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If there’s one skincare trend that anyone can get on board with, it’s honey in skincare.
Though it feels somewhat counterintuitive (we’re supposed to stay awayfrom sugar to get clear skin, right?) there’s just something awesomefeeling - and smelling - about slathering this sticky sweet stuff all over your face.
Plus it makes everyone’s inner Winnie the Pooh just die of joy.
But what are the actual benefits here? And what are the most effective ways to incorporate honey into your skincare routine?
Let’s break it down.
Using honey in skincare (and in health and beauty in general) is nothing new. In fact, it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. The ancient Egyptians used it to heal wounds and make medicines, and Hippocrates even prescribed it in ancient Greece for baldness, topical antisepsis, eye disease, and more.
In short, it’s been used throughout history and across cultures as a major go-to remedy for pretty much anything you can think of.
And for good reason, too.
Most recently, and most notably, honey has been studied extensively for its nearly unparalleled antibacterial effects. It works on aerobes and anaerobes, gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
Uh - come again? In non-science terms, this basically means that honey can inhibit all major formsof bacteria, and it has been proven effective against some of the most intense infections that people face today, including:
Basically - any really bad infection you’ve had, honey can have some effect on those bacteria.
Even better news?
Honey, unlike most antibiotics, is not shown to create any drug-resistant bacteria,which means you can enjoy the antibacterial benefits indefinitely.
Now, if it works so effectively even against majorbacterial infections, imagine what it can do to the bacteria that causes day-to-day acne breakouts. That stuff doesn’t stand a chance! Which is why major brands have started jumping on the bandwagon and creating honey clarifying masks for acne-prone skin.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that honey also has a low pH, hydrogen peroxide, and natural sugars - all of which add to its antibacterial capacity.
Honey also has some strong humectantand occlusiveproperties. As a humectant, it can help attract and trap moisture in the skin. Similarly, the occlusive element helps seal that moisture in so it doesn’t get rubbed or washed right off your face.
Honey also has a ton of compounds, including phenolics, peptides, organic acids, enzymes, and Maillard reaction products, that give it an excellent antioxidant capacity.In fact, honey has more natural antioxidants than nearly any other botanical source, which is pretty great.
Why are antioxidants so important? They help protect against free radical damage. Now, this is something that we hear a lot, but here’s the short version of what it actually means. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing one of their hydrogens. They want desperately to get that hydrogen back and stabilize themselves, and they’ll steal from any and all cells around them to do so. This then turns those neighboring cells into free radicals, causing crazy short and long-term damage like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, DNA damage, and more serious issues.
Antioxidants essentially swoop in to save the day, giving their own hydrogens to the free radicals to stablilize them and keep them from stealing from your cells. Not too shabby!
Additionally, some of the antioxidants in particular, called phenolic compounds (these include ellagic, caffeic, flavanoids, p-coumaric and ferulic acid) are reported to exhibitanticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antiatherogenic, antithrombotic, immune-modulating and analgesic activities.
Studies show that nearly alltypes of wounds are responsive to honey therapy, and that honey can cleanse wounds, reduce inflammation, and stimulate tissue regeneration.
When it comes to skin, honey has been shown to reduces inflammation and exudation, promote healing, diminishes scar size and stimulate tissue regeneration. This makes great to use on conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff.
In fact, when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects, honey has been shown to be as effective as corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) without any of the nasty side effects.
Needless to say, the “moment” that honey is having in the skincare world right now makes total sense - and we don’t see it going away any time soon.
That said, the reality is that the more processed honey is, the fewer of its benefits are retained.Which means that many of the products that you buy from the big brands probably don’thave the antioxidants and goodies you’re looking for.
So pay attention to how the product is made before you plunk down your cash. Alternatively, you can just buy raw, unprocessed honey straight from the grocery aisle. It’s just as good.
And don’t worry if a little gets in your mouth - we won’t tell.