Honey And Acne

Why do some people use honey for acne?  Here, we’ll look at the properties of honey, and some recipes using honey for skin and acne in particular.

Why Honey For Acne?  Why The Interest?

There is rather a lot of interest in honey for use on the skin, for example:

  • honey is already used in clinical settings, in wounds dressings and ointments.

  • the antibacterial properties of honey are well documented.

  • there is also some evidence that honey may help alleviate symptoms of eczema.  

  • research suggests that as well as efficacy against some bacteria, honey can even fight some viruses and fungal infections1.

However, as I write, I am not aware of any research papers that specifically demonstrate honey's efficacy in the treatment of the particular bacteria that cause acne, but in 2013, Eady et al2 proposed the use of sugars to control the Propionibacterium acnes by limiting the bacterial access to nutrients via water. This is an interesting point given the low water content and low 'water activity level' (see Does Honey Go Bad?).

Eady et al2 state:

"The use of nonirritating solutes such as sugars and polyols offers a safer alternative to the antimicrobials currently available without running the risk of selecting for antibiotic resistance and without the undesirable effects of benzoyl peroxide."

If you suffer with acne, and are keen to try honey to treat it, I see no harm in doing so, unless there is a specific reason that you should avoid it (e.g. you have an allergy to honey).   

Facial Treatments Using Honey

There are many different recipes for facial treatments containing honey.  If you have acne, you may wish to try something soothing, and non-abrasive.  Test these on a small area of the skin first, especially if your skin is sensitive.

Rose Oil And Honey Facial Mask

Rose oil contains a natural antiseptic, whilst honey has anti-bacterial properties.


2 tablespoons of honey

5 drops of essential oil of rose

You could also add a drop of almond oil – however, be cautious.  Again, reviews are mixed, some claim it has helped their acne, others believe it helped cause breakouts.

Apply to the facial mask to the face and other areas where acne is present (such as shoulders, chest), and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off.

Honey And Brewer’s Yeast Facial Mask For Acne

Brewer’s yeast is believed to be effective against recurring boils on the skin (furunculosis).

Do not use this recipe if you are taking medication for depression or fungal infections, or have Crohn’s disease.  If you are pregnant, avoid this recipe, since any interactions have not as yet been studied.

Combine 2 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast powder with a little water to make a paste.  Add 1 tablespoon of honey.

Apply to the face and leave for 10 – 15 minutes, then rinse.

Honey And Cucumber Soothing Facial Mask

Puree approximately an inch of a cucumber to a pulp.

Add 1 tablespoon of clear honey

Combine the ingredients and apply to the face for 15 minutes.


1. Saad Almasaudi, The antibacterial activities of honey, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2021, Pages 2188-2196, ISSN 1319-562X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.10.017

2. Eady EA, Layton AM, Cove JH. A honey trap for the treatment of acne: manipulating the follicular microenvironment to control Propionibacterium acnes. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:679680. doi: 10.1155/2013/679680. Epub 2013 May 14. PMID: 23762853; PMCID: PMC3666392.

What's the real difference?

Honey vs Sugar

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