Early on in my green journey I learned about all the chemicals that lurk in our beauty products. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics there are phthalates in fragrances, lead in lipstick, and potential carcinogens in baby bath products. To be clear, the jury is still out on exactly what effect, if any, these chemicals actually have on human health. But speaking as a mom, I would rather err on the side of caution and avoid exposing myself and my children to potentially harmful substances.
Once I learned about the potential toxins in many beauty products, the search was on for safer alternatives. I studied ingredient lists with single-minded purpose, trying to make sense of words like ‘cocamidopropyl betaine‘ and ‘disodium EDTA‘. I became a frequent visitor to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. I quizzed friends and relatives, and trolled internet message boards. Sorting through the conflicting data was all very confusing.
While I was up to my elbows in greening my beauty regimen, I read a story about someone who tried washing her face with honey. Like me, she had sensitive, easily-irritated skin, prone to blotchiness and break-outs. The idea sounded strange at first. But I was on my third ‘green’ facewash at the time and I didn’t like it, so I decided to try honey for a few days. I already had it on hand, and if it didn’t work out, then I could move on to ‘green’ facewash number 4. I basically had nothing to lose.
Washing my face with honey felt strange at first. To do it, I dampened my skin and then rubbed about half a teaspoon of plain, unpasteurized honey on my face. It didn’t foam or behave like the facewashes I was used to, but I was able to spread it. Then I let it sit for a minute or two, and rinsed it off. The verdict? I actually really, really liked it. In fact, it’s been three years since I tried washing my face with honey, and I am still a convert today.
What’s so great about honey? It is a natural humectant, which means that it traps and retains moisture, but it’s not all greasy. Honey is slightly acidic, so it has a very mild exfoliating effect. And honey is naturally antibacterial. My skin is not perfect, but it’s not nearly as blotchy as it was before I started using honey. I also don’t get that tight, dry feeling in my cheeks anymore. Plus, I know that honey does not contain any alarming chemicals.
In the interests of full disclosure, I do not wear make-up, and I don’t think that honey would do double-duty as a makeup remover. Also, if you are vegan or live in an area where honey is really expensive it might be a no-go. And it is pretty sticky, so you want to avoid getting it all over your countertop. For me, though, the benefits outweigh the downsides. I think I will continue to wash my face with honey pretty much forever.
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When Amber isn’t washing her face with honey, she’s sharing her daily adventures over at Strocel.com.