Why Has Manuka Honey Become So Popular–And What Do You Actually Do With It?

Back in the day, I assumed Winnie the Pooh’s obsession with honey was a symptom of his love of snacking, but now, the beauty writer in me wonders if Pooh was more interested in having impeccable skin.

You see, the amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants in honey can offer big benefits to your complexion, according to a review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. And while regular honey works fine, Manuka honey is the real heavy hitter.

Manuka honey comes from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand. This variety of honey contains higher amounts of a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO)—which may support a clear complexion—than many conventional honeys, found a study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Honey is also a natural humectant, meaning it’s very moisturizing for the skin, says Alexis Wolfer, natural beauty expert, author of The Recipe for Radiance, and founder of The Beauty Bean. You could even mix a little into your go-to night cream for an extra boost of moisture, she says.

And that’s not all: “Honey contains antioxidants and can help promote healthy collagen,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. This is good news, since the protein collagen helps support the structures that make up your skin and promotes skin cell turnover.

Related: Pamper yourself with a number of natural beauty and skin-care products.  

With all of these buzz-worthy properties, it’s no wonder Manuka honey is trending in the DIY beauty world. So, of course, I had to put it to the test to really see if it’s really, well, the bee’s knees. I tried two skin-care recipes for myself:

face-mask-ingredients
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Mask

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Manuka honey
2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon

Instructions:
Mix ingredients in a small bowl then apply it all over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse.

Quick beauty PSA: Honey is messy. Be prepared for a sticky (but fun!) situation when applying this face mask. If you’re a lazy DIY-er, the three-ingredient treatment takes less than two minutes to whip up, so that’s a huge plus. The mask has a pretty, light color and a strong but sweet aroma.

While the results weren’t quite noticeable enough for a Snapchat face mask selfie, after 20 minutes I rinsed it off to reveal a soft, slightly more glow-y complexion. My only complaint is that it was a little runny.

face-scrub-mixed
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Scrub

Ingredients:
2/3 cup Manuka honey
2 Tbsp white sugar

Instructions:
Stir sugar into honey one tablespoon at a time until well-mixed. Apply the mixture to skin, rubbing in circular motions to exfoliate. Lightly massage for a few minutes before rinsing it off.

I’m a big fan of DIY scrubs—and this one was easy to make and worked well. After stirring the sugar and honey together, I hit the shower, mixture in hand. Even though I should’ve assumed it’d be very syrupy to apply (its entire base is honey, after all), it was *super* goopy. Once I got over the texture and stickiness-factor, I enjoyed how it felt on my skin. Unlike some exfoliators, this treatment really coated my skin without easily rinsing off, giving me enough time to really work it in.

maddy-face-scrub
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Post-scrub my complexion felt—and looked—smoother and a tad firmer. Not to mention, the usual red flush my skin tends to have after cleansing seemed to not be as intense, which in my mind is always a win.

 

Pin this handy graphic for the next time you feel like DIY-ing your skin-care routine:

manuka-honey-uses

12 Health And Beauty Uses For Coconut Oil

There’s a reason why coconut oil is the reigning ‘it’ ingredient of the natural beauty world: It’s a major multitasker. “It’s amazing that one pure, organic ingredient can be so versatile,” says Kiana Cabell, co-founder of Kopari Beauty, a premium organic beauty brand that’s all about the coconut oil.

So what makes coconut oil such an all-around MVP?  For starters, it contains moisturizing fatty acids, such as lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Plus, it’s packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E.

Related: Go ahead, douse yourself in the sweet-smelling stuff.

Intrigued? We rounded up 14 different ways to incorporate coconut oil into your health and beauty routines. It’s time to trade the constant clutter of bottles in your bathroom for a jar of coconutty goodness!

  1. Mouth Freshener

If your go-to mouthwash leaves your mouth feeling dry or irritates your gums, try swishing with a half-teaspoon of coconut oil (known as ‘oil pulling’) instead. Just keep in mind that it’ll take longer than your usual rinse: “For coconut oil you have to swish it for at least 20 minutes at a time,” says Dr. Mark Sperling, DMD. Try it before brushing your teeth.

  1. Shaving Cream

Before reaching for your razor, try lathering up with coconut oil, especially if you have sensitive skin. “Coconut oil’s lauric acid has soothing properties that may help with shaving irritation,” says Avon’s consulting dermatologist Kim Nichols, M.D. Added bonus: It saves time. Since your legs will already be silky and hydrated, you can skip the moisturizer.

