The first time I heard of someone using honey as face wash, I was a sick undergraduate with an unbearably sore and scratchy throat, an acne flare-up and midterms. As I went to make myself peppermint tea with honey, my go-to sore throat soother, I discovered my day could in fact get worse: I was out of honey! Fortunately, my roommate came to my rescue, running to grab her bottle of liquid gold from her bathroom.
Wait, where did she get it from? Maybe it was the sick-and-tiredness, maybe it was because sticky goopy honey is not something I’d ever thought of as clean, but I was confused. How could honey work as a face wash?
This roommate introduced me to menstrual cups and book clubs--in other words, she was wise--so I was determined to hear her out and give honey a chance.
- Honey is naturally acidic, with a pH similar to the pH of our skin’s protective acidic layer. Traditional cleansers remove oil and dirt with a soapy detergent that also disrupts our skin’s natural defenses. Honey achieves the same cleaning action without the disruption, and maintains pH balance so there’s no need for toner either.
- Honey is antibacterial, partially because of the acidity and its chemical makeup. So not only does it keep your skin’s natural protective layer intact, but it also boosts your skin’s ability to kill off pathogens and skin irritants.
- Honey moisturizes your skin by attracting water to itself and pulling it into your dermis, so for many people honey could be the only skin-care product they need.
- Honey has been used for millennia for its anti-aging and preservative properties. It contains a diverse and nourishing mix of enzymes, antioxidants and nutrients that feeds and plumps your skin. This improves collagen production, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and corrects nutritional imbalances.
Of course, “traditional” skin care products are relative. Way before anyone was making and marketing products specifically for cleansing, or moisturizing, or toning, or reducing under-eye bags, people were washing their faces with raw honey. Recent science has confirmed the many benefits to skin health and personal wellness that come from using this all-natural, pure product, but these benefits have been known and used since way before chemicals became the norm for skincare.
Per my roommate’s advice, I replaced my entire skincare routine, including an expensive topical antibiotic prescribed for acne, with honey. Within weeks, my acne was on its way out and even my scarring was starting to fade. Because honey relies on and amplifies your skin’s natural regenerative and healing properties, I reduced my face-washing regimen to once per day, and I actually stuck to it. I felt healthy and my skin glowed, and I’ve continued to use honey and see those benefits ever since.
How to use honey as a face wash: You’ll get the most benefit from raw, unfiltered honey, which has the strongest antibacterial and nourishing properties with no added sugar. You can find raw honey at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or your local natural foods store. Try washing your face just once per day, but experiment to find the schedule that works for you.
If you wear makeup, try an oil-based remover for use before honey: the two products pair well. And if your skin is still too dry without a moisturizer, use jojoba or almond oil, which moisturize without clogging pores or feeling greasy.
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