July 25, 2020
Proven or not proven? Can honey really help acne problems?
With all the attention raw honey is getting these days, some articles from years past are starting to go viral again on the internet. One article that really caught my attention was by Renee Jacques on Allure. The article offers the “truth” on honey remedies for acne. It makes some eye-opening claims, most of which will be disappointing to raw honey advocates. But, are they actually true?
When people talk about raw honey, even more specifically Manuka honey, they often talk about the natural antibacterial properties it has. This is proven, so it is not just hype. Go on sites like Reddit and other social media platforms and you will see post after post claiming the wonders that raw honey did for acne. While Jacques acknowledged the posts, she did not seem to buy into the claims being made by the people that made them.
That being the case, she consulted cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller’s website, where it states, "One study in the Journal of Antibacterial Chemotherapy showed that honey (in concentrations between 2.5 percent and 5 percent) is effective against staphylococci, a very harmful bacteria. We could not find any studies that tested honey’s effect on P. acnes, the bacteria that helps cause zits. However, given what we know about the antibacterial mechanism of honey, it is plausible it would work on this bacterium as well."
So, while her article claims there is no legitimate evidence that raw honey addressed this particular bacteria, there is also no evidence that says it doesn’t. So, until an approved study is done specifically on raw honey and acne, if it is working for you, as long as your doctor says it’s okay, keep doing what you are doing.
Raw Honey and Inflamed Acne
Another topic she discussed was how honey works on inflamed acne. For this, Jacques leaned on New York dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, who stated, "Raw honey works to make inflammatory acne look less angry because it has an osmotic effect on the skin—it can draw out [excess fluid] and help reduce inflammation. Honey can be a calming agent, so it also helps to reduce redness." Mariwalla continued, "Do not be fooled into thinking that the honey will pull out dirt because it is sticky. It may leave a film on the skin which you then have to rinse vigorously. Unfortunately, it's not like a liquid Bioré pore strip." So, this sounds like another soft endorsement for using raw honey in this manner to treat acne.