Close-up image of a woman's sole of her foot
photo credit: iStock

    3. Foot Cream

If nothing seems to soften your cracked heels or rough calluses, grease them up with coconut oil. “Slather it all over your feet and put on socks before bed,” says holistic beauty expert Victorine Deych. Rub any leftover oil all over hands and cuticles. Just make sure to rinse your feet off before going barefoot the next morning—you don’t want to slip!

    4. Deep Conditioner

Get your mane back in shape by using it coconut oil as a deep conditioning treatment. “Coconut oil promotes healthy hair and gives strands a shiny quality because it helps to protect the hair shaft from protein loss,” says Nichols. Because of coconut oil’s simple, single-chain molecular structure, it’s easily absorbed into the hair shaft, and thus better able to protect hair from breakage and damage than other oils, says a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science. Rub it into your scalp and through to the ends of your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes—or overnight. Then shampoo. (People with fine hair may need to shampoo twice, says Cabell.)

Cleansing
photo credit: iStock
  1. Makeup Remover

For those of us who, a) detest stinging eye makeup remover, b) wear a lot of eyeliner and mascara, and/or c) are paranoid about wrecking our eyelashes, a cotton pad soaked in coconut oil makes makeup removal a happier experience. “Gently dab the oil wherever you have makeup to remove and let it sit for a five minutes before rinsing with warm water,” says Nichols.

Another reason to switch to oil? Just like they moisturize your hair, those fatty acids can also quench your lashes, says Cabell. That’s some well-deserved TLC if you’re a daily mascara–wearer.

  1. Body Lotion

Coconut oil brings the silky smooth, but proceed with caution—a little goes a long way. “Apply it to damp skin after showering so it really absorbs,” says Cabell.

Pampering cream
photo credit: iStock
  1. Facial Moisturizer

Your handy jar can also help keep your complexion in check—especially in the winter. “Rub a quarter teaspoon of coconut oil with a splash of bottled water between your hands, and gently press onto your skin,” says Nichols. “Wait for five minutes or so to let it absorb, then dab away any excess oil with a towel.”

  1. Makeup Palette Saver

Before you chuck a broken powder makeup palette, try salvaging your cracked powder using coconut oil. “Coconut oil is like organic ‘glue,’” says Nichols. “Thoroughly mix your powder and a tiny bit of coconut oil and it’ll be back to life in about an hour.”

  1. Exfoliating Body Scrub

Coconut oil makes a great base for a pampering at-home exfoliating treatment. The easiest do-it-yourself recipe is called a ‘sugar scrub.’ “Mix equal parts coconut oil and large granulated sugar together,” says Deych. “Rub all over to slough off dead skin and leave arms and legs extra soft.”

  1. Under-Eye Brightener

Wave tired eyes goodbye by applying coconut oil nightly. “The vitamins A and E in coconut oil may help soothe tired eyes,” says Nichols. She recommends chilling your oil before applying to the eye area for an additional calming sensation.

  1. Brow Enhancer

Tame unruly arches and add a glossy sheen to your brows by lightly dabbing them with coconut oil, either with your finger or a Q-Tip.

  1. Lip Balm

The simplest use for any leftover coconut oil you have on your hands? Just swipe it on your lips!

We Tried 5 DIY Body Scrubs—Here’s What Happened

Not only is Pinterest a perfect place for the beauty-obsessed to scroll through updo ideas and smoky eye tutorials, it’s a gold mine for discovering DIY beauty recipes. From face masks to lip balms to bar soaps, we could all put Sephora out of business if we had endless spare time.

Despite being a total beauty product addict, I had never experimented with whipping up my own ingredients. Beets as lip stain? Sure. Putting pantry items on my skin? Not so much. But, since I’m always up for a challenge, I decided to try my hand at making some body scrubs.

Homemade scrubs seem to be the most popular type of DIY pins on Pinterest, and the ingredients were all easy to find. I picked the most interesting recipes I saw, and set out on a five-day scrub-a-thon.

Day One:  Red Wine Body Scrub

 

red-wine

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup red wine
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp of melted coconut oil

Instructions:
Combine the brown sugar and red wine together in a large bowl, then spoon honey and melted coconut oil into the mixture. (If you like thicker scrubs, add more sugar until the scrub reaches your desired consistency.)

