We love adding a drizzle of honey to a hot cup of tea or our favorite yogurt, but did you know that honey, when applied topically, also has some incredible skin care benefits? How exactly does this pantry staple benefit your complexion, you ask? Here’s what you need to know and the right way to add it to your beauty routine.
What Is Honey
Honey is a sticky, thick liquid that bees make using the nectar they collect from flowers. While it’s most widely known as a sweetener for foods and drinks, it has a variety of medicinal uses as well—which explains why it’s often called “liquid gold.” Research shows honey can do everything from help heal burns to lessen the effects of an upset stomach to ease heartburn.
Benefits of Honey for Skin
Beyond its medicinal benefits, honey can also do wonders for your skin. “Honey is a natural antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredient,” explains Marie Hayag, MD, dermatologist and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics in New York City. Studies show, due to these properties, that honey can help soothe a variety of skin conditions including acne and dermatitis. “In addition, it can help promote and build collagen.” Collagen is a building block for healthy, youthful-looking skin, meaning honey is an effective anti-aging ingredient.
When it comes to adding honey to your beauty routine, you have a lot of types to choose from—but some are definitely more effective than others. Here are some of the best options:
The most important factor to consider: How the honey is processed, or in this case, isn’t processed. The best kind of honey for your skin is raw honey, says Hayag. “Raw, unprocessed honey is packed with natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which all help protect, repair and prevent skin damage,” she adds.
The vitamins and nutrients you can find in raw, unfiltered honey include B vitamins, copper, iron, amino acids, magnesium and potassium, she notes. Look for words like “raw,” “unprocessed,” “unfiltered,” “unheated” and “unpasteurized” on the label, suggests Hayag.
Manuka honey has become super-trendy recently—and it’s a great choice for your skin. “Manuka honey has quickly become the new ‘gold standard’ when it comes to using honey in skin care,” says Hayag. “The bees that produce this kind of honey pollinate the Manuka bush, found only in New Zealand, and its nutritional content is said to be four times more potent than that of other flower honeys.” Raw, unrefined Manuka honey “has many benefits such as antibacterial properties and acne-fighting properties at its highest potency,” Hayag adds.
Another type of honey that may be beneficial is acacia honey, which comes from Japan. A study published in the Central Asian Journal of Global Health shows that acacia honey aids in treating tinea, a group of fungal conditions like ringworm and athlete’s foot.
Like Manuka honey, this type of honey also comes from New Zealand. The Central Asian Journal of Global Health study finds that kanuka honey helps calm rosacea, acne and psoriasis.
How to Use Honey for Your Skin
You can find honey in a lot of skin care products—just make sure you’re choosing a raw, unfiltered type of honey when you shop, regardless of product. “Moisturizers, face masks and lip balms with honey have an added moisturizing and calming effect leaving the skin and lips hydrated,” says Hayag. “In addition, face masks and facial cleansers with honey are beneficial to combat acne and blackheads due to its antibacterial properties.”
Also keep in mind that with natural honey, there is a chance for allergies. “People allergic to honey should not use honey on their skin,” advises Hayag. “People with allergies to pollen or bees should also avoid applying honey topically.” Anyone with known allergies should test honey on a small part of their skin before applying it to larger areas of the body, she adds.
Ready to reap the skin benefits of honey? We’ve rounded up the best beauty products formulated with honey for all your skin needs, below.
1. NEW! Naturopathica Manuka Honey Gel Mask
Treat yourself to a spa-like facial at home with this gel mask. It’s formulated with Manuka honey to lock in moisture, prickly pear extract to protect against free radicals and saccharide complex to provide long-lasting hydration. Sit back and relax while the mask does its job of pampering your skin.