Bee inspired by nature’s best beauty product!
In a thoroughly cosmetic society where the beauty industry is expected to be worth $29.4 billion by 2017 in the Middle East and Africa alone* and surgery and chemical enhancement are at the centre of antiageing solutions, it might come as a surprise that one of nature’s most successful all-round skincare miracles costs less than Dh50 and can be found in your kitchen cupboard.
Perhaps most famously used by the majestic Egyptian beauty Cleopatra, honey has been a key ingredient in many a health and beauty routine over the centuries, from the Queen of the Nile’s own decadent honey and milk baths, to the treatment for healing acne, and can today be found in numerous beauty products and rituals offered by luxury spas across the globe.
“The traditional uses of honey in health care stretch back into antiquity, but its value beyond a sweetener is now being rediscovered,” says Aly Rahimtoola, founder of the natural skincare company Herbline Essentials, headquartered in Dubai. “The ancient study of Ayurveda considers honey one of nature’s most remarkable gifts to mankind. Modern research indicates this substance does possess unique nutritional and medicinal properties.”
This modern research is continuing what physicians of ancient times began – the healing properties of honey have been referred to in ancient writings by the likes of Hippocrates and Aristotle.
Today, honey is a common component in skincare due to healing benefits that are “suitable for all skin types”. “It balances oily skin and moisturises dry skin. It has anti-ageing properties that tackle wrinkles, antibacterial properties that combat acne, moisturising properties that soothe irritation and leave a refreshing glow on your skin, and finally cleansing properties that unclog pores,” explains Mohammad Najib Mouline, co-founder
with his wife of Izil Natural Argan Beauty, which uses honey in a number of its all-natural beauty products, created in Morocco.
With all these benefits it’s no surprise entire skincare companies have been born out of a passion for this sweet substance. Bee Yummy Skin Food, favoured by the likes of models Cara Delevingne and Georgia May Jagger, is a rich cream made from wildflower honey, honey cappings, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly, all derived from the same bee colony in a small apiary.
It’s said to pump skin with as many as 80 nutrients contained in the honey, and over 96 nutrients found in the bee pollen, as well as all the enzymes and vitamins in the propolis and royal jelly.
“The whole range is natural and amazing,” Jagger told British Vogue. “There’s this Bee Yummy honey mask, which is really natural but it actually works… last time I was in New York I just went to the shop and bought it all, basically. I also bought a whole lot for Cara and my sister bought it for me at Christmas, so we’re kind of passing it on – buying each other the whole range!”
But what exactly is it that makes honey so great for our skin? Firstly, it’s a natural humectant, which means it attracts and helps to lock-in moisture, combating skin dehydration – a key factor that causes skin to age quickly. It is packed with essential minerals, amino acids and vitamins including C, B, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium that help to keep skin healthy.
“It also contains antioxidants that are great for slowing down the ageing process of the skin cells,” says Aly Rahimtoola, “and since honey is antibacterial it tends to have a better effect on those people suffering from acne or oily skin.”
Honey is also rich in flavonoids that are said to hinder cellular decline, helping to protect, preserve and keep us looking young – the ancient Egyptians even used it to embalm their dead.
Victoria Tipper, a nutritionist at the Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre and member of the Nutrition Society of Australia, says honey is great both inside and out, from top to toe.
“Topical application of honey has been shown to help treat fungal growth, treating skin conditions such as athlete’s foot. It has also been an effective treatment for dandruff and certain eye infections such as conjunctivitis,” Victoria says. “Honey can also help to keep the skin looking younger and in better condition by regulating the pH, preventing pathogen infections and promoting softer skin.”
When it comes to eating it, honey is a great supporter of the immune system, says Victoria. “Its antibacterial properties have been shown to fight against bacteria that can inhabit our digestive system, including escherichia
coli, salmonella and helicobacter pylori infections. It has been shown to help in cardiovascular disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol, a major step in atherosclerosis or clot formation. Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties have made it great for wound healing, as well as its ability to stimulate an immune response to fight infections.”
It certainly sounds impressive, but can we use honey straight from a jar? “Absolutely!” says Mohammad Mouline, “but it needs to be pure and free from any additives to make sure your face doesn’t suffer a reaction.”
Aly Rahimtoola agrees and recommends using darker coloured honeys as they “tend to have more antioxidants”. He stresses that processed honeys should be avoided – look for honey that is thick and creamy in colour, not the clear honey.
Making your own pure honey face treatment at home, Mohammad says, is as simple as opening the jar.
“Take half a teaspoon of honey on your fingers and rub it to warm it up, then work the honey on to your
Honey’s great for wound healing, and it can also stimulate the immune system to fight infection
cleansed face. Let it sit for 10 minutes then wash it off with warm water. This will help to draw out impurities and moisturise the skin in one step.”
I t’s not just this golden nectar the humble bee produces that has benefits for humans. Other bee products have made it into our everyday health and skincare regimes, even making the headlines as a factor behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s glowing complexion on her wedding day.
It was reported that days before her big day, on referral by Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, herself a client, Kate had a bee venom facial by British beautician Deborah Mitchell.
Notably used by A-List celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham, bee venom has cropped up in a number of skincare brands that champion its anti-ageing results – Doctor Manuka, Beetox, Rodial and Deborah Mitchell all have bee venom skincare lines.
It sounds potentially lethal, but bee venom, aka its scientific name melittin peptide, is said to increase blood circulation to the skin, which in turn gently plumps it out and firms, helping to fill out lines and wrinkles – nature’s very own botox.
The Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge are said to be devoted to Deborah Mitchell’s own-brand Heaven Bee Venom Face Mask, which is available at The Nail Spa in The Dubai Mall. If it’s good enough for them…
A nother bee by-product that has found its place in a highly competitive beauty market is beeswax, which is a natural binder, helping to hold ingredients together, whilst sealing in moisture and keeping skin conditioned. The world’s most famous bee-centric beauty brand Burt’s Bees first launched what is now a successful global company with a basic beeswax lipbalm.
It was created by company co-founder Roxanne Quimby using an old farmhouse recipe and real bee’s wax extracted from Burt’s apiary, and it’s a product that has found cult status thanks to its proven nourishing, protecting, lip-smoothing effect and iconic tin container.
Aside from all this little insect does for our skin and our health, it is also important to us on a much grander scale. The honeybee is a key link in the food chain and is responsible for helping to produce more than 40 per cent of food that makes it on to our plates.
Bees are integral to the process of pollination in not only fruit and vegetable crops, but also crops we grow to feed animals that then produce our dairy products. Without this pollination we’d have a serious food shortage and it has been reported that bee numbers are on the decline. Farmers across the globe are being encouraged to support bee colonies with a diverse plant offering and even by building hives around their fields to help bees survive.
One company that’s committed to encouraging a healthy bee population by using uniquely produced oils in its skincare is Elemis. It’s working with bee-friendly organic farms in the UK and US to support these little guys in return for ingredients that give us good health and great-looking skin. So next time you’re looking for a new cleanser, try its Pro-Collagen cleansing balm.