Sometimes I smear honey all over my face.
I’d love to say it was for some sexy purpose, but it’s really just to help my skin calm down.
If you’ve got upset skin, you need honey. Raw, unfiltered gold.
Honey is a powerful zit-zapper and skin-plumper. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, clarifying properties make it a winner for beauty DIY enthusiasts.
But there’s one kind of honey that rules them all:
I first came across manuka honey when I was living in New Zealand, home to the manuka bush.
Manuka is a type of tea tree—and we all know the miraculous properties of tea tree oil! Bees love its pink and white flowers, and the honey they make from this tree is nothing short of one of the world’s most astounding wonders.
You’re visiting the trauma unit of a major hospital. Patients are being treated for burns, infections, nasty wounds. The nurses are applying dressings … made of honey.
Medical grade manuka honey.
That’s right. This stuff beats anything the pharmaceutical industry can concoct.
So what makes it so powerful?
1. Bee saliva
Even normal honey—as long as it’s raw—makes a great natural antiseptic.
Ever used hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound? Bee saliva will give you the same thing, thanks to an enzyme that converts glucose to hydrogen peroxide.
(Yeah, there’s bee spit in honey. Sorry for mentioning that.)
2. Manuka bush magic
The flowers of the manuka bush contain methylglyoxal (MG). MG packs a powerful antibacterial punch, even when the honey has been sterilized for medical use.
The indigenous population of New Zealand, the Maoris, knew about the medicinal powers of the manuka plant, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that scientists caught up.
And what they found astounded the world.
Manuka kills deadly superbugs as well as 80 kinds of bacteria. When applied to wounds, it inhibits infection and helps cells rebuild. You can even find manuka honey bandages in drugstore that are specifically designed to help wounds heal.
One study conducted on mice found that manuka honey can inhibit cancer tumor growth when administered intravenously. It works on mouth ulcers, gastritis, acid reflux, respiratory tract infections, you name it.
No wonder it’s one of the latest natural substances to make its way into skincare!
But put down that pot of pricy cream. You don’t need it.
Pure manuka honey is available at health food stores, and it can go straight on your face as a DIY mask or spot treatment.
Just check your labels.
For manuka to work its wonders, it must have a certain amount of MG, the bioactive component. Look for a UMF rating of at least 10+.
There are lots of fake manuka honeys on the market. They often include misleading labels for things like K Factor, NPA,TA, PA, or AAH. You can spot them easily, because they’re cheap.
Real manuka honey is pricey, but devotees know it’s worth it. For a look at what you might be paying, check out Comvita, the largest producer of manuka honey in the world. Its prices generally reflect the market rate.
So how do you use it?
For acne, you can either apply a mask—combine a teaspoon of manuka with half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and leave on for at least 20 minutes—or you can dip a Q-tip into the honey and apply it as a spot treatment. (Just don’t dip the Q-tip back in the jar! Dispose of it and use a fresh one if you want to apply more.)
It’s also a fantastic skin moisturizer. Simply apply it straight to damp skin. (It’s not as easy to apply on dry skin.) Leave on for at least half an hour before washing off.
You can also mix honey into one of your regular masks to give it an extra boost.
Will regular honey give you the same benefits?
No. But not everyone is going to want to shell out $50 for a small jar of manuka.
Even though it’s not as potent, regular honey deserves a place in your skincare routine. I’m loving my honey face masks at the moment, and honey is my go-to burn healer.
And, if worst comes to worst, you can always drizzle it over Greek yogurt and eat it. Delicious!