A 2016 research paper showed that raw honey has several potential health and skincare benefits, including antimicrobial effects and wound-healing properties.
These properties may make honey an attractive alternative therapy for people living with certain skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema.
A person may wish to use honey on their face to take advantage of these benefits, but they should be careful of potential risks if they are allergic to pollen.
The following article explores what research has shown about using honey on the skin and face, including the possible benefits and risks. It will also provide information on how a person can use honey as a face mask.
Honey may help with certain skin conditions if a person applies it to their face.
For cuts and burns
In traditional medicine, people have used honey since 2,000 BC to treat wounds and burns on the skin. They would apply it topically to the skin.
Today, these practices are still in use all over the world. Notably, in New Zealand, people sometimes use manuka honey on wounds and burns to help prevent infection thanks to its cleansing properties.
In the United States, acne affects approximately 50 million people a year, and several million seek treatment for it each year. Honey could be a solution for people looking for alternative treatments.
In a 2016 study, researchers found that honey from all over the world provides antimicrobial activity. This property may make honey an effective source of treatment for skin conditions such as acne.
In another study from 2016, researchers found that the use of medical-grade kanuka honey in combination with 10% glycerine was more effective than using only antibacterial soap to treat acne.
It is unclear how much honey a person would need to apply to their skin for the treatment of acne. It is possible that applying a small amount of honey to affected areas may help with clearing up acne breakouts.
Learn more home remedies for acne here.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a condition that causes itchy rashes and flushed skin. It often develops during childhood, but it can affect adults as well.
According to a small 2017 study, researchers found that manuka honey helped to reduce the size of eczema lesions on the skin.
But this study only had 14 participants, and calls for large clinical trials to prove that honey may help with eczema.
It is unclear whether regular honey would be effective if used to help ease symptoms of eczema.
Learn more natural remedies for eczema here.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes an overgrowth of skin cells. This can result in itchy patches of skin that have built up. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but one in three people with psoriasis experience symptoms on the face.
In a 2014 study, researchers examined the effect of medical-grade kanuka honey on psoriasis. The small study showed that kanuka honey was just as effective as aqueous cream in managing psoriasis lesions. But the researchers called for larger studies in order to confirm the effectiveness of honey for the treatment of psoriasis for a larger population.
In a 2017 case study, researchers found similar results. Testing their theory on one participant, they showed that honey is an effective treatment for mild psoriasis lesions. Like the earlier study, they stated that additional, larger studies are needed to prove honey’s effectiveness in treating psoriasis.
Types of honey
There are several types of honey a person can purchase at their local grocery store or specialty shops. Some options include:
- Raw honey: This is the least processed form of honey. Manufacturers bottle raw honey straight from the hive. It is often cloudy and may contain small pieces of debris from the honeycomb.
- Pasteurized honey: This type of honey is processed honey that manufacturers have heated to kill germs and preserve shelf life. It may contain added sugar or other ingredients.
- Pure pasteurized honey: This type of honey has no added ingredients. Manufacturers filter and heat it to kill microorganisms and preserve shelf life.
The categorization of honey depends on the type of honey bee making the honey and the type of flowers they used to make it. For example, manuka honey is the result of honey bees feeding on the manuka tree.
According to the National Honey Board, there are over 300 different types of honey in the U.S. alone. The color of honey can range between dark, light, or golden, depending on its type.
Traditionally, people used honey for skin health by applying it directly onto the skin.
Nowadays, countries including Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Hong Kong have also approved the topical use of honey for skin health in the form of:
A homemade face mask may be a good way for someone to reap the benefits of honey for their skin.
Basic honey face mask
A person can apply raw honey to a wet face and leave it for around 20 minutes before washing it off thoroughly.
Lemon and honey face mask
Lemon essential oil can be a great addition to honey for a face mask because of its vitamin C content.
A 2014 study on mice found that applying vitamin C to the skin can help prevent skin damage.
A person could use the following recipe for a honey and lemon face mask:
Honey and lemon mask
Combine 2–3 tablespoons of honey with a drop of lemon essential oil.
Leave the mask on for 15–20 minutes then wash off thoroughly.
But a person should be careful when applying lemon to broken skin as it may cause burning due to its citric acid content.
Other face mask ingredients
For alternative additional ingredients, a person can combine honey with these other wet ingredients with known skin benefits to make a face mask:
A person may find that putting essential oils directly on their skin causes irritation. They should only add one drop of essential oil for a face mask, or they can dilute the essential oil with water and add one drop of that to make it weaker.
Spices such as cinnamon or turmeric may also be a great addition to a honey face mask.
Learn about the benefits of a cinnamon and honey face mask here.
A person should also be cautious when applying any homemade mask that uses different ingredients.
They should test a small amount on a small patch of skin first.
If a rash or other reaction occurs, they should not use the mask.
Washing off the face mask
Due to the sticky nature of honey, people sometimes believe it is difficult to wash off. It is easier to wash it off wet skin than dry skin.
A person should make sure they are washing their face thoroughly to avoid blocked pores or infections.
There are also many over-the-counter products that contain honey. They are available at pharmacies or online.
A person can understand the honey content in a product by reading the ingredients list.
When using an over-the-counter product, a person should follow all instructions on the product and talk with their doctor if they are using other medications that may interact with it.
Using honey topically to treat acne, psoriasis, eczema, or other conditions is generally safe for most people.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, people with severe pollen allergies may react to raw honey. People with severe allergies should talk with their doctor or allergist before consuming or applying honey to their skin.
People who suspect they may be allergic or sensitive to pollen should use honey with caution, and should conduct a skin patch test a couple of hours before applying the whole face mask.
Honey may be an effective topical treatment for skin conditions on the face or other parts of the body.
Though studies on the skin benefits of honey are smaller, they generally support the use of honey as an antimicrobial agent that may help with various skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis.
A person should talk with their doctor about alternative treatments and work with them to control their skin condition.
[…] creams with mild acids, like salicylic acid, can help dissolve oils and reduce their appearance. Honey facials are also useful in skin care since this substance is antibacterial, preventing bacteria from spreading after removing […]