Manuka Honey for Acne

November 21, 2017

Manuka Honey for Acne

Acne is a common problem for many people around the world, and unfortunately, it is a problem that is often hard to hide. Thankfully, Manuka honey, celebrated for its potent properties, including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, emerges as a natural choice that may be helpful in addressing acne’s underlying causes and supporting acne symptom relief. Let’s explore how Manuka honey can offer relief for acne symptoms and improve your skincare.

Top 4 Benefits of Manuka Honey for Acne

1. Antibacterial Properties

Manuka honey contains a special compound known as methylglyoxal, abbreviated as MG or MGO, which correlates with its antibacterial properties. The higher the MG concentration, the higher the antibacterial effect. 

According to researchers at the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences at the University of Sydney, Manuka honey is effective against a wide range of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains. (1) According to a different study, Manuka honey may be effective against the growth of acne-causing bacteria — P. acnes. (2

2. Anti-inflammatory Effects

To effectively demonstrate how Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory properties work to relieve acne, we have to establish that acne lesions are cellular wounds. In a 2021 study investigating the use of Manuka honey as a wound dressing material, researchers reported that Manuka honey helps reduce localized inflammation by “suppressing the production and propagation of inflammatory cells at the wound site and stimulating the production of proinflammatory cytokine, which allows normal healing to occur.” (3

Using a similar mechanism, Manuka honey may help relieve redness and swelling in acne wounds and provide relief, which helps accelerate the skin's natural healing process without the harshness of chemical treatments.

3. Natural Moisturizer

Many acne treatments compromise the skin's natural moisture barrier, leading to dryness and irritation. Manuka honey, like many other honeys, however, acts as a natural humectant, with its high sugar content drawing moisture into the skin and locking it in. This ensures that the skin remains supple and hydrated. 

In an interview with a beauty blog called Byrdie, Dr. Claire Chang, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City said, “Manuka honey is a natural humectant due to its sugar component, meaning it helps draw in and retain moisture in the skin."

4. Promotes Healing and Scar Reduction

Manuka honey's application on acne helps speed up the healing of acne lesions and effectively reduces scar visibility. Manuka honey is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, which help promote tissue preparation and regeneration. Its viscous nature forms a barrier to keep the affected area moist and protected from bacteria, facilitating quick healing and preventing further damage. (4

How to Use Manuka Honey for Acne Treatment

Incorporating Manuka honey into your acne treatment regimen is very simple. Here’s how to do it:

1. Direct Application

After cleansing your face, apply a thin layer of Manuka honey directly onto your acne or blemished areas. Leave it on for about 15 – 30 minutes, then wash it off. This method allows the honey’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to work directly on the acne, reducing redness and preventing bacterial growth.

2. Spot Treatment

For targeted treatment, dab a small amount of Manuka honey on pimples or acne spots before bedtime. Optionally, cover with a small bandage or piece of clean cotton to prevent it from rubbing off during sleep. Over time, Manuka honey can help reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

3. Honey Mask

Mix Manuka honey with other natural acne-fighting ingredients, such as cinnamon or turmeric, to create a potent face mask. Apply the mixture to your face, leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. This not only addresses acne but also provides hydration and glow to the skin.

4. Cleanser

Manuka honey can be used as a gentle facial cleanser. Massage a small amount onto damp skin in circular motions for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Its antibacterial properties help cleanse the skin, while its moisturizing effect keeps it soft and hydrated.

5. Exfoliating Scrub

Combine Manuka honey with a natural exfoliant like ground oats or coffee grounds. Gently scrub the mixture on your face to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, enhancing Manuka honey’s acne-treating capabilities.

Important Tips for Manuka Honey Acne Treatment

  • The higher the amount of methylglyoxal (MG), the more potent the antibacterial properties. When treating acne, we suggest using Manuka honey with a methylglyoxal (MG or MGO) level of at least 550+

  • Consistency is key. Use Manuka honey regularly as part of your skincare routine for the best results.

By following these steps, you can effectively utilize Manuka honey to combat acne, soothe skin, and promote a healthier, clearer complexion.

Click here to order a jar of Bees and Trees Manuka honey today.  If you have any questions, we’re happy to help!

Health Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice. Before adding Manuka honey to your skincare routine, consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider to ensure it's suitable for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I apply Manuka honey to my face for acne? 

For best results, apply Manuka honey as a mask or spot treatment 2-3 times a week. Consistent use over time helps manage acne breakouts and supports skin health.

2. Can Manuka honey dry out my skin? 

Unlike many acne treatments that can dry out the skin, Manuka honey is a natural humectant. This means it helps retain moisture, keeping the skin hydrated and promoting a healthy skin barrier.

3. Does Manuka honey work for cystic acne? 

Cystic acne is a severe form that requires a comprehensive treatment approach. Manuka honey can be used as a complementary treatment, but you need to consult a dermatologist before incorporating it into your treatment regimen.

4. Is Manuka honey safe to use on sensitive skin? 

Yes, Manuka honey is generally safe for sensitive skin due to its natural, soothing properties. However, always patch test before using any new product extensively.

5. Can I use Manuka honey with other acne treatments? 

Manuka honey can be used alongside other acne treatments, but it's essential to ensure the products don't interact negatively. Always consult a dermatologist for personalized advice.

6. Is Manuka honey good for pimples? 

Manuka honey's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may help treat pimples. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of different bacteria responsible for skin infections. Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can also help soothe the skin and reduce redness and swelling.

7. Can I apply honey directly on acne? 

Yes, you can apply honey directly to acne by dabbing it onto the spot as a spot treatment. However, we recommend doing a patch test before application to avoid allergic reactions.

8. Which honey is best for acne? 

Manuka honey is considered the best type of honey for acne treatment because of its unique antibacterial properties, which are higher than those found in regular honey. For maximum effectiveness, look for MG levels of at least 550+.

9. How long to leave honey on acne? 

When treating acne, we recommend leaving Manuka honey on the skin for about 15 - 30 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. This allows enough time for its antibacterial and healing properties to act on the skin.


(1) Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2009 Oct;28(10):1199-208. doi: 10.1007/s10096-009-0763-z. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

(2) Antimicrobial effect of Manuka honey and Kanuka honey alone and in combination with the bioactives against the growth of Propionibacterium acnes ATCC 6919 : a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Food Technology, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand 

(3) Kapoor N, Yadav R. Manuka honey: A promising wound dressing material for the chronic nonhealing discharging wounds: A retrospective study. Natl J Maxillofac Surg. 2021 May-Aug;12(2):233-237. doi: 10.4103/njms.NJMS_154_20. Epub 2021 Jul 15. PMID: 34483582; PMCID: PMC8386265.

(4) Minden-Birkenmaier BA, Bowlin GL. Honey-Based Templates in Wound Healing and Tissue Engineering. Bioengineering (Basel). 2018 Jun 14;5(2):46. doi: 10.3390/bioengineering5020046. PMID: 29903998; PMCID: PMC6027142.

New to Mānuka Honey? Click here to learn about the different MGO levels. Check it out