Manuka honey has been getting more and more press coverage for its great natural healing properties, and a growing number of people are finding it a useful natural product to use for acne. So just why is it any good for acne, and what is the best way to use it?
First lets back up, and cover a few important points. Unfortunately there are some elements of over-hype and misleading promotion of this honey now. Fortunately there are ways for you to sort out the genuine quality article from that which is not.
The first important point is that not all manuka honey is the same. This is simply a fact of nature. Manuka honey has earned its healing reputation based on the solid scientific evidence of unique extra antibacterial properties. However only some of what is produced actually contains these special extra properties, and even then the level of potency naturally varies.
To protect consumers, and ensure they are getting the same quality of product as the research is based on, there is an industry standard for UMF® manuka honey. Only some honey meets the standard to use the UMF® mark on its label (as opposed to implying about it in marketing). This UMF® standard not only measures the additional non-peroxide antibacterial potency within the honey, but consists of a wider quality standard, for example also not allowing the use of an artificial booster (that manipulates the activity reading).
The only exception is for specific medical grade products that have gone through a separate official medical approval (eg FDA approval for the Medihoney Apinate dressings, or ManukaCare sterilised honey receiving a medical devices license in Europe).
If the honey is only labelled as ‘active’, then the problem is some companies are using this to measure the hydrogen peroxide activity, or the total activity, both of which are not equal to the UMF® rating (which is what the research behind manuka honey supports). All types of honey are active to some degree.
Back to acne.
The special extra antibacterial properties found in some manuka honey together with the wound healing effectiveness for these make this naturally occurring product very good in many cases for acne. Did you know that clinical trials of medical grade manuka honey (eg the ManukaCare product) on serious wounds such as leg ulcers have shown good positive results?
Apply medical grade manuka honey direct to spots and acne area. This puts the unique antibacterial properties and healing powers into direct action on the infected area. It also provides very good additional moisturising properties. The only downside is on a practical level, as using the pure honey will leave a layer of honey on the skin. This is fine while at home, but maybe not so suitable just before you are going out somewhere.
Eating manuka honey (UMF) is good for you, but will only have an indirect (rather than direct) impact on any acne. By boosting your digestive system it in turn helps your body to help itself. Don’t expect a quick fix from taking this honey internally, though it can help as part of an overall health campaign.
Where applying the medical grade honey directly onto the acne is not appropriate or practical, then look to use a good quality manuka honey based skin care range that is going to be gentle on sensitive skin, and remains all natural. Be wary of just ‘manuka’ being on the label, consider what quality of honey they use and how much (some products merely use an extract of the honey, or a minimal amount so they can put this popular name on their label).
Keep up all your other good skin care and health activity, eg eating healthily, drinking water etc. The right quality manuka is good, but don’t treat it as a magic bullet that will cure all on its own. You still want to try and reduce the acne reappearing.
This honey can also help reduce scarring, so keep applying it as the acne improves to fully aid the healing process. Plus remember it is a natural humectant, so provides very good moisturising benefits when used.