Manuka honey for skin: what are the benefits and can it help acne?

Posted by for Skincare

If you have dry or sensitive skin, manuka honey could be a welcome addition to your skincare routine. Here, we quiz a skin expert about the benefits.

Manuka honey. While it’s often associated with sore throats, this powerful ingredient has a host of beneficial factors that make it ideal for more than just your medicine cabinet.

This special type of honey, which comes from New Zealand and Australia, is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, meaning it can heal and soothe skin. Add to that its ability to moisturise complexions while helping to combat free radical damage… and it’s a bit of skincare hero.

Here, we asked Emma Coleman, dermatology and aesthetic registered general nurse, everything we need to know about the ingredient that’s gathering a buzz in the skincare industry.

What is manuka honey?

“This is honey extracted from the hives of bees native to New Zealand and Australia, which pollinate manuka bushes (leptospermum scoparium). Unlike other types of honey, manuka is graded both by measuring its natural antibacterial benefits, known as the unique manuka factor (UMF), as well as its Methylglyoxal (MGO) levels, a naturally occurring organic compound known to protect against a number of pathogens.”

What are the benefits of manuka honey?

“It has a pH of three to five, making it acidic and giving the propensity to protect and heal the skin, prevent viruses taking hold and boosting our immunity.

“The benefits of manuka honey have been backed by many clinical trials; there is evidence to suggest that manuka interrupts bacterial cell division in the body, has anti-carcinogenic properties, reduces biofilm masses and has a protective effect on wounds, teeth and even sore throats, preventing infections and actively promoting healing, compared to normal types of honey.”

Can manuka honey help with acne?

“Although acne is almost always caused by hormonal fluctuations, the elevated (acidic) pH of manuka helps to maintain a healthy skin surface microflora/microbiome, which in turn can help to prevent spot formation.

“The highly antioxidant properties of manuka also help to fight inflammation, whilst its antimicrobial action will promote a healthy sebum production and secretion, both of which can affect acne. However, the evidence to support Manuka in acne treatment is inconclusive.”

Which skin types will benefit from products that contain manuka honey?

“There is evidence that manuka is able to inhibit the growth of Candida Albicans [yeast that causes fungal infections] and Staphylococcus Aureus [a type of bacterium] on skin’s surface and in wounds.

“We know that it promotes keratin activity and has high antioxidant content, important in new tissue formation, so manuka is definitely suitable for ageing skin exhibiting loss of elasticity, lines and wrinkles.

“For dry skins, manuka has potent humectant properties, meaning that it is able to seal in moisture. There is evidence that patients with active rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis all benefit from topical manuka honey application, too.”

Best manuka honey products, picked by the Stylist beauty team

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Main image: Brands / designed by Matt Phare

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