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Honeybees just might be nature’s best cosmetologists. They produce beeswax and honey, some of the most valuable natural beauty ingredients—and ones that we have not been able to duplicate in the laboratory. Both are key skin- and hair-care ingredients that have been used since ancient times. Today, the use of bee-based ingredients is more popular than ever—they can be found in every major cosmetic company’s line of products, from soaps to facial moisturizers.
Pure, natural honey and beeswax are produced by hardworking bees. Honey contains potassium, phosphorus and zinc, and there are more than 300 varieties produced worldwide. Bees may travel more than 55,000 miles and visit 2 million flowers to produce a single pound of honey. Bees also are natural environmental filters—they die if they come into contact with toxins, so pollutants don’t make it into their hives. Toxins such as industrial emissions, car exhaust and agricultural chemicals all pose a threat to honeybee populations today. It is important for us to provide safe, healthy gardens and environments for bees to thrive and multiply in.
Honey is a natural humectant. A humectant has the ability to attract and retain moisture. This is important for healthy skin and hair because it helps maintain softness and flexibility. It also is a powerful antioxidant; the darker the shade of honey, the more antioxidant potential. Antioxidants play a role in protecting the skin from damage. Soothe cuts, scrapes and burns by dabbing a bit of honey directly onto your skin. It is a good choice for those with troubled or acne-prone skin because it helps heal your complexion and, because it also has antimicrobial properties, helps kill the growth of certain bacteria on the skin’s surface.
Apitherapy is the term used for treatments that involve honey- and bee-based products. Many spas offer treatments that enhance physical stamina, calm the mind, and rejuvenate the skin using honey, beeswax and bee pollen. You can create your own simple, yet effective treatments and products at home. Here are some easy recipes to try.
Janice Cox and her daughter, Lauren Cox, co-authored EcoBeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends (Ten Speed Press, 2009). Find it at www.herbcompanion.com/shopping.