Honey is one of the oldest beauty ingredients on record, with its uses in aiding skin and wound healing dating back to Ancient Egyptian times, when it was mixed with animal fat and vegetable fibre and covered with a bandage to form a sort of plaster.
And, while many ancient remedies either didn’t work or even caused more harm than good, the popularity of honey in beauty products has only seemed to grow in recent years.
Using honey on the body has very little risk, unless of course you are allergic to honey, pollen or bees. As you can ingest it, which many of us do daily, it’s actually one of the safest and most natural ingredients to use. And while you may have spotted the ingredient in lip balms, lip oils or even hair masks before, its benefits actually go much further than just making products smell nice.
When understanding why the Ancient Egyptians were such fans of using honey for wound healing, it’s important to note some studies have found honey to have antimicrobial properties against a huge range of bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, can lighten dark spots, exfoliate and deeply nourish, and moisturise the skin, helping with conditions such as acne, eczema and dryness.
Can you use any type of honey on the skin or hair?
While you technically could use any type of honey you find in a local supermarket or farm shop on the skin, not all honey is made equal when it comes to quality. Some of what you find in the shops could have added sweeteners or syrup, so it is best to do your research and try to check that the company is taking care of the bees too – they are doing most of the work here, after all.
Some people recommend raw honey, the most natural state of honey you can buy, which is simply taken from the hive and strained to remove any dead bees or wax. This honey has a high amount of micro and macronutrients and has a loyal fanbase of thousands who swear by its benefits. But it can also carry harmful bacteria and is also strongly advised against using on children under one, or on wounds.
Manuka honey is possibly the most commonly known and most highly recommended by beauty editors, natural skincare lovers and health experts. Made in Australia and New Zealand, the key thing that sets this honey apart from the rest is the type of trees the bees pollinate, named the leptospermum scoparium bush, with manuka flowers.
With a low pH level, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and a host of vitamins and minerals, it’s been proven to help heal acne, soothe wounds, hydrate skin and hair and soothe eczema.
But if looking for honey to use on wounds or cuts, I would recommend consulting your doctor first and enquiring about sterilised medical-grade honey to be on the safe side.
What can using honey help with?
I’ve already covered a fair few uses of honey and the different conditions it has been known to help with, from acne and eczema to dryness and wound healing.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into your beauty routine is to buy a product with honey as the hero ingredient to save on any mess, time or potential mishaps.
If using it on its own, simply mix with coconut oil to create a nourishing hair mask to fight frizz and breakage, combine with jojoba oil or another face oil for a deep cleanse or add it directly onto acne-prone areas for around 20 minutes as an antibacterial mask.
Are there any side effects of using honey in beauty products?
Unless you have an allergy to honey, bees or pollen, honey should be one of the safest natural beauty ingredients to use.
The only point I would stress is that if using it on its own and not as an ingredient within a beauty product, it’s best not to leave it on too long as the stickiness can draw in dirt and germs, leading to possible infection.
And it’s always good practice to do a small patch test around 20 minutes before using any new product to double check for any adverse reactions.
What are the best honey beauty products to use?
Need an idea of what to buy? I’ve got you covered.
Gisou Honey Infused Face Oil, £46
I’ve already raved about the Gisou hair oil (£68, Gisou.com) before and am about to do the same with this face oil.
The brand is built around honey as the core ingredient and was actually founded by a sixth-generation beekeeper so of course, it had to top this list. Using the Mirsalehi Honey Bees, putting their well-being first, the brand founders had long been reaping the benefits of honey on their hair and skin before deciding to share it with the world.
Combining Mirsalehi honey and safflower oil to moisturise, grapeseed oil to even out skin tone and a whole host of other oil blends for skin barrier strengthening, oil production management and reducing fine lines, the fast-drying formula is a worthy investment for anyone after glowing skin.
The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Shower Cream, £3
From the pricey to the purse friendly, The Body Shop’s honey product proves you don’t always have to fork out all the cash to try the ingredient.
Always a brand to bring high quality ingredients with an equally high level of care into every level of its supply chain, The Body Shop’s almond milk and honey range is a great place to start when looking to incorporate honey into your routine.
For dry and sensitive skin this one is a must, moisturising skin while cleansing at the same time. And at only £3, it certainly won’t break the bank.
Foreo Manuka Honey Revitalising Sheet Face Mask, £13.90
Using the famous manuka honey, these Foreo face masks are a great pick me up for an added boost of hydration, as well as for soothing breakouts and smoothing fine lines.
Coming in a pack of three, they can either be used alone for 20 minutes or with the brand’s UFO device for a quick two minute hit.
Guerlain Abeille Royale Fortifying Lotion With Royal Jelly, £58
Now, Guerlain isn’t your everyday beauty buy, I know. But when it comes to honey, it is quite the expert.
You may remember the iconic images of Angelina Jolie covered in bees last year, and that was all because of Guerlain and its inspiring bee conservation programme.
Working around black bee technology made from Ouessant Island honey, Corsican honey and New Zealand clover honey, the power of the natural ingredient has truly been harnessed in this lotion, creating a product that gives supple, smooth and radiant skin.
Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm Tube, £3.99
Possibly one of the most famous bee-centred brands, Burt’s Bees continually share messaging on how important beeswax is in beauty, and the importance of bees globally in our ecosystem.
This honey-infused lip balm is a great twist on the original formula, soothing dry and chapped lips with honey, coconut oil, sunflower oil and beeswax.
Farmacy Honey Saviour All-In-One Skin Repair Salve, £32
The Farmacy farm is home to over 20,000 bees creating a buckwheat honey blend. Using only small batches of the excess honey in the hives, after the bees have taken what they need, they too put the bee’s health at the heart of the operation.
This multipurpose cream can be used all over the body from hands and feet to face and elbows, nourishing the skin and soothing irritation. With an impressive 132 nutrients, it’s safe for all skin types and can even be used on sunburns too.