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Honey has been a part of human history since around 7000BC.
This liquid gold was used as currency by the Egyptians, associated with royalty and riches, and offered to their gods. It was even used in the embalming process, part of many marriage dowries and bees were thought to have special powers.
Not just a food, the Greeks favoured honey for similar spiritual uses, as well as in beauty and medicine. Honey remained a sought after ingredient right up until the explosion of sugar as a commodity, just a few centuries ago.
Honey also has a number of properties that could make it an excellent addition to your skincare routine. Not just high in antibacterial properties, but great at locking in moisture, honey is incredibly versatile and as a result, can be found in numerous products on the supermarkets shelves.
For this reason, it is crucial to be wary when buying your honey. Sadly, the centuries of buzz around honey and its many potential benefits, has come at a cost. It’s now the third-most-faked food in the world. Adding honey to your skincare is a great natural way to promote skin health and wellness, but with so many contaminants out there, it’s crucial to know what to look for when figuring out what is the best Manuka honey.
In this article, we’ll delve into:
- Why and how Manuka honey is good for the skin
Including for specific conditions like acne, dry skin and eczema, along with product recommendations for each.
- How to ensure you buy the best Manuka honey
Understanding the UMF & MGO grading systems
- Our top Manuka honey product picks
- 3 easy recipes to kickstart your Manuka honey skincare regimen
The Best Manuka Honey for Face & Skin
Manuka honey is pretty special.
Native only to New Zealand, it takes the perfect synergy of climate, soil, plant and bee health to produce the very best quality Manuka honey. Beekeepers have a window of between 2 and 8 weeks each year to carefully collect the honey, meaning that reserves are limited and as a result, in higher demand.
Why is Manuka Honey Good for Skin?
When it comes to skincare, we have a few bases that we generally want to cover. From moisture retention to antibacterial defences and healing, studies have shown that Manuka honey has the potential to do all these things for us because:
- It offers humectant qualities (meaning that it holds in water for hydration).
- It has emollient properties (meaning it moisturises and softens).
- It can help regulate pH levels (keeping skin healthy).
- It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties (preventing the skin’s surface from infection).
- It can be used for evening out skin tone (reducing redness).
So whatever skin type you have, incorporating Manuka honey into your skincare routine could give you all these benefits with none of the nasty chemicals.
That’s pretty cool, but what about some of the more specific, and arguably trickier, skin conditions? Is Manuka honey still effective, and if so, which grades of Manuka honey should you be looking for?
Best Manuka Honey for Dry Skin
The sugars in Manuka honey make it a natural humectant and emollient. This means that when used on skin, Manuka honey could help to lock in moisture, keep skin hydrated and help soften fine lines and wrinkles - perfect for drier skin or conditions that cause dry skin.
Product to try: we recommend any of our Manuka honeys, at least UMF 15+ or higher (the higher the better!) for best results when hydrating dry skin.
Best Manuka Honey for Eczema and Psoriasis
Dry skin conditions are uncomfortable and can be difficult to manage. By opting for Manuka honey, you can leverage its healing potential and try treating your psoriasis or eczema naturally:
“If you have blemishes or an eczema outbreak, honey that’s unpasteurized could speed healing and reduce inflammation. Manuka honey is so effective at healing wounds quickly that it’s now used by doctors in clinical settings.”
Product to try: we would recommend, especially for very dry skin, trying some of the best Manuka honey New Zealand has to offer, our highest grade Manuka honeys; UMF 24+ or UMF 26+ (the higher the better!)
Best Manuka Honey for Acne
Manuka honey has been found to be more effective in anti-acne skincare than other well-known products. Raw honey can help to balance the bacteria on the surface of skin and act as a natural exfoliator, removing contaminants and renewing the skin’s appearance - all perfect components when dealing with troublesome acne:
“[Manuka honey] can balance your skin’s pH level and help slough away dead cell debris to keep your skin clean. Its anti-inflammatory effect can decrease local inflammation caused by acne. As an antibacterial, Manuka honey leaves fewer bacteria to infect pores and cause acne. This honey can heal existing pimples, as well.”
Product to try: we would recommend our UMF 24+ Manuka honey or higher to give you the best chance of great results.
Best Manuka Honey for Burns and Wounds
Manuka honey has made a medical comeback in recent years, being used topically as a wound treatment. Used by indigenous people in healing for decades, reports by bioengineers have shown that there is plentiful scientific evidence for this potential, too;
“In vitro and in vivo evidence shows that honey, particularly Manuka honey, eliminates bacteria, resolves chronic inflammation, and promotes faster wound healing. Its potency against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, makes it a particularly invaluable tool in an age where more strains of resistant bacteria are developing. As such, honey is a valuable addition to many tissue engineering templates in eliminating bacterial infection, aiding in inflammation resolution, and improving tissue integration with the template.”
Product to try: when it comes to wound healing, you want the greatest concentration of antibacterial properties available. This would come from the highest-graded of our products, UMF 26+ Manuka honey.
How to Ensure You Buy the Best Quality Manuka Honey
We know that honey has become a hot commodity over the years, and that sadly, not all brands can be trusted. This makes knowing which is the best Manuka honey to buy all the more difficult. So, what should you be looking for?
UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor.
It was created within the industry to identify and differentiate the unique properties of Manuka honey, with the purposes of quality assurance, quality trademark, promotion, science and innovation. Very much a collaborative effort within the industry, the UMF mark indicates credibility and authenticity, so that consumers can trust that they are getting the real deal.
