Moisturizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Bacterial (Acne) Manuka Honey Mask
Manuka honey's made by New Zealand and Australian bees from the flowers of the manuka tree, which is related to the Australian Tea Tree, and produces an essential oil with very similar properties. Manuka honey has additional and different antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, however, that are rated by standardized testing of each batch of honey's "Unique Manuka Factor" (UMF). Scientists have demonstrated the antibacterial power of the UMF so effectively, in fact, that the F.D.A. recently approved the use of sterilized manuka honey dressings to treat wounds infected with bacteria resistant to standard antibacterials, such as the dreaded "flesh-eating" bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MrSA). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903658 Staphylococcus aureus is one of several strains of bacteria responsible for acne, so I decided to see whether it would be helpful in controlling my mild adult acne in combination with ingredients that would aid penetration of the UMF while also moisturizing my dry/combination skin and helping to calm it post-AHA and BHA peels and after my recent use of stronger topical retinoids.
Here's my recipe:
1 1/2 tsp sterilized medical manuka honey (UMF 15+)
2 drops vitamin E acetate
1/2 tsp molecularly distilled emu oil*
1/2 dropper sodium hyaluronate
1 capsule GNC 100 mg alpha lipoc acid
I mix everything in the palm of one hand, apply for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the state of my skin and the time available, then rinse off with lukewarm water. Sometimes I apply it after using a clay mask, such as Queen Helene's, in order to reduce resulting irritation. It leaves my skin soft, calm, bright, clearer and moisturized.
Please read my notes on the other ingredients before trying it yourself:
(1) Sodium hyaluronate is a non-irritating humectant that exists naturally in human skin, aids the penetration of ingredients it's mixed with, and is produced in lessening amounts as the skin ages. It's widely available in both expensive and less-expensive formulations.
(2) *Emu oil is also a very effective anti-inflammatory moisturizer, carrier and penetrating agent, especially when mixed with a little inexpensive vitamin E acetate, but care is essential when purchasing emu oil, much of which is commonly adulterated by unethical sellers with cheaper, more comedogenic oils, so purchase only from a reputable company. The American Emu Association has adopted a "triple refined" certification that members who meet their standard can identify with an "AEA Certified" logo, but some AEA members have urged the adoption of an even higher purity standard (molecular distillation), which is why I'm willing to pay just a little more for molecularly distilled emu oil, because it's far less likely to trigger an adverse reaction or to be comedogenic. If you've reacted badly to emu oil, you may have a better reaction to a molecularly distilled version. See http://www.uniquelyemu.com/emu-oil-research-6.htm
http://www.emu-oil.com/molecularlydistilledemuoil.html for more information.
(3) Vitamin E acetate is cheap and commonly available in drugstores, and aids penetration of the top layer of the skin by other ingredients it's added to, which it's specifically been demonstrated to do with emu oil: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9858176
(4) Alpha lipoic acid's benefits are well-described by the Cleveland Ciinic: "You may have heard of alpha-lipoic acid as "the miracle in a jar" for its anti-aging effects. Itís a newer, ultra-potent antioxidant that helps fight future skin damage and helps repair past damage. Alpha-lipoic acid has been referred to as a "universal antioxidant" because itís soluble in both water and oil, which permits its entrance to all parts of the cell. Due to this quality, it is believed that alpha-lipoic acid can provide the greatest protection against damaging free radicals when compared with other antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid diminishes fine lines, gives skin a healthy glow, and boosts levels of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C." http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/skin_care/hic_understanding_the_ingredients_in_skin_care_products.aspx
I use the GNC capsules because the ALA is already dissolved in soybean oil, but those who are sensitive to soybean oil may wish to use less, find another formulation or omit it altogether.
I hope others find this recipe beneficial! Although some of the ingredients may seem a bit pricy, this mask works FAR better for me than ANY commercially available ones costing as much if not more than the total cost of all the ingredients I've listed above. A 1 oz bottle of molecularly distilled emu oil can be purchased for less than $10 from several reputable suppliers and, if it doesn't work for you on your face as part of this mask, it's great added to moisturizers for other parts of the body. I keep a couple tubes of sterilzed medical-grade manuka honey (there are at least two over-the-counter brands in the U.S.) on hand now not just for my masks, but also to treat cuts, scrapes and burns, for which I also use sodium hyaluronate, both of which speed healing. Alpha lipoic acid is also "an essential co-factor of the mitochondrial multi-enzyme complex and thus plays an important role in energy metabolism," so if you can't use it in the mask, you can always take it orally! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21651453
UPDATE: Manuka honey has specifically been tested -- and found effective against -- Propionibacterium Acnes, the bacterium that causes most cases of acne. See study here: http://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/2997
Lately I have discovered how effective and wonderful ordinary pantry staples can be. They can in fact work far better than the most expensive and fancy HE stuff. And god knows I have tried a LOT of stuff. I have flushed so much money down the drain over the years. When I was younger I thought that more ingredients was better. Small jars chock full of "nano spheres" and "amino-collagen-calmyx-genetix-acids"....all these silly names that promised to do all but give me an orgasm. But all they really did was smell nice, look good on the bathroom shelf and break me out. Also, have you noticed the fine print in the ads that explain that the product was tested by 37 women (the ladies in the ad company's office?), for 2 weeks and that 87% of them thought "it felt nice to put it on"!!!! Wow, if that's not a sound scientific endorsement of it's effectiveness my name is not Black Vanilla!
