Manuka honey is a type of honey found in many skin care products. It’s primarily produced in New Zealand from bees that pollinate the country’s native Manuka shrub, Latin name Leptospermum scoparium. Since Manuka honey is only made from this specific plant, it’s categorized as a monofloral honey. Wild honey is considered multifloral because it’s made from nectar that bees consume from numerous flowering plants. Both types of honey are used in skin care, but when manuka is used, you’ll see its Latin name, Leptospermum scoparium on the label.
Chemically, manuka honey is like “regular” clover honey except it’s said to contain more of a chemical called methylglyoxal and does not contain or has low amounts of a compound known as defensin-1. The higher amount of methylglyoxal is believed to give manuka honey an advantage when it comes to healing wounds since it is better at preventing harmful biofilms on skin’s surface. These surface films contain substances that reduce skin’s ability to recover from damage.
Some comparative research shows that manuka honey doesn’t necessarily have an edge over other varieties for general skin-calming properties; however, as with any natural ingredient, the quality and how it’s sourced can impact performance in skin care formulas and on skin itself.
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Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, December 2013, pages 306-313
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