While some skincare ingredients are created in chemistry labs, others are probably hiding at the back of your kitchen cupboard. Case in point: honey. Not just great for slathering on toast or drizzling over yoghurt, honey has boundless benefits for your skin.
As far back as the Ancient Egyptians, honey was hailed a skin-healing ingredient, and Cleopatra supposedly mixed honey and milk to make face masks. Now, as more and more people look to include natural ingredients in their skincare arsenal, honey is having a resurgence.
So what is the fuss with the sweet stuff? Well, honey’s superpower is its antimicrobial properties. “Have you ever noticed how honey never grows mould or goes off, even if it’s forgotten for years at the back of a cupboard? This is a side-effect of its slightly acidic, antimicrobial properties. The enzymes in honey release the natural acne-bacteria-blasters: flavonoids, hydrogen peroxide and phenolic acid, which makes it very clarifying,” Alexia Inge, cofounder of Cult Beauty, explained.
However, it is not just acne-prone skin that can feel the benefits; honey is suitable for all skin types. Alongside its antimicrobial properties, it offers up a hefty serving of antioxidants that accelerate healing of the skin. “Manuka honey in particular supports skin’s natural immunity, reinforces the skin barrier, and helps protect skin from damage and environmental factors,” commented Dr. Geoffrey Genesky, scientific director at Kiehl’s. While this is beneficial regardless of skin type, those who suffer with sensitivity or skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea may see a particular improvement.
The easiest way to start using honey is with a mask. For a DIY approach, apply high-grade manuka honey all over your face (look for +20 in your local health food store), and leave for 20-30 minutes. However, as anyone who has tried this will testify, it’s a messy, sticky process, probably only worth attempting if you have time afterwards to wash your hair. For a more practical option, try a honey-based mask such as Farmacy’s Honey Potion or look out for other moisturisers or scrubs containing honey – click through to see our favourites.