During my travels, I look forward to learning about native botanicals and discovering brands that incorporate these ingredients. I could spend hours browsing lotions and potions at local apothecaries, smelling and testing out their concoctions. I appreciate how they utilize the bounties that their land provides, which in turn creates naturally nourishing products.
While in New Zealand, I witnessed the beauty benefits from kiwifruit, lanolin, kawakawa, and thermal mud, but my favorite find was manuka honey.
This antibacterial powerhouse is produced by bees that pollinate New Zealand’s indigenous manuka tree. It has higher therapeutic benefits than regular honey and boasts benefits such as soothing redness, healing scars, treating and preventing acne, and providing an overall glow to your skin. As manuka honey is a natural humectant, it absorbs moisture from the air, leaving your skin feeling plump and hydrated. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it calms your skin and balances its pH.
Liquid Gold from Nature
Along with hydrogen peroxide, manuka honey contains methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone, which are two chemical substances with high antimicrobial action. Methylglyoxal is found in most types of honey, yet in smaller quantities. Manuka honey contains up to 100x more methylglyoxal than normal honey, showcasing its strong antibacterial properties. Also, these chemicals are more stable than hydrogen peroxide, so they are not as easily destroyed by heat, light, and environmental factors, allowing the honey to maintain its potency.
Due to its antibacterial properties, manuka honey is an effective natural ointment for all types of ailments, from fresh scrapes to stubborn acne. The honey draws fluid from the wound - imagine how a magnet attracts metal - speeding up the healing process. Further, manuka honey is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals, which are compounds that damage your cells. This healing honey repairs cellular damage and assists with signs of aging.
Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)
The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a quality trademark and grading system that measures the potency of manuka honey, ultimately identifying authentic manuka honey.
The UMF measures the antibacterial power of the honey within the range below:
0-4: Not detectable
5-9: Low levels
10-15: Useful levels
16+: Superior high-grade levels
Always choose a product with a label that indicates more than 10+ UMF to receive noticeable beauty benefits.
Pure Manuka Honey - Accessible from the USA
Here are links to two of my favorite manuka honey brands, both with UMF 15+ gradings:
At-Home Natural Remedies
Manuka honey at-home remedies can do wonders for your skin, with no real risk of adverse side effects. It truly is liquid gold. (Those with bee allergies .. please do not follow my recommendations!)
Pure Manuka Honey Mask
My favorite way to use manuka honey topically is very simple. Rub a tablespoon of honey on clean, slightly damp skin, and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. The water causes the hydrogen peroxide in the honey to react, which can create a slight tingling sensation. Rinse the honey off with cold water and pat your face dry with a clean towel. The honey helps to clear up acne, reduce redness, moisturize your skin, and provides a gorgeous glow.
Manuka Honey, Lemon & Sugar Mask
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use manuka honey in a DIY facial scrub/mask. First mix together a tablespoon of manuka honey, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a teaspoon of organic brown sugar in a bowl. Massage the concoction onto slightly damp skin and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Rinse your face with cold water, pat dry, and follow with a moisturizer. This mask is a great dark spot treatment, fading acne scars, and brightening your skin.
Manuka honey is essentially natures cure-all and has noticeable health benefits when ingested. When I feel a cold coming on, I add manuka honey to my tea and I believe that it helps reduce my symptoms.
New Zealand Beauty Brands
If DIY skincare is not your thing, one of my favorite New Zealand beauty brands is Apicare. They were the first company in the world to use manuka honey in skincare products and continue to be a leader in New Zealand’s natural beauty industry.
Apicare Manuka Therapy 30% Honey Crème: this healing formula contains 30% UMF 15+ manuka honey, which is a huge bang for your buck. You can put this on all sorts of ailments, like rashes and bug bites, and it’s great for those with eczema. When my skin is extra dry in the winter, I mix a little of this creme with a facial oil and it keeps my skin moisturized all day.
I also love their Repair Me Handcreme:
Another Kiwi brand that incorporates manuka honey is Evolu. Two of the luxury lodges that I was fortunate to experience, Bay of Many Coves and Hapuku Lodge, offer Evolu amenities, so you know it’s good stuff. Their shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion are all heavenly. Fun fact: the owners name is Kati as well (my nickname). It’s not often that you hear about another Kati in the world! Here’s a quote from Kati summing up her genuine mission -
”My childhood was steeped in nature and the outdoors, planting and harvesting food, cultivating herbs for their medicinal benefits, drinking the nectar from flowers and fruit. My life has been informed by botanicals; their wisdom, their beauty, their power. Now I spend my time translating that into products and practices everyone can benefit from.”
Evolu’s conditioner leaves my hair silky smooth and shiny:
In what ways do you take advantage of the golden goodness of manuka honey?