If you are a fan of DIY facial masks you’ve probably come across more than one recipe for at home facial masks using honey. Why does this ingredient repeatedly appear in DIY facial treatments? It turns out for a few very good reasons. Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin, is antimicrobial, and an antioxidant.
According to Shape magazine honey helps the skin(and your overall health) in a few different ways:
1. Skin ailments: Everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and radiation-associated ulcers have been shown to respond to “honey dressings.” That’s thanks to the hydrogen peroxide that naturally exists in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.
2. Mosquito bite relief: Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.
3. It’s an immune booster: Honey is chock full of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage. It can also contribute to heart health as well as protect against cancer.
4. Digestive aid: In a 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.
5. Acne treatment: According to preliminary research, Manuka, and Kanuka types of honey can effectively treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back, and chest.
(From 5 Health Benefits of Honey)
Future Derm highlights honey’s beauty benefits thusly:
Honey’s combination of vitamins, antioxidants, sugars and amino make it produce hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid — acidic solutions that are frequently used to clear dirt and bacteria from wounds. It is due in part to its numerous antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide that honey is often lauded as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent — good news if you have oiler skin that could collect dirt more easily, have superficial wounds and scarring, or if you just need something to give your skin a little extra cleaning (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).
But honey’s effectiveness doesn’t just stop with being a skin cleanser – there is substantial evidence for its role in wound-healing. Coupled with its hydrogen peroxide, honey provides amoist environment for skin to repair itself, encourages epithelialization (skin cell regrowth), granulation tissue formation, (a type of connective tissue), and wound healing. Plus, honey can reduce swelling and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, meaning that it very may well reduce pain and irritation from skin lesions (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery)
Honey is also good for dry skin, especially skin disorders such as Eczema and Psoriasis. These two skin ailments are characterized by their excessive dryness, itchiness, inflammation and irritation. After using the a mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax three times a day for two weeks, 80 percent of the eczema patients had reduced symptoms of itching, scaling, and oozing from lesions. 63 percent of the psoriasis patients also reported significant improvement in symptoms (Complementary Therapies in Medicine).
Users should know that there are several different strains of honey whose efficacy can vary, such as the medical-quality Manuka and Revamil. If using pure honey, take caution — honey is able to support the bacteria that cause gangrene and botulism, and are typically treated with gamma irridation to eradicate these bacteria (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).
Many sources claim that not all honey is the same and you actually need to use raw honey in order to receive all the benefits described above. In an article from Beauty at Skin Deep the benefits of raw honey are explained:
It should be noted that not all honey is created equal. Most of the honey found in grocery stores has been processed with heat, which kills off healing enzymes and destroys a lot of the nutrient-rich content. But, raw honey hasn’t been processed and will give your skin the healing benefits that it needs. Also, if you have allergies, try a patch test first and/or ask you physician if raw honey is a right for you.
Raw honey is an amazing natural beauty solution for all skin types because of its healing skin benefits. It does wonders for a wide variety of skin ailments including:
Acne and enlarged pores
Sensitive, mature, and dull lifeless skin
With its natural pH level of 4.5, raw honey falls within skin’s naturally healthy pH range. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties make it great for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.
Depending on where the honey is collected from, it contains many nutrients and minerals excellent for skin health such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and calcium. It also acts as a humectant drawing moisture to the skin and is perfect as a gentle cleansing solution for even very sensitive skin. When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties which helps heal acne and impede bacterial growth causing more acne
(From Skin Benefits of Raw Honey)
Personally I’ve never tried honey, any type of honey, as a facial treatment, but I do find the information on it intriguing. If you’ve ever used honey at home as a skincare treatment please comment below.
Sources and Further Reading:
Important read about the benefits of honey and the false marketing claims of beauty companies:
While researching this post I found that a lot of sources repeat the same information about honey over and over so I’ve highlighted just a few resources below.
- A Sweet Escape: Bees, Honey, and Skincare – Skin Inc.
- Honey-Infused Spa Treatments – New Beauty
- Honey to Help Prevent Sun Damage – New Beauty
- Nature’s Skin Care – The National Honey Board
- The Benefits of Honey for Skin Care – Live Strong
- Honey Face Mask recipes – Natural Home Remedies for Life
- Can Honey Lighten Hair? - The Beauty Brains
- A Hive Of Your Own – Organic Spa Magazine
- Cosmetics and Creams From The Hive – The New York Times
Image from self.com