Today’s guest post comes to us from Sally Pope, co-founder of Queen City Bee Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio and expert on all things sweet (herself included!).
If you’ve only ever known honey as something tasty to spread on your morning toast or sweeten your tea, you’re in for a real treat. Honey is the newest weapon in your beauty arsenal.
Honey is one of the most fascinating beauty products out there today. It has been used for cosmetic purposes for thousands of years all over the world, a testament to the effectiveness of the product and satisfaction of its devoted fans. It’s one of the most unique beauty products in that…
- it is completely natural,
- it can be used externally to promote healthy looking skin and hair, and
- it can be ingested to improve health and vitality from the inside out.
A Little Bit of History
I think one of the most interesting things about honey is its history. Honey has been used for centuries, centuries, as the go-to product for moisturizing skin, hair and lips; treating acne; and smoothing wrinkles.
Legendary beauty icons and two of Ancient Egypt’s most powerful women, Cleopatra and Nefertiti, were devoted fans of using honey in their beauty regimes (does Cleopatra’s famous milk and honey bath ring a bell?). Accounts from the Ming Dynasty in China describe the women of the emperor’s court using a mixture of honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin smooth and blemish-free.
Honey also has a long history of cosmetic and medicinal uses in Ayurvedic medicine. Queen Anne of England was reportedly a fan of honey as a hair conditioner. Historical texts, including the Bible, identify honey as being used cosmetically by the Romans, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egyptians, and in France and England, just to name a few.
A Crash Course on Honey
You probably already know that honey comes from our striped friends the honeybees, but you may not know how these little guys turn flower water into the sticky liquid we know and love. It is no small feat for those little honeybees to produce honey. It takes 556 worker bees flying the equivalent of 3 times around the world to produce 1 pound of honey. Phew! Respect.
In a nutshell, honey is the nectar of flowers that gets “processed” by honeybees in the bee hive. Honeybees drink the nectar of a flower, storing it in their honey stomachs for the flight back to the hive. Once in the hive, the bees repeatedly blow bubbles with the nectar.
The nectar is then placed into the hexagonal honeycomb cells where the bees will fan the cells with their wings to complete the dehydration of the honey. Once the honey reaches the right consistency voila! It is capped with wax and stored for a rainy day. Delicious raw honey.
Honey is one of the best products you can eat to promote health and beauty. The secret to this golden liquid’s potency lies in its impressive laundry list of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that it packs. Honey has:
- Vitamins B1, B2, B4, B5, B6, B11, C, E, K
- Minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc
- A variety of antioxidants, the largest group being flavonoids
- 18 free amino acids
It’s pretty impressive just how many healthy nutrients are packed into this one liquid. All of these amazing nutrients, plus a high carbohydrate content, make honey an excellent source of energy for athletes! Honey is also the ultimate aging and illness buster because it is:
Honey’s Beauty Secrets
So, what makes honey a great beauty product? Well, a few things actually. As I mentioned above, honey is antimicrobial due to its high sugar content, which inhibits the growth of bacteria (which is one of the reasons why honey, when stored properly, can pretty much last forever). This makes honey great for treating acne.
Second, honey is a natural humectant, meaning that it draws in moisture and keeps it there, which is why you’ve probably seen a lot of skin and maybe even some hair products boasting honey as a key ingredient. It’s super moisturizing. It’s also great for all skin types, so whether you’re dry, oily, or have sensitive skin, honey will work for you!
6 Sweet Honey Recipes to Try at Home
I’ve gathered a few honey beauty recipes that you can make at home. I chose ones that are super easy to make and don’t require super expensive or hard to find ingredients. Most of the ingredients you can probably find right in your kitchen. The best thing about these recipes is that they are all natural, edible, AND crazy tasty (I know, I’ve tasted them all)!
Cleopatra’s Milk and Honey Moisturizing Mask
This one pays homage to our girl Cleopatra by adapting her famous moisturizing milk and honey bath for your face. If winter is drying out your skin, this is a good one for restoring moisture. It will make your face feel like a baby’s bottom. Honey’s antimicrobial properties fight acne and help hydrate the skin, while the lactic acid (a natural alpha hydroxy acid) found in Greek yogurt helps fighting lines and wrinkles and reduce the signs of aging by removing dead skin cells.
