Manuka honey is a nutrient-rich natural wonder derived from the nectar of the Manuka bush flower. This plant (scientifically known as Leptospermum Scoparium, if you’re in the mood for technical lingo) is indigenous to New Zealand. The honey that bees create using Manuka flower nectar isn’t just mouth-wateringly delicious – it also has unique healing and soothing properties.
Manuka honey is incredibly anti-inflammatory thanks to its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. When added to skincare products like cleansers and moisturisers, the benefits of Manuka honey include a reduction in skin inflammation and redness, as well as an overall calming and soothing effect on the skin.
“Manuka honey is full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients,” says Antipodes founder and company director Elizabeth Barbalich. “Not only is it antibacterial, but it’s also antimicrobial which helps heal skin infections.” This antibacterial action helps to soothe and reduce the symptoms of skin conditions like acne and rosacea.
In addition to reducing inflammation and redness, Manuka honey is also incredibly hydrating. “Manuka honey is a humectant, drawing moisture into the skin, therefore helping to hydrate, heal and nourish the skin,” says Elizabeth. Read on to learn more about the benefits of Manuka honey in skincare, along with its vegan counterpart Manuka oil.
Manuka Honey Quality & Rating System
Not all Manuka honey is of the same quality. Scientific tests can be performed to identify the presence of certain natural compounds, which indicate if the Manuka honey in question is authentic, pure, and of high quality. Here’s some basic information about determining Manuka honey quality:
- When Manuka honey is being tested, scientists look for the presence of signature natural compounds – the three main compounds are Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal.
- One of the most trusted ratings systems for Manuka honey is the UMF rating scale, which is handled by the UMF Honey Association of New Zealand.
- This organisation verifies the quality of Manuka honey using internationally standardised testing systems, and they also help protect consumers from counterfeit Manuka honey (yes, this is a thing that exists!) by regularly checking and analysing honey samples from the marketplace.
- You can read more about the UMF rating system on the association’s website, but as a guide, a great quality Manuka honey will have a UMF rating of 18 or higher. Antipodes, for example, only uses top quality Manuka honey with a 20+ rating.
- Another common rating system is the MGO scale, with anything scoring a MGO rating of 692 or higher indicating great quality Manuka honey. You can read more about the UMF vs. MGO ratings systems here.
Our Favourite Manuka Honey-Based Skincare Products
Erica Brooke Honey Cream Cleanser
If you’re after a cleanser that nourishes while it cleans, look no further than Erica Brooke Honey Cream Cleanser. This rich, luxurious cleansing cream helps to heal, renew and hydrate your skin while also cleansing away dirt, excess oil and impurities.
In addition to anti-inflammatory Manuka honey, the cleanser also contains goldenseal extract and frankincense, which help to protect your skin from free radical damage. The formula also contains colloidal silver, which helps to reduce blemishes and skin irritation.
Antipodes Manuka Honey Skin-Brightening Light Day Cream
With potent extracts like Manuka honey, bee venom, Vinanza grape, kiwi seed, mamaku black fern and calendula oil, Antipodes Manuka Honey Skin-Brightening Light Day Cream is a beautiful and natural way to get a gorgeous, luminous and hydrated complexion.
The natural antibacterial properties of Manuka honey helps to calm inflammation and shrink blemishes, while antioxidant-rich grape seed and kiwi help to brighten your complexion and protect your skin from free radicals, which can contribute to premature skin ageing.
This lush formula also contains nourishing avocado oil, which keeps skin feeling soft and hydrated. Avocado oil is also known for its anti-ageing and collagen-boosting properties, making this lush cream a must for women who want plump, supple and deeply hydrated skin.
Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask
There are very few things more luxurious and pampering that a rich face mask. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask is a beautiful way to take 20 minutes out of your week and reclaim some me-time. Containing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory Manuka honey, this lush mask will leave your skin feeling soothed, happy and nourished.
Immediately after using it you’ll notice a reduction in redness and skin irritation, and your complexion will also feel deeply hydrated and moisturised to boot. This luxe face mask also smells divine courtesy of natural extracts like vanilla pod and mandarin.
Manuka Honey vs. Manuka Oil
Manuka honey isn’t the only amazing thing to come from the Manuka bush. Manuka oil is a wonderfully healing ingredient that’s comes from the leaves of this potent plant. The oil is extracted by steam distillation, and can be obtained using sustainable practices that don’t damage the health of the Manuka tree.
Manuka oil has many similar properties as Manuka honey. It’s highly antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial – making it extremely anti-inflammatory. This means that it’s a fantastic ingredient to use in skincare products designed for sensitive, red, and reactive skin.
Because Manuka oil is extracted directly from the leaves and doesn’t involve the use of bees and honey, it’s a great alternative ingredient for vegans who won’t use Manuka honey because they actively avoid products made from animal or animal by-products.
Our Favourite Manuka Oil-Based Skincare Products
Manuka Biotic Natural Face Cleanser
A brilliant option for women with sensitive and blemish-prone skin, Manuka Biotic Natural Face Cleanser leaves your complexion feeling fresh and clean while also removing bacteria to help combat blemishes.
In addition to antimicrobial Manuka oil, this cleanser is blended with green tea extract and Witch Hazel, along with nourishing essential oils like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and almond oil, which help to hydrate and nourish your skin.
Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream
With skin-loving antioxidants and nourishing omega 3, omega 6, chamomile and rosehip, Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream is like a sweet, soothing dream for sensitive skin.
Manuka oil combats inflammation and bacteria, while its core ingredients of chamomile and rosehip deeply nourish, soothe and hydrate. This gentle formula is also free from alcohol, which can be triggering for sensitive skin conditions like rosacea.