Honey—manuka in particular—could it be the holy grail of skincare?
It can be a mask, a cleanser, and antiseptic spot treatment.
However you want to use it, please do, because we at the NC are convinced it’s a wonder drug.
The smart bees forage on the tea tee bush for nectar (well known for its antiseptic zip zapping properties) and become flying acne hero’s.
The honey is enhanced with tea tree’s antimicrobial abilities – Another reason to save the bees.
Which is why we endorse slathering it on your face immediately, and not just when you’re dealing with irritation or fixing breakouts.
The wonderful benefits of wild honey
So what is the fuss with this sticky, sweet stuff?
Well, honey’s superpower is its antimicrobial properties, that fight infection and help skin cells to repair and rejuvenate, allowing the tissue to heal effectively.
Have you ever noticed how honey never grows mould or goes off, even if it has been buried away in the back of your cupboard for years?
This is the side-effect of its slightly acidic, antimicrobial properties – enzymes in honey release the natural acne-bacteria-blasters: flavonoids, phenolic acid and hydrogen peroxide which makes it clarifying on the skin.
Wild manuka honey and its UMF rating
The therapeutic properties of wild manuka honey are well established.
It is used for wound healing and its antibacterial activity active against both Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
In order to understand how the antibacterial activity of honey products are graded, we have to get a bit technical.
The antibacterial nature is associated with hydrogen peroxide which is standardised in terms of what is referred to as phenol concentration equivalent – this is expressed as the unique manuka factor value (UMF) as implemented by the Active Manuka Honey Association.
The number that follows the trademark UMF is equal to the concentration of phenol used:
- Manuka honey that has a rating of UMF 10 is equal to a 10% dilution of phenol
- A UMF 20 rating is equivalent to a 20% dilution of phenol, making it twice as strong
The antibacterial properties work after the hydrogen peroxide disappears – referred to as non-peroxide activity, this is what makes manuka honey much more potent than other types of honey.
The high potency of wild manuka honey is often used for the treatment of MRSA – infected wounds. Honey that has a UMF 5 or below is not considered effective enough to treat MRSA.
Topical benefits of Manuka honey
Manuka honey is certainly a miracle cure for the skin in our opinion, here are some more wonderful healing benefits:
Antimicrobial: Honey prohibits the growth of certain bacteria.
Its antimicrobial properties are due to its enzymatic structure, which releases Hydrogen Peroxide; a compound that retards the growth of bacteria.
Wild Honey also contains Gluconic Acid, which behaves as a chelating agent; it binds together with metal agents, helping to keep skincare formulae free from microbes.
Antiseptic: New Zealand native Manuka honey has been found to be effective against a range of bacteria, including those that cause infected wounds, stomach ulcers and sore throats to name but a few.
The efficacy and benefits of Manuka honey’s powerful antibacterial properties have been reaffirmed in tests conducted by the University School in Sydney of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences.
What was found is that manuka honey attacked and killed every strain of bacteria it was tested against, this also included the antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”, some of which are flesh-eating, MRSA.
What is also super interesting, is that the research revealed that the bacteria were unable to develop any kind of resistance to the honey, in the way that this bacteria usually can with general antibiotics.
Antioxidant: It offers up a hefty serving of antioxidants that accelerate healing of the skin. One of the components of honey is Glucose Oxidase, which produces Hydrogen Peroxide as discussed above. This actually works in a similar way to antioxidants, naturally helping to mop up free radicals.
Honey also contains Polyphenol Ferulic Acid, which has amazing oxidising properties, helping to prevent premature ageing.
Antiinflammatory: Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid with skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis.
A 2017 study on honey sourced from the stingless bee, found that the raw honey has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. More studies support this finding, that most honey varieties available, have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Balancing: The pH for honey falls somewhere between 3.5 and 6.0, making it fairly acidic.
Humectant: Honey is often referred to as a humectant, which is considered a valuable ingredient in skincare, this is due to its unique ability to draw water from the atmosphere.
Humectants literally attract moisture to the skin’s tissues, helping to keep the skin hydrated for longer, locking moisture onto the skin’s surface preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
Moisturising: Wild Honey naturally absorbs moisture from the air; it then locks this moisture in the skin’s tissues, helping to keep our skin soft and supple.
Wound healing: Honey really is nature’s antioxidant, and when it is applied topically on the skin, it helps to reduce oxidative stress from free radicals, healing damaged tissue and reversing some of the damage done by premature ageing. Additionally, the presence of the honey helps to keep exposed wounds moist, which in turn helps to promote skin healing, literally speeding up the process.
The naked truth
As you can see wild manuka honey has some really valuable properties, supporting the skin’s natural immunity, reinforcing the skin’s protective barrier function, encouraging wound healing and helping to protect skin from damage carried out by environmental factors which can lead to early signs of ageing.
With so many healing properties to be found in this amazing ingredient, it makes sense that we include it in a number of our formulas such as Nectar Treatment Balm. A unique multi-tasking balm, designed to deliver penetrating healing and repairing nourishment to cuts, burns, cracked heels and inflamed skin.