Friday, March 14, 2014

Honey Bee-autiful: The Healing Powers of Honey

Honey Bee-autiful
If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.
--Abraham Lincoln 

A few years later, after nesting in San Jose, like a forager bee I found a new home in Boulder Creek, Santa Cruz Mountains, California. It was an Emily Dickenson-type setting. On the San Lorenzo river, complete with redwoods and oak trees, and wildflowers—honey bees and I lived in harmony. A typical Tuesday and Thursday would be leaving my young furry children—like bee larvae to me—while I traveled to San Francisco State University. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and weekends were heavenly—a queen bee’s existence.
One spring day, after a swim in the river with my two dogs (I had adopted another Labrador retriever); I combined a honey and vegetable oil hair conditioner and massaged the mixture on my long, curly dry locks. Thirty minutes later, I rinsed the goo and shampooed. I dried my hair in the sun. My mane felt soft and silky. I felt like a natural woman again without insect fuzz.

I’m hardly alone in discovering beauty benefits of honey and its versatile healing powers from head to toe. Since honey is a natural preservative and antibacterial agent, it protects and promotes moisture in the skin—which I, too have experienced.  What’s more, it’s a humectant (an ingredient that holds moisture), something I’ve used in hair conditioners to help tame my curly mane the same way humidity does in the Deep South or Hawaii.
Eating honey can help you get beautiful on the inside, but treating your body on the outside with the golden nectar can make you look and feel great, too. And honey—natural stuff in the jar to ready-made honey products are making a buzz from present-day and have roots from ancient times. 

It’s no beauty secret that honey combined with other natural ingredients can enhance your blood circulation, zaps stress and anxiety, and makes your skin feel silky. All-natural manuka honey, for one, teamed with other honeys and natural plant extracts and essential oils can help exfoliate, soften, and even make your skin look firmer and glow. And this is why some spas around the nation and world include honey in their spa treatments.  Here, take a look at some of the popular ones.

Milk and Honey Bath
 The treatment begins with a honey scrub, followed by a warm bath filled with milk and honey, and culminates with a light massage. This is a double delight—because it exfoliates and moisturizes the total body.
Manuka Honey Drizzle Body Masque
  The spa technician will use bare hands or a spa brush, apply approximately ½-1 full cup of product to your skin, from the shoulders down to the feet. It will remain on your skin for about 10 minutes before rinsing with a shower.
Orange Blossom & Body Wrap
  Enjoy the healing hydrating and conditioning properties of a honey wrap. Treatment begins with an exfoliating full-body dry brushing, includes an invigorating Orange Blossom & Sugar Cane Sugar foot scrub and concludes with a yummy application of Honey-Orange Blossom Body Butter. 50 minutes.
Manuka Honey Drizzle Pedicure
   Savor the pampering of a professional pedicure. Treatment begins with  you soaking your feet for 5-10 minutes in a Manuka Honey Drizzle product into a basin of warm water. After, a pedicure and polish will accentuate the softness of your feet.

 Do it yourself products make it possible and easy to enjoy the spa benefits in the comfort of your home. And more people—both men and women—are discovering the beauty benefits of honey, whether it’s straight from the hive or comes in a glass jar. Here, take a look at some of the at-home treatments I tried from head to toe, and you’ll be thanking honey bees forever.
Honey Eye Nourisher:  One of the best things I did one morning was whip up an anti-puffy eye cream with 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel, 2 teaspoons cucumber, peeled with seeds removed, ½ teaspoon chamomile tea, 1 teaspoon honey. After steeping chamomile tea, in boiling water I set it aside to cool. In my blender on a low setting I combined cucumber, aloe vera and honey, added chamomile tea, and whizzed it till smooth. I put the honey goo under my eyes using fingers. Ten minutes later, I looked like I wasn’t a worker bee.
Honey Mask: Curious and delighted, I didn’t stop there. I grabbed a small bowl and combined 2 tablespoons honey and 2 teaspoons milk.  I slathered the mixture over my face and throat. Ten minutes later, with warm water I rinsed off the concoction. My skin was soft not fuzzy like a honey bee’s legs.
Honey Skin Lotion:  On a honey beautifying roll, I whipped up 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, ¼ teaspoon lemon juice. I used it on my hands and felt like I was ready for a much-needed manicure. But authors on deadline don’t get such sweet treats.
Honey Lemon Body Wash:  The next morning, I went to the bathroom like a bee goes to honeycomb and prepared a honey soap of 2 cups unscented castile soap, 2 cups honey, and ½ cup lemon juice—and put it in a plastic bottle and shook it. In the shower rather than using ready-made honey soap, I used a loofah and washed my body and rinsed. Extra benefit, I got to feel my skin soft and watch CNN right after without fleeing to a spa.
Honey Eucalyptus Foot Soak:  That night, the favorite thing I did for the day was blend 8 cups hot water, 1 cup honey, 2 cups Epsom salt, 2 tablespoons almond oil,6 drops eucalyptus oil—and soaked my feet with it. Fifteen minutes later, my feet looked human again.
Both spa treatments and do-it-yourself action works for me. But it doesn’t stop there, especially for bold and beautiful people. Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, for one, is noted to using bee venom—a natural facelift remedy. It’s been tagged as “the botox alternative”—combining bee venom, manuka honey and shea butter, and promises to minimize wrinkles.

Whatever season or wherever you live, a honey will rejuvenate your body from head to toe and you’ll feel good both inside and outside.

Cleopatra’s Famous Honey and Milk Baths
Back in the day of Cleopatra, the legendary Queen of Egypt savored honey and its beauty powers. The queen allegedly turned to the nectar of the gods for a facial each morning. Milk and honey baths were also part of her beauty regime. The idea was that honey was the golden secret to keeping her skin soft as well as defying age.
In the 21st century royal honey beauty treatments have carried over to spas that cater to the rich and famous and include anyone who wants to be treated like royalty for a spa day or week. It’s a pampering honey and milk beauty treatment, like the recipe below from Savannah Bee Company that draws the healing powers to both women and men, thanks to Cleopatra.
Milk and Honey Facial Mask
2 tablespoons organic milk
1 tablespoon Savannah Bee Company Wildflower Honey
Plastic wrap or warm face cloth

Directions:  Take the plastic wrap and cut the corners to make an oval slightly larger than your face. Cut openings for nostrils and mouth. After you make the mask and apply it, you’ll be covering your face with the plastic wrap for about 10 minutes.  Add milk to a small bowl. Slowly stir in honey. Mix well and stir until moisture is smooth. It may be slightly runny. Apply the milk mixture to your face with your fingertips. Set timer for 10 minutes. Put on some soothing music, lie down and cover face with plastic wrap or cloth. When the 10 minutes are up, wipe face with a warm cloth and rinse with cool water. Gently pat skin dry. Finish with your favorite moisturizer.

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