I decided to start off with a scrub that incorporated one of my favorite things: red wine. Red wine contains the antioxidant reservatrol—so I figured bathing in it couldn’t hurt. (Fun fact: New York Knicks center Amar’e Stoudemire does this on the reg.)

I started with the red wine, mixed in the coconut oil and honey), and then added the brown sugar (our natural exfoliator). I poured my concoction into a wine glass and headed for the shower.

This wasn’t the prettiest scrub—not to mention it was slightly runny—but I was surprisingly pleased with how it felt on my skin. I used the scrub on one arm and compared it to my other arm, and the boozy arm was definitely softer to the touch! By the time I was done, my body was silky smooth, which is something I’ll always cheers to.

Day Two: Coconut + Coffee Scrub

coconut-coffee

Ingredients:
¾ cup coarsely ground coffee
1 ½ cups Epsom salt
¾ cup melted unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract                      

Instructions:
Mix Epsom salt and ground coffee, then stir in unrefined coconut oil. (Unrefined oil has a stronger coconut scent than refined, but either works!) Then mix in the teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Related: Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus Hand and Body Scrub smells heavenly.

Full disclosure: I’m not a morning person. But this scrub certainly helped. Its strong aroma jolted my senses awake and made my entire bathroom smell like a coffee shop. The combination of the ground coffee and Epsom salt gave the scrub a super grainy consistency, making it perfect for intense exfoliation. Although it was a little too rough to use all over—especially on my face—it was a great option for a deep clean and really made my skin glow.

Day Three: Cucumber Body Scrub

cucumber

 Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup chopped cucumber
A few basil leaves
¼ cup of melted coconut oil 

Instructions:
Wash cucumber and basil, pat dry, slice into small pieces, then blend. Add sugar, then coconut oil, and blend until smooth.

From flavored waters to slices for your eyes, cucumbers and spa treatments go hand in hand. “They have a high water content,” says Dr. Zeichner. “They also contain vitamin C, which helps brighten the skin and lowers free radical damage.” Thanks to these soothing properties, it came as no surprise that cucumbers turned my shower into a spa-like experience.

Related: Acure’s Brightening Facial Scrub uses argan stem cell and chlorella to renew skin.

This recipe took a bit longer since it required chopping and blending. The end result looked more like green juice than body scrub, but despite the fine consistency, the cucumber and basil gently sloughed away dead skin. It turned out to be great prep for my legs before shaving! One drawback: The tiny pieces of basil stuck to my body and were pretty tough to rinse off.

Day Four: Peppermint Foot Scrub

peppermint

Ingredients:
1/3 cup white sugar
½ cup melted coconut oil
8-10 drops peppermint essential oil
1 mint teabag

Instructions:
Slowly stir coconut oil into sugar, then add peppermint essential oil. Finally, cut open a mint teabag and stir its contents into the mixture.

Next time my feet are aching from high heels, this will be my go-to. Peppermint oil is known for its soothing and revitalizing properties, and contains antioxidants vitamin A and C. Talk about a winning combo for sore soles. As soon as I massaged it on, I felt an immediate cooling sensation. The sugar gently buffed my heels and softened my calluses so my feet felt brand new. Note of caution: Make sure you wipe off all leftover residue to avoid slipping!

Related: Guys, Shea Moisture’s Groom and Shave Three Butters Wash & Scrub won’t leave you smelling like a cocktail.

Day Five: Pumpkin Spice Body Scrub

pumpkin-spice

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Combine brown sugar and coconut oil. Then, sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice and vanilla and stir thoroughly.

If you love pumpkin spice lattes so much you could bathe in your venti Starbucks cup, this is your scrub. Just one whiff had me daydreaming of freshly baked pumpkin pie. Honestly, it didn’t feel quite as exfoliating as the others, but since it was mild I lathered it all over and really soaked in that divine autumnal scent. The best part: I could still smell a faint touch of pumpkin hours later.

After a week of overloading my bathroom with smells and making a bit of a mess in the kitchen, my skin feels pretty darn good. You can bet I’ll be making that Coconut + Coffee scrub and Peppermint Foot Scrub next time I get the itch for a little at-home pampering.

Ain’t got time to whip up your own scrubs? Check out our variety of skin products here.