Bee in­spired by na­ture’s best beauty prod­uct!

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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.

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