After trying the glow-boosting K-Beauty toner the internet is raving about, here's my two cents

I had *very* high expectations

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a beauty editor with dry skin, I'll try near enough any product that lands on my desk promising to add hydration. I'm always on the hunt for the best moisturiser for dry skin and best face serums to soothe irritated skin—and I think I've just added one to the list. 

Enter: COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner. Prior to trying, I was familiar with COSRX's snail mucin products (and have loved them in the past) but hadn't come across the Propolis range in the flesh before—despite it being all over my social media. But what actually is it and is it worth the money? Here are my thoughts. 

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner Formula

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner

(Image credit: Tori Crowther)

The instructions for use on the product are embarrassingly vague. "Apply a proper amount evenly, avoiding the eye area." Now, if I were deciding whether to buy this product, I wouldn't do so based on this alone. It gives no indication as to what the product is, how much to apply or where. Thank goodness retailers like Lookfantastic went to more of an effort with its description of use.

Given the non-description from COSRX and widely varied descriptions from retailers, I had to make my mind up about what this product was exactly. Despite being called a toner, I'd put it more in the essence category for my skin. A toner is part of the skin's cleansing step whereas an essence adds moisture. However, you can either pop it on a cotton pad and swipe across the face, or into the palm of your hands and pat into the skin. I tried both ways and preferred the latter.

It's a thin water-serum consistency that applies very easily to the skin. Like a lot of other hydrating serums, it dries slightly tacky but once you follow it with your moisturiser (and SPF if using in the morning) that dissipates. I find that the sticky serums work well with my make-up, giving it something to grip hold of.

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner Ingredients

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner

After applying COSRX Synergy Toner

(Image credit: Tori Crowther)

Until looking into it, I had no idea what propolis (sometimes referred to as bee glue) was. There's no doubt it's popular. COSRX has an entire Propolis range, including a mask, serum and lip balm.

If you're also unfamiliar, it's a substance used by bees to create and look after their hive. It's collected by bees from tree buds and creates a resin-like substance. So while there's no direct harm caused to bees by using propolis, it may pose ethical questions, particularly when it comes to over-use. 

This formula contains 72.6% black bee propolis extract and 10% honey. Honey has long been used for its healing properties and propolis is much the same with anti-inflammatory properties as well as a bunch more benefits. Given this, it's no wonder that it works well to soothe irritation. The formula contains other ingredients like glycerin, panthenol and sodium hyaluronate to promote hydration in the skin. 

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner Results

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner

After applying COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner and make-up 

(Image credit: Tori Crowther)

I enjoyed using this in the morning before applying moisturiser and sunscreen. I only needed about a 5p-coin-sized amount, applying across my face, neck and a little down to my chest. This is the result after using the COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner with light make-up over the top. 

Overall, do I think it's a skincare must-have? Probably not. But it's a lovely step to add to your routine if you're looking for a hit of hydration that you don't get from your moisturiser. I can't speak on it helping with concerns like blemishes (I didn't notice a difference in the few blemishes I had while testing), which it promises. However, I did notice a glow in the morning that other serums haven't delivered, so it certainly did deliver on its promise to promote a "lit-from within glow." 

Beauty Contributor

Tori is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor for Marie Claire. She has written for various titles, including Allure, Glamour, Elle, Refinery29, Brides, and more. Currently training to be a nail tech, Tori is a total nail enthusiast and always has time to talk all things nail art. When she’s not writing about beauty and testing products, Tori can be found walking her rescue dog Pip, drinking great coffee, and eating as many croissants as humanly possible.