Honey face washes have had their fair share of popularity lately. And not only the DIY stuff but also skincare readily available in your local drugstore.
What is it about a honey face cleanser that appeals to so many people? And is it even a thing when it comes to actual results?
Well, I’ve had my struggle with acne for some time, and I’ve tried both DIY honey cleansers but also some of the best honey face washes formulated on the market.
In today’s post, I’ll cover:
- The benefits of honey for your skin – what are they, and are real or just your average TikTok myth?
- The difference between honey types, DIY washes, and store-bought products.
- The effects of honey on acne – what can you really expect?
- The best honey face wash products on the market that I’ve personally tried and can vouch for.
Let’s get to it.
Honey benefits for the skin
Honey in skincare is nothing new.
It’s been around for centuries as a helpful ingredient for a range of different skin conditions and concerns. In fact, legends have it that Cleopatra maintained her beauty with masks created with milk and honey.
All types of honey have an antibacterial compound called hydrogen peroxide, which enables it to help with healing and reducing infection – that’s a good thing if you have nasty pimples.
When it comes to honey benefits, there are plenty to share:
- Honey is a humectant that helps hold water in the skin and is therefore extremely moisturizing and hydrating. Well-hydrated skin heals faster and is more resilient.
- The antibacterial properties of honey help to control acne-causing bacteria which prevents pimples from appearing and decreases inflammation in your skin.
- Honey promotes healing and is very soothing to the skin. It has been used for centuries in treating wounds and burns. This makes it invaluable for healing active acne too, especially if inflamed and painful.
- Honey is rich in enzymes, minerals, and vitamins that boost the health of your skin. It’s an antioxidant that will protect your skin from environmental stressors.
All of this sounds just great, ain’t it?
Not so fast.
Have in mind that when you’re looking at an organic honey face wash, it’s important to understand two key factors – whether the honey is organic or manuka, and whether you’re using a wash-off product, such as a face cleanser, or a leave-on treatment (creams, masks, serums… you name it).
Let’s unpack these two to get a deeper understanding.
Organic honey vs. manuka honey
Essentially, manuka honey is different from your standard, organic honey.
It’s created by honey bees that feed off the manuka tree, which usually grows in New Zealand and Australia.
However, the important thing is this: it contains a specific and unique compound called dihydroxyacetone which converts into methylglyoxal – a powerful antibacterial compound.
As you already know, all honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which is also antibacterial.
However, with this extra compound, manuka honey becomes even more powerful in terms of antibacterial properties as it has both hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal.
Manuka honey is often used as a treatment for rosacea, eczema, and acne. It also offers additional benefits, like:
- A low pH – good for the skin barrier as it won’t irritate the skin;
- Antioxidants – reduce the risks of inflammation and protect the skin;
- Anti-aging benefits – manuka honey is superior in smoothing out fine lines and is considered to slow down signs of aging.
- Brightening effects – although not directly used as a skin-brightening solution, manuka honey is moisturizing and anti-inflammatory and protects against free radicals, which logically means that it is likely to have a brightening effect on the skin.
It’s important to know that all manuka honey products are legally required to have UMF labeling on them, representing the unique manuka factor in the product.
This labeling verifies the contents of the product and that it, in fact, does have manuka honey inside and is not just a marketing gimmick. This gives consumers peace of mind knowing that they get what they pay for.
Look out for the label, if you buy manuka honey-based products.
Wash-off cleansers vs leave-on products
Every cleanser that is washed away too quickly from the skin won’t be as effective as the cleansers that remain on the skin for longer.
That is a generalization that holds true for honey face washes.
The shorter the amount a product spends on your skin, the fewer benefits your skin gets from the honey.
This is especially valid for ingredients like honey, which are not super active and efficient when used as part of short contact therapy.
No matter the type of honey that is used in the cleanser, it won’t be as effective in the form of a wash-off product as it will be in the form of a cream or serum, or even a face mask that spends longer amounts of time on your skin.
Honey face wash benefits
Honey face washes have the same benefits (if not more) of honey as a skincare ingredient – anti-inflammatory, soothing, moisturizing, antioxidant, and more. If the product has additional beneficial ingredients, and most of them do, then you’ll enjoy the compounding effect from all of them.
If you do use a honey facial cleanser, although it won’t be as effective as a leave-on product, I recommend leaving it on the face for a couple of minutes before washing it off.
When it comes to DIY honey face wash, I don’t recommend using such a concoction.
Anything DIY is ineffective in comparison to a formulated product. That’s not just a marketing claim designed to sell you more products, it’s a scientific truth.
The fact is, our skin is an amazingly effective barrier that doesn’t let things penetrate too deeply. Skincare products are specifically formulated to enhance ingredient penetration and actually reach deeper into the skin, where the ingredient can have some positive effects.
