Acne can be the skin’s reaction to factors such as stress, poor diet, hormone changes, and pollution. It affects approximately 85 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 12 and 24. That’s almost 50 million people annually. It’s also estimated that 5 percent of people between the ages of 40 and 49 have acne.
One natural treatment that helps is Manuka honey from New Zealand. It’s made up of:
- sugars (mainly glucose and fructose)
- amino acids
- vitamins and minerals
- hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal, two antimicrobial compounds
Combined with its low pH, these ingredients make Manuka honey a great addition to your beauty routine as a mighty fighter against acne.
Manuka honey has long been touted as a super-honey, and for good reason.
Cosmetic benefits and effect on acne
Manuka honey can improve your skin’s appearance. It can balance your skin’s pH level and help slough away dead cell debris to keep your skin clean. Its anti-inflammatory effect can decrease local inflammation caused by acne. As an antibacterial, Manuka honey leaves fewer bacteria to infect pores and cause acne. This honey can heal existing pimples, as well. The low pH speeds up the healing of acne.
Research has reported the honey’s various beneficial actions. For example, it destroys harmful bacteria. Because it contains hydrogen peroxide and compounds like methylglyoxal, Manuka honey is effective in killing pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Keeping the skin bacteria-free speeds up the healing process.
This honey is also a great emollient, meaning it softens the skin. Its high concentration of sugars can keep a wound or burn area moist. This can also accelerate healing.
What’s more, Manuka honey reduces inflammation and pain at the wound site. It can also help with skin problems, such as psoriasis and dandruff.
You can use it as a cleanser or a mask. Whichever way you decide to use it, remove any makeup first.
As a cleanser
Put a pea-sized amount of honey on your face. You can use a bit more or dilute it with a few water drops, if needed. Research has found that diluted Manuka honey still maintains its antibacterial properties. Massage the honey all over your face gently for a couple of minutes. Then, rinse your skin and pat dry.
As a mask
Mix the following into a paste:
- ground oats
- lemon juice
Apply the mixture to your face, and leave it on for up to 15 minutes.You may instead use a mask of just honey alone, and leave it on your face for up to 30 minutes.
As a spot treatment
Apply a tiny amount of honey to a forming pimple. That’s it. Leave it be and let the honey work its antibacterial magic.
Risks and warnings
There are no systemic reactions known so far when using medical-grade honey. Still, there are some guidelines to know before you purchase your first jar of Manuka honey.
Manuka honey is a specific type of honey. Labels such as “raw,” “organic,” or “pure” are not enough to guarantee that a product carries all the medicinal properties of Manuka honey.
Use the right kind. The honey must be produced and packaged in New Zealand. It’s worth spending a bit more for high-efficiency products coming from a reputable source. You should be able to read the word “active” on the label. There should also be an indication of its quality using different rating systems. The UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) and OMA (Organic Manuka Active) should be 15 or more. MGO (methylglyoxal) should be at least 250. Some varieties are stronger than others in terms of antibacterial potency. The label should explain that.
Allergic reactions to honey are rare. Still, being cautious saves you future trouble. Test out your reaction by dabbing a small amount on your chin. See if you feel any reactions, such as itchiness. If not, you can apply the honey to your whole face.
There are many other treatments for acne. These can include over-the-counter products, which use ingredients such as salicylic acid, sulphur, or resorcinol. Other people with more chronic acne cases use prescription drugs, such as:
- topical or oral antibiotics
- oral contraceptives
- isotretinoin (Accutane)
Other treatments with varying degrees of success include:
If you decide to use Manuka honey, start with a good-quality product. Manuka honey can help heal and prevent acne. This is because Manuka honey has healing and antibacterial properties, as well as anti-inflammatory effects.
Make your honey treatment a regular routine and document the improvement. You may see results in as little as seven days. Even if it takes longer, be persistent. Your skin will thank you for it.