How I Cleanse My Skin With Honey + Anti-Acne Honey Masque

In the past days I have been experimenting with honey on the skin, and I wanted to share my observations with you. Honey has exceptional antibacterial properties, it helps wounds heal faster. If you are struggling with acne you should absolutely try cleansing your face with honey every evening for at least two weeks, it works miracles for lots of people. It is also a great cleanser for dry, oily and combination skin. It evens out the skin colour and leaves my skin soft, smooth and firm.
Disclaimer: some people are allergic to honey, so do a patch test if you aren't sure.

Which honey to choose:

First of all, the honey should be unfiltered and raw -- the more processed the honey is, the less effective it is. The tiny granules in raw unfiltered honey also act as a light exfoliant. I also highly recommend buying organic honey -- although the honey itself can never completely be free of pesticides because the bees collect pollen from a very wide radius, still organic bee keepers (at least in Germany) treat the bees much better than conventional ones: for example they don't clip the wings of the queen. If you live outside the EU, conventional bee-keepers often give the bees antibiotics, whereas organic bee-keepers use much milder methods.
There are many different types of honey out there, depending on which plants the bees used. These can have very different rations of sugars and different minerals. So it's worth testing different kinds to see which fits your skin best. If you are struggling with acne, I suggest you try the types that have the highest antibacterial anti-oxidants -- these are blueberry and buckwheat, according to the studies from the Brock University, as well as Manuka. 

Activating the pH of honey to activate it's disinfecting and brightening properties:

Under the right conditions honey produces hydrogen peroxide which kills bacteria as well as lighten discolourations. Honey contains glucose oxidase which has the ability to break down glucose into hydrogen peroxide. However this only occurs when:
a) a certain amount of sodium is present.
b) the pH levels between 5.5 to 8.0. The pH of honey is between 3.2 and 4.5 which is far below that. 
The skin itself has a relatively low pH level and also sodium levels, however it is best to give the honey a little boost by adjusting the pH -- this is especially true when we are applying honey on freshly cleansed skin where the cleanser might have lowered the pH level. To make the honey slightly more acidic, I like to add a drop of apple cider vinegar.

Edit from a chemist reader (thanks!): If this is working for your skin, by all means carry on, but if you wanted to experiment you could try stirring in a little baking soda (sodium bicarb), which will provide sodium for your reaction and raise the pH. I would definitely do test swatches on your arm before putting honey+baking soda all over your face, but a quick google search suggests this is pretty common.

Cleansing the face with honey + honey mask

If you are nervous about getting the sticky honey everywhere, try this in the shower. If the honey is solid, gently warm it up; not too much as heat destroys its effectiveness. Start by cleansing your face and patting it dry. Bee keepers say that honey works best when applied on dry skin as moisture can dilute its effects. Applying honey on dry skin is a pain, the best way to do it is either using a big flat brush, or dabbing it on instead of trying to rub it on. Personally I do the press-and-roll with my fingers where I press down on the skin and then kind of pull away in a rolling motion, I feel like it helps to remove and gunk from the skin.
Now gently tap your face with your fingers. The stickiness of the honey pulls out gunk from the pores. If you want to exfoliate, follow up by lightly wetting your fingers and massaging the skin in small circles. Shower off or wipe of with a soft cloth.

I found this interesting study about the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in honey. To sum it up, the levels of hydrogen peroxide accumulated in the 15-min incubation period were exactly half of those accumulated in the 30-min incubation period. Which means that if you are struggling with acne, you might benefit from treating yourself to a honey face mask for half an hour.

Let me know if you try this out and what your results are.

Photo credit: Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

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