best types of honey for skin

Best Types of Honey for Skin Care: The Only Guide You’ll Need

I know this is going to sound weird, but stay with me: honey. To wash your face. Still with me? Cool. Because you are going to thank yourself for sticking around (get it? Sticking around? Honey? Cause honey is sticky?)

Horrible puns aside, honey for skin care just makes sense. This stuff is antimicrobial, a similar pH level as the skin, and chock-filled with antioxidants. If you’re not sold yet here’s the great part: it’s incredibly affordable compared to most facial cleansers and it naturally removes dirt, build-up, and dead skin without stripping away your skin’s natural oils. You can think of it as Mother Nature’s gentle yet effective face wash – one with antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal and antibacterial properties (no wonder it never spoils) but still gentle enough for sensitive and allergy-prone skin.

As for those of us with as well as skin conditions like acne and eczema – raw honey is quite possibly the best natural face wash. Why?

  • Raw Honey is a Powerful Antibacterial: Much of honey’s antibacterial prowess comes from hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which is a powerful antimicrobial that can kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA. That’s part of what makes honey so effective at treating wounds.
  • Honey is a “Good” Acid: Honey is acidic, with a pH between 3 and 4, which is great for killing off bacteria on your skin as well as breaking down and clearing away dead skin cells.
  • Honey is Hydroscopic: What is that and why does that matter? Well, another way in which honey heals wounds is through its ability to attract and hold water away from wounds, allowing the wounds to heal faster.
  • Honey is a Humectant: Honey’s a natural humectant, meaning it helps draw moisture into the skin – a must for those of us prone to dry, irritated, flaking skin.

But before you get all honey-happy and slather it all over yourself, it’s important to note that there are different varieties and kinds of honey and you need to pick the one that is best for the job.

Here’s the buzz on the best type of honey for your skin…

Raw Honey vs. Pasteurized Honey

This might not be your first consideration when you’re trying to choose between types of honey – but it is the most important. You see, what really matters when you’re selecting honey for facial cleansing is whether it’s raw or pasteurized. This can be incredibly confusing because most honeys won’t say “Pasteurized” on their packaging, they’ll just say that they’re honey.

Though pasteurized honey will still be gentle on your skin, it’s the raw honey that has all the great antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. When you pasteurize honey—heating it to kill any natural microbes or bacteria—you’re killing all the good enzymes and naturally occurring healthful properties as well.

If you’re already in the know about the ins and outs of natural beauty products, you’ll remember how terms like “all natural” or “organic” aren’t backed by an official government definition in a lot of countries, so you can essentially slap them on any product even though they might be completely lab manufactured and have never seen the light of the sun. Well, with food the rules are a bit more stringent, but you can never be too sure. So when you’re buying honey, instead of getting sucked in by an “all natural” label, look for specific descriptions like “raw” “unpasteurized” or “unfiltered.”

Why? Well, the skin and health benefits really vary…

Unfiltered Raw Honey: This is hands down the best type of honey for honey facial washing (and honey face masks) as well as eating. Completely Raw honey might look a little strange to the uninitiated. It’s thick, creamy, a little crunchy, and there are bits of stuff in it. If you’re looking for a bit of exfoliation and extra skin protection, this is the ticket. Those chunky bits are wax, propolis, and other elements of honeycombs that come with the honey when it’s harvested.

And those chunky bits are great news for you, the honey eater/wearer. You see, propolis is the resin-like material that bees use to adhere pollen together, and it’s incredibly hard to come by in it’s natural form, but it’s been used for centuries as a remedy for any illness stemming from virus, like canker sores, cold sores, etc. That’s ’cause this stuff is a powerhouse of over 180 beneficial compounds including the phenolic compound known as caffeic acid phenethyl ester which has been linked to inhibiting cancer growth;   organic acids which contribute to raw honey’s antibiotic, anti-fungal, antimicrobial and antiviral properties; and antioxidant flavonoids.

So your face (and body) will only thank you for getting some of that sweet, sweet propolis action. The wax is also amazing, as it has natural moisture-barrier properties. It’s basically like bee-manufactured petroleum jelly with all the moisture retention and none of the gross petroleum product.

Filtered Raw Honey: Some types of raw honey will specify that they’re “filtered.” Obviously honey that has come straight from the source will include some impurities, which filtering will remove. But these impurities aren’t typically harmful and filtering will remove a lot of the wax and propolis. Additionally, the process heats the honey slightly and presses it to remove the biggest of the non-liquid parts. Please keep in mind that filtering doesn’t mean the same thing as pasteurizing.

Pasteurized Honey: Pasteurized honey is honey that’s been heated to kill any yeast that may be present and control the crystallization. There is a bit of a disagreement on what temperature it takes to pasteurize honey, but it’s usually around 150-170 Fahrenheit. This has the end result of killing all the good elements as well. Honey that is pasteurized doesn’t typically say “Pasteurized” on it, but it’s the honey that you’ll find in the little squeezable bear bottle, or in “creamed” or “spun” form. If there isn’t anything on the packaging besides the word “honey,” then it’s a pretty good bet that it’s been pasteurized. It won’t hurt you, but it’s not really going to do you a lot of good in the face-cleansing (or health benefits) department.

Types of Honey: What’s the Best Type of Honey for Your Skin?

Okay, so you’ve identified raw, unfiltered honey as your best bet. But now you’re probably wondering if there’s any difference between the many, many different varieties of honey available to you.

Good question. Especially since there are literally hundreds of different varieties of honey. Because bees make honey from the pollens that they collect, honeys are labeled based on what kind of flowers the bees are using or the region.