Here, we’ll explain how the UMF system works and what to look for on labels so that when it comes to buying your Manuka honey, you can purchase with confidence and clarity.
The Best Manuka Honey UMF
We like to think that UMF is to Manuka honey what SPF is to sunscreen; the higher the SPF, the better level of sun protection. The higher the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), the more potent the honey.
You might have also heard of the MGO rating associated with Manuka honey, which refers to the level of Methylglyoxal found in a particular batch. This active ingredient is what Dr. Peter Molan (the guy that first shone the public light on Manuka honey through his studies), in his research claims is “directly proportional” to the “antibacterial potency” of the honey. This is what could be beneficial in skincare, according to dermatologists.
The UMF rating system takes MGO levels into account, as well as a number of other factors:
- Purity: whether the honey is monofloral (originates from one flower), or multifloral (a combination of flowers or blended honeys) affects the level of purity.
- Authenticity: chemical signs that the honey originated from a Manuka plant and the presence of Manuka nectar indicates authenticity.
- Antibacterial activity: The level of non-peroxide activity (NPA) and methylglyoxal indicates strength of antibacterial activity.
For a breakdown of UMF vs. MGO levels, check out our handy calculator here.
This chart shows how the quantities of certain Manuka honey components (x axis) change based on the UMF grading (y axis):
Hydroxymethylfurfural and Leptosperin are both indicators of genuine Manuka honey, remaining consistent throughout. Methylglyoxal, as discussed above, has been associated with levels of antibacterial potency.
So as you can see, the higher the UMF, the higher the grade of honey and its potential benefits. The highest grade Manuka honey we produce is UMF™ 24+ | MGO 1122+ and UMF™ 26+ | MGO 1282+, some of the very best available.
Reading UMF Labels and What to Look for
When you shop for your Manuka honey, check its label. If its MGO (or MG) level is shown but not a UMF rating, bear in mind that MGO is not regulated in the same way that UMF is.
So ideally, you want a brand that is transparent and displays at least the UMF, if not both:
Look for these features on an authentic jar of quality Manuka honey:
- A UMF trademark label.
- A UMF rating of 5+ or higher.
- The UMF-certified company’s name and license number.
- Evidence that the product was labelled in New Zealand and sold by a UMF certified company.
Our batches are independently tested by Analytica Laboratories, the market leader for honey testing in New Zealand, and our certificates are available for customers to view.
Our Top Manuka Honey Product Picks
In order to get the best results from adding Manuka honey to your skincare, we recommend opting for the highest grade options. Here are our top 3:
Our highest grade Manuka honey, the UMF 26+ | MGO 1282+ will give you all the very best that Manuka honey has to offer your skin at our highest level of purity and concentration.
Produced in the wild New Zealand landscape, our beekeepers have only a short window to collect the limited reserves available. At the highest grade UMF, this honey is the most premium of our range.
Our next highest grade Manuka honey, the UMF 24+ | MGO 1122+ offers a wealth of potential benefits when added to your daily skincare routine, as well as smoothies, breakfast bowls and more.
With an herbaceous flavour and caramel undertones, this honey not only tastes divine but will smell beautiful in any home-made skin care products. Get ready to relax while you soak up all the natural goodness that Manuka has to offer.
Our third highest grade, the UMF 20+ | MGO 829+ Manuka honey boasts a similar level of essential vitality and natural power as its siblings, just at a slightly lower concentration.
As with our entire range it is raw honey, non-GMO, it contains no additives and adheres to the same strict independent testing as all of our products.
3 Easy Recipes to Kickstart Your Manuka Honey Skincare Regimen
Giving your skin the best that it deserves naturally couldn’t be easier with these simple Manuka honey skincare recipes to make at home.
Even though these ingredients are natural, we recommend spot testing before applying fully.
Our best Manuka honey face mask: the higher the grade of honey, the better your results could be. Apply a tablespoon of New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey to your face and décolletage, thick and evenly spread, leaving on for around 30 minutes. Relax! Then remove with a warm cloth and moisturise as usual.
- Our all-natural, DIY turmeric and Manuka honey face mask: simply mix one teaspoon of organic turmeric powder, one teaspoon of New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey and one tablespoon of organic, plain and unflavoured yoghurt. Blend and apply to the face for 15 minutes. Rinse and moisturise as normal.
- Manuka Honey Lip Scrub: combine a tablespoon of New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey with a teaspoon of warm coconut oil. Mix, then add a tablespoon of raw brown sugar. Rub this into your lips and leave on for 2-3 minutes before rinsing (or licking!) off.
Only the Best for Your Skin
We passionately believe in producing authentic Manuka honey, and helping more people to enjoy its huge range of health benefits. This means transparency, so that you can make sure that you are giving your skin the very best in natural goodness that Manuka honey has to offer.
However you choose to use your Manuka honey, we hope that it brings you the health and wellness that our ancestors have enjoyed for millennia.
Check out our wider range at our online shop.
For more ways to get the most out of your New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka honey, check out our other blog posts below:
- Manuka Honey Hair Mask
- Chocolate Brownies with Manuka Honey
- Manuka Honey Brȗlée
- Natural Immunity Boosting Drink with Manuka Honey
- Manuka Honey Moscow Mule
- Winter Warming Manuka Honey and Pumpkin Soup
- Salted Caramel Bliss Balls with Manuka Honey
- Manuka Honey-infused Chia Pudding
- Paleo Banana Bread with Manuka Honey
- Homemade Manuka Honey Mustard or Vinaigrette