Washing Your Face with Raw Honey

If you have sensitive skin like me, you may have disliked every face wash you have ever tried. They are either too drying and leave the skin on your face feeling stretched taut; or they are too harsh and leave your skin red and irritated; or they leave residue that you can’t seem to get off unless you use yet another facial cleanser. Or, you may be concerned about the chemicals and want to reduce your exposure to possible toxins that can cause long-term damage to your body.

I wasn’t using anything but water to wash my face because I was afraid of causing an allergic reaction (see my “Naked” Face post,)  but I started washing my face with raw organic honey a few weeks ago when my skin was feeling “icky.” I first got the idea to do so when I saw other facial cleansers advertising honey as the magical ingredient in the product that “pulls dirt out of your pores.” Instead of purchasing an expensive facial cleanser that only contained a small percentage of honey, I thought I would do some research to see if others had success using just pure honey as a face wash. It seems that a few other bloggers had tried honey face washes with success so I gave it a go.

I was pleasantly surprised with how perfect honey acts as a face wash. It’s gentle and creamy but it also “tugs” and gently exfoliates. Then, it washes off extremely easily with water (since it dissolves quickly in water,) and leaves your face feeling clean, supple, and almost moisturized–never dry (I say almost moisturized because you still have to use a moisturizer–I use 100% organic Argan Oil.) Before trying honey as a face wash, I was afraid that the honey would get “stuck” on your face and it would impossible to rinse it off. I found the opposite to be true–honey washes off very easily, except if you accidentally got it into your hairline; then you should just shampoo your entire head to remove it.

If you want to give this honey wash a try, read on for tips on which kinds of honey and do-it-yourself tricks.

  1. Use raw, organic honey. This ensures you are getting the purest form and that all the living enzymes are preserved. When compared to most facial cleansers, raw honey is no more expensive than buying a comparably sized tube of face wash and it lasts for the same amount of time because you are using roughly the same amount with each wash. 100% raw, organic Mexican honey is $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar at Trader Joe’s. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of it and rub it in circular motions all over your face (do not wet your face first.) The honey’s natural stickiness exfoliates your skin. This won’t remove makeup but it will remove oil.
  2. Use raw organic Manuka honey if you have the budget for it. Manuka honey is produced by bees in New Zealand that pollinate the manuka bush (more commonly known to us as tea tree.) Similarly to tea tree oil, Manuka honey has antimicrobial properties and a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 10+ is considered potent enough for medicinal uses. Healthcare professionals may recommend medical-grade Manuka honey to treat wounds. For use as a face wash, I have found that regular 10+ Manuka honey works great. Manuka honey smells less sweet and has an earthy tea tree oil smell. It doesn’t taste as good as regular honey so I recommend that you use Manuka honey exclusively for washing your face. The best price I have found for Manuka honey is also at Trader Joe’s: $10.99 for an 8.8-ounce jar of 10+ UMF ($1.25/oz.) However, I learned today that this product is seasonal and as of early March, it is out of stock until the next North American winter (New Zealand’s summer.)
    Amazon.com carries 100% Organic Manuka Honey Active 16+ by Wedderspoon year-round. This is the same brand that Whole Foods carries so you can do a quick price comparison between your local Whole Foods Market and Amazon.com to find the best price. I have found the price differential between Wedderspoon’s 16+ and 12+ to be negligible so I prefer the 16+ due its higher concentration of methylglyoxal, the antimicrobial compound specific to Manuka Honey.
    For reference, a Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey Active 12+, 8.8-ounce Jar costs $23.99, (which breaks down to $2.73/ounce,) compared to $24.99 for Wedderspoon Organic – 100% Raw Manuka Honey, active 16+, 8.8 oz honey ($2.84/ounce.) I still go for the much cheaper Trader Joe’s Manuka honey when it is in stock.
  3. Mix in baking soda for extra exfoliation. If you like the feeling of an apricot or bead scrub on your face, you should add baking soda to your honey to help remove blackheads and whiteheads. I like the scrub to feel “extra grainy” so I mix 1 part baking soda and 1 part honey, which leaves my face feeling more polished than if I used honey only alone. Do not mix a big batch at of baking soda and honey. I did that and the baking soda reacts with honey, turning the mixture into odd-smelling foamy gunk that probably is not harmful to put on your face, but also isn’t as pleasant as smooth and creamy honey. Mix 1 teaspoon of each together right before you are going to put it on your face for the best results. I find that the baking soda honey scrub does an excellent job of cleaning and removes more oil than honey alone. However, I usually follow up with a Manuka honey mask after the scrub to bring a little bit of moisture back to my skin since honey is a humectant.

Check out this Women’s Health article to see their recommendations for using honey as a facial cleanser too and let me know what you think if you try it yourself!