Different honeys will have different consistency, sweetness, taste and color which vary depending on the type of nectar collected by honeybees in that particular region. For example, honey made from flower nectar is called blossom honey – alfalfa honey is one you’ve probably tried if you live in Canada or the United States. Because bees get their pollen largely from the alfalfa blossom, the honey is light, has a mild flavor and mild smell. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s wild forest honey, which has a much stronger flavor but is considered by experts as the most medicinal.

With all the honeys in existence, it’s impossible to point to just one type of honey as the best honey for your skin. There are – however – two little factors that’ll help you choose the best type of honey for you:

  • Darker is better. Darker honeys contain more minerals as well as antioxidants, which is great news whether you’re eating the stuff or putting it on your face.
  • The plant matters. Honey is often named after the primary type of plant blossom the bees were munching on and this not only affects the flavor of the honey but its effect on your skin as well. For example, manuka honey – which is known to be especially good for blemish-prone skin and acne – is derived from the flowers for the Tea Tree bush, which is well-known as an effective natural blemish treatment (see note on this below).

To be honest, you’ll probably go through some honey experimentations before you find the perfect type of honey for your skin type. I know I certainly did. To get you started, here’s a brief rundown of the types of honey I’ve tried….

Acacia Honey

best honey for skin care

This is a light-colored honey, which I don’t normally go for, but wanted to check out after reading a study that suggested acacia honey showed an increase in collagen formation (as well a significant effect on wound healing).

As a face wash, it’s very gentle and pleasant to wash with and it’s also yummy to eat, since it’s one of the sweetest kinds of honey (‘though sweet – it has a very low sucrose content and a high fructose level, so it is the best choice for diabetics). It also has quite a low acid content, so it’s the ideal eating honey for those with hyperacidity.

Get some here!

Buckwheat Honey

buckwheat-honey-for-skin-care

Very dark, very anti-oxidant-y. Interesting note on buckwheat honey – researchers from UCD ran a study in which 25 participants consumed around four tablespoons of buckwheat honey for nearly a month.

The resulting blood samples proved a direct link between the subjects’ honey consumption and the level of polyphenolic antioxidants in their blood. Cool, yea?

As for putting buckwheat honey on your skin – this is a a rich, moisturizing honey perfect for dry, flaky skin or the winter months.

Get some here!

Manuka Honey

best honey for skin care

Manuka honey is a bit pricier unless you happen to live in New Zealand, where the bulk of it is made. Manuka honey is known to be especially good for blemish prone skin and acne, possibly because the pollen is for it is derived from the flowers of the Tea tree bush – to be clear, this isn’t the same kind of Tea tree we’re all familiar with for blemish control.

There are actually 3 different species of plants growing in Australia and New Zealand known as ‘Tea-tree’ and the one that all the Tea Tree Oil comes from is the Melaleuca variety.

‘Though not the same one, the Manuka tea tree has been shown to have strong antifungal effects, though not as potent as Melaleuca. The flip side, though, is that Manuka showed more antioxidant activity while Melaleuca showed none.

Apart from its blemish-treating prowess, Manuka honey is infamous for its ability to stimulate tissue healing thanks to its “Unique Manuka Factor” (UMF) – you’ll see the rating for this on official Manuka honey.

FYI, if you’re going spend the big bucks for Manuka honey – go for the good stuff, with lots of good healing power. Don’t even bother with an UMF rating below 5 (a rating of 0 to 4 means pretty much undetectable UMF). A rating over 10 is clinical-grade and those with ratings of 15 or higher are top-super-superior grade.

The only thing about Manuka is that it’s not very moisturizing, so you might want to just use it on the areas of your face with acne, pustules, or wounds – this’ll save you some bucks as well 🙂

Get some here!

Thyme Honey

thyme-honey-for-skin-care

Another good honey for the blemish-prone (and low on funds), since thyme has been shown to have a bigger antibacterial effect (on the bacteria that causes acne) than benzoyl peroxide. It’s also more moisturizing than Manuka honey and perfect for dry-normal skin.

Get some here!

Final Notes on Choosing the Best Type of Honey

The best way to assure the quality and consistency of your honey is to buy it locally. As honey is produced all over the world, it’s a pretty safe bet that where there is a local or farmer’s market there will be an apiculturist (that’s honey farmer, if you’re not in the know.) That farmer will be able to tell you everything and anything you want to know about the honey they’re selling (and probably more than you want as well. Honey farmers, unsurprisingly, are really into honey and how it’s made.)

A couple things before you go out to your local farmer’s market to get yourself some face wash from a honey farmer: honey washing will not remove make-up. Honey has many powers, but removing cosmetics is sadly not one of them. When you’re honey washing, make sure to use a natural make-up remover beforehand, and finish up with a good natural toner.

If you’re not sourcing your honey direct from a honey farm – make sure you check where it’s coming from. Consumers in the US buy about 400 million pounds of honey per year…but US producers only supply 150 million pounds. Where’s the rest coming from? Well, some of it’s coming from China, which has gained infamy for its honey funny business. Yea, Chinese honey has at worst been found to be cut with the likes of antibiotics and pesticides and at best with sugar water and corn syrup.

Also, even though honey crystalizes naturally, it doesn’t mean that it’s gone bad. Honey never goes bad (unless you’ve contaminated it with a foreign substance like a cracker or some chunks of banana, but even then it’s really antimicrobial so it’s probably still good.)

Lastly, when munching on this yummy stuff – keep in mind that honey is high in fructose so try not to overdo it. It does, however, contain oligosaccharides, a complex sugar that acts as a prebiotic to enhance friendly probiotic bacteria populations in the gut (healthy gut = healthy skin!).

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1 comments
JANE says October 10, 2016

What about the best honey for hair?

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