by Kathy White
Sumerian clay tablets recorded poetry about this golden elixir as long ago as 2000 B.C., and it was often used as a symbol for love in Egyptian poetry. Cakes made with it were offered as gifts to placate the gods of early Rome, Egypt and Greece, and ancient Greek physicians regarded the liquid as valuable medicine to help heal sunburns, blemishes, inflamed and sore throats, as well as scars and wounds. We’re talking about versatile, delicious honey, of course. But in addition to being the darling of poets, gods, bakers and healers the world over, honey also has a place in your beauty regimen. Suitable for all skin types and containing powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, honey makes an excellent skin cleanser, gentle exfoliant, moisturizer and more.
Pure, raw honey has more active phytonutrient antioxidants and enzymes than honey that’s been processed, and thus has the most beneficial effects. Unfortunately, much of the honey sold today has been heat-processed, which destroys many of the delicate enzymes. Even worse, some honey is adulterated with added glucose, molasses, corn syrup or other sugars. Determining if honey is pure or not isn’t always easy, and even some experts disagree on techniques. The range of viscosity, aroma and water content can vary from one kind of honey to another, which can make it nearly impossible to judge the purity from those factors alone. The best assurance is to purchase honey directly from a reliable local beekeeper. To check the quality of the honey you might have on hand, though, rub a drop of it between your fingers. If it feels sticky, it’s likely to have other ingredients added to it; pure honey doesn’t typically feel sticky. Or, try adding a spoonful of the honey to a half glass of water and stir. If it dissolves quickly and easily, it probably has other sugars added, because pure honey doesn’t dissolve easily in water.
Once you’re sure you have a quality honey supply, consider these tips for using it as a regular part of your skin care routine:
Honey Blemish Blaster
Use a cotton swab to apply a dab of honey to pimples at bedtime. Leave on overnight, and in the morning, rinse with warm water. Honey’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial powers help reduce redness and prevent infection.
Honey Lip Rescue
Apply a drop or two of honey directly to dry, chapped or cracked lips. The shine will fade after a minute or so, but the healing properties continue to work for hours. Reapply as needed and don’t worry about it feeling sticky—it won’t. Just remember not to lick your lips.
Honey Bath Soak
Mix 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey with hot water and add to hot bath water. Because the antioxidants in honey help repair skin cells, and honey is an excellent moisturizer and humectant (a substance that draws moisture deep into the skin), this soak will leave your skin feeling extra soft and silky.
Honey Face Mask
Avoiding the eye area, apply a thin layer of honey over damp skin using either a circular or tapping motion. Allow the mask to sit for 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse with warm water and pat dry. You’ll find that it rinses off easily—leaving your face feeling clean and amazingly soft and supple. This mask is especially beneficial to mature, sensitive or dry skin, and is gentle enough to use daily, if desired.