Benefits of Honey on Skin: Why & How to Use This Natural Ingredient

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It’s an ingredient that you probably have in your kitchen, but have you ever considered incorporating raw honey into your skincare routine too? If not, you’re missing out.

Read on to learn about some of the incredible ways in which honey could benefit your skin, along with tips on the best ways to topically use this sticky sweet substance.

Why Honey?

Wonders of honey

The concept of using raw honey on the skin isn’t anything new – different cultures all over the world have been doing this for centuries.

Why? Because this natural ingredient is packed with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals [1], all of which provide some serious skin-boosting effects.

It also happens to be an easily accessible ingredient, making it a key component of many topical and medicinal home remedies.

6 Ways Honey Benefits the Skin

It’s time to get specific. Yes, honey contains some powerful compounds, but what exactly are the benefits of honey on skin?

Exfoliates Dead Skin Cells

To start with, the enzyme activity in honey gives it an exfoliating effect. However, unlike some of the other exfoliants you may have used, honey is extremely gentle and can be used to exfoliate all skin types.

By removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and clearing clogged pores, honey can give you a bright and clear complexion.

Keeps Skin Hydrated and Moisturized

If you have dry skin, or even itchy skin, you’ll definitely want to incorporate honey into your beauty routine. This sweet stuff is incredibly hydrating.

This applies to all types of honey, although, interestingly, studies have found that forest honey tends to be more hydrating than floral honey [2].

Honey acts as a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air into the skin to provide instant hydration. However, it also helps to strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier.

This enables the skin to better retain moisture itself (since the barrier prevents moisture from evaporating), meaning hydrated and glowing skin in the long run too!

Busy woman on a work break

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is your skin’s biggest enemy. It leads to everything from acne to psoriasis to premature aging, which is why the beauty world is always promoting anti-inflammatory ingredients.

One of these is honey – just a thin layer over your skin will be enough to help counter inflammatory skin conditions.

Antibacterial Properties Soothe Acne

Honey’s anti-inflammatory compounds are useful for treating acne, but its antibacterial effects shouldn’t be ignored either. Being a natural antiseptic gives honey several of its healing properties, which oily skin can really benefit from.

Since breakouts are triggered by bacteria, using honey to keep bacteria at bay can help to keep your skin pimple-free. You can either use it as a spot treatment or apply it all over your face to make the most of its soothing effects.

Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Honey is a fantastic anti-aging ingredient. The natural antioxidants present in honey help to neutralize the free radicals in your skin that would have otherwise destroyed collagen and elastin, therefore accelerating skin aging.

These antioxidant properties also support and strengthen cells, enabling them to function more efficiently.

All of this means that honey can help to improve the skin’s elasticity and firmness, bringing back a youthful appearance.

Brightens Skin Tone and Can Fade Scars

Woman with youth looking skin

If you’ve been struggling to find skin brightening products that actually work well for you, give honey a try. For starters, its exfoliating effects instantly brighten. It also contains compounds that target excess melanin clusters in the skin, dispersing them to even out skin tone.

Even better, many have had success with using honey as a treatment for damaged skin and scars. There are limited studies available on this, but experts believe that honey helps to heal the skin faster, meaning that scars are less likely to form.

How to Use Honey on Your Skin

There are several topical ways to make the most of honey’s benefits, with one of the most popular being honey face packs, also known as face masks. You can keep things simple by applying one spoon of honey directly to your skin.

Massage gently in a circular motion, and then give your honey face mask 10-15 minutes to soak into your skin. Honey won’t harden on your skin, so it’ll still feel a little sticky when it’s time to remove your face pack. Simply wash your face with cool water and pat dry.

For added benefits, try incorporating other ingredients into your homemade face mask. Green tea is amazing for anti-aging, while jojoba oil targets pesky blackheads and reduces excess oil production. Olive oil is a must for dry skin, while coconut oil makes honey masks thicker.

If you’re dealing with acne, apply raw honey directly to the affected area of your skin. Leave it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.

To treat your entire body to the benefits of honey, pour half a cup into your next bath. Add some natural oils to this warm water too, such as lavender or rose, for even more beauty benefits.

Raw Honey vs Manuka Honey

Both manuka and raw honey are great – it’s processed, refined honey that you don’t want. The processing destroys many of honey’s active compounds, rendering it near-useless for your skin.

While manuka honey offers additional medicinal properties, both manuka and raw honey are just as effective when used topically on the skin.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Woman with fair makeup and fair colored skin

There aren’t really any side effects associated with the topical use of honey, even with sensitive skin.

The only big issue would be if you’re allergic to pollen, bee venom, or even celery – this could mean that honey may also trigger an allergic reaction.

To be on the safe side, perform a patch test before using honey on your skin for the first time.


Is honey good for skin whitening?

Honey is good for brightening the skin, but it won’t lighten your natural skin tone.

How long should I leave honey on my skin?

Generally, honey should be left on the skin for about 10-20 minutes, depending on what you’re using it for.

Can honey remove pimples?

Yes, honey can help to remove pimples thanks to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties.


Some of the best skincare ingredients out there also happen to be the most basic, with honey being the perfect example. It’s an everyday food for many, yet this natural ingredient can work wonders on your complexion, helping with everything from acne to aging.

You should see benefits after just one use, and these will continue to improve if you make honey a regular in your skincare routine.



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.