I've been thinking about doing this post for a while now but I wasn't sure if you would really be that interested! I know most people have their favourite brands when it comes to skincare and don't really like to/see the point in deviating from them if they work. I'm a little more dubious, and I just want to take a couple of minutes to talk about a natural alternative to most cleansers, honey.
Although you do get some fantastic skincare products that work really well in the short-term, I'm fairly paranoid about what effects they may have on my skin in the long run, as as far as I can find there haven't been many studies to demonstrate the long-term effects of most products properly yet. Now, I'm not gonna be a huge hypocrite here, I still use some non-100%-natural products. For example, I suffer from extreeeemely dry skin and I'm currently using a Body Shop serum and moisturiser to help me out a bit. (I could go into why I choose to use The Body Shop and Lush instead of a lot of other conventional brands but that's best left for another post...) That is not to say, however, that I'm not on the search for decent natural alternatives as my paranoia still stands (if you do have any alternatives please pop them in the comments below so I can check them out!) and because of this, I welcome effective natural skincare into my life with open arms, and I want to share the love with you guys too!
However, there are a few disclaimers I feel I need to say before proceeding with this post!
Firstly, as I have just stated I suffer from very dry, sensitive skin and rosacea. I'm not entirely sure how this product would work for people with combination or oily skin so you might have to research this before you try! However, it is ridiculously cost effective so it wouldn't hurt your pocket to give it a try anyway.
Secondly, this product doesn't remove makeup. It's got no fancy chemicals in so unfortunately I still have to use makeup remover before putting the honey on. Though I can't exactly moan about that being non-natural as it's my fault for wearing unnatural makeup in the first place (again, if you know of any natural make up removers, give me a shout. I would love to know)!
Now we've addressed those two considerations, we can go right ahead!
I had heard for a while that honey was a really good cleanser/cleansing mask for your skin but it took me a long time to actually try it out but when I got round to it, I was pleasantly surprised.
The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology sums up the benefits of honey:
'Antimicrobial properties are pivotal in dermatological applications, owing to enzymatic H2O2 release or the presence of active components, like methylglyoxal in manuka, while medical-grade honey is also available ... In cosmetic formulations, it exerts emollient, humectant, soothing, and hair conditioning effects, keeps the skin juvenile and retards wrinkle formation, regulates pH and prevents pathogen infections ... Mechanisms of action on skin cells are deeply conditioned by the botanical sources and include antioxidant activity, the induction of cytokines and matrix metalloproteinase expression, as well as epithelial-mesenchymal transition in wounded epidermis.' (Bruno Burlando and Laura Cornana, 'Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review, in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (12), pp. 306 - 313)Basically, it's amazing for your skin. It been shown to reduce wrinkles, moisturise the skin and keep spots at bay.
I originally picked up a standard Tesco jar of clear honey (you don't need anything fancy) and began incorporating it into my morning and night time skincare routine. Using honey follows the same steps as most regular cleansers and skincare products, but just to clarify, this is how I use it:
Step 1. Wash face with warm water. This is just a standard rinse to open up your pores and give the skin a quick, overall clean.
Step 2. Take a small amount of honey into your fingertips and rub into your face. So all I do is take a small amount onto my fingers (you really don't need a lot as it will drip if you have too much on, and cause it's so sticky it goes everywhere. Not nice) and I just gently massage the honey into my skin in circular motions. I tend to do my cheeks mostly as this is where I wear most of my make up, and then I do my chin, forehead and nose.
Step 3. Leave to sit for 5 - 10 minutes. So to be completely honest with you, I don't actually know how long you're supposed to leave it for to get the optimal results but I used to only leave it on for 1-2 minutes and it worked fine, but when I began leaving it on for longer I found my skin was a lot softer (remember, I have dry skin so this is a bonus for me!)
Step 4. Get your (damp) muslin cloth! Now all I do is dampen my Body Shop muslin cloth under warm water, give it a bit of a rinse and then begin rubbing the honey very gently in circular motions once more. This will work the honey into the pores to get the last bits of grit out whilst simultaneously washing it off your face.
Step 5. Splash your face with warm water. This will just take the last bits of honey off your face and leave it clean ready for the rest of your skincare routine. Remember not to have the water too warm, especially if you have dry skin like me, as it will damage the skin and leave it flakey and irritated.
Step 6. Carry on with the rest of your normal skincare routine! So now I usually just add a bit of my Body Shop Aloe Protective Serum if it's the evening and then some moisturiser, or if it's the morning I just skip the serum and moisturise straight away, but you can obviously do whatever you usually do after a good ol' cleanse!
I find the benefits of using honey are plentiful and I don't think I'll ever bother using anything else, at least for a long time! I've not only had compliments on my skin since I've been using it but it's made my skin feel a lot softer than before I was using it, and as previously mentioned, it's incredibly cheap and inexpensive so it's always worth trying out (as a student, I have to say it's been a fantastic alternative).
Let me know if you do try out honey as a cleanser, and also if you have natural suggestions for a serum and/or makeup remover!