Are you constantly on the lookout for better acne treatments? Honey can work as a wonder ingredient in resolving your acne issues.
With unparalleled wound-healing properties, honey is a natural remedy for various skin conditions including acne. Its easy availability and minimal side effects offer a safe cure for such recurring skin problems.
Read on to know which kind of honey is best for acne and how to use it to gain maximum benefits.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Honey purifies the wounds (vrana shodhak), heals the wounds (Ropak), retexturizes the skin (Sandhana) and balances all the three doshas. These attributes make it perfect for healing acne. Out of the eight kinds of honey defined in Ayurveda, Ouddalaka is indicated mainly for skin diseases. Ouddalaka kind of honey is harvested from areas that are populated with ant hills.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Is Honey Good For Acne?
Honey is considered nature’s blessing to mankind. It contains about 7 different types of amino acids, 10 minerals, vitamin C and B complex, natural enzymes, more than 27 types of organic acids and about 13 types of flavonoids .
All these plant compounds give honey its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and wound-healing properties. These therapeutic properties of honey address all the factors responsible for the occurrence of acne.
It is important to understand that a variety of factors contribute to the pathogenesis of acne. Sebaceous gland hyperactivity caused by hormonal fluctuations can lead to excess sebum production. Too much oil on the skin blocks your pores causing comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads).
These clogged pores can become susceptible to bacterial infections causing inflamed acne lesions. Infection on the skin triggers your immune system, which responds with inflammation, pain and pus formation. Honey can thereby benefit through its various properties, as elaborated below.
1. Antibacterial Properties
Honey was extensively used during the world war for treating serious wounds and burns. Amongst the several enzymes present in honey, glucose oxidase is responsible for the formation of gluconic acid  and hydrogen peroxide, which lend honey its antimicrobial properties.
Honey is known to prevent various strains of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Thus applying honey on acne can quickly heal the bacterial infection and accelerate healing.
2. Anti-Inflammatory And Antioxidant Properties
The anti-inflammatory  and antioxidant properties of honey come from phenolic compounds, flavonoids, enzymes and amino acids present in it. These help to suppress the activity of pro-inflammatory factors in the body and reduce inflammation of the acne lesions and pain in the surrounding area.
3. Humectant Properties
Apart from reducing inflammation, honey’s humectant nature absorbs excess oil and pus from pimples. This osmotic effect is one of the reasons honey is used to dress wounds.
4. Wound-Healing Capabilities
Honey being slightly acidic creates an unnatural environment for further bacterial proliferation in your pores. This keeps the acne area clean and free from infection. Further, this acidic nature of honey helps release oxygen  into the newly growing cells. It also stimulates WBCs into producing cytokines which aid in wound healing.
According to studies conducted on patients with cutaneous wounds, the application of honey promoted rapid reepithelialization. This ability of honey also prevents the formation of acne scars.
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, says, “Honey purifies the wounds (vrana shodhak), heals the wounds (Ropak), retexturizes the skin (Sandhana) and balances all the three doshas. These attributes make it perfect for use to heal acne.”
Pure honey, if stored properly, can last for years without going bad. Archeologists discovered 3000-years-old honey in the tombs of Egypt that was still in good condition.
What Kind Of Honey Is Good For Acne?
Raw, unpasteurized honey is always preferred in the treatment of acne. Processing decreases honey’s antibacterial and antioxidant qualities.
Amongst others, Manuka honey  is one of the popular varieties used for therapeutic purposes. It is extracted from the honeycombs of bees in New Zealand that derive their nectar from Manuka flowers. It is known for its high antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Apart from the common phenolic compounds, Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal, a unique compound with exceptional antibacterial abilities. According to research, the higher the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), the better the wound/ acne healing performance displayed by Manuka honey. The UMF, which is measured on a scale of 5 to 20 is decided by the degree of antimicrobial ability of the honey.
Other known varieties of honey that can be used to treat acne are Acacia honey (Pakistan), Indonesian honey (Indonesia), pure rhododendron honey, pure blossom honey (Turkey), Tualang honey (Malaysia) and jungle honey (Nigeria) .
“Out of the eight kinds of honeys defined in Ayurveda, Ouddalaka is indicated mainly for skin diseases. Ouddalaka kind of honey is harvested from areas that are populated with ant hills,” adds Dr Zeel.
How Does Honey Work For Acne?
Honey works by reducing pain and swelling in inflamed acne lesions. Its osmotic pressure helps to drain the pus, oil and dirt clogging your pores. Its cooling effect soothes the skin and its antibacterial properties help fight bacterial infection in your skin pores.
It is also known to prevent post-acne marks and scars by promoting reepithelialization. According to research, application of pure rhododendron honey rapidly contracted wounds with none to minimal scarring due to its ability to enhance collagen production.
According to Ayurveda, honey pacifies the kapha and pitta doshas that are mainly involved in the occurrence of inflamed ‘Yuvanapidakas’ or acne. Honey’s ‘Vrana Shodhana’ and ‘Vrana Ropana’ (wound cleansing and wound healing) properties are also cited in the ancient Ayurvedic text of Sushruta Samhita.
