The healing power of honey: it really is the “bee’s knees”
Honey is something of a magic ingredient - it can be eaten, applied as a beauty tonic, and used to heal wounds. And, given that it’s produced by small, flying insects, it’s no wonder that this sweet and sticky multitasker has been a source of fascination to people for the millions of years that it’s been around (150 million, and counting).
The Egyptians believed bees were messengers of the gods and that honey was a divine gift, using it for everything from treating burns to radiance-enhancing face masks and payment for taxes (they even popped a jar into pharaohs’ tombs so they’d have something to nibble on during the journey into the afterlife). The Ancient Greeks not only added honey to dozens of recipes but prescribed it for ulcers and sores; and in more recent years, honey has been used to treat scrapes and grazes and sore throats, and it’s a regular on beauty products’ ingredients lists.
Honey to the rescue: the source of its super powers
Honey heals the skin because it’s antiseptic (it contains hydrogen peroxide, a substance often found in disinfectants), antibacterial, and it attracts and retains moisture; so if you’re wounded, honey will draw away the excess fluid and reduce inflammation, tackle bacteria and encourage the skin to heal. And if you’re not hurt, then your skin can take advantage of honey’s clever ability to nourish dry patches and fight blemishes, a couple of the reasons why honey is still used in beauty products today.
And it’s not only honey that has super powers - royal jelly and beeswax are excellent at hydrating and soothing the skin too. Produced by young bees and fed to the queen bee larvae, royal jelly is a nutrient-rich mixture of vitamins and minerals and, as the queen bee lives 50 times longer than the worker bees, it’s added into skincare for its rejuvenating properties. Beeswax, formed by the bees as a place to raise their young and store honey for the winter, is excellent at forming a barrier and sealing in moisture, so it’s ideal for protecting your skin against cold, windy weather, and brilliant as a lip balm.
No beehive? Here’s one (they) made earlier…
As most of us aren’t lucky enough to have direct access to a hive and its goodies, these marvellous products have harnessed the power of honey and will whip skin that’s looking a little worse for wear back into shape.
Melvita Apicosma Ultra-Nourishing Body Balm: it’s hardly surprising that Melvita use honey in their products, given that they were founded by a beekeeper and their name was formed from the Latin for ‘honey’ and ‘life’, but their latest honey range, Apicosma is something of a ‘next generation’ honey range. Using scientific technology to blend 3 types of honey (acacia, thyme and orange blossom), the range features a honey complex which has been clinically proven to strengthen, nourish and repair your skin, and it’s excellent for dry skin. With a wonderful, sweet scent and a lovely rich, creamy formula, this really is one of the best body creams I’ve used.
Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Crème: known for their cult classic, the beeswax lip balm, and for using honey and beeswax in many of their products, Burt’s Bees was also founded by a beekeeper. The products use honey sourced from co-ops in the USA, and this hand cream is one of their hero products, with a delicious sweet almond scent and a thick texture to soothe chapped hands.
Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream: what’s not to love about a hand cream that not only nourishes with organic honey but also helps out bees? As part of Neal’s Yard’s ‘Bee Lovely’ Campaign to help save the bees, 5% of all sales from their ‘Bee Lovely’ products support bee-friendly initiatives across the UK.
Bee-happy (and help to save the bees)
Honeybees are having a tough time at the moment and their numbers are dwindling rapidly - amongst other reasons, it’s because their habitats are being built on, and the varroa mite has wiped out many colonies - but bees are vital as they pollinate a vast amount of crops, including foods we eat everyday such as apples. In response, bee hives are no longer confined to the countryside and lots of city hives are popping up on roofs, and thriving. Melvita has hives on the roof of their Covent Garden store and there are even some tucked away on the roof of our Head Office in London (with hives made by our Partners).
So give the little honeybee a helping hand and plant a few bee-friendly shrubs in your garden (try wisteria, fruit trees and bramble bushes) or pop potted lavender or rosemary on your balcony.