Not only perfect for pouring over porridge or for sweetening sauces, honey is also one of nature’s best-kept beauty secrets. Used to treat wounds for millennia, honey is revered for its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties as well as its ability to help improve skin cell turnover and repair skin tissue. Find out how honey infused formulas can be applied topically to help calm redness and work wonders on sensitive or irritated complexions, help shut down the growth of acne-causing bacteria and hydrate and condition dry, brittle hair.
Although all varieties of honey have antimicrobial properties, manuka honey which comes from the pollen of the manuka tree (native to New Zealand and South Western Australia) is particularly high in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities and therefore is especially good for the immune system. “Manuka contains a high concentration of an antiseptic compound called methylglyoxal (MG), which is rarely present in other types of honey” explains Lou Riby, Skincare Expert and MD at Elemental Herbology. “It is also loaded with nutrients and minerals that are excellent for skin health, such as such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and calcium” says May Lindstrom.
In order to establish how active manuka honey is, it is awarded a UMF number or unique manuka factor. The higher the number, the more therapeutically active the ingredient is, and therefore more effective. While this number may not be listed on the back of beauty packaging, it’s important to look out for it if you wish to apply honey directly onto your skin straight from the jar. For topical use on skin, it is recommended to start with UMF15, you can apply this directly onto blemishes as a spot treatment, use it in a mask or add it to your existing skincare to make it more nourishing during winter months.
However, if you’d prefer to avoid sticky fingers, opt for luxury skincare that already contains manuka alongside a host of other effective ingredients. Try Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner to calm acne-prone complexions and soothe redness or restore skin’s glow with Dr Roebuck’s TAMA Healing Mask.
The Benefits of Honey for Oily Skin
Manuka honey contains potent enzymes with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which act as a natural preservative, but also make it difficult for bacteria to spread. “Manuka honey’s antibacterial compounds make it a well-known acne treatment” explains Lou. “It fights the bacteria that causes blemishes and helps to stop them from returning.” The physical properties of honey also make it conducive to healing infection, as once applied topically honey’s low pH makes it difficult for bacteria to grow and spread. In fact, honey’s natural healing properties are so effective that during hospital surgery, surgical dressings are often soaked in honey and applied to help aid wound management. Honey’s calming and healing properties help to reduce the inflammation and redness of blemishes and aid the healing process of skin cells and tissues, reducing the appearance of acne scarring.
If your skin is congested or you want to do a deep cleanse, look out for clay-based blemish treatments that combine with honey. This particular duo is especially effective because the clay works to draw out impurities while the antiseptic properties of the honey work to prevent the spread of bacteria and soothe any redness and inflammation.
The Benefits of Honey for Dry Skin
While honey is often heralded for its antiviral properties, it is also a natural humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture, making it a great addition to moisturising or hydrating products and ideal for dry skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. “Honey’s natural hydrating qualities help to improve skin tone and texture without stripping your skin of moisture, making it a miracle cleansing ingredient” says Lou.
Apply Elemental Herbology Vital Cleanse Facial Cleanser to damp skin for a soft and nourished complexion. Honey is also a popular addition to hydrating lip balms as helps to lock in moisture, reduce inflammation and soothe soreness. We love Elemental Herbology Nutritive Lip Complex Plumping and Moisturising Lip Balm and Nuxe Réve de Miel Lip Balm.
If you suffer from dry or itchy skin, run a deep bath and drizzle Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Honey Bath into the water to help rebalance and restore skin’s softness. Alternatively, combat dry patches with honey infused body lotion. Rich, emollient formulas containing skin-conditioning honey will penetrate the skin’s deepest layers, providing nourishment, hydration and lipid barrier protection; slather limbs and torso with Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Whipped Body Butter or Susanne Kaufmann Body Butter.
Given its nourishing properties, honey also works well in haircare formulations as helps to lend volume to fine hair as well as nourish from root to tip. These hardworking, honey infused formulas work to strengthen and protect, soften and add shine.