Acne is one of the most common skin conditions but can cause significant emotional distress. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of acne is that scientists still aren't entirely sure what causes it. For some, it builds up dead skin cells and excess sebum. For others, it appears to be an allergic reaction triggered by a poor diet. The complexity of treating acne stems from its multifaceted origins, leaving individuals grappling with the trial and error of various remedies.
For centuries, honey has been acknowledged for its medicinal benefits. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties, promotes wound healing, and exhibits practical antimicrobial characteristics. However, research has shown that manuka honey specifically has a powerhouse of antibacterial effects that are uniquely suited to treat acne! Beyond merely managing oil production or bacteria reduction, manuka honey's extensive array of health benefits equips it to address acne-related issues comprehensively.
Below, we'll explain what manuka honey is and how you can use manuka honey for skin that is soft and blemish-free.
What Is Manuka Honey?
Exclusively sourced from the nectar of manuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium), indigenous to New Zealand, Manuka honey is often referred to as tea tree honey. European honey bees can only pollinate these flowers during the two to six weeks out of the year when the manuka bushes bloom.
Every variety of honey possesses naturally existing hydrogen peroxide. Manuka nectar, however, contains a secondary antibacterial compound known as methylglyoxal. This abundance of methylglyoxal makes Manuka honey's antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties particularly powerful.
Honey can only be labeled as "manuka honey" if it is made from nectar gathered only from manuka flowers. Other honey is derived from many types of flowers, all gathered together. Unfortunately, because some companies were labeling their products as "manuka honey" when it was only 57% pure manuka honey, a rating scale was developed. The Unique Manuka Factor measures the concentration and potency of the methylglyoxal and, by extension, how pure the manuka honey is.
Manuka honey is an effective treatment against acne because of its high concentration of methylglyoxal, DHA omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, sugar components, and low pH levels.
Benefits Of Manuka Honey For Acne
The antibacterial activity of Manuka honey is exceptionally strong! Natural honey has always been known for its antibacterial healing properties since ancient times. This is because of the naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide. However, manuka honey benefits from methylglyoxal as well! Methylglyoxal is incredibly strong, with clinical and mechanistic studies showing it as effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of staph infections!! So the harmful bacteria that infect pores and cause acne doesn't stand a chance. Using manuka honey as a topical treatment is one of the best things you can do for acne-prone skin.
Manuka honey contains flavonoid and polyphenol compounds that provide powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Skin inflammation can take many forms and often accompanies bacterial growth and unwanted skin conditions - such as acne, rosacea, and sensitive skin. The natural ingredients in manuka honey will reduce redness and calm inflammation.
The wound-healing properties of manuka honey come from its ability to attract fibroblasts. These fibroblast cells are necessary for healthy tissue regeneration. Its low acidity also causes the pH level of the wound to reduce, speeding up the healing process. This makes manuka honey beneficial for wound care.
Manuka honey operates as a natural humectant. Humectants draw moisture to the surface from places where there is excess. This can be hydrating, pulling moisture from the air down the skin.
However, it can also be drying in a way that is helpful to people prone to oily skin. This is because the humectant properties of manuka honey will also pull moisture (in the form of oil) up out of the skin and onto the surface, where it can be washed away. It can also pull moisture out of bacteria itself, causing them to die.
The main focus of manuka honey is typically the presence of methylglyoxal, but let's not forget - just like all raw honey, manuka honey also contains hydrogen peroxide. This works as an antibacterial, but it also has mild lightening properties - meaning that manuka honey can help fade acne scars.
The natural enzymes in Manuka honey can help gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores. This can reduce the formation of new acne lesions and improve the skin's overall appearance.
Manuka honey includes antioxidants capable of counteracting free radicals, harmful molecules that can harm skin cells. Manuka honey may contribute to overall skin health and support acne recovery by protecting the skin from oxidative stress.
How To Use Manuka Honey For Acne
Manuka honey is an effective natural treatment for acne and other skin issues, but it can be tricky to know what to do with the honey once you have it. How do you actually use manuka honey as an acne treatment?
Choose the Right Manuka Honey
Seek high-quality Manuka honey with a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating. This rating serves as an indicator of the honey's antibacterial strength. A higher UMF rating signifies stronger antibacterial properties.
Prior to using Manuka honey on your entire face, conduct a patch test on a small skin area to detect any potential allergic reactions or sensitivities.
Cleanse Your Face
Begin with a freshly cleansed face. Employ a mild cleanser to eliminate dirt, oil, and makeup. Gently pat your face dry using a clean towel.
Apply Manuka Honey
You have the option to apply it directly onto your face, using it for purposes such as cleansing, as a face mask, or as a spot treatment.
Using manuka honey as a cleanser involves placing a small amount on your face and massaging gently for a few minutes before rinsing. It can be diluted with water if it is too thick to use.
As for the manuka honey mask, simply spread a layer of honey on your face, leave it for half an hour, and then rinse off with warm water.
For spot treatment, utilize a clean cotton swab or your fingertip to apply a small quantity of Manuka honey directly onto the affected acne spots. Allow it to remain on the skin for approximately 20-30 minutes, or leave it overnight.
As you apply the honey, consider gently massaging it into your skin using circular movements. This technique can aid in boosting circulation and augmenting absorption.
After the recommended time, rinse off the Manuka honey using lukewarm water. Pat your face dry with a clean towel.
Use a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to seal in moisture and guard against excessive dryness.
What is the UMF rating, and what UMF rating should I look for in Manuka honey for acne?
The UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating gauges the antibacterial potency of the honey. Opt for a Manuka honey boasting a UMF rating of 10 or above. This indicates a higher concentration of beneficial compounds that can effectively treat acne.
Can I use any type of honey for acne treatment, or does it have to be specifically Manuka honey?
While every kind of honey possesses certain antibacterial attributes, the distinct composition of Manuka honey distinguishes it as particularly effective for addressing acne. Its high levels of MGO and other bioactive compounds make it particularly effective.
Can I leave Manuka honey on my face overnight for acne treatment?
Leaving Manuka honey on your face overnight is possible, especially as a spot treatment. Nevertheless, gradually test this method to ensure it doesn't lead to any irritation or discomfort.
How often should I use Manuka honey for acne treatment?
Initiate your use of Manuka honey a few times weekly and progressively raise the frequency in accordance with your skin's reaction. Overuse might lead to drying out your skin.
Are there any potential side effects or risks associated with using Manuka honey on my face?
While rare, some people might experience mild irritation, redness, or allergic reactions. If there are any negative reactions, cease usage and seek advice from a healthcare professional.
How long does it usually take to see results when using Manuka honey for acne?
Results vary depending on your skin and the severity of your acne. Generally, improvement can be noticeable within a few weeks of consistent use.