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How To Use Honey To Cleanse Acne Prone Skin


One of my top recommendations for acne prone skin is to use smooth honey as a facial cleanser. I get asked all sorts of questions about this, so today I’ve put together a video demo on honey cleansing acne prone skin, and also answer a bunch of questions as well.

In my opinion, honey is one of the best cleansers for acne prone skin because it’s so gentle, has antibacterial properties, it’s full of enzymes (which ever so gently exfoliates your skin), and has antioxidants that can protect your skin and alleviate skin irritation and inflammation.

Pretty much if you want something to calm down your red inflamed skin and breakouts, honey is one of the best treatments for that.

And that’s why honey is my absolute favourite cleanser for acne. I especially recommend it for those of you who have painful chronic breakouts, or severe acne.

How I see it, when you’re trying to heal breakouts, whether it’s a few pimples on your face or full-on acne covering your face – you need to be as gentle with your skin as possible, so it can heal.

The more gentle you are, the faster your skin will heal.

And honey is the best cleanser for that.

When I was healing my own acne, I washed my face with honey twice a day. And, I continued washing my face with honey for over 5 years, way after my acne healed! It was only in my mid/late-30s that I switched to oil cleansing method because I needed a more moisturizing cleanser, but I still use honey all the time as face mask and other DIY skin treatments.

At the top of today’s blog post I’ve put together a video demo showing you how to wash acne prone skin with honey. I want to make sure everyone is doing it correctly so you get all the benefits (I’ve also written out instructions too). Plus, I want to also address the many question I get about washing your face with honey so we’re all on the same page and you can get started immediately.

Honey as a facial cleanser is great for:

  • Severe acne
  • Chronic breakouts
  • Hormonal breakouts and pimples
  • Cystic acne
  • Blackheads
  • Irritated or blotchy skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Oily skin
  • Combination skin
  • Normal skin
  • Rough skin
  • Young skin

In general anyone under 30-35 years old would benefit from washing their face with honey (even if you don’t have acne or breakouts – it will keep your skin healthy and can even delay the signs of aging because it won’t strip or irritate your skin).

If you’re over 35 years old and have acne, can you still use honey?

Yes! But it’s more of a case by case decision.

The reason why I say most women under 30-35 years of age benefit more from using honey as a cleanser than those over 35, is because usually starting in your mid-30 to early 40s a lot of changes start happening in your skin. Around that time you might notice your skin starting to get drier, less supple, and needs more nourishment. In this case, using an oil cleanser might be more beneficial because of the extra hydration/moisture it offers.

But, if you have severe acne or really painful breakouts and you’re over 35, it might be more beneficial to use the honey as a cleanser until your skin starts healing and balancing out (and later on use the oil).

In general, honey is the gentlest cleanser you can find, and when you have breakouts or severe acne, you must be super gentle with your skin.

Who shouldn’t use honey?

  • If you have an allergy to bee products, don’t use honey or any product containing honey on your skin
  • If you wear full coverage makeup like foundation, tinted moisturizer, BB/CC creams, or sunblocks/sunscreens that are difficult to wash off – don’t use honey to wash your face when you’re wearing these products (because honey won’t be able to remove them completely). In this case, use honey to wash your face in the morning, and at night use a gentle cleanser to wash your face and remove all makeup and products completely (I recommend the oil cleansing method to thoroughly wash your face of makeup and sunscreen).
  • If your skin is really dry, it might be better to use an oil or cream cleanser rather than honey. I recommend trying the honey for a week and seeing how your skin responds (you can try Manuka Honey which has more naturally occurring oils than any other honey, which can be more nourishing for dry skin).
  • If for some reason honey irritates your skin, stop using it (for some people, honey can be too astringent). You’ll know in the first few day or week of using it if it’s causing sensitivity or issues.
How to wash your face with honey for acne prone skin.

Instructions How To Wash Acne Prone Skin With Honey

  1. Gently dampen your skin and neck with warm water over the sink.
  2. Take 1 tsp of organic raw honey (must be smooth, no texture or granules), and gently apply it over the surface of your face and neck in a circular motion.
  3. Gently rinse the honey off your face and neck with warm water over the sink.
  4. Remove excess water with your fingers and allow your skin to air dry (don’t ever dry your face with a dirty bathroom towel. For optimal results, best to let your skin air dry, or if you must dry your face, use a fresh washcloth/towel).

Questions about washing your face with honey:

Why do I have to use a smooth honey, why not one with a texture/granules?

When you have breakouts and pimples, the last thing your skin needs is anything that has a rough or abrasive texture, it’s just too irritating. Best to use a smooth soft honey to wash you face. When the breakouts have healed, occasionally you can use a coarse or texture honey to exfoliate your skin.

When shopping for a honey, what should I look out for?

I recommend buying an organic, raw, smooth honey.

It’s always preferable that it’s raw because it hasn’t been processed under high heat, and therefore will have its active enzymes intact (if it’s a pasteurized honey, a lot of the enzymes get destroyed or damaged under the high heat).

