What’s in your beauty products? A bunch of weird-sounding chemicals? Do your skin a favor and get back to the basics and use something natural like Manuka honey in your beauty routine.
Although honey has been around for thousands of years and is often used in foods and drinks (like tea), it shows promise as a skin care ingredient. Now, before you go grabbing the little gold bear off the grocery shelf, there are a few things you need to know.
What’s the difference between regular, raw, and Manuka honey?
Honey is just honey, right? Nope. There are different types of honey: regular, raw, and Manuka.
- Regular honey has been pasteurized (heated) and filtered. This is the honey you find at the grocery store.
- Raw honey is straight from the comb without any heat or filtration treatment. Because it doesn’t go through pasteurization, raw honey retains more vitamins and natural enzymes.
- Manuka honey comes from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, which only grows in New Zealand and Australia. Due to its extra medicinal and antibacterial properties, Manuka honey is considered “medical-grade” honey and is used by a lot of naturopaths to help treat cuts, burns, and common colds. You can find it in skin care products like body washes, facial cleansers, and lotions.
1. Soothe stressed skin with a Manuka honey spot treatment.
I didn’t know my skin could stress out, until I broke out in a rash and hives. After I ruled out any detergents and bath products with harsh chemicals, a friend told me I could use Manuka honey on my itchy spots. I didn’t quite believe her. Then, I put a jar of Manuka honey in the fridge for a few minutes and slathered it on my rash. The coolness, along with Manuka honey’s natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, brought down the inflammation, redness, and itch.
To use: Apply and rub into itchy areas of skin. Continued, regular use may help prevent future flare-ups.
2. Exfoliate dead skin with a Manuka honey shower gel.
Manuka honey contains a number of organic acids. One of them, gluconic acid, gently exfoliates dead skin cells but doesn’t make your skin irritated or dry. A good way to try it out is by using some of the natural products on the market that have Manuka honey in them. I found the PETA cruelty free Kiwi Botanicals Shower Gel with Manuka honey at my local Walmart on rollback for $6.97.
Because sulfates (common in a lot of bath products) can cause dry, cracked skin and ruin my hair color, I personally have to look for anything sulfate-free.
In addition to Manuka honey, Kiwi Botanicals’ shower gel also has charcoal, which a lot of natural products use in order to unclog pores. The chamomile smells nice and calms down the redness that I sometimes get from too much stress (more on that below).
3. Clear up acne with a Manuka honey face mask.
Acne is the number one skin condition in the U.S., affecting up to 50 million people, even adults. It can be difficult to keep under control without expensive creams, medications, and sometimes steroids, but I personally can’t use any of that stuff because I have sensitive skin.
When I get a mild breakout, I use Manuka honey. It contains hydrogen peroxide and Methylglyoxal ( MGO), an organic compound that helps keep your skin bacteria-free. Plus, it can help balance your skin’s pH, which allows your skin to block bacteria, pollutants, and toxins from entering pores.
To use: Place a quarter-size dollop into your palm, and mix with water to create gentle cleansing milk. Massage into skin, leave on for 20 minutes, and rinse.
4. Nourish nails and cuticles with a Manuka honey massage.
While a mani/pedi at the salon is quite a splurge, I sometimes opt for a Manuka honey nail self-massage while I watch TV at night. It seriously makes my cuticles feel better than they have in years. Manuka honey also restores dry, brittle nails, and fights nail fungus because it’s also antimicrobial. The only problem is I can’t change the channel until I’m done.
To use: Massage honey into the cuticles and nail bed, let sit for ten minutes and rinse off with warm water. Repeat twice a day until your cuticle and nail condition improves.
5. Refresh tired skin with a Manuka honey body conditioner.
Free radicals (chemicals that damage our cells) from air pollutants, sun exposure, and an unhealthy lifestyle can leave you with tired skin and fine lines and wrinkles that become more prominent as we age. You can help your skin hold moisture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by these skin-damaging substances with…you guessed it…Manuka honey!
Sometimes I get out of the shower and can feel my skin starting to tighten and dry out. I thought I’d try a body conditioner, so I don’t have to rush to slather myself in lotion. The PETA cruelty-free Kiwi Botanicals Nourishing Body Conditioner combines Manuka honey and shea butter, and I found it on rollback for $6.97 also at Walmart. I used it in the shower and it felt amazing. When I got out and dried off, I didn’t get that dry feeling.
To use: While showering, massage generously over clean skin, and rinse off.
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6. Condition hair with a Manuka honey wrap.
Of course, Manuka honey isn’t just for your skin; it can be used on your hair as well. It has hygroscopic properties (attracts water) so it’s a natural hair conditioner. The combination of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes helps ensure your hair is shiny, manageable, and healthy.
Similar to how Manuka honey soothes stressed skin, it can reduce or eliminate scalp conditions such as dandruff.
To use: Add ¼ cup of honey to a bowl with enough water to thin it out a bit. Massage into wet hair and scalp. Wrap up hair in a towel, and either leave on for 30 – 40 minutes or overnight. Remove towel and rinse hair. Shampooing after the rinse is optional.
7. Brighten dull skin with a Manuka honey face wash.
With the harsh winters in the northwest, my skin starts looking pretty flat, lackluster, and dull.
What causes dull skin? Several things like:
- Sun damage
- Lifestyle (smoking, poor diet, drinking alcohol, lack of sleep)
- Air pollutants
I use Manuka honey as a face wash. Honey draws moisture into the skin, making it appear brighter and more youthful. It can also help reduce dark circles around the eyes (a common badge of motherhood).
To use: Wet your face and neck, and wash with about a tablespoon of Manuka honey. Rinse off.
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