“Honey and humans have a history stretching back before domesticated animals, baked goods, or farms. The humans to first encounter honey over 10,000 years ago would have found it inside of a wild bee’s nest and, for some reason, decided to taste the sweet spoils.
In a time when fruit was the sweetest thing they had ever tasted, honey seemed like a revelation from the gods. In the earliest centuries, nearly every culture had a myth explaining the immortal sweetness of honey,” wrote Tove K. Danovich on the Food52 blog in 2013.
Honey has been part of our everyday life for at least 8000 years. We know because paintings featuring honey have been found from the Stone Age. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, and even the early Muslims - honey and honey bees are mentioned in the Quran - all used honey as therapy, as did the Indians where like turmeric, which I’ve previously blogged about, honey also has a special place in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda practitioners use it to treat ailments ranging from digestive disorders and coughs to skin disorders, wounds and burns.
While the exact composition of honey varies depending on its botanical source, honey is a supersaturated solution made by bees that reportedly contains around 200 substances. The sugars fructose and glucose comprise over 80% of the solid matter in honey, but, honey also contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fructo-oligosaccharides - a type of calorie-free, soluble dietary fibre that helps decrease blood lipid levels and stimulates the growth of non-pathogenic intestinal microflora, i.e. the good kind of bacteria that lives in our gut.
Honey For Skin
In the world of skincare, a key benefit of honey comes from its antimicrobial properties which it exhibits via multiple pathways. These include its acidic pH and very low water content. At less than 20% water by overall mass, honey is able to dehydrate, and retard the growth of, microorganisms that have the misfortune of getting trapped in it. Honey also contains the enzyme glucose oxidase. This turns the glucose in honey to hydrogen peroxide - an antiseptic commonly used to disinfect cuts, scrapes and burns - and gluconolactone - a polyhydroxy acid or PHA and antioxidant - in the presence of oxygen. While the concentration of gluconolactone in honey is likely too low to have much of an exfoliating effect, honey’s antimicrobial properties are potent. Research has found that honey inhibits the growth of at least 60 bacterial species, including those that cause acne and rosacea, and unlike conventional antibiotics, doesn’t result in the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria either.
One of the most studied and effective uses of honey relates to wound healing, where the types of wounds treated range from minor abrasions and abscesses to burns, bed sores and amputations. When used as wound dressing, honey stunts microbial activity, stimulates tissue regeneration and reduces inflammation. Some studies have also suggested that wounds treated with honey result in the formation of less scar tissue, but this assertion remains contested.
Honey also has anti-fungal properties and common skin infections caused by fungi, including the cosmetically relevant seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and malassezia folliculitis, a.k.a. fungal acne, have all been found to be responsive to the anti-fungal effects of honey. All three conditions are caused by the malassezia fungus, which is part of the skin’s commensal microflora.
Additional benefits ensue. Honey is anti-inflammatory and unlike the corticosteroids and NSAIDs generally used to treat inflammation, honey has the added benefit of not having side-effects. Its anti-inflammatory properties combined with its ability to modulate the immune system make honey beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions like acne, fungal acne, eczema, or atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
A study published in 2017 leveraged 14 volunteers with atopic dermatitis and found that the application of Manuka honey significantly improved their lesions. A case study by plastic surgery nurse Jeanine Harrison found honey to be effective in the treatment of severe contact dermatitis, while yet another study that had 39 participants with dermatitis and psoriasis, also yielded similar results.
Honey is also thought to have anti-ageing properties that can be attributed, in part, to its high antioxidant content. Honey is rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids, ascorbic acid, tocopherols, catalase, superoxide dismutase and reduced glutathione that help fend off free radical damage. While the botanical origin of the honey determines the exact composition of these compounds in it, researchers have found that darker honey tends to exhibit greater antioxidant activity. Honey also has an acidic pH close to the skin’s natural pH and thus, helps regulate the skin’s pH to ensure optimal health and function.
Lastly, and just as importantly as everything previously discussed, honey also functions as a humectant - a substance that helps keep your skin hydrated. The hydrating effect of honey comes mostly from its high sugar content, but also from the presence of amino acids and other organic acids in smaller quantities. These compounds are able to form hydrogen bonds with water and hold on to it taking you one step closer to plump, dewy, enviable skin.
Given all of these benefits, we made sure that honey was a part of our range. Here are the products that you can find it in.
Honey in our products
This one is a national favourite for a reason. Formulated with honey, grapeseed oil, salicylic acid, and gentle surfactants, this gentle creamy formula gently brightens dull skin, unclogs pores and fights off acne causing bacteria. You’ll notice healthier skin from the first wash.
A stronger exfoliating cleanser than our Salicylic Acid Cleanser, our Resurfacing Face Wash packs quite a punch. Sulfate-free, and packed with the goodness of exfoliating acids, potent humectants, moisturising oils, honey and turmeric, this cleanser brightens your skin, and helps fight off pigmentation, textured skin and the signs of ageing. We’re in love and know that you’ll love it too.
A drink of water for your skin formulated with formulated with five superstar ingredients: pro-vitamin B5, urea, glycerin, honey, and allantoin. This beautiful formula simply disappears into the skin, locking in intense hydration, without stickiness or residue. It's non-comedogenic and doesn’t clog pores making it a fantastic option for all skin types - and all seasons.