Honey is an amazing, natural product made by bees from nectar and honeydew. It is a treat that has been used by humans since ancient times and it is produced all over the world. We value its sweet taste, nutritional and health benefits. Thanks to a large number of bioactive compounds, honey is also studied for its use in skin care, as medicines and cosmetics.
Beyond the sweetness - honey bioactive compounds
We mostly use honey because of its sweetness but the nobility of honey goes far beyond that. Honey contains more than 150 various and potentcompounds. From a nutritional stand point, honey provides us mainly with carbohydrates such as monosaccharides, fructose and glucose, and at lower concentrations with amino acids, proteins, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B5, folic acid, A, C, E), enzymes, minerals (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc), essential oils, organic acids, water and other various phytonutrients.
Honey special components, you may have never heard of, include phenolic acids (derivatives of hydroxycinnamic acid and hydroxybenzoic acid) and flavonoids. Honey flavonoids are represented by naringenin, hesperetin, pinocembrin, chrysin, galangin, quercetin and kaempferol. Phenolic acids and flavonoids are largely responsible for manybiological propertiesof honey, such as antioxidative activity, antibacterial activity and anti-inflammatory activity.
The properties of various types of honey differ and depend on the botanical composition, geographical origin, time of collection and environmental conditions. Meaning, each honey batch might have specific composition and content of biologically active substances, which gives its individual properties. Noteworthy, when honey is heated, it may lose some of its properties.
Honey to hydrate and nourish your skin
Ancient skin care regimens and recent studies indicate that honey products can be used for skin treatment and care.
Honey mechanism of action on skin cells is related to its botanical composition. Because of its high nutritional value, the presence of fruit acids, flavonoids and trace elements, it gives it its regenerative, detoxifying, exfoliatingand anti-oxidant properties which supports skin health. Honey soothes skin irritations and hydrates it; it is a good cosmetic for chapped lips, rough, cracked hands, and frost bites. Researchers suggest that skin hydration is thanks to the content of sugars, mainly fructose and glucose, being helpful to maintain the moisture (water) of the skin horny layer.
Honey power for skin issues
For hundreds of years, people were using natural sources to alleviate various health maladies. They didn’t know the mechanism of action or could not list the bioactive compounds but they knew it was helpful. Nowadays, we can use their wisdom and our current scientific tools in order to identify natural products with pharmacological and therapeutic potential. One of them is honey. For example, Manuka honey has been scientifically documented for its anti-microbial and wound healing properties and is now used clinically as a topical treatment for wound infections. Moreover, various honey preparations have been used in treatments to heal burn wounds, skin infections, skin ulcers, and skin dermatitis. Thanks to honey’s high osmolarity, the presence of hydrogen peroxide and lysozyme – it is regenerative and antimicrobial.
Honey cosmetic products
The use of honey and honey extracts as bioactive molecules in cosmetic products (especially body and hair cosmetics) has been known for years.
Honey in cosmetics is named “Honey” or “Mel” according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI); some cosmetics contain derivatives of honey, defined in the INCI as “Mel Extract”, “Hydrogenated Honey” or “Hydroxypropyltrimonium Honey".
In cosmetic formulations, honey exerts moisturizing and soothing effects. Honey-based cosmetic products include lip ointments, cleansing milks, hydrating creams, after sun, tonic lotions, shampoos, and conditioners. The amounts of honey typically range between 1 and 10%, but can go up to 70% when mixed with oils, gel, or emulsifiers.
Make your own simple honey face mask
Let’s say you are time crashed, then just apply raw honey on your skin, leave for 15 minutes, gently rinse and Voilà!
You can also make your mask fancier and enrich it by adding oils (olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil), yoghurt, essential oils, lemon juice, aloe vera gel, oats, or banana.
You can combine following until it forms a paste:
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
- 1 teaspoon of natural yogurt
- 1 table spoon of finely ground oatmeal
Then apply to your face (and neck) and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse.
If you have sensitive skin or allergies, remember to do a patch test on your wrist before applying honey to your face. If you have bee or pollen allergies, you may want to avoid honey face mask entirely, as raw honey might contain trace amounts of bee pollen or other tree pollens.
[Text courtesy by Dr Joanna Krześlak www.dr-joanna.com]