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Can the sweet stuff help to soothe spot-prone skin? Skincare experts share their verdict on the popular DIY facial
oney has been used as an at-home remedy for problem skin since the Egyptian times. But lately it’s had a resurgence, with some bloggers swearing by washing their face with raw honey.
It’s also increasingly being used in skincare products for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
So is the the pot hiding in your kitchen cupboard the answer to glowing skin?
Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto doesn’t recommend using using honey as a face wash or mask, she says: “Some studies show that honey has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. In clinical practice, manuka honey dressings are used in wound infections.”
However, she adds: “The data for clinical benefit in acne is limited.”
Kate Bancroft, founder of online skin clinic Face the Future, says: “The internet is awash with before and after pictures of individuals who have tried using honey on their spots so it’s no surprise that it’s gained a reputation for helping to deal with acne.
“Honey naturally has antibacterial properties, but, unfortunately, it’s not the type of antibacterial action that can actually help with spots. A study published in the Journal of Antibacterial Chemotherapy showed honey can be effective against a strain of bacteria called staphylococci, but not against P.acnes, which is the bacteria that contributes towards spots.
“With regards to being anti-inflammatory, there’s some better news. It can help reduce the redness associated with acne, but it’s not something I would personally recommend to my patients.”
Both skin specialists say they prefer to recommend products which contain active ingredients like chemical exfoliants that have been clinically proven to help acne-prone skin over DIY facials.
“I’d rather use products with high levels of active ingredients which are gong to produce a visible clinical effect,” says Dr Mahto. “There are many other ingredients available like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, tea tree oil and retinoids, with more evidence which are therefore more likely to be of benefit.
“That said, when I was younger, I have been known to mix yoghurt and turmeric together as a face mask!”
Bancroft says she recommends targeted spot treatments like Medik8 Blemish SOS, which contains ingredients such as salicylic acid, dioic acid and azelaic acid.
If you’ re looking for a budget-friendly approach to masking, instead she suggests massaging a salicylic acid cleanser into the skin and leaving it on for 5-10 minutes.
“This approach allows the salicylic acid to get to work deep within pores to shift oil and impurities, helping to tackle blemishes and improve acne-prone skin,” she says, adding that the sticky consistency of honey can leave a film on the skin and you risk aggravating it when removing it.
If you do want to introduce honey to your routine, and without the mess, Bancroft says you’re better off using honey-infused skincare products which contain other powerful ingredients to complement.
Here are a few of our favourites.
The Bondi Beach-born brand has created the Tama healing masque inspired directly by the serene vibes of Tamarama beach in Oz. It aims to repair damaged and inflamed problem skin and is infused with Australian Manuka Honey, to reduce redness and heal inflamed or congested skin; turmeric, for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing benefits and avocado oil, which is rich in fatty acids to promote deep hydration while softening and nourishing.
The iS Clinical warming honey cleanser combines honey with papaya enzymes, which act as an exfoliant, and myristic acid, which cleanses and softens skin.
This cleanser-cum-mask is a worthy investment if you want to shell out on one product that’ll do both jobs, and well. It contains Manuka honey and salicylic acid, and the formula is designed to draw out pore-clogging impurities, while actives like hyaluronic acid and safflower and hemp seed oils hydrate and balance problematic skin. Meanwhile the cacao is an antioxidant which helps to fight against free radicals and feels ultra-nourishing.
At the higher end of the scale is Bee-Yu’s bee venom firming and regenerating face masque which uses premium UMF20+ Manuka honey from New Zealand and contains other active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, meadow foam oil, safflower oil, which helps to unclog pores and reduce rashes and acne.
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