On the contrary, DIY mixtures stay on top of the skin, never reaching the deeper layers. You can still see some instant results in terms of feeling your skin more moisturized, for example, but it’s nothing compared to what a well-formulated product can do, and the effect will quickly fade into non-existence.
Additionally, having pure natural products on your skin increases the chances of allergic reactions, contact dermatitis, and irritation. When the honey extract is used in skincare products, it’s stripped from all the bad players and only the positive compounds remain. If you use pure organic honey on your skin, you apply not only the beneficial compounds but also the irritating ones.
Does honey help with acne?
Honey has many benefits for people suffering from acne breakouts. This is because honey is antimicrobial and antifungal, and will decrease bad, acne-causing bacteria and microbes on the skin. Honey’s antibacterial properties come from its rich content of glucuronic acid. Glucuronic acid is later converted into glucose oxidase, which is, on the other hand, converted into hydrogen peroxide.
I mentioned hydrogen peroxide earlier, but I’d like to add that it functions similarly to benzoyl peroxide – the gold standard of acne-treating substances.
Honey is also rich in peptides, antioxidants, vitamin B, fatty acids, and amino acids, all of which soothe the skin and prevent post-acne signs, like redness and scarring.
It’s also healing, which promotes faster recovery.
Best honey face washes
Now that you’re aware of the basics, let’s dive into the best honey face wash products out there.
Farmacy Clean Bee Ultra Gentle Facial Cleanser
The first honey facial cleanser that I’d like to introduce you to is the Farmacy Clean Bee Ultra Gentle Facial Cleanser.
It’s in a package of 5 oz (150 ml) and is sold for around $30.
Although not the cheapest option on this list, it’s a bestseller that will last you a long time, while giving your skin all the honey benefits it can need. And more.
This is an oil cleanser that is super easy to apply in small amounts onto your face, spread evenly, and ensure that all the makeup, dirt, sunscreen (hopefully you’re using one), and other debris are washed off properly.
Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Water, Decyl Glucoside, Maltooligosyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Honey Extract, Propolis Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Curcumin, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Betaine, Sodium Pca, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Abies Sibirica Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Caramel, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Flavor (Aroma)*, Potassium Sorbate, Maltodextrin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Phytate, Propanediol, Linalool
Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and a special honey blend of three different honey-based ingredients (honey, propolis, and royal jelly) help the cleanser moisturize the skin while giving you all the honey goodness we’ve discussed at the beginning of the article.
This face wash has slight brightening effects thanks to the presence of skin-brightening ingredients like licorice root extract and turmeric extract, but don’t expect any significant changes – it’s a good support to an overall routine focused against hyperpigmentation.
The formula also boasts several antioxidants, whose benefits we’ve discussed before.
What we like:
- I love how hydrating this honey cleanser is, my skin never feels stripped of the good oils, yet it’s always super clean after using the product. This is an awesome cleanser for dry and sensitive folks.
- I was surprised by the lightweight consistency of the cleanser. Most oils make me feel congested – not this one. The product is light, spreads easily, and rinses away quickly, even if it contains honey, which most people assume to be sticky and messy to use. There’s no stickiness to this product.
- The product’s pH level is 5,6 – another sign that it’s suitable for all skin types and won’t irritate you.
- I tried using the cleanser both in my morning and evening routine and I was satisfied with the results. You can safely use it as a main cleanser without any worries. It’s also great as a first-step cleanser if you have oily skin but wear makeup and sunscreen – use this first, then follow up with a foaming gel.
What to have in mind:
- The product does have a strong syrupy scent, which I personally didn’t enjoy.
- If you’re looking to get rid of waterproof makeup, you will need to apply this twice or use another oil-based product beforehand – I found that this doesn’t remove waterproof makeup that well.
Some By Mi Propolis B5 Glow Barrier Calming Oil To Foam
I’m usually not a fan of Some By Mi products – they always seem like something better suited for teenagers. The Some By Mi Propolis B5 Glow Barrier Calming Oil To Foam is an exception, I think.
It comes in a plastic bottle of 4.5 oz (120 ml) and sells for around $20.
It has a gelly-oil consistency, with some viscosity – really pleasant to apply and doesn’t run down your arms like many other oil washes. It has a lovely honey scent to it but nothing overpowering.
This one melts makeup like a charm, really lovely! But let’s look under the lid.