But beware, depending on the type of honey, many raw honeys are coarse or abrasive texture. To know if the honey is smooth you can usually tell by the transparency. If a honey looks solid and creamy or has granules floating in it, it’ll probably be coarse (not what you want to wash your face with regularly). But if it’s transparent or semi-transparent, and more of a liquid, it’s far more likely to be smooth.

I recommend always buying your honey from a health food store, farmers market, or directly from a bee keeper. Many honeys sold at regular grocery store aren’t necessarily pure, sometimes they can even be mixed with high fructose corn syrup and other process sugars and syrups. To ensure you’re really getting pure quality honey, buy it from a reputable source.

I’ve heard a lot about Manuka Honey, should I use that instead of a local honey?

Manuka honey is quite different that most other honeys. It has an oilier texture (which can be more hydrating for your skin), and has a higher concentration of antibacterial compounds (MGOs).

All honeys are antibacterial, and all honeys have active skin beautifying enzymes and antioxidants – whether you use a Manuka honey imported from New Zealand or use a honey harvested in your area – in my opinion as long as it’s a pure, raw, organic, smooth honey – it’s all good.

I will say that Manuka honey is usually smooth, so if you are having a hard time finding a raw organic smooth honey, than Manuka honey would be the most reliable option. If your skin tends to be dry or maturing, this could be a better option than regular honey as well.

Can I wash my face with honey using a washcloth (like the oil cleansing method of applying it to my skin and removing it with a damp washcloth)?

If you have painful breakouts and irritated skin, I recommend just washing your face over the sink with honey and water, and not using a washcloth. The reason why is your skin can be quite sensitive, and using a washcloth can make it more irritated.

Once your skin isn’t so irritated or broken out, you can then use a very gentle washcloth if you wish, but it’s not necessary with honey (the reason you use a washcloth with oil is because the oil won’t rinse off with just water, you need the damp washcloth to lift/remove the oil from your skin).

I find washing my face with honey so messy, any recommendations what to do?

Nowadays there’s some companies that actually sell honey in a tube (like a toothpaste tube), specifically for topical use. I find this makes using honey as a facial cleanser much easier. It’s more expensive but easier to travel with and store in the bathroom (especially if you don’t like to have a jar of honey and spoon sitting on your bathroom counter).

Can I wash my face with honey in the shower?

I actually recommend never washing your face with anything in the shower!

The reason why is shower water tend to be very hot, and most people immerse their face under the hot shower water a lot longer than they do when they wash their face over the sink. All of this will irritate and dry out your skin more. I recommend, especially for sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin, not to wash your face in the shower ever (and not after your shower either). For best results, wash you face before your shower, and do your best not immerse you face under the running shower water either (showers are great for washing your body and hair, but not your face!).

Will the honey ever go bad?

As long as you take care of it and keep it clean, honey won’t ever go bad.

Taking care of the honey is easy, just make sure you never put your fingers or anything dirty directly in the jar of honey. Always use a clean spoon to scoop out the honey, always seal the jar after use, and never store it in direct sunlight.

About the Author
Hi, I’m Natasha St. Michael, Founder of Inspire Beauty. I’m also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. I’m obsessed with skin care and self-care. I’m 47 years old, struggled with adult acne until I was 30, and now I’m all about preserving the youthfulness of my skin (and sharing all my tips and tricks). If you have a question about a product or need a recommendation, feel free to contact me anytime.


This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

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27 Responses

  1. I am glad for this post. Am using honey as a face wash as of this week thanks to your blogs. At first I twinned it with a gentle face wash and it got my face too dry.

    Plus the fact that it doesn’t need a wash cloth, allows my skin to heal.

    Thanks again

  2. Hi Natasha, so I have tried honey cleansing multiple times and have now been doing it for about a month, but for some reason I need to always moisturize my skin right after using it, if I don’t my skin eventually feels better after an hour or two but its like my pores stick out more and my skin looks flaky. I tried adding some oil to it while I cleanse and that worked for a little but then it stopped, then I tried just cleansing with honey and moisturizing with an oil and while that worked, I hated the feeling of washing the honey off cause parts of my skin felt dry. Now I do tend to leave the honey on for a long time, but I have stopped that recently. Also would the honey I’m using be affecting it? I use Y.S organic bee farms raw honey. I also have no allergy to bee products, always had honey in my house as a kid and although I didn’t like it then, my mom forced me to eat it when I would get sick. Do you think this could be why its not working? Also I am only 16, and I don’t understand why my skin gets so dry and tight. Get back to me whenever you can and have a nice day!

  3. Hi,
    Could you please recommend a website that sells honey you find great for this method of washing your face? Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Hi Natasha,
      Thank you for your recommendation. I believe you may have mentioned in the article that manuka honey may be best for acne prone but mature, dry skin. I tend to fall on the other side. Is there a honey you think is better for not mature dry skin that’s acne prone? Thanks again!

