’s propolis ampoules have a lot in common. Both are faintly sweet-smelling, clear, watery medium-consistency gels that sink into my skin quickly and completely and leave it feeling supple and refreshed.
The differences in performance between the two products are subtle but unmistakable. Like The Acid Queen, I found the Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule less hydrating than expected. My digital skin analyzer measurements of this product’s effects showed an average 8% water gain, which isn’t much at all. But the Graymelin product excels at calming irritation and soothing redness, producing even-toned, glowy skin. When my skin’s looking dull and tired, the Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule really does seem to give it energy and make it look more radiant and alive.
The Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule also has a packaging problem, however. I love the way the bottle looks, like an old-timey bottle of laudanum, but unfortunately I find that it’s about as touchy to use as old-timey bottles of laudanum probably were. If I don’t screw the cap on just right, it pops open again. It also spontaneously pops open in my skincare basket if jostled. I’m not the only one to have noticed this, either–I’ve had conversations on Snapchat with a couple of other people who’ve experienced the same problem. I’ve reached in for the bottle and come up with only the cap and dropper plenty of times. That is not conducive to contamination prevention.
The Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule is a hydration powerhouse. Using this product gave me an average 20% increase in skin hydration, which is pretty incredible for this product type. I did find it less effective against redness and inflammation, however, although the Propolis Sparkle Ampoule does also bring my skin that lively glow that propolis products so often do. As a final note, the Propolis Sparkle Ampoule comes in a much larger bottle than the Graymelin. As a Heavy Handed Person who likes to mix things like this into multiple skincare products in addition to applying it straight to my face, I appreciate that.
The choice here isn’t clear.
If your skin is oily, easily irritated, or acneic, or if your main concern is calming inflammation or easing redness, the Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule will probably suit your needs better. I like it enough that I’m looking into the cream from the same line.
If, on the other hand, your skin is dry or dehydrated and you want to address those issues, the Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule will most likely work better for you–and you can enjoy the huge gigantic bottle for months!
Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule Rating: 3.5/5
Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule Rating: 3.5/5
Where can I buy the Graymelin and Tosowoong propolis ampoules?
I received my Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule from W2Beauty, where one 50ml bottle is $26.99 with free shipping. If you’ve never shopped from W2Beauty before, enter my code, 1323053309, at registration to receive $5 off of your first order over $30.
100ml bottles of Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule are available at:
Which propolis ampoule do you prefer?
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