We know the pantry is filled with hidden skin-care gems (coconut oil, olive oil and baking soda, to name a few), so the fact that honey is yet another shouldn’t be surprising. You probably already know that the sweet substance is great at combating colds and hydrating your hair, but there are several more benefits of putting honey on your face that will have you sticking around (literally and figuratively).
Why is honey so good for your skin?
Let’s start with the basics: Honey is naturally made by bees collecting flower nectar and storing it in honeycombs to create the sweet, thick liquid we know and love. That liquid is full of about 300 ingredients that help both oily and dry skin—some of the well known ones being vitamin B, calcium, zinc, potassium and iron. Honey is rich in antioxidants, it’s antibacterial and has enzyme activity that helps make your skin glow.
And what kind of honey works best?
“The great thing about honey is that all types have really great properties, so it's an awesome ingredient to use in many of its forms,” says Liana Cutrone, senior skin therapist at Heyday.
The darker the honey, the more antioxidants it has, so it’s recommended to use unpasteurized, raw honey. But there are so many varieties out there (as a result of the flowers and geography), so sticking with organic kinds is a good rule of thumb.
However, if you have access to them, research shows that Manuka, Kanuka, Buckwheat and Thyme honey are the top choices. The most popular one is Manuka, which is derived from the flowers of tea tree bushes (a skin-care OG) in New Zealand and Australia. It’s not the most moisturizing of the bunch (and has a hefty price tag), but its benefits of treating wounds, fighting acne and healing the skin are what set it apart from traditional honey. Buckwheat and Thyme, on the other hand, are more moisturizing, affordable and accessible.
Cutrone suggests looking for places that sell locally produced honey that is completely clean and natural. Chances are the helpful properties in honey at the supermarket have been diminished thanks to being heated, processed and filtered. Local honey is usually thick, creamy and crunchy (from wax bits found in honeycombs).
And now, five benefits of using honey on your face.
1. It’s the perfect daily cleanser
It might be time to ditch your daily face wash. Honey’s antioxidants, antiseptic and antibacterial properties make this ingredient a go-to for fighting acne. It’ll open your pores and get rid of those pesky blackheads while keeping your skin hydrated all day long.
Just wet your face with warm water, use about a 1/2 teaspoon of honey and massage it onto your face in a circular motion. Work in your DIY cleanser for 30 seconds before rinsing it off and continuing your skin-care routine.
2. It’s a natural exfoliator
Say goodbye to irritated and itchy skin by using a honey face mask to gently exfoliate. You can also combine other remedies (avocado, lemon or apple cider vinegar) to upgrade the routine.
To try it yourself, start by cleaning your face before applying whatever you choose to do (combo or not). Spread a thin layer of honey over your skin and leave it on for 8 to 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water and patting your face dry. Use once or twice a week for results.
3. It’s great for treating acne
If the cleanser and exfoliator are any indication, honey is all-around good for battling acne. Its anti-inflammatory benefits help remove excess oil from the surface, and if applied every day, it’ll balance the bacteria on your skin. Use it as a spot treatment to calm stubborn breakouts, and even to provide relief from autoimmune skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. The healing properties in honey help skin repair damage faster.
4. It’s a hydrating moisturizer
If you’re prone to dry or itchy skin, applying honey can have soothing effects. “Honey fights free radical damage and pollution with its antioxidant properties, and it is really great for giving hydration to the skin, which will smooth and soften your complexion,” explains Cutrone.
5. It’s great for anti-aging
The probiotics, antioxidants, nutrients and enzymes in honey work together to nourish and plump the skin. It retains and rebuilds moisture without making it oily or creating any irritation. While it doesn’t completely eliminate wrinkles, it does reduce their appearance. And the antioxidants help reverse any damage, which is what can lead to visible signs of aging.
A few things to keep in mind
The more often you incorporate honey into your beauty routine, the greater the chances you’ll see results. “The biggest thing I always think about when using honey is its consistency” says Cutrone.
It’s also important to consider avoiding honey if you’re allergic to pollen, celery or bee venom. If you’re unsure, try testing a bit on a small area of your skin for a reaction or consult with your doctor about doing an allergy test.
Finally, make sure you’re removing the honey from your face completely after trying out a face mask, treatment or cleanser. Any honey left can attract dirt, which can lead to breakouts (and the last thing you want is clogged pores and acne).
So grab some natural honey and start giving your skin the TLC it deserves.