If there’s one natural ingredient to stock on your beauty shelf, it is honey. You can find the bee sap in anything from a hair mask, face wash, even an all-natural moisturizer—is there nothing the golden goop can’t do?
Consider honey the ultimate DIY superstar, one that you can add to virtually any treatment. But let’s start with the simplest out there: a single-ingredient honey face mask. Easy to make, and the benefits are just as sweet.
What is Honey?
Honey has centuries-long credibility as a respected ingredient beyond kitchen use. Chief among the benefits is the antimicrobial activity of many honey varieties—it kills bacteria living on the skin. This effect probably explains how honey came to be used traditionally as a wound-healing agent in many different cultures. The sweet substance is produced by plant matter, enzyme activity, and live bacteria. According to these research scientists Howe and Marisa Plescia, what honey contains will depend in large part on what plant source the bees who are making it are using.
Honey is what’s called a natural humectant (draws moisture into the skin). If your skin needs a hydrating boost, this is the perfect ingredient. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and acts as an anti-viral/anti-fungal.
Benefits of Honey for Skin
As Shamban describes, it is full of flavonoids, hydrogen peroxide, and phenolic acid dermal benefits. Raw, unpasteurized honey is one of Mother Nature’s power players you want to have on your A-team to get the job done when needed.
- Cleanses pores: good news: Honey is naturally antibacterial, one of the reasons it makes for a great face wash. Remove dirt and debris with nothing more than a little raw honey—just add water.
- Treat Acne: You can use honey as a cleanser to help prevent certain types of breakouts because of its anti-fungal properties. For a more potent effect, honey can be left on breakouts to help them heal faster.
- Exfoliate Skin: Honey on its works better as a cleanser as opposed to an exfoliator because of its smooth consistency. You generally won’t find honey, even in its purest form, to be particularly granular.
- Fade Scars: Honey contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide. This might give it mild lightning properties, which is particularly helpful when it comes to resolving pesky post-acne marks and hyperpigmentation.
- Hydrates Skin: Honey draws moisture into the skin from the air. Applying honey on the face is a great way to keep your skin hydrated, glowing, fresh, and supple at all times.
- Helps Skin Conditions: Howe shares, “One researcher has shown it to treat seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.” Raw honey can also soothe eczema.
How to make a honey face mask
A honey face mask is as simple as it sounds: Snag some raw/unfiltered honey from your favorite grocery store, and you’ve got yourself a spa-grade mask in a snap. Using honey by itself is an effective skin clearing, nourishing, and revitalizing treatment. That’s because honey, especially of the Manuka variety, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that calm the skin and keep breakouts at bay.
With all the benefits honey has to offer, no surprise you can invest in a jar of the straight-up goop and slather on. Here’s how to do it right:
- Apply an even layer of raw/unfiltered or Manuka honey on damp skin after your face wash routine.
- Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with cold water. It rinses off much more easily than you might expect! It’s hardly sticky at all when you add water.
- After rinsing, apply warm water to face towel and gently dap the hot face towel on face for a minute. Then, follow with a cream or oil to seal in the moisture.
Primp Tip: If you have a blemish you’d like to nix, try dabbing a little raw honey directly on as a spot treatment. “It can be particularly beneficial for acne or blemish-prone skin. There have been clinical studies proving positive results both in lessening size and duration of blemishes,” says Shamban.
In terms of how often you should mask, we recommend sticking to a couple of times per week. While it certainly won’t hurt to slather on every single day, it’s not necessary to reap all the benefits mentioned above. Just 20 minutes 2x a week is plenty: It will still provide all those skin-boosting benefits.
With that being said, it’s also not necessary to leave the treatment on overnight; while you certainly can if you feel so inclined, know that you’re not providing your skin with any extra benefits. Remember, honey is thick and has a sticky texture so that might be messy when you wake up unless you’re able to sleep on your back through the night.
4 honey face masks for clear, glowing skin
Sure, a honey face mask is a simple, one-ingredient mask, but that’s not to say you can’t include some add-ons if you’re feeling fancy. Here are four ways to upgrade your honey mask, for any skincare concern you’ve got:
- Brightening turmeric, honey, and lemon mask
Turmeric and lemon are amazing for skin-brightening: Turmeric (and its active ingredient, curcumin) has antioxidant properties that can help protect the skin from free-radical damage, while lemon has a fair share of vitamin C—perfect for fading dark spots.
To make this mask, combine 1 tbsp. of raw or Manuka honey, 1 tsp. of ground turmeric, and ½ tsp. of lemon juice. Slather on and leave for 10 minutes or until the mask starts to harden, then wash off with warm water.
- Moisturizing honey and olive oil mask
This nourishing mask feels downright luxurious: Adding a natural oil to your honey mask can not only help with the stickiness and application of the honey, but natural oils are emollients that contain high levels of fatty acids, which moisturize and soothe the skin. The result? A lightweight mask chock-full of skin-healthy antioxidants. Feel free to choose any oil here (coconut, jojoba, argan—the list goes on.) We use olive oil because olive oil work wonders on dry skin and contains many antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Simply mix the two until combined, then leave on for 20 minutes.
- Exfoliating yogurt and honey mask
Yogurt is jam-packed with lactic acid—a sensitive-skin-approved chemical exfoliator—which gently sloughs dead skin cells with ease. When you add honey to the mix, it becomes even more gentle and hydrating: Simply combine 1 tbsp. of finely ground oatmeal, 1 tsp. of raw or Manuka honey, and 1 tsp. of full-fat dairy or nondairy yogurt. Stir until it forms a paste, then slather on and leave for 15 minutes.
- Skin-soothing mint, honey, and aloe mask
If you’re looking for a fun, summery option reminiscent of a poolside cocktail, this refreshing mask is practically screaming your name. Both aloe and rosewater are great skin-soothing and -balancing ingredients, bound to tame any inflammation you’ve got (it feels especially lovely post-sun). Try this mixture during your next impromptu spa night: Mash 2 to 4 mint leaves, and mix with 2 parts honey, 2 parts aloe gel, and a few sprays of rosewater. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
With all the skin-health benefits the goop has to offer, no surprise honey reigns supreme as a DIY-friendly ingredient. Of course, remember to do a patch test before applying honey to your face, especially if you’re new to DIY: Even if you consume honey all the time, your skin might have an unexpected reaction to it as a topical treatment. If you have any bee or pollen allergies, you may want to steer clear entirely, as raw honey might contain trace amounts of bee pollen or other tree pollens.
Other than that, feel free to slather on the star of DIY. A single jar of honey can have you glowing in no time.
BeautyLeeBar takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.