There are hundreds upon hundreds of factors that can influence the formation of acne including stress, poor diet, hormonal changes, bad hygiene, environmental pollution, the list is very long. While 80% of acne sufferers are aged 12-24 according to statistical data, adult acne is very real for many of us and knowing how to deal with it effectively can make a world of difference, as we all know from experience.

While there is no single, surefire method to deal with all types of acne for every person (mainly because genetics, skin type, tone, color and unique chemistry play a role in acne formation), there certainly are products worth trying out. Eventually, you will find the one way you can deal with your acne for good.

Don’t ever get discouraged!

Today, we will be taking a detailed look at natural honeys, specifically, Manuka honey, to see whether it can really deal with breakouts as many people claim.

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka, also known as, Manuka Myrtle, New Zealand tea-tree and broom tea-tree is a species of a flower plant that grows primarily in Australia and New Zealand. It most commonly resembles a shrub that can grow into a medium-sized tree, and the honey is produced by the bees feeding off of those shrubs.

While all kinds of raw, unheated honeys carry some kind of health benefits, Manuka honey is believed to be the most therapeutically effective type, with highly potent antibacterial properties. This is primarily due to the plant’s unique property to be able to regenerate on a clear land faster than almost any other plant. In other words, the healing and strengthening properties of Manuka shrubs are insanely strong.

Generally, raw honey is always considered to be better for medical purposes since it hasn’t been processed yet. When honey is being processed, there is a lot of heating and pasteurizing going on, which gives it the liquid-like, golden-colored shape we are used to seeing.

The problem is that like any other processed foods, honey loses many beneficial nutrients (Vitamins B and C, various minerals, amino acids, natural sugars like glucose, etc.) when exposed to high amounts of heat that are meant to eliminate any other harmful bacteria, ultimately killing the bad guys, but also destroying the good guys in the process, so to speak.

How Does Manuka Honey Work?

Throughout centuries, Manuka honey has been used to dress all kinds of wounds, due to it enhancing healing and regenerative properties of the skin (thanks to the natural sugars), while preventing bacterial infections with the help of hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal – two natural, antibacterial compounds of the plant.

Raw Manuka honey is also rich with vitamins, antioxidants, natural sugars and amino-acids that produce highly potent anti-inflammatory properties, which greatly decrease acne breakouts and soothe the skin.

All those properties combined with the low pH (you can read on the importance of pH in this article) of the honey, allows it to deal with acne breakouts pretty well, while also rebalancing your skin’s pH – slowly bringing it up to normal and exfoliating debris and dead skin cells.

The antibacterial complex helps prevent any possible infections while slowly eliminating the already-present bacteria, and speeding up healing and regenerative processes. The honey also carries brightening effects and can help deal with discolorations and mild scarring.

Finally, the hydrating and soothing properties make Manuka honey great for dry skin types since it also acts as a strong moisturizer along with all the healing benefits.

There are 2 common rating systems for Manuka honey – UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), a special number scaling system that represents the antibacterial potency of the honey, and OMA (Organic Manuka Active) which stands for antibacterial properties as well. The two are essentially the same thing, just different producers using different ratings systems. For acne treatment, you want at least 16 (or higher) UMF Manuka honey and 15 (or higher) OMA to achieve substantial results. The downside is that the higher the UMF and OMA, the higher the price.

How to Use Manuka Honey for Acne

Manuka honey can be used as a face mask, cleanser or a spot treatment. Regardless of the method, you will need to remove any makeup first.

Spot Treatment

This refers to both single pimples and any parts of the face that have mild acne scars and/or discolorations.

  • For single pimples – you will need a high UMF Manuka honey for this method. Simply apply a tiny amount of honey to the pimple and let it sit. Do not rinse off. The higher the UMF, the greater the healing effects.
  • For fading scars and discolorations – Mix a quarter-sized dollop of Manuka honey with a full, freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of organic sugar. Apply the mixture to the discolored spots and scars by gently massaging it into the skin with the help of your fingertips (performing circular motions) and allow the mask to sit for 20 minutes. Wash it off with cold water afterwards.


Take a pea-sized amount of Manuka honey and mix it with a few drops of hot water to increase its liquidity. Apply the mixture to the face and gently massage all surfaces for 3 minutes. You can rinse it off with cold water afterwards or use a gentle sponge to boost exfoliation.

Face Mask

There are various methods to creating a face mask and you will need to figure out which one works best for your case. Make sure to steam your face or at least wash it thoroughly (for a couple of minutes) with hot water and antibacterial soap to open up skin pores, prior to applying the mask. Pat dry afterwards. Every type of mask should be applied once a week.

  • Face Mask 1 – Apply enough amount of Manuka honey to the whole face to form a thin layer. Let it sit for 30 minutes and rinse off with cold water.
  • Face Mask 2 – Squeeze a full lemon, take some ground oats and Manuka honey, and mix it all together. Take measurements according to how much Manuka is needed to cover your face with a thin layer and add the rest accordingly. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse off with cold water.
  • Face Mask 3 – Mix Manuka honey with a pinch of cinnamon (and lemon juice if your skin tolerates it well) and apply evenly to the whole face to form a thin layer. Let it sit for 20 minutes. The same mixture can be applied as a spot treatment overnight to considerably decrease blemishes. 

Here is a great explanatory video on how to use Manuka honey for acne:

What to Know Before Buying Manuka Honey

It’s critical that you use the right kind of Manuka honey for fighting acne. Don’t simply waste money for nothing. Here is what you should know:

  • Look for high potency. Only buy Manuka honey with UMF 16 or more and/or OMA 15 or more, and make sure it’s raw.
  • The honey needs to be packaged and produced in New Zealand. Never buy Manuka honey from sources you don’t trust – it’s better to pay a few dollars extra, but get what you’re actually looking for. Read the label carefully: make sure that methylglyoxal is at least 250.
  • Test for allergic reactions. While allergies towards honey are rare, it’s still important to test for those first, especially if you’re allergic to bees. Apply a small amount of Manuka honey to your chin and let it sit for around 15 minutes. Watch for reactions like redness, itchiness, pain, etc. If everything is fine, proceed with applying the honey to the whole face using one of the methods above.

Final Thoughts

Manuka honey has been used to treat various wounds and skin conditions (like eczema and psoriasis) ages ago, and its therapeutic properties are still used today. The combined effect of bacteria elimination, speeding up healing and regeneration while providing potent anti-inflammatory properties makes Manuka honey a very strong choice for combating acne breakouts.

Don’t forget to check for the important factors mentioned above before buying Manuka honey and always test for allergies first. This is an essential step to take for any type of product that you’re using for the first time, to avoid unwelcome side effects.

Have you used Manuka honey before? What results did you achieve? How long did it take to clear up the acne with Manuka honey? Share your experiences with fellow readers in the comments!