Throughout the centuries, legendary beauties have used honey as part of their skin and hair care treatments. Cleopatra was famous for her milk and honey baths, and Poppea, wife of Roman Emperor Nero, used a honey and milk lotion on her face to keep her looking youthful. By the time cosmetics were beginning to be mass produced in the late 1800s, honey was a popular ingredient. Today, manufacturers are increasingly using honey in skin moisturizers, facial masks, hair conditioners and shower gels in response to consumer demand for more natural formulations.
Did You Know!
All-natural honey is an effective treatment for minor abrasions and burns. A recent review of medical research documents its effectiveness as an antimicrobial agent.
A Natural Moisturizer
The skin’s ability to stay hydrated is an important factor in its ability to maintain softness, suppleness and elasticity. As skin ages, or as it is exposed to environmental stresses and chemical agents, it loses this ability to retain water, becomes dry and appears wrinkled. Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains water. So honey is a natural fit for a variety of moisturizing products including cleansers, creams, shampoos and conditioners. Because honey is also an anti-irritant, it is suitable for sensitive skin and baby care products.
Skin Softening Bath
Add ¼ cup honey to bath water for a fragrant, silky bath.
Stir 1 teaspoon honey into 4 cups (1 quart) warm water. Blondes may wish to add a squeeze of lemon. After shampooing, pour mixture through hair. Do not rinse out. Dry as normal.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Research is currently underway to develop a process using honey to create alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs are an important ingredient in many skin creams and moisturizers because they help exfoliate the skin. Increased exfoliation, or renewal of the skin cells, gives skin a younger, more vibrant look. Exfoliation can also cause skin irritation so honey’s natural moisturizing ability makes it a perfect fit for AHA products.
Mix 2 tablespoons honey with 2 teaspoons milk. Smooth over face and throat. Leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
Smoothing Skin Lotion
Mix 1 teaspoon honey with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and ¼ teaspoon lemon. Rub into hands, elbows, heels and anywhere that feels dry. Leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with water.
Preliminary studies have also revealed that honey has significant natural antioxidant properties. Antioxidants play a role in protecting the skin from the damage of UV rays and in aiding in skin rejuvenation. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can cause skin damage, premature aging and even skin cancer. Because chemical and physical barrier sunscreens can cause skin irritation, companies are researching the use of antioxidants, anti-irritants and moisturizers in their sun care products. The natural properties of honey make it ideal for these products. Look for honey to appear in the ingredient statements of more and more cosmetics, sunscreens and skin care products.
Honey Cleansing Scrub
Mix 1 tablespoon honey with 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds and ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Rub gently onto face. Rinse off with warm water.
Firming Face Mask
Whisk together 1 tablespoon honey, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon glycerin and enough flour to form a paste. (Approximately ¼ cup). Smooth over face and throat. Leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
The National Honey Board, which conducts research and marketing programs for the honey industry. http://www.honey.com
Reprinted with permission