In skincare science, there are two types of ingredients: The new, high-tech molecules made in a laboratory, and the natural ingredients and plant extracts that have been used for centuries. Honey falls in the latter camp. This sweet, sticky substance has been celebrated for its beauty benefits for thousands of years—in fact, ancient Sumerian tablets indicate humans have been using honey as a cosmetic product since 2100 BC. It’s fair to say that honey is one of the oldest natural skincare ingredients we know of.
These days, you’ll find honey in a wide range of skincare products, from face creams to lip balms and more. One especially beneficial variety is manuka honey. It’s darker than most traditional types of honey and boasts an exceptionally high concentration of antioxidants and other skin-friendly substances. Ahead, we’re doing a deep dive into this uniquely potent honey. You’ll learn where manuka honey comes from, what makes it different from other types of honey, and why it’s a skincare ingredient worth its salt. Read on to discover three beauty benefits of manuka honey.
What Is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is a semi-opaque creamy honey made from the nectar of the manuka plant, a large flowering bush native to New Zealand and Australia. Like all honey, manuka honey is made by bees—specifically, honeybees. The bees leave the hive to collect nectar, a sweet liquid produced by flowers. This liquid is then broken down by a special enzyme distinctive to honeybees, called invertase. Once the hive collects enough nectar, the liquid is placed into wax honeycomb cells to dry out. Worker bees then gather around the honeycomb and flap their wings to promote air circulation in the hive. The sugary solution is left untouched until about 75 percent of the water evaporates out, resulting in viscous, creamy honey. The bees will then put a wax cap on top of the cell to preserve the honey. Eventually, the honey gets harvested by beekeepers, and the cycle repeats for as long as the hive flourishes.
How Does Manuka Honey Differ From Other Types Of Honey?
Whereas most honey is made from a variety of different flower nectars, manuka honey is exclusively crafted from manuka flowers (making it a monofloral honey). This unique honey is characterized by its deep golden hue and high concentration of essential vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants. It’s also highly valued for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Studies show that manuka honey has a higher pH and sugar content than other varieties of honey, which may contribute to its antibacterial activity.I These benefits make manuka honey especially useful for addressing minor skin irritations and concerns, like acne.
Manuka Honey Benefits For Skin
Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or something in between, manuka honey can be a worthwhile addition to your regular skincare routine. Ahead, we’ll break down two beauty benefits of manuka honey and provide recommendations on incorporating this superstar ingredient into your daily routine. Keep reading for your guide to the benefits of manuka honey for skin.
Beauty Benefit #1: Manuka Honey Helps Defend Against Aging Skin Stressors
Like most (if not all) honey varieties, manuka honey contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B3, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, studies show that manuka honey is rich in antioxidant compounds known as phenols and flavonoids.II These compounds can help neutralize free radicals that develop after exposure to stressors like stress or sun exposure. This is especially useful in regards to skincare, as external aggressors are responsible for up to 97 percent of visible skin aging. When used topically, manuka honey products can help block the effects of these damaging influences, delaying the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and helping your skin remain visibly youthful and healthy-looking.
While some people apply manuka honey directly to their skin, we recommend using skincare products formulated with manuka honey, such as our Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream. This top-rated moisturizer is made with 99.6% naturally-derived ingredients, including New Zealand manuka honey and adaptogenic red ginseng root.* The revitalizing formula helps strengthen the skin moisture barrier and boosts resilience, allowing the skin to better protect itself against aging stressors. It has a lightweight, almost honey-like texture and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. We recommend using this potent yet gentle moisturizer morning and night to promote smoother, more radiant-looking skin.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: Boost radiance further with our 6 Expert Tips For Glowing Skin.
Beauty Benefit #2: Manuka Honey Helps Keep Skin Hydrated And Soft
Though it may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think about moisturizers, honey is a powerful weapon against dry, cracked skin as it boasts both humectant and emollient properties. Here’s a refresher on moisturizer types for you: Humectants work by drawing moisture from the air into your skin to boost hydration. Emollient moisturizers, on the other hand, fill the spaces between skin cells to promote softer skin. Thanks to its mix of humectant and emollient properties, honey is one of the most effective natural moisturizers out there—which is probably why it’s been used in beauty formulations for more than 4,000 years. Though all honey boasts these benefits, manuka honey is especially useful for managing dry skin symptoms like flaking and irritation. It is therefore well-suited for use in skincare products formulated for dry or dehydrated skin.
For soft, supple skin, exfoliate in the shower with a gentle, honey-infused body scrub, like Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish. In addition to honey, this effective formula contains sweet almond oil, powdered apricot seeds, and luffa fruit to exfoliate dry, rough skin without drying it out. The luxe formula is suitable for all skin types and mild enough for daily use. Add it to your daily shower routine for smoother, softer- feeling skin.
After stepping out of the shower, lock in hydration with a rich, creamy body lotion or body butter. For ultra-soft skin, we recommend Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter, which contains a variety of effective moisturizers, including honey, shea butter, and jojoba butter. This luxurious formula has a lightweight texture and absorbs quickly, imparting skin with lasting, 24-hour hydration. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used daily to moisturize and nourish the skin.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
I. Mandal, Manisha Deb, and Shyamapada Mandal. “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity.” Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine vol. 1,2 (2011): 154-60. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60016-6
II. Johnston, Matthew et al. “Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview.” AIMS microbiology vol. 4,4 655-664. 27 Nov. 2018, doi:10.3934/microbiol.2018.4.655
III. Eteraf-Oskouei, Tahereh, and Moslem Najafi. “Traditional and modern uses of natural honey in human diseases: a review.” Iranian journal of basic medical sciences vol. 16,6 (2013): 731-42.