Ingredient Spotlight: Honey in the Personal Care Sector

Most of us know honey as a food first and foremost, but the personal care industry is really starting to snap this ingredient up due to its nourishing and unique health benefits.

According to Mintel, over 75% of us are likely to be using cosmetic products containing honey. So what exactly is honey and what health benefits does it carry?

According to Mintel, the sales of organic health and beauty products were up 20% in 2014, with revenue hitting around £44.6 million. This has driven the demand for ingredients such as honey to be used in cosmetic items, namely haircare items, soap and moisturisers. Honey contains a unique set of health benefits, making it an extremely sought after ingredient in the personal care sector.

Honey has been harvested for over 8000 years, and it is only recently becoming a huge hit in the cosmetic industry.

What Is Honey?

Honey is a natural, extremely sweet and sticky substance that is created by bees. It is made up of water and carbohydrates, containing traces of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and, in particular, potassium. Honey also contains flavonoids and phenolic acids which are known antioxidants (Pyrzynska & Biesaga, 2009).

How is Honey Made?

Most of us will already be familiar with the way in which honey is created. When bees take the nectar from flowers they store this in their second stomachs, or honey sacs, and mix it with enzymes produced from glands in their mouth. This mixture is a liquid and is stored in the hexagonal honeycomb where the flapping of the bees’ wings evaporates the excess water over time. Once the honey reaches a good consistency, the bees will cap each hexagon with a wax seal that they produce themselves. This indicates to beekeepers that the honey is ready to be harvested and consumed.

Honey as ingredient in the personal care market

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"A beehive is an exceptionally complex ecosystem and creating honey is a very precise operation. From the flowers’ nectar to the bees’ processing, honey is truly a natural phenomenon and it is no surprise that it makes such an impact on not only the food industry, but also the personal care industry."

Honey in the Personal Care Industry

According to Cosmetics Info (2016) honey can be used in cosmetic products as a humectant to slow the loss of moisture from a product, as well as being used as a fragrance and a skin conditioning agent.

The personal care industry has seen a huge shift in consumer behaviour in recent years, with consumers becoming much more aware of the ingredients used in their beauty products. Ingredients that are derived from super foods are becoming increasingly popular, such as honey, oatmeal and fruits. Consumers want to be sure that ingredients have been sourced responsibly and that the products are good for their skin. In fact, Mintel (2016) estimates that botanical and herbal ingredients are driving over 60% of new product developments in the personal care sector.

We have created a handy infographic about honey and the cosmetics insudustry that you can share with your audience or on your website.

"In particular, honey is quick becoming a favourite ingredient among consumers, with over 75% people being interested in purchasing a product containing honey (Mintel, 2016). This is likely due to the healing and medicinal properties of honey, combined with the fact that it is a natural ingredient."

Health Benefits of Honey

Although honey has been harvested for at least 8000 years, we are still discovering the wealth of health benefits it has to offer to this day. Recent studies have looked into the advantages of using honey for a variety of medicinal applications, and this all contributes to the reason why honey is so widely used in personal care items.

Image Credit: Sandi Benedicta on Unsplash


The nectar collected from flowers is rich in natural sugars such as fructose and glucose, and the reaction of these sugars with the bees’ enzymes give honey an acidic pH of around 3.9. According to Molan (2001) bacteria won’t survive in this acidity, and the stickiness of honey contributes to destroying other unwelcome microorganisms on the skin. Facial cleansing products containing honey are ideal for helping to treat people suffering from acne.


Having hygroscopic properties, honey actually draws and absorbs moisture from the air. This means that having honey as an ingredient in skin and body care products will actually help to keep skin or hair moisturised. As well as this, it has also been used to treat many dermatological conditions. Honey is a common ingredient in haircare products, and is also used in soap bars, liquid soaps and cosmetic creams.


Rich in antioxidants, honey has unique properties that make it an ideal ingredient to be used in anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing products. Free radicals are picked up from the natural environment and they settle on the skin causing skin cell deterioration. Due to the antioxidants, honey is able to help skin cells repair and renew – the end result is that skin appears firmer and brighter (Ecologist, 2012).

Honey in Personal Care infographic

Honey in Personal Care infographic

How We Use Honey in Stephenson

We’re celebrating the launch of our new Crystal Honey Melt and Pour base this week. We use Rowse® honey to manufacture this product, a reliable and natural source that is Soil Association and Kosher certified. This helps soothe the skin and is perfect for the manufacture of soap bars. You can add botanicals, fragrances, colouring and other ingredients such as goats’ milk or oatmeal, to create a natural finished product.

Finishing Thoughts

Honey is definitely a desired ingredient in the personal care sector, and this will only intensify as consumers become more and more aware of the ingredients in their cosmetics. The true extent of the health benefits of honey are still being discovered, with scientific and pharmaceutical research still in relatively early phases. We understand the medicinal potential of honey, and how this ingredient can benefit the personal care sector, but we are still at the start of uncovering its full potential.

You can enquire about where to buy our Crystal Honey Melt & Pour soap base here.


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