Kanuka Honey’s Skin Benefits: New Zealand’s Sweet Skincare Savior

This article was last updated on: July 28, 2023
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There’s a new buzz in town when it comes to skincare, and it’s all about kanuka honey. As a cousin to the ever-popular manuka honey, kanuka honey is taking center stage for its powerful benefits for the skin. Get ready to dive into the sweet world of kanuka honey and learn how this golden nectar can transform the skin game for the better.

What Is Kanuka Honey?

Kanuka honey, not to be mistaken for its famous cousin manuka honey, is a unique, lesser-known variety of honey produced by bees that gather nectar from the kanuka tree. Native to New Zealand, the kanuka tree (Kunzea ericoides) is a close relative of the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium), hence the similarities in their honey.

Kanuka honey has a lighter color and a more delicate taste compared to manuka honey. But don’t be fooled by its subtler appearance – it’s still packed with incredible skincare benefits. Thanks to its potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, kanuka honey is making waves in the beauty world as a natural and effective skincare ingredient. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how kanuka honey works its magic on the skin.

Kanuka Honey’s Topical Skin Benefits

Kanuka honey is more than just a sweet treat; it’s a powerhouse of skincare goodness. Here’s the lowdown on the top benefits of using kanuka honey on the skin:

Antibacterial properties

Kanuka honey contains a wealth of natural compounds that work together to fight off bacteria, including the acne-causing variety, Propionibacterium acnes. By inhibiting the growth of these harmful microorganisms, kanuka honey helps maintain a clean and balanced skin environment, reducing the chances of breakouts and inflammation.

Additionally, its low pH level creates an unfavorable environment for bacteria to thrive, making it a formidable natural alternative to harsh chemical treatments for acne-prone skin.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Kanuka honey is rich in compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to red or irritated skin, these compounds help to reduce inflammation, calming the skin and providing relief from discomfort.

This makes kanuka honey an excellent choice for people with sensitive or reactive skin, as well as those dealing with conditions like eczema, rosacea, or dermatitis.

Hydration boost

As a natural humectant, kanuka honey has the ability to draw moisture from the environment and lock it into the skin. This ensures that the skin stays hydrated and plump, leading to a smoother, more youthful appearance.

The honey also forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, preventing moisture loss and further reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Its deeply nourishing properties make kanuka honey a fantastic option for those seeking to improve their skin’s hydration levels.

Antioxidant protection

Kanuka honey is packed with powerful antioxidants, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, and enzymes like glucose oxidase and catalase. These compounds help neutralize the harmful free radicals generated by environmental factors like pollution, UV radiation, and other stressors.

By protecting the skin from oxidative damage, kanuka honey helps to prevent premature aging, keeping the skin looking youthful, firm, and radiant.

Wound healing

The wound-healing properties of kanuka honey can be attributed to its unique composition, which includes compounds like hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal, and other bioactive substances. These components work together to stimulate skin cell regeneration and collagen production, ultimately accelerating the healing process for cuts, scrapes, and even burns.

Additionally, the honey’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help prevent infection and reduce inflammation, further promoting the healing process.

Gentle exfoliation

Kanuka honey is rich in enzymes, such as protease and invertase, which act as natural exfoliants. These enzymes gently break down the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be easily removed from the skin’s surface. This process reveals a smoother, brighter complexion without causing the irritation or dryness often associated with harsher exfoliating treatments.

Incorporating kanuka honey into your skincare routine can help to gently slough away dead skin cells, unveiling a radiant and refreshed appearance.

To Eat or Not To Eat?

When it comes to reaping the benefits of kanuka honey, there are two main methods: eating it and applying it topically to the skin. Each method has its advantages, and understanding the differences can help you decide which one is best suited for your needs.

Topical Application

Applying kanuka honey directly to the skin is the most effective way to harness its skincare benefits. As mentioned earlier, the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, antioxidant, wound healing, and exfoliating properties of kanuka honey make it a versatile and powerful skincare ingredient.

When used topically, kanuka honey can provide targeted relief for various skin concerns, such as acne, redness, dryness, and dullness. The effects are usually more noticeable and immediate compared to those achieved through dietary consumption.

