Honey has earned a kind of mythological status in our pantries for so many reasons: it actually tastes as good as it is for you; it's the only food that never spoils (if Snapple caps have taught us anything…); it combats the havoc the holidays wreak on our livers; models eat it; and insects make it, for crying out loud. Here's another reason: Top Shelf-ers like Liz Goldwyn, Jerry Hall, and Anya Ziourova told us they slather the bee byproduct on their faces and bodies to get glowy skin. (And we saw it, and believed it.)
It makes sense that honey’s throat-soothing, allergy-calming, antibacterial and antiviral properties would translate to a topical goldmine. In fact, raw honey is recommended for everything from an at-home wax alternative (use at your own risk) to a hair lightener, skin-tone evener, and acne treatment. And now makeup counters across the country, stacked with honey-infused products, have proven that the sticky substance is a highly coveted and wholly trusted anti-aging and moisturizing agent. Here, a glimpse at what the bees and the beauty chemists have been up to:
Face Masks: If Fresh’s Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask and Manuka Doctor’s ApiNourish Rejuvenating Face Mask are any indication, honey is especially adept at sealing in moisture. Both face masks provide a noticeably plumper, firmer, and rejuvenated skin-feel, but Fresh’s gooey French-honey-and-echinacea mix also soothes transitional-season skin stresses, while also smelling, feeling, and, yes, tasting like honey. On the other hand, Manuka Doctor’s waxier mask employs both purified bee venom—exalted as the holistic answer to Botox—to encourage collagen growth and cell regeneration as well as Manuka honey to hydrate your mug.
For Your Kitchen and Body: With dry/sore/scratchy throat season approaching, we'd recommend keeping a bottle of local honey at the ready, and Burt’s Bees Natural Throat Drops on your person at all times. The menthol will cool your pipes so you can breath a little deeper, and the antibacterial honey will help fight infection. They’re also appetizing enough to eat as a snack—no harm, no foul. And when you’re not stirring raw honey into your hot water with lemon, try smoothing a thin layer onto your face for twenty minutes to an hour for a tone-evening, pH-balancing, acne-fighting DIY facial. Or, mix equal parts protein-rich Greek yogurt and honey for an anti-aging, ultra-hydrating mask, à la Liz Goldwyn.
For Your Face: Honey’s anti-aging and hydrating properties really shine above the neck. With your radiator at full blast and winter’s dry winds rolling in, your skin is going to need all the TLC it can get. Start with Manuka Doctor’s relieving cream wash, ApiNourish Hydrating Facial Cleanser, to appease dry skin with rose hip and black currant oil, vitamin E, and Monoi butter. Sounds exotic, right? Then, protect your face from further damage with Rodial's Bee Venom Super Serum and Bee Venom Moisturizer. The anti-aging bee venom ward off sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles...and, while we haven't been using them long enough to confirm said benefits, we can say that the serum and moisturizer almost instantly plump, smooth, and hydrate your skin for a silky-smooth surface. Or, opt for the much less expensive but equally hydrating Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer (not for the peanut-averse!), for a surprisingly thin lotion with a waxy finish that insures moisture retention, and absorbs completely into the skin after an hour. Its light, citrus-and-honey fragrance also makes it one of the best-smelling creams we’ve come across.
For Your Lips: Nivea’s lip balm stalwart is moisturizing in a smoothing, non-greasy, one-swipe-a-day kind of way. A Kiss of Milk & Honey Soothing Lip Care is not for the moments when your lips are so dry they’re on fire, but it's a good everyday balm and imparts a faint sheen.
For the Bath: Nothing beats quality time in your tub. (Just ask Liv Tyler.) Unless you're after an Epsom-salt cleanse, allow us to direct you to Laura Mercier's Fresh Fig Honey Bubble Bath. The floral-and-fig scent lightens up after being served into running water with the included wooden honey dipper, and leaves an even more delicate veil of fragrance on your skin. After soaking, you'll smell like fresh laundry, and your skin will be almost soft enough to skip the body lotion. For a moisturizing exfoliant, The Body Shop's new Honeymania collection includes a Body Scrub, which will clear away dead skin cells, stimulate circulation, and impart a sophisticated floral scent.
For Your Body: Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion is an ideal mid-weight moisturizer to ease the transition from your summer favorites. The rich but not oily lotion dries to a slightly chalky finish a few minutes after application, and absorbs into the skin completely within a few hours, for a full day of slightly sweet suppleness. (Also: 'suppleness'? Sorry.)
For Fragrance: CB I Hate Perfume’s Wildflower Honey smells remarkably like the real thing. It's closer to a hunk of raw honeycomb in a field of wildflowers than a sickly sweet, synthetic interpretation of the condiment. You go, CB I Hate Perfume.
For Your Hands: It’s cold season, which means you should probably wash your hands whenever the opportunity presents itself. To avoid cracked, chapped, or, god forbid, bleeding digits, invest in both L’Occitane’s Crème Lavante Mains Miel Bonne Mère and Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Wash. The first is the liquid form of the milky Provence-derived hard soap we've already big-upped, while the latter is a a refreshing citrus-heavy organic honey soap, thats moisturizes while it cleans your germ-carrying hands.
For Your Feet: Upon first unscrewing the mason jar of Farmhouse Fresh’s Honey Heel Glaze, you’re confronted by a Yankee Candle Fall Collection cornucopia of scents, replete with cinnamon and cloves. But one night's sleep with your feet slathered in the stuff—underneath a pair of throw-away socks, of course—will significantly decrease the appearance of chalky, dry skin and leave your heels and toes feeling so smooth you’ll want to do the same thing to your hands (we recommend it). Added bonus: your feet will smell like baked goods, which, we can all agree, is better than any alternative.
Photos by Mathea Millman.