Anyhow, I am now a bit older and I have realized by way of trial and error that less is more. If a product has more than 10 ingredients it is highly likely to break me out.
Now, about that honey! I have super sensitive, reactive skin. If you so much as look at me the wrong way I get a big red splotch on my cheek. It is also very, very dry. What I do is put a layer of honey on dry skin and leave it on for 30 minutes-1 hour. Nothing fancy mind you, it's not even organic. After that I wash it off with the simplest face wash and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. And there it is: irritations subside, the skin is rosy and glowing. Most of the dry flakes are gone. It doesn't break me out at all. In fact I believe that honey is anti-inflammatory.
This works a hundred times better than any of the expensive masks I've tried.
PS! My two other finds are: baking soda mixed with Cetaphil cleanser for the gentlest yet effective face scrub.
And apple cider vinegar mixed with water as a pre-schampoo rinse. This clarifies product build-up like nobody's business and makes the hair unbelievably soft and glossy.
My skin is far too sensitive, but if it wasn't I would surely try lemon juice mixed with water as a toner.
Look up the reviews and see what others are saying!
WOW! This honey mask made my skin glow. It worked WAY better than all the other expensive brand masks I've tried. It's amazing that you can get such great results from something you've created yourself and is all natural.
What I did was to mix one tablespoon of raw honey with 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric (don't use more or your skin might turn yellow!) and 4 aspirins. They're all supposed to have great benefits to the skin. I leaved it on my face for 20 minutes and I got instant results. I went from having dull skin to nice and glowing. This is sooo good, I'm going to use this mask a few times a week. Recommended!
Honey Honey Honey. I used honey for the first time on my face yesterday and instantly saw results. I am African-American with Dark skin and my skin was (and still is) glowing! I will use this every day! Also I used the generic store -brand (Food Lion) and it workd fab...and its cheap too! :)
sad that i couldnt use this as a natural exfoliator with sugar, it made my face turn super red, itchy, and burnt. it did make my face super smooth though. i use this (and sugar) to exfoliate my lips and i get no reaction.
My sensitive skin could not handle honey. I'm pretty disappointed that I even tried it, since my skin was so close to clearing up and I had been able to wear almost no makeup for a couple of weeks. I was left with some redness on my cheeks and I had read such good reviews that honey had helped clear people's skin and brighten and moisturize it. However, after using it only once, my entire face became dry and rough, and my chin broke out quite badly and it has extended onto my cheek. I'm trying desperately to get my skin back in the condition it was before trying the honey.
Ahh honey, I've eaten you my entire life and only now have I seen how AWESOME you are for my skin. As a spot treatment you've shrunk and healed my acne like no other topical, expensive product has. Combined with oats and yogurt in a mask you leave my skin smooth, radiant, and soft. I mix you in my hydrosols and my HA serums. I'm sure your cousin Manuka will be even more effective, but as of yet you've worked best in your raw, organic form--your refined, store-brand version just doesn't work as well. Thank you, honey, for helping save my skin.
I used raw honey mixed with sugar to exfoliate. I used that about 3 times a week & never have a problem with it. It works lovely. However, I've tried honey masks on numerous occasions with different types of honey & after each time I have gotten 1 or more cystic pimples. I've tried honey alone, honey with cinnamon, raw honey, regular honey. It just does not work as a mask for me. My face will feel smooth & soft after but it never fails. The cystic pimples pop up right after. Honey, as I was told is suppose to be good for acne but I seem to get the opposite effect. I will continue to use it to exfoliate but I just can not use it as a mask.
/this is seriously long.. I did try to make it amusing.
Okay, I am rating honey as five lippies because (a) I'm a chicken and I don't want to get down-arrowed for sharing my bad experience when everyone obviously loves it to death and (b) it worked teh awesome suoerduper when it did work.
Now, often in my reviews, I would tout how incredibly bombproof my skin is. And dangit, with a few exceptions, my skin was some bomb.PROOF.shit. I probably coulda put lye on my face and been rewarded with a peel action and fresher skin. I coulda probably used Crisco and had a nice moisturizing experience. THAT kind of bombproof. However, the humble, unassuming honey changed my skin from it's former armor-plated glory to a wimpy, weepy, emo, whinyBITCH MESS.
I used honey for years...nay, for DECADES. I would exfoliate with...you know...whatever, put on a honey mask (without much regard for kind, and this becomes important later), emerge from the shower feeling at least five years younger and smugly aware of how my thriftiness and natural remedy-savviness made me the awesome sauce. It was hydrating, mildly exfoliating, smelled good, you could sample it off your skin in little covert licks while it did it's work, and the list goes on! Available widely, multipurpose for mask, scrub, whatever, cheap. I LOVED honey!
Well, that all changed last month. . With no idea of what was to happen, I stepped into the shower, did my usual exfoliate - wash off - honey mask - wash off - go about my business. I noticed my face stinging ever so slightly, but it has done that a time or three using a honey mask, so that sensation barely registered. Honey does have enzymes in it, and sometimes it can sting your skin a leetle tiny bit. Emphasis on "leetle".
Until...the next day. Then...O M F G the crazy started. A whole funhouse of crazy. A few hours after I got up, my face started getting red. Then redder. Then redder by the hour. I looked like I'd been in the tropical Costa Rican sun for a week... but it was winter, in North Idaho. Then the stinging started. Then intensified. Then started itching. ITCH ITCH ITCH. Stinging turned to burning, like I'd scalded that whole area with hot steam. Jeebus!!! W T F???
Even hubby, who is oblivious to all but the most major changes in my appearance (he did notice when I put purple streaks in my hair) asked me what was wrong with my skin.
Ok, that sucks, you say. That wasn't even the START...that was just the foreplay. As I was lightly lightly scratching my face, I realized it felt like sandpaper. In the mirror, it LOOKED like sandpaper. Taking my phone, I took a close-up of my face. Hundreds of little blisters, everywhere I had out the honey mask...in this case, all over my face (including eyelids), neck and decolletage. Itchy, red, burning, blistery bitchy face. NOTHING would calm it down...gentle oils, gentle cleanser, gentle everything. My skin was on strike. Well, ok, I figured the honey pissed it off. Maybe I'd been overzealous in my exfoliation. It would go away in a day or two, I reasoned. Well, yeah...no. It didn't.
Over the next ten days, my face would take two steps forward, five steps back. It finally got so bad that I took the extraordinary step of seeing the dermatologist, who diagnosed me with severe irritant contact dermatitis, gave me Free and Clear cleanser, Denoside steroid ointment, and Vaniclear lotion. I had to wear that ointment slathered on my poor face twice a day for a week. Have you ever worn ointment on your face? It's like a layer of Vaseline...loads of fun with waist-length fine hair, lemme tell ya. And sticking to pillows, sliming hubby and kids' face...phuuuuuuuuck.
And the fun didn't stop there...almost a month later, my skin is reacting and flipping out for no reason. Gentle soap, gentle cleanser (the Free and Clear is now makeup brush cleanser, it pissed off my skin so bad), all my standard staples (oils, Olay cream and lotion)...everything I have EVER used on my skin will cause it to either get bumpy, red, dried out and rough, or all three. My face has aged at least ten years, and when you are just barely over forty, that is deh-va-stating.
So to round out this saga, the ONLY thing I can think happened was I had decided to use whipped honey in the shower because I reasoned a tub was easier to scoop out the amount I wanted. Previously I had used the usual squeezy "honey bear", jarred honey, local, non-local, organic, manuka, whatever (I told you I have been using honey for DECADES). With recent stories of "honey" not being actual honey but sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring...maybe that's what happened. I'm sad. Honey and I had such a good run for so long...
So, this is only my story, I'm terrified of my skin from now on always being "sensitive", which means that every time I get the urge to try a whamodyne new skin treatment (which is about every five minutes), this circus will happen again. I sadly contemplate the few skin items that don't currently piss off my skin (apricot oil and Nivea creme, plain black soap) wondering if I am doomed to use them forever. I am hoping this doesn't happen to any of you, and the moral of the story is if your skin starts getting mad after a honey treatment, get thee to a doctor HENCE, or you may be in the same spot I'm stuck in...which is a sucky spot to be.
By the way, if anyone has any similar stories or maybe some help, please feel free to message me. On the bright side, when I saw the derm, I finally got the cojones to make an appointment for Botox for the forehead "11s" which I have been dithering about for five years. But I fear that easing the bitchsticks won't do me any good if my skin around the rest of my face looks ten years older. Edit: wow, why all the down arrows? I said it stopped working for ME and gave my overly-detailed story. I also noted that it worked awesome for years continued >>
I finally took time out to do the brown sugar and honey scrub that everyone has been recommending on this here blog and WOW. That's all I can say because it's just that amazing. I poured the honey into some brown sugar and scrubbed it on my face, it's a bit sticky and slightly messy but after rinsing it off 15 min later my skin felt 10 yrs younger. It was incredible, this is my new go-to exfoliator.