To make your DIY pimple patch, take 1⁄2 teaspoon each of haritaki and raktha chandanam powders and add just enough raw honey to make a thick paste. Spread this evenly over a small piece of cotton gauze and cover your pimple with it. Leave it on for 1 hour and wash off. Do this a few times daily.
How To Use Honey For Acne?
Below-mentioned are a few ways on how to use honey for acne. Before applying any of these honey treatments to your acne, wash your face with a mild herbal cleanser to remove superficial impurities. This will ensure better absorption of the remedies.
1. Pure Honey Spot Treatment
Apply a generous amount of pure unpasteurized (preferably Manuka) honey directly over your acne. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. Repeat twice daily till the acne heals.
2. Honey And Lemon Juice
Mix a tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice. Apply this over your acne. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
3. Honey, Turmeric And Triphala
Mix a teaspoon each of turmeric and triphala powders. Add a tablespoon of honey to this and apply on areas affected by acne. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes before washing off with lukewarm water.
4. Honey And Papaya
Peel and deseed a ripe papaya. Mash it to make a paste. Now take 2 tablespoons of papaya paste and 1 tablespoon of honey and mix well. Apply this on your face, covering the areas with acne. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash off.
5. Honey, Yashtimadhu And Manjistha
Take 1 teaspoon of yashtimadhu and manjistha powders each and add a tablespoon of honey to it. Mix well to make a paste and apply over your acne lesions. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and wash it off.
6. Honey, Colloidal Oats And Kaolin Clay
MIx a tablespoon each of colloidal oats and kaolin clay. Add 2 tablespoons of honey to it. Mix well and apply all over your face covering all your inflamed acne lesions. Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
7. Honey And Tea Tree Oil
Add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to 1 tablespoon of honey. Mix and apply on your acne. Leave it on for 15 minutes and wash off.
8. Honey, Milk And Shalmali
Take one and half tablespoons of Shalmali  stem bark powder. Add a teaspoon of milk and a tablespoon of honey to it. Mix well and apply this pimple remedy on the affected areas. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash off.
9. Honey, Guduchi And Krishna Sariva
Take a teaspoon each of guduchi and krishna sariva powders. Add a tablespoon of honey to it and mix well. Apply this on your acne-affected areas and let it rest for 30 minutes before washing off.
10. Honey, Aloe Vera Gel And Green Tea Powder
Take 2 tablespoons of green tea powder and add 1 tablespoon each of honey and aloe vera gel. Mix thoroughly. Apply all over your face focusing more on the pimples. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash off.
How To Use Honey And Cinnamon For Acne?
Both raw honey and cinnamon possess anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that make them beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin. Further, cinnamon’s skin-lightening properties prevent post-acne scars. To use,
- Take a teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey to it.
- Mix well.
- Apply over your pimples and let it sit.
- Wash off after 10 minutes using lukewarm water.
In case of sensitive skin, take a pinch of cinnamon as it may cause skin irritations if applied in excess.
Frequently Asked Questions On Treating Acne With Honey
1. How Long Does it Take For Honey to Clear Acne?
The inflammation, pain and redness should begin to reduce within 24 hours of applying raw honey on your acne. However, the time taken to heal and fight the bacterial infection will depend on the severity of the acne lesion. Small pustules may clear off quickly but deeper nodular acne may need other medicinal herbs along with honey for complete healing.
2. Is It Good To Leave Honey On Your Face Overnight?
Honey is often used as a dressing material for wounds. Thus leaving it overnight should be safe. In fact this can even accelerate healing. However, certain skin types are allergic to honey, pollen or bee products. So, it is always better to do a patch test before leaving honey for long hours.
3. Does Honey Make Pimples Worse?
While honey may not be able to completely heal your pimples, it certainly won’t make it worse. Its antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are likely to speed up the treatment of your acne.
The Last Word
Honey has some amazing therapeutic properties, however, it is not a holistic solution for your acne problem. It can only treat existing acne lesions on your skin. You still need to consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know your skin type and Prakriti (body constitution) for a better understanding of your internal health that may play a part in the recurrence of your acne.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Phenolic Compounds In Honey And Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review, 2018 September
2. Gluconic Acid Produced By Gluconacetobacter Diazotrophicus Pal5 Possesses Antimicrobial Properties, 2014 September
3. Honey And Its Nutritional And Anti-Inflammatory Value, 2021 January
4. Evidence For Clinical Use Of Honey In Wound Healing As An Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Oxidant And Anti-Viral Agent: A Review, 2013 July
5. Honey-Based Templates In Wound Healing And Tissue Engineering, 2018 June
6. Effects Of Three Types Of Japanese Honey On Full-Thickness Wound In Mice, 2013
7. Effect Of Shalmalyadilepa And Guduchyadivati In The Management Of Yauvanapidika (Acne), 2013 April- June
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