Warning! You may want to eat this one (and you totally can).
- 1 part Honey
- 2 parts plain Greek yogurt
Easy: mix the two ingredients together and apply to your face for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
The Redness Reducer
This is a good one for women with acne scars or dark spots. The honey helps to heal the skin (and will help fight any blemishes you may have) while the lemon juice fades sun damage spots or scars on the skin. The cinnamon or nutmeg, whichever you use, also really warms up the face, making it a really invigorating mask for the skin. Some may find the warming sensation uncomfortable. You really do get used to it, but if it’s too intense for you, just remove the mask whenever you’re ready; you will still receive benefits.
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg
- Few drops of fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients together and slather on your face. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and rinse with warm water. For best results in fading, do this mask regularly once a week for as long as needed.
Honey Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub
This scrumptious smelling scrub is dual purpose. The honey and oil will moisturize your skin while the sugar granules slough away dead skin cells.
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons oil of your choice (coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil)
- ¾ cup brown or turbinado sugar
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or 2-3 drops of an essential oil of your choice) – optional
It’s easiest to mix all the ingredients together if the oil and honey are in liquid form. In colder temperatures honey tends to firm up and coconut oil can solidify. Heating can fix this, so throw one or both of the ingredients in a small pot and heat on low until liquid. DO NOT heat the sugar though, you want it to retain its granular texture so it can scrub. Combine all ingredients together in a small jar or pot and scrub away!
Tip: Shave before you use the scrub. The oil stays on your body, moisturizing your skin which is great! But a clogged razor is not, so shave first.
Super Moisturizing Hair Conditioner
This recipe is a keeper and it’s from the National Honey Board, the experts on all things honey. If your locks are feeling the harsh drying effects of winter, or you just happen to have dry hair, the honey and the oil combination will provide the moisture you need.
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup olive oil (or other natural oil) for dry hair or 2 Tbsp. for normal hair
Combine the honey and oil and apply to hair a little at a time until coated. Cover it with a shower cap and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse, shampoo, condition, and dry as normal.
Cleopatra’s Milk and Honey Bath (For Sore Muscles)
We did the face mask, so we might as well go for the whole darn thing… Enjoy the moisturizing benefits of the milk and honey on your skin while soothing sore muscles!
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup Epsom salt
- Rosewater (or if you’re feeling fancy, throw in some rose petals) – optional
While the tub is filling, warm the honey and milk together in a pot over low heat until well mixed. Pour into your bath with the Epsom salt, sprinkle in rose petals (or add rosewater).
Honey Simple Syrup
And last, but not least, a super easy recipe to up your honey intake so you can enjoy your honey beauty benefits inside as well as outside! I came up with this one when I was playing around with an idea for a party cocktail for the 4th of July. I used it to make a honey and green tea mojito that was a hit!
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup water
In a pot, combine the honey and water on low heat, stirring occasionally until the two ingredients are combined. Store in a bottle or jar in the fridge.
This is a great way to have your honey ready in an easy to mix liquid form that you can use in hot or cold tea or coffee, with warm water and lemon in the morning for a nice detoxifying wake up call, or (and this is one of my personal favorites) to spice up cocktails! Substitute it for regular simple syrup in any cocktail recipe (like mojitos!) or mix it with something straight, like bourbon. It’s a sneaky way to get a little added health benefit from your libations. 🙂
Sally is a pole dancing, public health specializing, beekeeper from Florida who came to Cincinnati in 2012. Sally and her partner recently started a bee company, Queen City Bee Co., where they sell honeybee products (honey and bee pollen) and offer beekeeping courses while promoting the sustainable growth of honeybee colonies. You can find more information on Queen City Bee Co. on their website at http://www.queencitybeeco.com/ or on their Queen City Bee Co. official Facebook page. Sally joined Bella Forza Fitness in 2013, where she got completely hooked on Pole Fitness and hasn’t looked back since.