Eating Kanuka Honey

Consuming kanuka honey has numerous health benefits beyond skincare. It’s a natural sweetener with a lower glycemic index than sugar, making it a healthier option for satisfying your sweet tooth. Additionally, kanuka honey is known for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, which can support a healthy immune system, improve digestion, and help protect the body from various illnesses.

Eating kanuka honey might also have some indirect benefits for the skin, but if you’re using it purely for the purposes of skincare, stick to applying it topically!

Best Ways To Use Kanuka Honey

Ready to make kanuka honey your skin’s new best friend? Here are some top ways to incorporate this golden goodness into your skincare routine:

  1. DIY face mask: Mix kanuka honey with other natural ingredients like yogurt, avocado, or oatmeal to create a nourishing, customized face mask. Apply the mixture to clean skin, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse off with lukewarm water for a refreshed, glowing complexion.
  2. Spot treatment: Dab a small amount of kanuka honey directly onto blemishes or irritated areas. Leave it on for a few hours or overnight, then gently rinse it off. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties will help calm redness and promote healing.
  3. Gentle cleanser: Mix kanuka honey with a small amount of water to create a gentle, natural cleanser. Massage the mixture onto damp skin in circular motions, then rinse off with warm water. It’ll leave your skin feeling clean, soft, and hydrated.
  4. Hydrating addition: Enhance your favorite skincare products by adding a small amount of kanuka honey to your moisturizer, serum, or face oil. This can help boost hydration and provide extra nourishment to the skin.
  5. Lip treatment: Apply a thin layer of kanuka honey to your lips before bedtime for an overnight lip treatment. Wake up to softer, smoother, and more moisturized lips.

Kanuka Honey vs. Manuka Honey

While both kanuka and manuka honey are native to New Zealand and share some similarities, they also have their own unique properties and benefits. Here’s a comparison to help you understand the differences between these two types of honey:

Kanuka Honey

  • Source: Kanuka honey is produced by bees that collect nectar from the kanuka tree (Kunzea ericoides).
  • Color and taste: Kanuka honey is typically lighter in color and has a more delicate, floral taste compared to manuka honey.
  • Antibacterial properties: Although kanuka honey has antibacterial properties, it is generally considered less potent than manuka honey. However, it is still effective in combatting acne-causing bacteria and promoting a healthy skin environment.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Kanuka honey is known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties, which make it particularly effective at soothing redness, irritation, and inflammation.

Manuka Honey

  • Source: Manuka honey is produced by bees that collect nectar from the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium).
  • Color and taste: Manuka honey tends to have a darker color and a more robust, earthy taste compared to kanuka honey.
  • Antibacterial properties: Manuka honey is well-known for its strong antibacterial properties, which are measured by the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating system. The higher the UMF rating, the more potent the honey’s antibacterial activity.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Although manuka honey has anti-inflammatory properties, kanuka honey is often considered more effective in this regard.

Both kanuka and manuka honey have their own set of benefits and properties that make them valuable additions to a skincare routine. While manuka honey is often considered the more potent antibacterial option, kanuka honey shines in terms of its anti-inflammatory effects and affordability.

Ultimately, the choice between kanuka and manuka honey will depend on your specific skin concerns, budget, and personal preferences.


Kanuka honey is a versatile and powerful skincare ingredient that deserves a spot in your beauty arsenal. With its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, antioxidant, wound healing, and exfoliating properties, it offers a natural and effective solution to various skin concerns. Whether you’re looking to combat acne, soothe irritation, or simply maintain a radiant, youthful complexion, kanuka honey has got your back.

While it shares some similarities with its well-known cousin, manuka honey, kanuka honey stands out for its strong anti-inflammatory effects and budget-friendly nature. By incorporating kanuka honey into your diet and skincare routine, either through DIY remedies or pre-made products, you can enjoy the myriad benefits this golden elixir has to offer.

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Picture of About The Reviewer: Feyi Madamombe
About The Reviewer: Feyi Madamombe

With her unique perspective and commitment to uncovering the latest trends and innovations, Feyi has quickly become a beloved voice in the world of beauty journalism.

Feyi’s multicultural background and enthusiasm for the beauty industry inspire her to explore and celebrate the diversity of beauty across the globe. When she’s not crafting compelling articles or trying out the latest beauty products, Feyi loves to indulge in her passion for dance, attend music festivals, and explore London’s diverse culinary scene.

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