    2. Hi Joanie,
      All honeys are astringent, so they’re especially good for normal, oily, and combination skin that are acne prone. Many people with dry or maturing skin find honey to be too drying (because it’s astringent), but they can sometimes get away with using Manuka Honey because it can be a little more hydrating. But in general, if you have normal, oily, or combination skin that is acne prone, all honey, including Manuka Honey, is good. If someone has acne prone skin that is dry or maturing and they want to use honey as a cleanser, the best one to try would be Manuka Honey, and if it’s still too drying, I would recommend adding a drop or two of oil to the honey to make it more moisturizing.
      Out of all the honeys available, Manuka Honey has the highest anti-bacterial properties, so it’s a good one for acne prone skin.

  4. Hi Natasha, I have hormonal acne (thanks PCOS) and have just started cleansing my face with honey after years of using other products. I understand that I should use the oil cleansing method when I am wearing full face make up (liquids / powders etc) but am unsure what to do after wearing basic mineral makeup. Will the honey take mineral make up off? If not, should I cleanse with honey AFTER using oil to take my makeup off? Or is oil cleansing enough on it’s own? Thanks. Abby

    1. Hi Abby,
      Yes, use the oil cleansing to remove all makeup. Honey isn’t good at taking makeup or sunscreen off. You can certainly follow using the honey for a second cleanse. How about trying this every other night and see how your skin responds.

  5. Abbey i’m so glad you asked that. I only wear powder and have been using honey for a while to take it off at night since it’s not full coverage. Sounds like I need to switch to oil, so will do. Thanks Natasha!

    1. Gotcha. I’m going to go re-read the post about oil cleansing so I order the best one for acne. Thank you so much Natasha for what you do!!!

  6. Hi! I am so very happy I found your website and YouTube! I’ve never had acne prone skin until recently when I turned 18 last August. I started using as many store products and going off of YouTube videos that would promise to make it go away. It’s not severe but because the rest of my face has been clear except in the areas I break out it’s extremely noticeable. I’ve been wanting to switch to organic and all natural products but was unsure of how to until I found your page. So thank you very much for that! I know you said Manuka honey is good too but I would like to stick to regular honey first and see how that goes. Do you know any stores or online places that would sell the kind of honey you use instead of manuka? Have a wonderful evening!

    1. Hi Mariana,
      You can certainly use regular organic honey. Just make sure it’s smooth. I recommend buying an organic honey from your local health food store, of if you have a farmers market in your area, to buy it there.

  7. Hi Kate,
    I think the product should be ok as long as it’s a smooth honey with no granules or texture. You can always buy a smooth raw honey from a health food store, doesn’t need to come in a tube unless it’s easier for you.
    Have you tried drinking mint water? I think this could help your skin. You just need to soak a few sprigs of fresh spearmint in a litre of water and drink throughout the day. Do this every day for a week or two and see how your skin responds. For full instructions how to make the mint water, you can take my free email course: https://www.inspirebeautyshop.com/free-acne-email-course/

    1. Thank you Natasha! But I had a question about the mint water. The mint water essentially has a hormone altering effect on the body right? So my concern is that drinking this long term might alter my metabolism or cause weight gain. I do not have PCOS and I am not overweight at all and I am concerned that drinking the mint water might alter my metabolism in some way? Can you speak to this concern? Do you know if my concerns are warranted? Thank you again Natasha!!

    2. Hi Kate,
      Great question! The studies done on a group of women with PCOS showed that when they drank a few cups of mint tea every day, over time the abnormally high levels of testosterone they had went down to normal. By getting their hormones to a normal level, their symptoms reversed, which included getting rid of acne, decreasing growth of facial hair/hirsutism, losing weight that was difficult to shift, regaining their fertility, and having a regular menstrual cycle again.
      Something in mint helps people to naturally regulate their hormones better. It won’t make your hormones plummet. Like other greens and herbs, mint is also very anti-inflammatory, which helps to speed up the healing of breakouts and pimples.
      What I’ve seen is mint has help both women and even men get rid of acne. Not all women have hormone issues or PCOS, but the mint has still helped.
      I personally think it’s worth trying. Mint water only has trace amounts of mint, a lot less than drinking mint juice or tea. Mint has been consumed by many culture daily for centuries. And it’s one of those things that you don’t need to drink forever, only drink it when you have breakouts, and stop once your skin is clear.
      But of course, if you are concerned it will adversely affect you, best not to drink it 🙂

    3. Thank you so much Natasha for all this information! I really appreciate you taking the time and thank you also for providing all of us with so much great content on natural skin and beauty care! 🙂 Best Wishes to you!:)

  8. My son(15) wears a very light alcohol free, clear spray sunscreen when he golfs during the day or if he’s out in the sun for a long period of time. Can he still cleanse with honey in the evening?

    1. Hi Kristie,
      I would recommend he try double cleansing with the honey on the evenings he’s wearing the sunscreen to make sure it’s all coming off. Double cleansing means he washes his face twice in a row with the smooth honey. Only do this at night. Some sunscreens are easier to remove than others. If he feels there any residues left behind or he’s starting to breakout from the sunscreen, then best to switch to a mild gel cleanser.

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