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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:

photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Mask

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

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.

photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Scrub

2/3 cup Manuka honey
2 Tbsp white sugar

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.

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:


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