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A Sweet Escape: Bees, Honey and Skin Care

Michele Steinert April 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
A Sweet Escape: Bees, Honey and Skin Care

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Honey is made from bees gathering nectar from the flowers, plants and trees they visit. When a bee locates a “good find” of nectar, it may return to the hive and do a “bee dance” to show the other bees where to find that flower or plant. Bees are always working together for the benefit of the hive and never just to fill their own bellies. Once all the nectar and pollen has been collected, the bees go back to the hive and wax comb cells are filled. The cell is capped with wax, and the honey is left to cure until the bees need it.

Beeswax is created by the bees to hold honey and pollen, and keeps them efficiently stored until needed. It takes an incredible amount of energy for bees to create wax. Wax colors range from white to yellow to brown, and is used in all kinds of things from furniture to candles to cosmetics. In a water-based cream, it can be used to bind water and oil together to create an emulsion. In addition, it is a moisturizer. Often, beeswax is included in lip balms, body balms and creams due to its moisturizing and skin-protecting qualities.

Propolis is a sticky resin the bees gather from trees and other plants. Plants produce resins and gums, which are produced at wound sites, or in new buds or leaves. Propolis is usually dark brown and sticky. When cold, the propolis is brittle and when warm, it has a thick taffy consistency. Bees use the propolis to protect the hive. They seal any cracks and open areas with propolis to keep invaders out, as well as wind and rain.

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Honey Facial Treatment Options

With such an amazing ingredient, simple is usually best, which makes it easy to include as part of a treatment. You may want to explore using different varietals of honey.

The main component of honey’s antibacterial and antiseptic abilities is the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. All types of honey contain varying amounts of hydrogen peroxide, and this is why it helps to create an antimicrobial environment for wounds and blemishes. In addition, honey’s anti-inflammatory actions help reduce inflammation. The concentration level of hydrogen peroxide in honey is much lower than what you would purchase in a store. This lower level of hydrogen peroxide allows the skin to gently regenerate.

Remember: Clients who are allergic to bee stings or have severe allergies should not receive these treatments.

Simple Honey Mask

Mix 1/2–1 teaspoon of honey with 1 teaspoon of tepid water in a small bowl—adjust consistency to your liking by adding more or less honey. (The water can be a mineral water, hydrosol or herbal infusion for an added touch.) 

Apply to the face and neck using clean fingers or a brush. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

If you would like to add a bit of exfoliation with the application of this mask, use crystallized honey. Crystallized honey will take longer to dissolve in the water, so you will have honey crystals that will create the friction.

Clay and Honey Mask

Mix 1 teaspoon of kaolin clay with 2 teaspoons of tepid water. (This clay doesn’t have to be kaolin. Consider choosing a clay that is one of your favorites or would work well with the client’s skin type.)

Once the clay is dissolved, mix in 1/2 teaspoon of honey. This is a thin mask for ease of application; it is also not very astringent. Feel free to adjust the clay amount with water to achieve the consistency you like.

Apply the mask with clean fingers or a brush to the face and neck, and leave it on for 15 minutes. The nice thing about honey is it is gentle, so you can leave the mask on longer if you like.

Blemish Treatment

For a blemish treatment, dab a little honey on the area of the blemish. Depending on the environment, honey used in this way can drip down and not be pleasant. If this is the case, cover the area with a light linen to stop the honey from dripping.

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