Water, Propolis Extract(11.4 %), Coco-Betaine, Glycerin, Honey Extract, Potassium Cocoate, Canola Oil, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate, Acrylates Copolymer, Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Sodium Chloride, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol(1,000 Ppm), Honey, Royal Jelly Extract, Ceramide NP, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Artemisia Capillaris Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Centella Asiatica Oil, Asiatic Acid, Asiaticoside, Madecassic Acid, Madecassoside, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Saponaria Officinalis Leaf Extract, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Glycolipids, Phytosphingosine, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Potassium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Oat Protein, Babassuamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside, Potassium Stearate, Potassium Myristate, Tromethamine, Sodium Surfactin, Glyceryl Laurate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Erythritol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Pentylene Glycol, Ci 17200, Ci 19140, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance
This cleanser has a disclosed amount of propolis extract – 11.4% – a practice I’d love to see from more brands going forward. It’s nice to know that you get a significant amount of the beneficial ingredient and it’s not just included in small amounts for marketing purposes.
There’s also honey extract, honey, and royal jelly to further boost those benefits that we now know honey has. This rounds up the formulation well.
There are a bunch of other antioxidants, such as grape seed oil, Centella Asiatica extract, madecassoside, willow bark extract, and many more. We’ve already established that antioxidants play a huge role in protecting the skin from harmful external factors.
We also see many soothing and antibacterial ingredients. The whole INCI list, is, in fact, chock-full of skin-loving goodies. I suggest you spend the time to read more about each one, as I won’t be going into too much detail here, or else I risk boring out those of you with shorter attention spans.
What we like:
- Perhaps one of the things that I enjoyed most was the user experience. Not only the gentle honey scent but also seeing the product transform from oil to foam is very satisfying. It’s very gentle and hydrating at first but also cleanses super well once it turns into foam. It fully removes any kind of makeup, including waterproof. I would say that it’s great for oily skin, especially if you suffer from acne too.
- The consistency really feels, looks, and smells like honey, but it’s more lightweight and gel-like. My skin didn’t feel sticky or yucky after cleansing off the product. It also didn’t completely strip my skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
- This honey face cleanser didn’t sting my eyes, I was able to emulsify it without any irritation.
What to have in mind:
I don’t have anything for this section, the cleanser performed great, in my opinion. The only consideration can be the scent and the plant extracts in the formula – these can be of concern to folks with hypersensitive skin.
Era Organics Moisturizing Honey Face Wash For Sensitive Skin
The Era Organics Moisturizing Honey Face Wash For Sensitive Skin is the only honey face wash with manuka honey that I feature in this article.
You can get it in a bottle of 8 oz (236 ml) for around $30 – slightly more expensive than the others on the list but definitely worth every cent. I explain below why.
In short, it’s a very mild, gentle facial cleanser that will clean your skin of debris without irritating it. It’s soap-free, so it doesn’t foam very much and people with itchy skin have reported that they don’t experience any excessive dryness and itching with this one.
I would say that it’s the perfect choice for those of you with more sensitive skin. Nothing is irritating about the formula and it’s fragrance-free. It has a pH balance of 5,5 – the same as our skin.
It’s often used as a support during treatments for skin conditions like dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, and others.
Organic Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerine (Vegetable Derived), Polysorbate 80, Leptospermum Scoparium (Manuka Honey), Tocopheryl Acetate, Centipeda Cunninghamii (Cehami), Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tapioca Starch, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Nonanol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide
At a first glance, we see a minimalistic ingredient list – a sure sign that something is designed with sensitive skin in mind.
This face wash is unique from the list as it contains manuka honey – the more potent honey version of everything available out there. In short, it offers nearly twice the antibacterial properties of standard, organic honey. Although the amount is not disclosed, the ingredient is located at the top part of the INCI list, from which we can conclude that it’s in a higher (or at least meaningful) concentration.
The ingredients rest in a base of organic aloe gel, which is refreshing compared to most products which are made mainly of water. Aloe is super soothing and helps the skin heal, and to avoid irritation in the first place.
What we like:
- Compared to the other honey face washes mentioned in this article, this is the most simplistic product when it comes to ingredients. I certainly prefer more straightforward products when it comes to sensitive and sensitized skin, as there are fewer risks of drying, irritation, and stipping off your skin. My skin is generally not that sensitive, but when I go overboard with exfoliation and other treatments, this is the product I turn to to help me restore my skin’s health.
- There are no stinging or burning sensations when using this honey face wash. No irritation, no dryness. No irritants in the formula.
- The face wash performs well in terms of cleaning your face. It clears makeup and sunscreen effectively.
What to have in mind:
- It has a slightly sticky feeling when using this wash. I personally don’t mind that, as I wash it off my skin in a few minutes, but it’s worth noting the fact.
- I wouldn’t say that this will clear all traces of waterproof and heavy makeup, you’ll need an oil-based cleanser as a first-step wash.
If you’ve tried any of the above-mentioned cleansers, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
And if you use DIY honey face washes, definitely drop me a line to let me know how it worked for you – I would love to enrich my worldview with other perspectives.
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