You could blame the pandemic for triggering a demand for immune-support supplements, or chalk it up to the fact that people are increasingly interested in natural remedies to ward off sickness — but it seems like all of a sudden, jars of honey have become commonplace in celebrity beauty tutorials.
I'm not talking about a £60 raw Mānuka honey. Instead, celebs are have been promoting a more affordable, medicinal-grade label called Beekeeper's Naturals. According to her Poosh blog, Kourtney Kardashian eats a spoonful of the brand's B.Powered Superfood Honey every day, describing it as "medicine [that] tastes amazing." She recently gifted a jar to Kendall Jenner, who uses the honey directly on her skin mixed with a mashed avocado as a DIY face mask, which is how Cameron Diaz uses hers, too.
So what makes this particular honey so... buzzy? Upon unscrewing my Gerber baby food-sized glass jar, it looks like honey, smells like honey, and scoops out of the jar like a thick yet malleable paste, as opposed to a runny pancake syrup — which, according to the internet, is a telltale sign that it's pure and unrefined.
That tracks: B.Powered Honey is, in fact, raw and unadulterated. But, as Beekeeper's Naturals founder Carly Stein tells me, honey isn't the only component at play here. Its ingredient profile, she says, is actually as complex as an individual honeycomb, because it also includes lesser-appreciated compounds sourced from the beehive, like pollen, royal jelly, and the most crucial in its immune-support claims: propolis.
If honey is the bee's energy source, think of propolis as the insect's form of an antibiotic. "Unlike honey, which is derived from floral nectars collected by the bees and used as their food source, propolis comes from the collection of planted tree resins, things like sap," Stein explains. "Tree resins are both adaptogenic and medicinal, so the bees bring it back to the hive and use it to line the walls and keep germs out."
Just like the way propolis protects the bees, it's been found to deliver similar benefits to the human body when extracted from the hive. "Propolis has been used in healing modalities for centuries," explains Katina Martin, a licensed naturopathic doctor and the co-founder of Aqua ViTea Kombucha. "It has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, and has been shown to support immune-system functioning similar to OTC antiseptics or antibiotics."
So, when Stein initially formulated her B.Powered Superfood Honey with propolis built in, she intended for to be ingested — a spoonful mixed into hot tea or a matcha latte — as a natural remedy for energy and immune support. But then, she says, people just starting putting it on their faces.
The key topical benefits of the honey are clear, according to dermatologist Hadley King, MD. "When used topically, propolis and honey have antimicrobial properties, which protects the skin against acne-causing bacteria," Dr. King explains. "They also have hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful for wound healing, like in the case of a sunburn or skin sensitivity."
In Stein's experience, most people who buy the honey use it both as a supplement and as an at-home facial, rather than strictly one or the other. "Kendall mixes B.Powered with avocado and puts it on her face, where Kourtney will eat it or put in her tea," she says. "I actually take it straight from the jar, slather it over my face, leave it on for 20 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water. The honey crystals from the pollen make it a nice exfoliant."
I gave the masking method a try first. The solid-at-room-temperature consistency made it easy to apply and a 10- to 15-minute treatment left my skin a little bit glowier, but not as noticeably as, say, after a peel pad or consistent use of glycolic acid. However, my preferred approach was definitely a spoon straight into the jar between Zoom meetings as a mid-day snack disguised as a supplement. Whether or not it will help prevent a cold, or become a regular part of either my diet or skin-care routine, is still TBD. What I do know is that I've emptied my baby jar... and it's only a matter of time before I spring for the full-size one that Kourtney and Kendall keep in their kitchens.
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