Honey For Acne: A Sweet Skincare Secret!

A girl putting honey on her face. Honey is great for acne and pimples.Have you ever tried using honey for acne? Does this Winnie-the-Pooh-style acne treatment really work? The short answer is, yes!

Since ancient times people have used honey for acne and a host of other ailments. This little miracle food is one of mother nature’s best kept secrets.

Queen Cleopatra of ancient Egypt took a daily beauty bath in a tub of milk and honey. She new about honey’s cosmetic benefits!

Honey is pretty amazing. It can treat wounds, burns, ulcers, boost your immune system, and a lot more. It’s full of essential ingredients, vitamins, and minerals.

Honey is an incredibly strong antibiotic, killing bacteria in some cases that modern medicine can’t even handle, such as the bacteria found in chronic wounds. It’s grate for allergies, filled with antioxidants, and it’s even anti-inflammatory. Wow, right?

Why Use Honey For Acne And Scars?

So, this stuff’s great, but why use honey for acne? Honey acne treatments work well for several reasons.

First, honey helps kill the bacteria that causes acne. Honey has an osmotic effect meaning it likes to absorb water.

If you put honey on acne, it will absorb the water in the wound. This kills the bacteria – because they need water too.

Honey is pretty amazing. It can treat wounds, burns, ulcers, boost your immune system, and a lot more.

The water absorbed by the honey triggers a chemical reaction causing the honey to release hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a great antiseptic which helps kill even more bacteria.

Also, honey is relatively acidic, which helps to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Honey helps reduce the redness associated with acne because it’s an anti-inflammatory.

The antioxidants in honey help prevent damage from free radicals. I could go on, but I think you get the point. So, let’s continue!Some honey dripping from a honey dipper. Honey kills acne bacteria.

Which Honey Is Best For Acne?

The best honey for acne (and best for health purposes in general) is manuka honey. Manuka honey comes from New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand is where the manuka tree grows naturally, and the honey is collected by beekeepers who build hives in the wild near areas where these bushes grow naturally.

The reason I recommend manuka honey for acne is because it has been shown to have additional antibacterial qualities that all other honeys lack.

This incredible property of manuka honey is not fully understood yet, and is referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).

A blooming manuka tree. Manuka honey is the best honey for acne and pimples.

If you don’t want to spend the extra money for manuka honey, then your second best option is to get local grown raw honey that hasn’t been filtered or pasteurized.

Local grown honey is made from the pollen found in your area. Using local grown honey has the added benefit of helping you build up a tolerance to these locally occurring pollens – which can really help people that suffer from seasonal allergies.

How to Pick the Best Honey for Acne?

Selecting the right honey for your acne can be very confusing. Honey can be described in many ways: raw, organic, all-natural, pasteurized, unpasteurized, unfiltered, etc.

For manuka honey in particular, you may see labels that say “Active”, MGO, or UMF manuka honey. It’s enough to make Winnie the Pooh’s head spin! So, let’s try to make some sense out of all this.

The Different Types Of Raw Honey

  • Completely Raw Honey: 100% raw honey will typically be crystallized when you first buy it. It’s completely unfiltered, and will still contain small pieces of wax, pollen, and other remnants from where it was extracted from the honeycomb. These leftover bits will not harm you and are actually quite good for you.
  • Unfiltered Raw Honey (Strained Honey): This type of honey is usually not crystallized when you first buy it, but it will crystallize more quickly than other (more processed) types. It hasn’t been heated, but it has been pressure strained to remove the larger bits and pieces from the honeycomb. This is the type of raw honey that you will most often encounter when shopping for raw honey, and it’s the type that I usually recommend.
  • Filtered Raw Honey: This type of honey has been heated a little bit and then passed through a very fine filter in order to remove all of the bits and pieces from the honeycomb. This process produces a much cleaner honey. However, you will be missing out on a lot of the health benefits provided by the pollen and other good “stuff” inside the honey. Yet this is still a much better option than pasteurized honey.

Pasteurized Honey

Pasteurization involves heating the honey to a very high temperature in order to kill all of the bacteria and any other living things inside the honey. This process prevents the honey from crystallizing nearly as easily and results in a very clean “pure” honey.

This is the kind of honey that you will typically find in most grocery stores. The problem with this heating process is that it destroys most of the things that make the honey so healthy.

I don’t recommend using any kind of pasteurized honey for acne treatment purposes. Basically, stay away from any honey that is not labeled as raw.

What Is Organic Honey?

So, how exactly can honey be considered organic? Well, honey manufacturers have to meet a rigorous set of guidelines proving that their honey was produced pesticide-free and their products must undergo regular testing to ensure that they are free of pesticide residue.

They have to prove that the bees are raised in a pesticide-free environment and that the flowers they visit are also pesticide-free.

The USDA Organic logo. Organic honey is better for acne than regular honey.

The only way to do this is to situate the beehives in a remote location far from any sources of pollution or pesticides (like golf courses, agriculture, landfills, factories, or anything else that may be using pesticides or creating pollution).

To do this, regulators will contact all landowners in a 5 mile radius to verify that they are pollutant free. Also, bee keepers may not use non-organic honey, sugar, antibiotics or other chemicals in their beehives.

What’s The Difference Between Active, MGO, And UMF Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey from New Zealand has some powerful antibacterial properties not found in other honeys. The terms Active, MGO, and UMF are used to show how powerful the honey’s antibacterial properties are.

1. Active Manuka Honey

the term “active” simply means that the honey has some peroxide activity going on in it. This peroxide activity is common to all types of honey in the world, and one of the main reasons that honey is used as an antibacterial.

However, keep in mind that just because some honey is “active” doesn’t mean that it will always be antibacterial. Furthermore, there are no laws, regulations or enforcement of any kind to control the labeling of manuka honey as “active”.

This means that anyone can label their honey as “active10+”, “active12+” or “active3000+”, and it will not necessarily mean anything because there is no regulation behind it.

2. MGO Manuka Honey

MGO stands for Methylglyoxal which is an organic substance that contributes to manuka honey’s antibacterial nature. However, it’s not the only reason that manuka honey is such a powerful antibacterial.

In fact, studies have been done where the Methylglyoxal was neutralized and yet the honey retained its antibacterial properties for unknown reasons.

So what does it mean when you see MGO on the honey’s label? It means that the level of MGO has been measured and displayed as a number on the label.

The problem is that the MGO level does not represent the overall antibacterial power of a particular jar of honey. How then are we to know the full antibacterial power of a particular jar of honey? This leads us to the final and best way to rate manuka honey, UMF.

3. UMF Manuka Honey

UMF or “Unique Manuka Facter” is a ratings standard designed to tell what the full non-peroxide antibacterial power is for a particular batch of manuka honey.

The whole ratings system is audited by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) in New Zealand. Every jar of honey is tracked from the apiaries (the “bee yard” where the bees are kept) to the packaging factory. Each jar can be traced back to the apiary that it came from and the lab where it was tested.

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association seal. Authentic manuka honey is the best for treating acne.

The UMF is a global standard which is independently audited and verified. No one can use use the UMF label on their products unless they adhere to the strict guidelines and audits of the UMFHA.

Common UMF ratings include UMF5+, UMF10+, UMF15+, and UMF20+. The “+” indicates that the UMF rating could be more than the number but not less. So, UMF5+ has a reading of at least 5, and it could be higher.

The higher the number is, the more powerful it’s non-peroxide antibacterial power is.

To Summarize, the UMF rating is the best way to know how effective a particular jar of manuka honey will be at treating acne. The higher the UMF rating, the better.

Where to Buy the Best Manuka Honey?

There are less than 50 companies that hold a UMF license. If your honey is not sold by one of the companies on that list, you are not getting real UMF manuka honey.

A bottle of Comvita UMF 15+ Manuka Honey. Comvita manuka honey is the best brand of honey for acne.

My favorite brand of UMF manuka honey is Comvita 15+ Manuka Honey. If you look at the list of UMF licensed companies, you will see that Comvita is license number 1019, so you know you’re getting the real thing with them.

The Most Effective Honey Remedies for Acne and Skin Care

The two most common ways to use honey for acne is to apply it directly to the face in a mask or some sort of spot treatment, or to take the honey as a dietary supplement with the goal of improving your overall health and helping your skin from the inside out. Here are a few different acne treatments that use honey.

Wash Your Face With Honey – The Honey Cleansing Method

Winnie the Pooh may have been onto something, putting his head into those pots of honey every day. It turns out that honey can be a great alternative to traditional foaming cleansers and soaps which can be harsh on sensitive facial skin.

The Benefits Of A Honey Face Wash

  • Gently removes dirt and other impurities.
  • Does not strip the skin of its natural oils. (Frequently robbing the skin of its protective oils causes it to overproduce oil which can lead to acne.)
  • It works well with all types of skin. (It moisturizes dry skin and balances oily skin.)
  • It’s free of harsh chemicals.
  • Less expensive than leading facial cleansers.

How To Wash Your Face With Honey

This will not remove makeup, so do it in the morning before you put any on. I recommend using raw unpasteurized honey at the very least, and manuka honey if you can afford it. If you’re looking for something that can remove makeup as well, then I recommend the oil cleansing method.

  1. Get about ½ teaspoon of honey on your fingers.
  2. Rub it between your fingers to warm it up.
  3. Add a couple drops of water if necessary to make the honey easier to spread.
  4. Rub it gently onto your face.
  5. Let the honey sit for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have time you can skip this part, but your acne will really benefit from letting the honey’s antibacterial powers have time to do their thing.)
  6. Wash it off with warm water.

Honey Masks For Acne

A woman getting a honey face mask at a spa. Honey face masks are wonderful for fighting acne.

There are a ton of different ways to use honey for acne facial masks. You can easily combine it with almost any other acne mask out there, or use it by itself. Here are several great honey masks for acne that you can try:

Plain Honey Mask


  • honey


  1. Heat the honey to make it more liquid and easier to work with. The best way to do this is to put some honey in a cup, then put the cup in a pan of water and heat the water over a stove. You can also use a microwave, just go slow so you don’t make a gooey mess in your microwave.
  2. Rub the honey on your acne, or entire face.
  3. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash it off.

Apple and Honey Mask


  • ½ Medium apple (remove the seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. Put the apple in a blender and blend it into a pulp.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
  3. Blend it together into an even mixture.
  4. Apply the paste to your entire face.
  5. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Wash it off.

Cinnamon and Honey Mask


  • Cinnamon powder
  • Honey


  1. Heat the honey a little bit to make it more liquid and easier to work with.
  2. Mix the cinnamon and honey into a uniform paste.
  3. Apply the paste to your acne, or your whole face.
  4. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Wash it off.

Other Honey Masks

You can combine honey with all kinds of ingredients. Just make it the same way as any of the masks we already talked about. Heat the honey. Add other ingredients, etc. Here is a list of some popular ingredients to combine with honey:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Apple
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrot
  • Cream cheese
  • Cucumber
  • Egg white
  • Egg yolk
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Heavy Cream
  • Lemon (juice)
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange (juice)
  • Parsley
  • Papaya
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Yogurt

Eat Raw Honey For Acne

Eating honey each day is a great way to improve your overall health and help your acne. You give your body a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and much more. It can even help with allergies.

Use raw, unprocessed honey whenever possible. It’s full of beneficial pollen and other goodies that get removed during processing. If you can find locally grown honey, that’s even better, because it will be full of all the local pollens (the ones actually causing your allergies). By eating these pollens you can reduce any seasonal allergic reaction to them by slowly building up a resistance.

Honey in a cup of tea. Try eating some honey for even more acne and health benefits.

Try to eat 1 tablespoon of honey each day. You can put it on toast, muffins, pancakes, in hot chocolate, a million other things, or my personal favorite, in a cup of green tea. Green tea is also great for acne, so drink a cup a day with 1 tablespoon of honey and you will see a big improvement in your acne.

That’s all I have about honey. I hope you learned some useful things. If you have ever used honey for acne or just in general, please tell us about it. Let’s keep helping each other learn new ways to treat acne. Good luck!

Sophia Simmons

I'm not a doctor or anything like that :( , but I love writing about how to have beautiful, clear skin. I put a ton of time and research into everything I write, so I really hope you'll enjoy reading my articles!!

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[…] is another great acne-fighting face mask. As I discussed in this article, honey is great at killing acne bacteria because of it’s osmotic properties. Add it to your […]


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