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By Emily Leighton

I write this in bed with a face covered in honey. Sticky, yet content. Manuka honey has been a really strong addition to my skincare routine, so here I am to rave about it. I firstly want to point out that, yes, Manuka honey is expensive. I paid $30 for a tub, which I won’t lie was a real knife in the back. Having said that, I had the intention of using it for a face mask and I rationalised it by remembering that I would happily spend far more money on an actual face mask that has potentially questionable ingredients. I’ve been using the same tub for about two months now, and I honestly feel like I haven’t even put a dent in it.

There IS a reason for this and the benefits of normal honey aren’t comparable to Manuka honey. Regular honey, that we probably all have in our pantry,  has essentially been processed so many times that all of the benefits aren’t even present anymore. Essentially it’s just a sugary syrup. Manuka, on the other hand, has some of the most effective medicinal qualities. It’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial (this is where the alarm bells rang for me with acne in mind), has amazing wound healing abilities, boosts immunity, digestive health, it’s an anti-inflammatory (also key for acne), it’s hydrating; the list goes on. It’s ONLY made in New Zealand – if it’s not made there, it’s not Manuka. Manuka is also  much thicker than processed honey. It has much more of a paste/gel consistency and it doesn’t just drizzle out like pantry honey does; it’s best attacked with a spoon (but this is also a good idea so you’re not sticking grubby fingers into the tub).

UMF rating

You’ll also find the price increases when the UMF rating increases. The UMF rating is essentially a measure of the antibacterial properties in the honey. The higher the rating, the more active the antibacterial properties are, and the more effective. The minimum UMF rating recognized is UMF5, but it’s not considered beneficial unless it carries a UMF rating of 10+. I got 15+ which is classified as having superior levels. But just get what you can afford – i’m sure you’d find benefits from any rating.

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As a spot treatment

May I just dive right in and say that since buying Manuka honey i’ve not once used my Mario Badescu drying lotion. I genuinely find this much, much more effective at stopping pimples before they get absolutely heinous, like mine as so fond of doing. Really effective for those deep pimples that are extremely persistent and don’t really have a head. After completing my entire skin care I put a spot of Manuka on any pimples I have/are emerging. If I have any ones that I think will be killers, I place a small round bandaid over it to ensure it doesn’t smudge right off, because apparently I bury myself as far into my 6 pillow pile as I can each night. It get’s messy. I find that come morning, the redness surrounding the pimple is virtually gone, and the size is dramatically decreased without being dry, which is one thing I HATE about standard acne treatments like Oxy; yes, they may decrease the pimple but you’re left with dry, flakey skin which I find so difficult to cover up. I haven’t had this issue with Manuka, infact it’s quite the opposite; the honey is incredibly soothing and hydrating.

As a face mask

This is my favourite method of using manuka honey. I’ve been doing this every second day, but sometimes everyday if i’ve got time to kill at home. I put this on after cleansing, for at least 15 minutes and anywhere up to 2 hours. But in general I find the longer the better. I find it’s easiest to apply on a damp face with damp fingers, it’s just easier to spread this way. I then watch some form of pointless television for said amount of time, and then I wipe it off with a soft, damp face washer and follow with my normal routine of oils and eye cream. Once a week i’ve been adding a brown sugar scrub (which i’ll be doing a post on soon) before cleansing to this routine and the results are just unbelievable. Literally the most radiant my skin has ever been. I honestly find the skin glows after using this. It just looks so much healthier, and in my case soothed, which is really the biggest benefit for me as my skin frequently looks inflamed and red.

Combined with the spot treatments, i’ve found my acne is much less severe and the blemishes do seem to retreat much, much quicker. I’m not going to say my acne has completely disappeared – it hasn’t. I always have a few on the go in my chin area. Having said that, I don’t expect Manuka honey to undo the damage of my frequent McDonalds trips and fondness towards Pepsi. I think that’s a key for skincare – don’t expect it to make miracles happen if you’re not actually doing everything you can to fix it as well. I personally enjoy those guilty pleasures too much to stop over a pimple or two.

Now I have read a lot of suggestions that you can use Manuka as an overnight face mask – i’d seriously like to see that in action. Even if you slept on a towel I feel like you would just wake up looking like a lint roller with endless towel particles glued to your face. It is SO sticky. I find even with the tiniest spot treatment, unless it’s covered by a small bandaid it manages to get all over my pillows and my entire face feels tacky in the morning. Delightful.

As a scar treatment

I have very mild acne scarring and i’ve been putting this on daily mixed in with a tiny drop of Vitamin E oil. Scarring is really something that you have to be so persistent with over months and months so I can’t say that all my scars are gone – but the colour of them is definitely softening. Will soldier on with doing this for a few more months.


So the gist of this post is – buy Manuka honey. Your skin will thank you.

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