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You may be used to drizzling honey over oatmeal or in your tea. However, the trend today is to slather it on your face. Really.
People are searching for ways to use honey for face wash, and you can find how-to videos for honey face masks on TikTok and Instagram.
It may seem odd at first. You may be wondering why you would put something super sticky and full of sugar on your skin. Wouldn’t that lead to breakouts (and a mess in your bathroom)?
Well, according to some, using honey on your face may lead to smooth, moisturized, blemish-free skin.
We dove into the research and talked to expert dermatologists to find out: Should everyone start using honey for face wash?
Using honey as face wash isn’t something beauty bloggers invented. People have used honey for its skin benefits for ages.
Legend has it, Cleopatra used a mask made of milk and honey on her face. Indigenous tribes in Burkina Faso also use honey to clean their skin.
Many other cultures use honey topically to treat wounds, eczema, and other skin conditions. This includes Ayurvedic medicine, Persian traditional medicine and Quranic medicine.
All of these people were — and are — on to something. “Honey has many powerful properties,” says New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD. According to research, honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and humectant (moisturizing) properties.
“The antibacterial properties make it good as both treatment and prevention for acne,” Green explains. This is credited to the hydrogen peroxide in honey, although the amount varies among honey types.
Honey’s anti-inflammatory powers come from antioxidants that help calm irritated skin, says Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, a facial plastic surgeon and rejuvenation expert based in New York City.
And since honey has humectant effects, it may help keep skin looking younger, or at least smoother.
Lastly, “honey contains natural enzymes that help remove dead skin cells and reduce redness,” Green says.
It’s important to note that most cosmetic products contain only up to 10 percent honey.
That doesn’t seem like much, but it may still have an effect. “As a ‘natural’ remedy, honey is certainly not as effective in the treatment of medical skin conditions as a prescription medicine would be. However, it can be an effective remedy for someone with a mild skin condition or as a preventative treatment,” Vasyukevich says.
“It is generally safe to use honey on your skin, since it is great for people with acne [or] eczema. It is even safe for patients with sensitive skin,” Green says.
However, consider testing the honey or product on a small area of your skin before applying it all over your face.
If you notice any redness, itching, or swelling when testing it, wash the honey or product off with soap and water. Then, Green recommends applying a topical hydrocortisone cream. Do not continue using the honey or product.
You may be having an irritant or allergic reaction to the honey itself or another ingredient. Consider contacting the manufacturer of the product to learn exactly what it contains. This can help you identify the culprit.
If you are curious about using honey on your face, you have options. Some users swear by applying raw honey directly to their skin and letting it sit for 5–10 minutes before washing it off.
Others prefer to create a face mask by mixing the honey with other ingredients, such as yogurt, matcha tea powder, or oats. Green shares this honey face mask recipe:
Finally, you can find a variety of skin care products (such as those below) that contain honey. The concentration of honey in these may be very low. So, it may be hard to tell if any benefits you experience are due to the honey or other ingredients.
If you wish to DIY your skin care, keep in mind that each variety of honey has different levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. So, you may see different results depending on which honey you’re using.
That said, many recommend Manuka honey, which has been shown to have higher antibacterial activity compared to other types of honey. Many brands add cane sugar or corn syrup to their honey. In a 2018 study of 118 honey samples, 27 percent were of questionable authenticity.
Consider buying local honey. Or use the True Source Honey tool to look up the UPC of a product and verify if it’s certified as pure.
Not interested in a DIY project? Consider these skin care products that contain honey. Each has at least a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.
Price: $
Appropriate for use on your face, chest, neck, and hands, this moisturizer with Manuka honey and beeswax is super silky — not sticky. It’s made to absorb well without leaving you greasy.
Buy the L’Oreal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition All-Over Honey Balm online.
Price: $
Peanuts and honey aren’t only good ingredients for making a sandwich. The two pack antioxidants and moisturizing benefits into this lotion.
Buy the Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer online.
Price: $$
The charcoal in this mask is said to help relieve clogged pores while the honey moisturizes. The formula contains no parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, mineral oil, DEA, petrolatum, paraffin, polyethylene beads, or formaldehyde.
Buy the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Honey Mask to Purify & Nourish online.
Price: $$
Farmacy uses a blend of honey, propolis, and royal jelly (all compounds made by bees) in this mask. However, if you have sensitive skin, the company warns that the warming sensation may cause irritation.
Buy the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask online.
Using honey for face wash or as a face mask is not only popular. It may also benefit your skin. Thanks to honey’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and humectant properties, it may help prevent acne, calm irritation, and maintain hydration.
“If used properly, washing [your] face with honey can help keep the skin looking younger, improve radiance and smoothness, and mitigate irritation and acne flare-ups,” Vasyukevich says.
However, be mindful to use pure honey if you are going to DIY a treatment.
As with any skin care regimen, if you notice irritation, stop using the product or honey. If your skin seems fine, be patient and try your honey routine for at least a week to see if you notice any difference.
Brittany Risher is a writer, editor, and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She’s written for publications including Elemental, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Yoga Journal.
Last medically reviewed on December 11, 2020



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