Winter is here and for many of us, that means cold weather and dry, itchy skin. If this is you, know that you’re not alone. When I moved to New York City three years ago, my skin was hopelessly dry and inflamed all winter long.
That is, until I discovered Manuka honey.
The suggestion came from integrative dermatologist Cybele Fishman, M.D., and at first, I thought she was exaggerating what it could do.
Honey is sticky, sweet, and anyone with sensitive skin might assume it would be pore-clogging and irritating. That’s what I thought, at least. And then there’s the even more obvious question: How do you get it off without turning your bathroom into a sticky mess?
But as it turns out, honey is just what my skin needed.
The Benefits of Manuka Honey
You may have noticed the word “Manuka” above. And that’s important, because Dr. Fishman wasn’t talking about just any honey you find in the grocery store. Manuka honey is a specific type of honey from New Zealand, made from bees that pollinate a specific type of plant, called the Manuka bush.
Manuka honey has strong antibacterial properties, which is what makes it great for your skin. Studies have shown that it displays “pronounced effects” against certain types of bacteria and it’s even used in some hospitals to promote wound healing. It was even approved by the USFDA as a wound treatment. As you can guess, these properties make it an ideal choice for both preventing acne caused by bacteria and promoting healing from pimples that have already arrived.
Manuka honey is chock full of antioxidants and has a very different texture than normal honey. In fact, it feels more like icing and comes off easily with warm water.
The Hydrating Powers of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey also demonstrates potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, it’s also been tested as a complementary therapy for various inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. When I first tried Manuka honey, I was worried it would clog my pores and barely make a dent in my dry, winter skin. But after my first mask, I found just the opposite.
Manuka honey seemed to hydrate my skin; I didn’t even feel like I needed to moisturize after. Experts will tell you that Manuka honey works with your skin’s natural hydration mechanisms to promote natural hydration and pull moisture into the skin. After just one mask, I knew it would be my go-to skincare secrets for many falls and winters to come.
How to Add Honey to Your Winter Skincare Routine
My first Manuka honey mask was a few years ago; these days, its skin-boosting benefits as less of a secret. Walk into any natural beauty section and you’ll find that plenty of product feature the ingredient. The best way to try it out, though, is with a simple mask, which Dr. Fishman instructed me to do a few times a week for 10 minutes. Here’s exactly how to do it:
About 10 minutes before a shower is the best time to apply your mask. If you have long hair, make sure you tie it back or wear a headband to make sure no flyaways end up sticking to your face. Apply approximately one tablespoon of honey evenly to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water in the shower to reduce mess.
Look for a Manuka honey with a K factor of over 16. The K factor is a way of measuring the quality and purity of the honey. Start with this Wedderspoon Monofloral Honey (45.99). Or, if you want to take things to the next level, try incorporating this Honey Grail Ultra Hydrating Face Oil ($48.00) or this Naturopathica Cleansing Balm ($62.00) into your routine as well.
Manuka honey is a great example of nature at its best and how one simple ingredient from nature can transform your skincare routine, especially in the winter.