Jayme Otto

August 27, 2009

3 Min Read
Beauty and the bees

Women have used honey to sweeten their beauty routines for centuries: Cleopatra bathed in milk and honey to augment her youthful allure, and Queen Anne of England layered her locks with honey and oil to keep them lustrous and thick. Discover how ingredients from the hive can work for you.


One of nature’s most delicious natural sweeteners, honey is equally versatile as a healing agent. “Honey displays antimicrobial properties and helps to retain moisture, making it appealing for many skin types,” says Christopher Watt, a licensed esthetician and owner of Christopher Watt Esthetics in West Hollywood. For this reason, Watt recommends washing acne-prone skin with a honey-based cleanser twice weekly.

Honey is particularly effective on dry skin and hair, according to Frederique Keller, LAc, MH, president of the American Apitherapy Society, a New York-based organization that promotes bee products for natural healing. “Honey is hydrophilic, meaning it’s a natural humectant that attracts and retains skin’s moisture,” says Keller. Plus, it’s a natural preservative. “It doesn’t spoil or require synthetic preservatives, which are skin irritants at best, carcinogens at worst,” says Keller.

Try it in >>Kiss My Face Olive & Honey Bar Soap, Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo

Royal jelly

Worker bees secrete fatty acid-rich royal jelly from hypopharyngeal glands and feed it to larvae. The jelly is creamier and more like a serum than thick honey, according to Keller. Besides adding a decadent texture to products, royal jelly promotes cellular rejuvenation, making skin brighter and firmer. A study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology found that royal jelly contains soothing pantothenic acid. This B vitamin is vital for the body’s stress-response system and overall adrenal gland function, which promote clear, healthy skin. Like honey, royal jelly also fights viruses, inflammation, and aging with its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it a great remedy for redness due to hives, psoriasis, and eczema.

Stella Metsovas, CN, a nutritionist in California, recommends royal jelly for keeping skin looking youthful. “It’s a nutrient powerhouse,” she says. Metsovas, who has studied foods’ chemical properties for 15 years, says royal jelly may also balance hormones. For menopausal women, it can enhance skin’s appearance. It can also reduce or eliminate breakouts.

Try it in >>Dr. Hauschka Rhythmic Night Skin Conditioner, EO Hydrating Chamomile & Honey Shampoo and Conditioner, Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream


Worker bees secrete wax that contains traces of honey and royal jelly from glands on the sides of their bodies. “Beeswax has the same antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties as honey and royal jelly, but to a lesser degree,” explains Keller.

Bees use wax to safeguard and seal honey in the honeycomb. In beauty products, beeswax holds ingredients together and thickens them. As an emulsifier, it is a stellar stand-in for petrolatum, a potentially toxic and nonrenewable petroleum-based chemical used in cosmetics. “Beeswax is completely nontoxic, and it’s the most sustainable of the hive products because bees constantly produce it,” says Keller.

The Mayo Clinic ranks beeswax among the most effective ingredients in lip protection because it forms a protective barrier between your skin and the environment. It’s also a key ingredient in natural waterproof sun block because of its water-repellant hydrophobic properties.

Try it in >>Alba Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly, Burt’s Bees Sun Protecting Lip Balm SPF 8, Weleda Skin Food

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