If there is one kitchen ingredient that has kept beauty gurus and brands intrigued over the years, it has to be honey. No wonder that this sticky, sweet kitchen staple has made its way in so many beauty products like face wash, body wash, face pack, lip balm, shampoo, hair conditioner, and many more. But what if we told you that there is an even better variety of honey available, which has even more significant beauty benefits. In case you’ve already heard of it, read along to understand why you should have it in your bathroom shelf.
Manuka honey, sourced from the Manuka plant in New Zealand and Australia, is considered a much better version of regular honey because of its potent moisturizing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is often labeled as the liquid gold of beauty products. So let’s learn about how manuka honey can help you step up your beauty game.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is produced by bees that collect nectar from the Manuka trees, which grow in southern Australia and New Zealand. These trees are the main reason that manuka honey has very strong anti-bacterial properties. In addition, Manuka honey contains hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal (MGO). While the first ingredient is found in all types of honey, MGO is largely found in the manuka variety only as it is derived from the nectar of Manuka flowers.
Manuka honey also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and acts as a great anti-inflammatory and humectant. Manuka honey also contains DHA (dihydroxyacetone – an omega-3 acid), leptosperin (a natural chemical found in the nectar of the Manuka plants), sugar, amino acids and has low pH (acidity).
Why Is Manuka Honey Different?
UMFHA (Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association) labels manuka honey as the gold standard of the honey world. It is the raw form of honey, which is not processed by any means. Manuka honey is not pasteurized like regular honey and hence, does not get that thick syrupy texture with bright golden color. It is not exposed to high heat for pasteurization; it retains its natural nutrients and beneficial qualities.
Studies have found that manuka honey contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and MGO in higher concentrations than those found in other commercially available varieties of honey. Experts believe that the concentration of MGO determines the antibacterial potency of honey. Therefore, a higher concentration of MGO means a stronger antibacterial effect.
A rating scale is used to check the potency of manuka honey, known as UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. UMF takes into account the concentration of three ingredients – MGO, DHA, and leptosperin. A UMF rating of more than 10 labels any variety of manuka honey potent for therapeutic use. However, a few researchers aren’t really in favor of this rating system. (1)
Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey offers a wide range of beauty and health benefits. It helps in skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, acts as a humectant, and soothes and moisturizes the skin. Here is a list of all the good things that manuka honey can do.
1. Fights Bacteria
Manuka honey has powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to show positive results against as many as 60 species of bacteria. (2)
Manuka honey contains a very high amount of sugar, which helps in curbing microbial growth. This honey also has a unique property wherein it dries up a wound quickly by sucking out moisture from the bacteria. No moisture eventually means no bacterial growth. This accelerates the process of healing.
2. Skin Healer
Manuka honey repairs skin damage. It promotes the regeneration of cells in our skin, which helps in healing wounds (3). Low pH levels of manuka honey also fasten wound healing. It also moisturizes the skin and makes a protective barrier around the skin that eventually diminishes all sorts of scars, marks, spots, and blemishes.
3. Fights Acne
Manuka honey helps balance the pH of the skin, which helps control the overproduction of oil and sebum. Its anti-inflammatory properties are unmatched among natural ingredients. Manuka honey contains amino acids, which help eliminate dead cells from the surface layer of the skin. It cleanses clogged skin pores, thus, taking care of acne. In addition, manuka honey also helps in reducing redness and inflammation caused by acne.
4. Moisturizes Skin
Manuka honey can be a boon for dry skin people because of its amazing hydrating powers. It is a natural humectant, which means that it helps the skin retain its moisture and draws moisture into the skin from the air. Regular use of manuka honey can give your skin a silky texture. No wonder so many commercial moisturizers have manuka honey as a key ingredient in them.
5. Delays Aging
Manuka honey is loaded with natural antioxidants (flavonoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, phenolic compounds, and so on), which protect our skin against damage. They also shield our skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. The hydrating qualities of manuka honey also minimize the signs of aging. Manuka honey also stimulates the production of collagen in the skin, which gives us young-looking skin.
How to Use Manuka Honey?
The unique properties of manuka honey make sure that it can be used as a do-it-all beauty product. It can work great as a cleanser, mask, spot treatment, and even a moisturizer. For these many reasons, beauty experts often regard manuka honey as the liquid gold of skincare products. So here is a list of a few easy ways to incorporate this magic ingredient into your daily skincare routine.
Unlike those commercial facial cleansers specially formulated for oily skin types that leave your skin feeling all stretched and dry, manuka honey gets rid of excess oil and buildup without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. The result is soft and clean skin. This is why it can even be used as a cleanser twice a day.
