Sure, Cleopatra of Egypt made some mistakes (she wouldn’t have needed that asp if she hadn’t), but using honey in her legendary beauty regimen wasn’t one of them. She’s remembered by green activists and beauty experts today as sinking into milk and honey baths to maintain her youthful complexion. She’s not alone in the honey hall of fame: Madame du Barry, the infamous final mistress of Louis XV, used honey in a face mask as do many Chinese women who traditionally use honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin free of blemishes. Queen Anne of England purportedly used oil and honey in her hair to keep it thick and smooth.
Unlike a lot of paraben- and PEG-loaded chemical moisturizers and skincare products that do as much harm to our skin as good, honey is an all-purpose miracle food. So, what did these women know that most of us have forgotten today? Fun fact: it’s the only known food that doesn’t rot!
- Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it absorbs and keeps moisture from the air, which can be great when applied to dry skin. For older skin that’s lost elasticity, honey is thus a treasure.
- Honey contains antioxidants, which scavenge for free radicals and provide nutrients for new cell growth. This is what Cleopatra was after—youthful skin.
- Although levels differ from batch to batch and type to type, honey contains antibacterial properties. Manuka honey has been known to contain the most antimicrobial properties. So, don’t let its moisturizing properties scare you away if you have oily skin. When applied to blemish-prone areas, honey sloughs away dead cells and attacks acne-causing bacteria. Unlike benzoyl peroxide and other harsh, harmful chemicals, honey doesn’t strip the skin of moisture, which causes the skin to produce more sebum (oil) than it lost.
- Ancient Romans used honey on wounds and burns. Why? It prevents scarring by retaining moisture and encouraging new cell growth. Those who suffer from acne scars and the like, honey heals old wounds.
- All of the above follow for hair. If you have dry, damaged hair, honey can put you on the road to recovery.
Try a few of these money-saving recipes and give the chemicals a rest. You’ll smell better and pollute the waterways less. Make sure to buy organic honey so you can pass on the pesticides and pollutants. (Since greenwashing is a real concern, try to buy your honey from the farmers’ market, where you an personally inquire about each farmers’ methods and ethics).
When you wake up in the morning, splash your face with warm water, dry, and smooth organic filtered honey over your face and neck. If you suffer from blemishes, add a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil (both are natural antiseptics). Rinse with warm water after 10 minutes or more.
Scar fading mask
Mix 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp of Greek or organic plain yogurt, and 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add white or green clay to the mix if you don’t like the runniness. Rinse after 10 minutes.
Firming face mask
Whisk 1 tbsp honey, 1 egg white, 1 tsp of clay or flour to form a paste. Rinse after 10 minutes.
Honey hair conditioner
Mash an avocado (peeled and stoned) with 1 or 2 tbsp of honey (depending on hair length) and apply to hair. You can put on a shower cap or sit back in a honey bath (just add ¼ cup of honey to a full, warm bath) and rinse after 30 minutes.
Photos from Wiki Commons.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching the best paying engineering degrees and what it means for the gender pay gap. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.