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Bee-auty!

Honey has incredible skin and hair care properties. It has been revered throughout history for this purpose – the Egyptians used it in mummification (the ultimate anti-ager!), Cleopatra bathed in it, the Romans used it on battle wounds, whilst the wife of the Roman Emperor Nero, Poppea, formulated a honey based moisturiser. Queen Anne of England used it to condition her hair and Madame du Barry (famous for her beauty and for being Louis XV’s final mistress) may have been the first to make a homemade honey face-mask. Indeed, one of the most striking aspects of honey is its longevity in the beauty sector – outlasting many skin-care ‘fads’ and so-called ‘miracle’ ingredients.

So, why all the buzz about honey (sorry, couldn’t resist it)? This remarkable substance is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It soothes and moisturises and is a humectant meaning that it draws moisture towards it and seals it onto the skin, prolonging its moisturising effect. It contains phytochemicals which make it antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. It is also self preserving (due to its anti-microbial constituents, low PH, moisture content and water activity) as famously illustrated by archeologists who found 2,000 year-old jars of honey in Egyptian tombs!

Honey can be applied neat to the skin or combined with other complementary ingredients. We’re sure you will be keen to get some on your skin – so here are some ideas for a homemade face mask using honey and things you might find in the fridge:

* Make a simple Cleopatra-esque mask using plain yogurt/cream (we find milk doesn’t stay on so well!) and honey to moisturise and soothe (recommended for sensitive skin)
* Mix honey, oats (best if ground first to avoid clumpiness) and a little lemon/lime (rich in AHAs and vitamin C) to moisturise and exfoliate
* Blend some enzyme-rich papaya (also contains vitamin A) and honey together to brighten and banish dead skin cells without scrubbing