Acne is more than just a skincare concern. It can also be painful, persistent, and uncomfortable to the person who develops it.
While prescription and other medicinal treatments can work, they may also contain harsh ingredients that can dry out the surrounding skin. Those looking for more natural remedies or for something that will clean the skin more deeply may turn to mask applications.
One such mask that is rumored to treat acne is made from honey and cinnamon. While there are some things to bear in mind when creating this mask, the treatment can be very soothing and work well as a cleanser.
Honey is a solution that is made from sugar, mostly fructose and glucose. These sugars contain proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
The main reason for using honey and cinnamon to treat acne is because it can help to kill the bacteria that contribute to inflamed pores.
The Proionibacterium acnes or P. acnes bacteria have been found in many red and inflamed pimples. The bacteria feed on sebum, which is the waxy substance that can build up and clog pores, further contributing to acne.
Honey has several chemical properties that enable it to kill bacteria. Examples include:
- A high concentration of sugar, which puts pressure on bacterial cells, making them less likely to multiply.
- An acidic environment where bacteria cannot easily grow.
- The compound propolis that bees use to seal their hive has antimicrobial properties.
Cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties. According to an article in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention, cinnamon can kill or suppress the E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Candida albican microbes.
Cinnamon also has astringent properties. Astringents help to shrink pores, which can make the skin appear smoother and more even.
The benefits of using honey and cinnamon together as a face mask haven't really been studied. The two have been separately studied, but the research is mixed on whether or not they are effective.
A study published in BMJ Open investigated the application of a 90 percent medical-grade kanuka honey and 10 percent glycerine (honey-derived) treatment after washing the face with an antibacterial soap compared with washing the face with the same soap, but not applying the honey.
The researchers concluded that adding the honey combination to the acne regimen only improved 4 out of 53 patients' acne.
Another review looked at 70 articles about cinnamon and found that cinnamon has antimicrobial properties as well as wound-healing properties. The researchers also suggested that cinnamon may have anti-aging properties in the skin.
A review published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that honey contains enzymes that create hydrogen peroxide, which has antimicrobial properties.
However, not all honey types have this property. An example is Manuka honey. However, Manuka honey still displays antimicrobial effects because it has a low pH level and high sugar content.
An article published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection found that some types of honey from Iran had as much antimicrobial activity as certain antibiotics. However, the study's authors pointed out honey hasn't been studied as widely for its ability to kill the P. acnes bacteria that tend to thrive in pimples.
Like many natural treatments, honey and cinnamon as a skincare remedy hasn't been widely researched. People seeing a dermatologist for their acne should always check with them before using the cinnamon and acne mask to ensure it won't affect current treatments used.
Some people who opt to make a face mask with cinnamon and honey will leave it on their skin for 30 minutes.
Others will use the mask as more of a "spot treatment," applying it as a paste to pimples and acne blemishes. The options are truly up to the user, their skin concerns, and their skin type.
People intending to make a face mask can take the following steps:
- Gather 2 tablespoons of honey and mix it with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon until it forms a paste-like substance.
- Do a patch test on their hand. Apply a dime-sized portion of the mixture to the back of the hand. The user should wait at least 10 minutes to ensure that itching, redness, and swelling don't take place.
- Apply to skin, either to individual blemishes with a clean fingertip or cotton swab, or to the entire face.
- Rinse with warm water after leaving on overnight or rinse 30 minutes after application. People should avoid using excessively warm water as it can be drying to the skin.
One consideration is what type of honey to use. Medicinal-grade honeys are available at many health foods stores. These honeys have been purified and are generally free of additives. They are often the compounds used in skincare applications.
Two examples of medicinal-grade honey brands include Manuka honey and Revamil honey.
Some people prefer to use local honey, which is honey produced by honeybee farmers in their area. The idea behind using local honey is that it has compounds that may fight off illness when ingested. Some people will eat spoonfuls of local honey as a means to fight allergies.
Honey is often safe when applied to the skin. It is possible that a person may have an allergic reaction to honey, however. Examples of allergic side effects can include hives, itching, swelling, and wheezing.
Cinnamon can also be highly irritating to the skin. For this reason, it is important to always use a test patch on the hand before applying the honey and cinnamon face mask to the entire face.
When it comes to treating acne, the goals are to keep the skin clean, moisturized, and free of pore-clogging oils and bacteria without over-drying the skin.
Many natural treatments for acne exist that can be used in addition to honey and cinnamon masks. Examples include:
- Tea tree oil: A 5 percent tea tree oil solution can help kill acne-causing bacteria
- Green tea extract: Applying a 2 percent solution of green tea extract lotion may help to reduce mild to moderate acne
- Alpha hydroxy acids: These natural fruit acids can help unclog pores and encourage skin cell growth but may increase the skin's sensitivity
An acne treatment plan can include the following steps:
- Washing the skin twice per day with a mild cleansing soap and warm water.
- Applying an acne spot treatment or product to any individual pimples. People who have a large amount of acne blemishes may wish to apply a lotion over the entire face.
- Applying an oil-free moisturizer to the skin, if desired. During the initial weeks of treatment, spot treatments may be particularly drying to the skin.
- Applying an oil-free sunscreen to the skin in the morning.
- Applying a skin-clearing treatment mask, such as a honey and cinnamon mask, once or twice a week.
Many people cannot control their acne with over-the-counter products. In this instance, they may need to see a dermatologist for a prescription for stronger medications that can fight acne blemishes.