Honey is much more than a beloved, syrupy sweetener. Throughout history, this gift from honeybees has also been prized for its healing properties. The ancient Egyptians used it both to treat wounds
and as a topical ointment. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed honey for everything from sore throats and eye disease to baldness and scar prevention.
Naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, today honey is celebrated as both a superfood and a natural beauty secret. A moisturizing humectant with anti-inflammatory properties, this versatile ingredient also helps control breakouts, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, condition the hair and scalp, smooth the lips and soothe even the most sensitive skin.
“There are a number of reasons to use honey in skin care,” says Anthony Maxfield, owner of Honey Girl Organics in Haleiwa, Hawaii, and president of the Hawai’i Beekeepers' Association. “It has very strong antibiotic properties, stimulates collagen production and releases hydrogen peroxide, making it ideal to soothe and repair damaged skin while enhancing healthy skin.”
Today’s honey-based beauty products reflect a wide range of applications, with broad appeal to customers of all skin types. This natural moisturizer and antibacterial ingredient is featured in products such as face masks, hair treatments, skin creams, lip balms, facial cleansers and body wash. Honey is also taken as an ingestible supplement to provide both digestive and antiaging beauty benefits.
An Earth-Friendly Ingredient
Today’s cosmetics consumers value natural ingredients that are both effective and sustainable–and honey checks both boxes.
Bees create honey naturally to feed their colonies. The process starts with the collecting of flower nectar. Back at the hive, the bees break down the nectar into simple sugars. The mixture is then stored in the honeycomb and bees use their wings as fans to evaporate the excess liquid.
The result is more than enough nutritious honey to feed one colony. According to the National Honey Board, each hive produces up to 65 pounds of excess honey, which can then be harvested sustainably by beekeepers.
The color and flavor of honey depends on the source of the flower nectar. For example, the popular varietal Manuka honey–known for its antibacterial properties and strong flavor–comes from bees who collect nectar exclusively from Manuka tree blossoms, which are found in New Zealand and Australia.
Other factors, such as pesticides, can affect the quality of honey as well. “It is important to use organic honey in skin care because honey is concentrated flower nectar,” Maxfield says. “Certified organic ensures that the end user does not get a concentration of insecticides and artificial substances prevalent in nonorganic farming.”
Honey is prized for its longevity and stability, whereas some natural ingredients may spoil quickly. “Honey is one of nature’s best preservatives,” Maxfield says. “Three-thousand-year-old honey has been discovered in edible condition, so products containing honey may have a preservative edge.”
Of course, the best way to determine a product’s shelf-life is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. “How much honey is used and how it is combined with the other ingredients in the product will make the difference on its stability and shelf-life,” Maxfield says.
A Familiar Remedy
Whether you stock luxury honey-based lines packaged in rich golden tones or more whimsical options featuring yellow and black cartoon bees, it is easy to create an eye-catching themed display to draw your customers’ attention.
Another advantage to stocking honey-based products is that many customers will already be familiar with this ingredient’s naturally soothing qualities. A customer who routinely uses honey to calm an irritated throat, for example, will likely be open to trying a honey-based product to address a skin concern. Your staff should also introduce customers to the healing powers of other bee byproducts, such as royal jelly, propolis and beeswax, which also help nourish and repair the skin.
“All of these ingredients blended together are a powerful combination to nourish, heal, strengthen, soothe and hydrate–enhancing your skin’s natural glow,” Maxfield says.