Method: Wet your face with lukewarm water and massage your face and neck with honey using your fingertips. Do it for at least two minutes. Next, wash your face clean with warm water as it will remove all the stickiness.
2. Face Mask
Manuka honey belongs to the rare one-ingredient mask category. You don’t need to mix it with any additional ingredients to make a soothing face pack. A single layer of manuka honey is enough to give a brightening glow to your skin.
Method: Wash your face well and pat dry. Apply a thick coat of manuka honey on the face and neck and leave for 20-minutes. Rinse it off and see the magic.
3. Spot Treatment
We have already discussed how manuka honey has excellent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help in reducing redness caused by zits and dries them up quickly.
Method: Dab a small amount of manuka honey on a pimple and leave it on to dry. Rinse it off with warm water after 15 minutes.
4. Scar Treatment
Beauty experts believe that manuka honey’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help nourish damaged skin and speed up the scar healing process. It may even give good results in fading stretch marks and skin discoloration. But it needs to be used in a disciplined manner over a considerable period of time.
Method: Take a quarter-size amount of manuka honey and massage directly to the affected area in circular motions. Wash away after a while.
5. Heals Minor Wounds
Manuka honey can also be used as a remedy for treating minor cuts, scars, and burns.
Method: Apply this magic gold directly to the affected area and leave for a few minutes. Rinse it off.
6. Relaxing Bath Oil
If you suffer from dry, itchy skin on the body, try a manuka honey-infused bath and thank us later. It will not only leave your skin feeling silky smooth but will also help you relax.
Method: Dissolve two spoons of manuka honey in a little warm water and use it as a body wash or bath soak.
7. Hair Conditioner
Manuka honey can work as a great nourishing conditioner for dry, unruly hair. In addition, its ability to attract and retain moisture makes it a favorite among women with damaged hair.
Method: Make a runny solution by adding half a cup of manuka honey in enough water. Apply this solution on damp hair after shampoo and leave for a while. Rinse with warm water. Enjoy soft, bouncy hair.
8. Hair Mask
Using a hair mask once a week is recommended for those with extra dry, frizzy hair as it not only adds moisture to your strands but also gives them plenty of bounce.
Method: Try banana, honey, and olive oil mask for the best results. Mix half a quarter of manuka honey with an equal amount of olive oil along with a ripe banana. Make a smooth paste in a blender and apply it to the hair and scalp. Leave it for 30 minutes and rinse off.
9. Lip Balm
By now, we know enough about Manuka honey’s magical moisturizing properties. So why not let those chapped lips also benefit from it?
Method: Apply the honey directly to lips and leave it for a while. Wash away.
10. Improves Digestion
When taken orally, manuka honey improves digestion and even heals sore throat. It can even prevent tooth decay.
Manuka honey also has a few side effects that one should keep in mind before giving it a try.
- Manuka honey is not recommended for people who are allergic to bees as it can cause an adverse allergic reaction.
- If you have diabetes, proceed with a word of caution when taking it orally. It can increase blood sugar if large quantities are consumed.
- Not recommended for infants under one year of age.
- Manuka honey should be avoided with certain chemotherapy drugs and a few other medicines.
- Lastly, if the stickiness of raw manuka honey doesn’t work for you, opt for cosmetic products made from it.
Manuka honey is a unique variety of honey derived from the Manuka plant in New Zealand and Australia. Manuka honey contains a unique ingredient – methylglyoxal (MGO) – which gives it its characteristic antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. It also helps in skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, heals wounds, and moisturizes the skin. This do-it-all beauty gold boasts of a long list of roles it can perform like that of a cleanser, mask, moisturizer, scar fader, or wound healer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When buying manuka honey for skin care use, what exactly to look for?
Before purchasing, look for a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating of 10 or more. As discussed earlier, this rating represents the strength of methylglyoxal present in manuka honey, which is a reflection of its antibacterial activity.
Does manuka honey look and taste different than regular honey?
Yes, manuka honey is much darker in color. As compared to regular honey, it has a very strong, earthy taste.
Can manuka honey treat a skin infection?
The use of manuka honey is only recommended for minor ailments. In any circumstances, we must not treat a skin infection on our own. Always consult a medical practitioner in such cases and ask for his advice if manuka honey can be used along with recommended medicines.
- “Manuka Honey” – webmd.com
- “Does manuka honey for acne work?” – medicalnewstoday.com
- “Health Benefits of Manuka Honey as an Essential Constituent for Tissue Regeneration” – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov