'Celebrities love putting manuka honey on their faces, so I tried the skincare trend too.'


No matter how many beauty products I buy, nothing thrills me more than a DIY skincare hack that’s already available in my kitchen cupboard.

So it was with great joy and excitement that I began smearing my face with gooey, sweet manuka honey, in the hope of achieving a hydrated glow that was heaps cheaper than fancy face cream.

You see, manuka honey is the natural cleanser and moisturiser of choice amongst beauty fanatics and IT girls.

Swimwear designer, podcaster and rockstar royalty Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor is said to be a fan, as is Scarlett Johansson (“It really adds an amazing glow and your skin is so soft afterwards. It pulls out the impurities.”) and the cool girl beauty website, Into The Gloss.


Sure, it sounds great, but how does it work on the skin of a non-famous person (“me”)? Grab your favourite toast condiment and join me on my adventures with honey.

Wait – what is manuka honey?

Manuka honey is made by clever little bees who use the nectar of the manuka tree to create their liquid gold. They probably judge the other bees and call them “basic” for using garden-variety flowers to make their honey.

In the 1980s, Dr Peter Molan discovered that manuka honey has potent antimicrobial activity (i.e. it inhibits bacterial growth), according to The Conversation. These superpowers mean that manuka honey costs a little more than regular honey.

The honey I used was Bee Vital Manuka Honey 5+, which is $11.50 for 250g. In comparison, Capilano Australian Honey costs $4.30 for the same amount.

Bee Vital, Manuka Honey 5+, $11.50

What are the benefits of using manuka honey on my face, instead of on my toast?

If you’re an all-natural gal, and prefer coconut oil in your hair to a salon leave-in conditioner, then manuka honey may be the ‘clean’, wholesome face solution you’ve been looking for. It’s also great if you want to pamper your face, but don’t have tons of cash to splash on the newest mask trending on Instagram.

Although manuka honey is pricier than regular honey, it does have a bang for your buck when compared to a formulated face mask. For example, my jar of $11.50 honey would contain multiple mask applications, whereas a one-time sheet mask from Coles can cost $10, and a pot of clay mask can cost $20.

And if you’re lucky like me and find it lurking in the back of your cupboard, then it costs nothing.

Did you just pour a jar of honey over your head?

No, I’m not Winnie the Pooh. I scooped a tablespoon of manuka honey into a small ramekin, and in front of the bathroom mirror, I smeared it onto my dry face with my fingers.

My plan was to use manuka honey as both a mask and a cleanser, so I wanted to leave it on for twenty minutes, and then wipe it off with a warm, wet face cloth.


So, was the final result sticky or sweet?

Well, I’d say that it was a bit of both. The good news: after using manuka honey as a cleansing mask, my skin felt soothed and hydrated, and my skin appeared to look smoother and with smaller pores.

The calming sensation on my skin was especially appreciated, as I have rosacea and my face was feeling itching and aggravated that day.

Although my skin looked and felt good afterwards, this was balanced out by the sheer impracticality of using honey for skincare.

It was difficult to apply, as it kept dripping all over the place. It also got in my hair, even though I had pulled it back with a headband.

manuka honey mask
The drips in action...

I wanted to multitask as I masked, so I was typing away on my laptop when I felt like my face was melting. Sure enough, the warmth of my face had melted the honey, and it began to dribble down my face, and then onto my t-shirt and work desk. I toughed it out for another five minutes, and then had to wipe it off.

I thought I was pretty thorough with getting the honey off, but later that day, I kept finding little sticky patches on my face and in my hair.

There was also the strong scent of honey which followed me around until I washed my face again the next morning. I enjoyed the smell for about half an hour, but after that, it became annoying.

Would you try it again?

A lovely and convenient place to try a manuka honey mask would be in the bathtub, so that the honey residue can just be washed away. But seeing as I don’t often have the time for a soak, I’ll look out for manuka honey as a beauty ingredient instead.

Two brands that I love, Antipodes and Swisse, have manuka honey-based masks available at Priceline, while Elemental Herbology has a manuka honey cleanser and mask at Mecca. For now, I’ll stick to eating my honey.

manuka honey mask benefits

Antipodes, Aura Manuka Honey Mask, $48.99

manuka honey mask benefits

Swisse, Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask, $17.99

manuka honey mask benefits

Elemental Herbology, Vital Cleanse, $57

manuka honey mask benefits

Elemental Herbology, Facial Detox Purifying Facial Mask, $53

What’s your best kitchen cupboard beauty hack?

Carla Gee is a writer and illustrator, living in Canberra. You can follow her on Instagram, @bycarlagee.

For another DIY skincare hack, try using coffee. This is how.

Video by MWN