Fact or fiction: honey and acne

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Fact or fiction: honey and acne
Fact or fiction: honey and acne

by Kathleen Morrison, Lead Writer

March 7th, 2019

People have been buzzing about bees lately. Not only are they a crucial to their ecosystems (and to humans!), but science is discovering the good things they produce can also be beneficial to our skin. Skin care companies are incorporating royal jelly and honey into their ingredient lists, but can honey do anything for your acne, or is this cure an old wives’ tale?

Honey doesn’t go bad

You may have heard that unprocessed honey never goes bad and that people have used honey for thousands of years to treat wounds. This is because it has a few handy qualities that hydrogen peroxide, sugar, and acidity. Honey releases small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that can disinfect your skin. The hydrogen peroxide works in concert with a high concentration of sugar and acid that prevents bacteria from replicating further. Spot treating a zit (or developing zit) with honey could help clear it up more quickly or stop it from progressing further.

Honey also has that help prevent the swelling and redness that can come from acne. For those with dry skin, honey is a natural humectant, which preserves moisture in your skin and can prevent some peeling and dryness that other acne treatments can cause. These benefits can definitely be a nice break from the harshness of many over-the-counter acne treatments.

Not so fast…

Bacteria is only one side of the equation when it comes to acne. The other side is congestion within the pore. Many times bacteria builds up because a pore doesn’t drain your naturally produced oil. The oil-rich environment creates an environment for the bacteria to flourish. While honey may be effective at diminishing the bacteria on the surface of your skin, if your pore is clogged, there’s no way for the honey to get inside and do its job.

Since honey has a problem penetrating into the skin, benzoyl peroxide (BPO) can be a better over-the-counter alternative for treating acne. is more effective at getting within the follicle where it releases oxygen molecules that immediately kill most the bacteria. BPO is harsher than honey, especially if you dry easily, so using a good moisturizer is crucial to prevent dryness and peeling.

If you have more than the occasional pimple…

Honey and/or benzoyl peroxide might deliver some minor benefits to your acne, but it probably won’t be a cure-all for moderate to severe acne. You may want to try some more effective and scientifically-proven medications, like topical retinoids.

Fortunately, these medications aren’t hard to obtain. All you need is to do is visit with Apostrophe and one of our dermatologists will write you a prescription for the medication. We hope to hear from you soon!

Is honey and tried and true treatment for you, or just a honey trap? Let us know in the comments down below, or tag us on Twitter at @hi_apostrophe.

Welcome to the fine print! Just so you know, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. It’s always best to talk to a doctor for that stuff.

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