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How honey helps acne

Emmy’s Inquiry: (after reading our post on Juice Beauty): I like what you’re trying to do with this site, but you seem to have it in for anything labeled organic. Heaven forbid you admit that anything natural and not chemically processed might have beneficial properties – honey for example is medically proven to be anti-bacterial and is included in the Juice Beauty moisturizer, yet you make no mention of that. And since one of the causes of acne is bacteria, couldn’t it be possible that the presence of honey in the formula IS a benefit not delivered by drugstore brands? But of course, that would mean admitting that the chemicals you never fail to hype aren’t the end-all be-all answer to all beauty problems.

The Right Brain replies:

We can understand how you might assume that because we’re scientists that we are “pro-chemical.” The truth is, we’re pro-scientific method. If we find reliable studies that prove natural ingredients work, we mention them. But most of the time, natural claims are exaggerations to try to trick you into buying products. Now, on to your question about honey.

Does honey kill bacteria?

We did find legitimate scientific research that backs up the theory that honey has antibacterial properties. For example, one study in the Journal of Antibacterial Chemotherapy showed that honey (in concentrations between 2.5% and 5%) is effective against staphylococci, a very harmful bacteria. We could not find any studies that tested honey’s effect on p acne, the bacteria that helps cause zits. However, given what we know about the antibacterial mechanism of honey, it is plausible it would work on this bacterium was well.

How does honey work?

Honey appears to work against bacteria in two ways, depending on the type of honey. In most types, the bees add an enzyme that generates low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which is the active ingredient that kills bacteria. In a special honey, known as Manuka honey, the bees feed on nectar of the flowers of the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), which imparts additional anti-bacterial properties. Both types of honey can be effective but (and this is VERY important) their efficacy can vary greatly from batch to batch. Any given jar of honey may or may not have a high enough antibacterial activity to really work. To ensure efficacy, each lot of honey must be tested for activity before you know it will really work. In fact, there is evidence in the medical literature which suggests rinsing your nose with Manuka honey can alleviate the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

Should you try Juice?

So, back to the question about Juice Beauty: IF they are buying honey that is certified with the appropriate activity level and IF they’re using between 2 and 5% in their formula, and IF nothing else in the formula is deactivating the enzymes in the honey, then it is possible that their moisturizer really is effective against acne.

We’d love to hear from any of our loyal Beauty Brainiacs who want to try Juice’s moisturizer on their zits.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • countrygyrl January 18, 2014, 6:26 pm

    I use honey to wash my face. I have found that honey (a higher quality honey, not the little bear kind) really benefits my oily (yet not acne prone) skin. It has actually made my skin so good that I don’t wear foundation anymore

    • Randy Schueller January 18, 2014, 7:11 pm

      Countrygyrl: “Not the little bear kind” LOL! I’m just curious how you know that it’s the honey that’s helping rather than the absence of whatever cleanser you were using before.

  • Salma December 28, 2017, 5:26 pm

    what do you guys know about the benefits of manuka honey for skin/acne?

    • Perry Romanowski January 9, 2018, 11:03 am

      We’re not aware of any proof that it helps with skin care / acne

  • Gabriel Adams April 23, 2019, 2:09 am

    Manuka Honey USA is the First and Original Manuka Honey Company on the US East Coast. We have been importing pure, raw, natural, un-pasteurized, UMF Manuka Honey, that is UMF Lab Tested, Certified and Licensed, Manuka Honey UMF® 16+ from New Zealand for 25+ years, since 1994.